This report demonstrates how Quarters, and primarily a two-high scheme gives the defense the best chance at combating FIB formations.
By Cody Alexander
Midlothian High School (TX)
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Though it may seem counter intuitive, utilizing reduced space can get a defense to over react to WRs into the boundary. As I wrote in my first book, Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football, offensive coordinators align formations into the boundary to get the defense to over rotate to the short side of the field, baiting the defense to leave the wide side without an overhang. Offensive coordinators also use FIB to take advantage of how a defense sets its strength, and finally, to isolate a single WR on a CB. Add the use of quick motions back to the field and the defense can look as though it is ill prepared for what seems like an easy transition. The goal of this report is to demonstrate how Quarters, and primarily a two-high scheme gives the defense the best chance at combating FIB formations.
Most Quarters schemes can function as a split-field defense. This means that each side of the secondary can react to the set, or number of WRs it is given, and can be manipulated by the coach to fit any need by the defense. By running a split-field look, the defense has a better chance of reacting to an offense that puts a formation into the boundary (FIB). The diagram below illustrates this flexibility.
Defending 20 Personnel Y Off FIB:
To the two WR side, the secondary is in a 2-Read, or match Cover 2 concept. This allows the CB to be “hard” (aggressive) near the line to combat a vertical by #1, an RPO screen into the boundary, or as a plus-one if the ball comes back to the short side. This added value by the CB forces the offense to go back to the field, making them predictable. Playing 2-Read over the two WRs also allows the Will LB to work back into the box since he knows the CB will take any out cut by #2. In the diagram, the Will is labeled as “late push.” The coaching point for the Will is to step to his gap with his 6” steps (lead leg first) and read the mesh. If the RB comes his way, fold or fit off the DE, if the QB pops up to pass, the Will holds the curl, working through #2 to get to #1. If #2 goes out, the Will’s eyes dart to #1 to see if he is coming back inside, holding the curl and bracketing the WR with the safety.
The field side is just as crucial to the boundary. In a Quarters scheme, especially to the single WR side. The advantage of staying two-high and running split-field scheme is that a defensive coach can manipulate either side to fit what is needed. In an obvious passing situation, the field safety (FS) would not invert down on the open side (shown above), instead opting to stay high and assist the field CB in the pass, primarily in what I refer to as the “post-hole” (the area near/on the hash where most Posts are thrown). The safety’s alignment to the field should be near or on the hash depending on tendency of the offense.
Many coaches will spin a safety down prior to the snap to gain leverage on the sniffer or H-back. By putting the safety to the boundary down prior to the snap, a defensive coach is opening the door for the offense to use play-action against his defense. Below is a diagram of a typical “H-Pop” spread offenses use to counter aggressive Cover 3 or single-high schemes. Staying in a two-high shell inhibits the ability of the offense to gain free access to the field and keeps them cornered into the boundary. The eyes of the safety to the open side should read through the sniffer to the QB to see the play develop. Versus a pass the safety either takes the vertical stem of the H-back or works to the “post-hole” with eyes back to #1.
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- How the “MEG” adjustment vs. Y off allows the defense to load the box, allowing interior backers to be aggressive.
- How to adjust to “three quicks” into the boundary using the “sink” technique in split field coverage structures.
- The best way to handle quick backfield motions that can produce overloads on the perimeter.
- Plus, game film on all these concepts.
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Offenses want the defense to over react to FIB formations. Like quick motions, FIB formations can be used to out leverage a defense. The key is to keep the structure as sound as possible. A defense must have overhangs on either side of the box. Staying in a two-high shell allows the defense to support any formation and motion from FIB alignments. The ability to stay even and not over react to motion is the key to defeating these alignments.
Meet Coach Alexander: Cody Alexander is currently the Secondary Coach at Midlothian HS (5A DII – TX) and the author of MatchQuarters.com, Cautious Aggression, and Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense. Prior to joining Midlothian, Coach Alexander was the Corners Coach at Lovejoy High School (5A) in Lucas, TX from 2015 to 2016. During the 2014 season, Cody was the co-Defensive Coordinator at L.V. Berkner High School (6A) in Richardson, TX. Before returning to the high school ranks, Coach A. was the Defensive Graduate Assistant at Baylor University under former Arizona St. and Baylor Defensive Coordinator, Phil Bennett. While at Baylor, Coach A. was on staff for three bowl appearances (Fiesta, Holiday, & Alamo), and a Big XII Championship (2013). Coach Alexander hails from Liberty, MO and currently resides in the DFW area.