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By James "Mac" McCleary Defensive Coordinator, Notre Dame High School (LA)

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Editor's Note:  Coach McCleary has coached for Notre Dame High School of Acadia Parish, Louisiana for the last 14 years and has been the defensive coordinator for the past 6 years.  During his time as the coordinator, Notre Dame has amassed a record of 73-9.  In his six years as defensive coordinator, Notre Dame has had the opportunity to compete in 3 state championship games. 

In the first article, (click here to view) I discussed how we align ourselves in Cover Two by body position to take away the holes in the field based on the receivers spacing.  In this article we will discuss the reads and techniques we use to accompany these body positions to execute the coverage in a successful way.  With all of our coverage variations, we teach our corners 3 ways to cover; Man Coverage, Cover 2 (flat to deep), and Deep (Quarters).

When calling a coverage, the numbers tell the corner what to do.  Example: C-20, Strong Corner play C-2(flats) Weak Corner play C-0(man).

When playing Cover 2 in the middle of field the Corners look at the spacing of the #1 and #2 receivers and line themselves up in one of three body positions.  The corners will press, play choke technique, or play shake technique.

Average Spacing of #1 and #2

If the #1 receiver’s spacing is splitting the numbers and the hash (average spacing), then the corner will press the receiver with outside leverage.

All we want from our Cornerbacks when dealing with the corner route by #2 is to force the ball over the top and not allowing #2 to flatten the route out away from the safety.  As the corner sinks to protect the corner route, he is looking for something to come back into the flats.  If there is a flat route coming, reading the quarterbacks shoulder, we don’t jump it.  We break on it when the quarterback takes his hands off the ball to throw it (hand off the indicator we call it).

For a additional coaching points, diagrams, and video on this Press Techniques,  click here to join the insiders.

Wide Spacing of #1 and #2

If #1’s spacing is on or outside the numbers (wide spacing), then the corner will use choke technique.  The corner will line up around 2 yards inside the numbers and 8 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The corner is still playing cover 2.  He’s just playing from a better leverage point.  The corner will get his run pass read from the near lineman he reads run, he attacks with force leverage.  If he sees pass, then the corner will read off of the #2 receiver.  The reads are no different from the press position after he secures #1 inside.

For a additional coaching points, diagrams, and video on Coach McCleary's approach to addressing Wide spacing by receivers,  click here to join the insiders.

Tight Spacing of #1 and #2

The last body position that the corners use is the shake technique.  Shake technique is used when the spacing between #1 and #2 are tight.  We are expecting the receivers to cross each other with #1 going in and #2 going out.  Pressing #1 would make it easy for #2 to overtake the corner and get outside of him.  The corner will line up around 2 to 3 yards outside #1 and 8 yards from the line of scrimmage.

Since the Corner is in an off position, he will get his run pass read from the near lineman.  When the corner reads pass, he will get width and read #2.  We usually look for an out or a rail from #2 on an outside release.


Hopefully this has been helpful in addressing cover 2 Reads for our cornerbacks.  Next article we will go over our Quarters Coverage Reads.  If there are any questions please be free to ask.

What You're Missing:

Join X&O Labs exclusive membership, the Insiders, and gain full access to Coach McCleary entire clinic report including:

  • The three techniques that Coach McCleary has his Corners use based on the leverage of the number one and number two receiver to their side.

  • How Coach McCleary teaches Press Technique to his Corners.

  • How Coach McCleary teaches Shake Technique to his Corners

  • How Coach McCleary teaches Choke Technique to his Corners

  • Plus game film of these techniques

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