Defending the Spread with Quarters Coverage

Mar 4, 2013 | Defense, Coverage, Two High Coverage Structures


By Matt Puffenberger

Defensive Coordinator

Berkeley Springs (WV)


Editors Note: Matt Puffenberger has been an Assistant Football Coach at Berkeley Springs since 2001 and is currently the Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Back Coach.  Berkeley Springs HS is an AA school located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  It had never played in a post-season game prior to 2002.  In 2000, Angelo Luvara came to BSHS after being the head coach at Potomac State College in Keyser, WV for 22 years.  During his tenure, BSHS has won their first playoff game in school history and advanced to the state quarterfinals.

Understanding Our Base Defense

We are a 4-3 base defense that plays primarily Quarter’s or "Split-Safety Robber" coverage (cover 8 in our terminology) the majority of the time.  Our Quarter’s rules vs. Pro Formations:

  • Corner’s = base alignment is 7 yds off and 2 yds inside the WR (we have a divider rule that tells us to take outside leverage vs. short splits) (we will sometimes show press and bail at the snap)
    • vs. run = secondary force/deep cut-off
    • vs. pass = inside deep ¼ (NO POST!)
  • OLB’s = align based on backfield set
    • vs. run = alley vs wide flow, gap alignment vs fast flow; opposite A-Gap away
    • vs. pass = flat-wheel-#3 (OLB’s buzz flats, run with any wheel, then work to #3)
  • ILB = Align based on backfield set
    • vs. run = fast flow to 1st window (a-gap to c-gap strong/b-gap weak)
    • vs. pass = work middle hole for depth, relate to #3, alert crossers
  • Safeties = Align no wider than the hashmark if into boundary, no less than 4 yds inside hash if to the field with heels at 10 yds
    • vs. run = force/cutback
    • vs. pass = man #2 if #2 vertical; rob #1 if #2 not vertical



Adjustments to 1 Back Formations

Our defense basically converts to a 4-2 Nickel-Type defense when facing 1 back formations. Depending on our personnel, we may sub in a 5th defensive back or have a designated LB that will play the "nickel" position.


Nickel Alignment Rules:

  • The Corners take their normal alignments.  If the Corner has a slot, but the Nickel is away from him, he aligns inside shoulder of #1 and inside of 5 yds.
  • The Nickel will align to the passing strength. He will align to the field vs. 2x2 4 WR formations. His base alignment is outside leverage, 5 yds off the line of scrimmage.
  • The OLB will align opposite the running strength and be responsible for the B-Gap vs the run.  If the OLB has a 3 technique to his side, he will make a call that stunts the 3 tech tackle into the A-Gap.
  • The ILB aligns to the running strength and is responsible for the open gap based on front alignment vs. the run.
  • The Safety to the Nickel aligns half-way between #2 and #3, unless #2 is very wide, in which case he aligns closer to #2.
  • The other Safety takes his normal alignment, unless there is a slot receiver to his side, in which case he aligns inside shoulder of #2 at 8 yds deep.