By Joey Ginn
Bethel High School (OK)
Remember back in the old days when we had to guess which formation the offense was going to be in and hope we called the right coverage to defend them? Why not teach a few coverage concepts and in your scouting report meeting tell your kids which coverage you want to play to specific formations? In 2016 we began utilizing split-field coverages in my previous stop at Choctaw, and one thing that traveled with me to Bethel was Split-Field Coverages. I was blessed to have the same Free Safety 3 years in a row which certainly helped the process. Last week in our exit interview he told me the one difficult thing was the one week this year the coaches called coverages from the sideline… We believe split field coverages give our kids a toolbox to utilize the coverage based on the split of #2 Receiver on the Read Side and number of backs and number of receivers on the Away Side. This approach helps our guys get us in the best coverage. We believe the Split Field Coverages we use allow us to build coverages off each other to ease the install/teaching process. We also believe this helps us get as many hats in the run box as possible vs. certain formations.
Communication is Key:
The first thing we teach our Safeties before we start any formation calls/alignments is that there must be our communicators. We do not want our Corners to have to worry about the formation, only the coverage they are playing, so they are our first communication via a hand signal to the corners. The next call our safety must make is a communication call to the OLB, so he knows his coverage responsibility. The simplest teaching point we use during this install process in his communication with the OLB is by asking him, where would we need that OLB to help us in Coverage? This to me is the easiest way for these guys to understand where that OLB needs to be in coverage.
Read Side Definitions:
Pro 1 TE and 1 Split
Vs. Pro set our 1st Coverage and quite honestly only coverage is a Robber Coverage. FS will communicate “Robber” to the Corner, which tells the Corner he has all of #1. There isn’t much teaching that will take place with the Corner, we work man drills with our Corners every Tuesday and Wednesday while the rest of the D is in Inside Period. The Free Safety will then tell the $ “Wheel Alert” telling him he is the Flat player on a pass and must take the Wheel of #2. The Safety is reading the TE once the ball is snapped. We teach a bounce technique to the Safety in Robber; we play at 6-8 yards off in Robber and want to be 1 yard outside the TE. The Safety's rules on Robber are simple, if the TE is blocking you are in the run fit (Diagram 2), we are going to spill the ball to you, vs. The option you are the itch player.
If the TE is Vertical, you have all of him m/m (Diagram 3).
If the TE is Inside you rob the Curl of #1 (Diagram 4), if the TE is out the OLB will take him so again, you rob the Curl of #1 (Diagram 5).
I think it’s important to know our definition of vertical is a route past the backers. We play our backers at 5 yards; we tell the defensive backs if the route goes past the LBs it’s vertical in all our coverages.