OLBs in Cloud Coverage from Three High Alignments

Feb 23, 2019 | Three High Coverage Structures, Defense, Coverage

By Keith Snyder
Defensive Coordinator
Dekalb High School (IL)
Twitter: @KTS7799



In 2010, I was the offensive line and defensive line coach at Kaneland. That season we made it to the 5A Semifinals and lost to Montini High School. At that time, we were a traditional 3-3 1-high team that would go to a traditional 2-high (2 safeties deep and an overhang player to field or passing strength) versus spread teams or in passing situations. During this game, we had no answers for when they would shift or jet motion away from our over-hang and hit us with bubbles and jet sweeps. I knew when I became a defensive coordinator that I wanted the balance of 1-high look but be able to play with a hard corner. So, in 2011, we started running what is the cloud look that many teams run now. It worked well for us getting back to the semi's and having a pass defense that picked off 16 passes in 13 games. It allowed us to roll coverages very seamlessly and have the balance I was looking for so that we were never out-leveraged.  The following year, we introduced our OLB’s lining up as CBs to give us a new variation to the cloud concept. We had success with it because it put our players in positions that they could be successful and were used to playing. Our OLBs were able to get hands-on and re-route wideouts while our CBs were still the deep zone. 

Over the next few years, we went back to a traditional 3-3, 2-high look for various reasons, but we became much more predictable and asked more of our athletes than we needed. In 2016, I had the opportunity to take over as defensive coordinator at Dekalb High School and I knew this time I wasn't going to make the same mistake. We were going to be a cover 3 team no matter what from both a traditional -high look as well as non-traditional 2-high schemes. Over the past two seasons, we have continued to grow and develop this combining a true cloud concept with an OLB emphasis and incorporating Robber techniques to best use our personnel in what we call our Monster Cover 3.


Our Reasons for Running Monster Cover 3:

  • It allows us to teach similar concepts to positions but give us two different coverage looks: OLBs: Flat & Force; CBs: Deep 1/3; FS: Robber Tech; ILBs: collision/reroute wall #2
  • Played into our strengths OLBs can be physical with wideouts, corners are our deep space players and made use of the fact we put our most athletic, aggressive downhill player at Free safety leaving him unaccounted for in the run game.
  • We can still roll to coverages.
  • We would morph into different looks depending on the offensive formation giving the defense an awkward look for offenses to game plan and attack.


Two Scenarios to Use Cloud:

  1. We can purely plug up A&B Gap with defensive linemen allowing us to play with a light box, depending on the formation. In this concept, we have two base fronts 4-0-4 (Bull) & 3-0-3 (Tight)
  2. 3rd Down Coverage: Here we are now bringing four, we are not as concerned with covering just B Gaps with the Defensive Line. We will play 5-0-5 & 3-0-3 fronts slanting, stunting and blitzing to bring pressure while dropping 7


Defensive Position Break Down:

  • DL: T (Tackle, strong side DL) N-Nose Guard, E (End, weak wide DL)
  • ILB/Stacks: We use a numbering system don’t really use names outside of Middle is Mike. 2 (Strong Side ILB) 3 (Mike) 4 (Weak Side ILB)
  • OLBs: We leave them field and boundary, so they don’t have to spend as much time running across the field for formations. 1 (Field/Strong Side OLB) 5 (Boundary/Weak Side OLB
  • F-Free Safety
  • CBs-CBs


Position’s Run/Pass Responsibility





T/E: B Gap

NG: A Gaps

Vertical Penetration in their Gap


2/4: C Gaps

3: Gap Free

2/4: Collision #2 to Hook/Curl

3: QB Spy/ Replace Blitzer