By Cherokee Valeria
Eastern Washington University
Editor’s Note: Coach Valeria is entering his third year as cornerbacks coach at Eastern Washington University. In all, he has 9 years of college coaching experience with seven of those years coming at the Division I - FCS level and two at DII level. During that time, he has mentored six All-Conference Cornerbacks and two All-Americans. He has also served as Assistant Recruiting Coordinator and as Director of Football Operations during his career. Both starting corners won All Big Sky Conference honors both years he has been at EWU.
Eastern Washington University prides itself on being a defensive football team, often finding itself in the thick of the FCS playoffs each season. The Eagles are primarily a Quarters coverage team that mixes in Cover 2 and Zone Pressuresout of a 4-3 Front. Eastern Washington’s Cornerbacks coach Cherokee Valeria sat down with XandOLabs.com Mike Kuchar to talk about the two ways in which he teaches his Corners to play Cover Two- a “Kathy” technique and a “Squat” technique. According to Valeria, he uses those techniques based on what type of Cover Two you’re going to be playing. “If we play true five underneath and two over the top we will play a Soft Technique which we call Kathy,” said Valeria. “If we’re going to be playing four underneath with a middle hole run through defender(similar to Tampa 2?), we will play a hard technique which we call Squat.”
Coach Valeria explains what the difference is between his Soft and Hard Techniques: “When we say we are going to play a Soft Technique, we mean that the technique will be executed with little to no planned physical contact. When we say we are going to play a Hard Technique, we are telling the Cornerbacks that we are going to physically attack the Wide Receiver with this Technique. It’s the same idea behind playing Hard and Soft bump coverage.”
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Techniques
Kathy Technique Strengths:
- Easy eye progression, with Run/Pass keys coming directly from the Quarterbacks release from Center. This allows a quicker run fit by the Cornerback on bubbles, screens, and run action to him.
- Allows Cornerbacks to sink quicker with vertical routes, particularly against four verticals).
Kathy Technique Weaknesses:
- No physical re-routes; wide receivers may get clean releases.
- Weakness: Angle Walk pushes Corner further away from the quick slant.
Squat Technique Strengths:
- Physically disrupting the release of the Wide Receiver and in turn the timing of an offensive pass play.
- Staying “on cliff” (without backing up) allows the Cornerback to insert himself faster against the quick pass game.
Squat Technique Weaknesses:
- Often late on outside run actions and bubbles.
- Harder to defend the hole shot between the Corner and the Cover 2 Safety.
Before we address the specific techniques behind both coverages, Valeria teaches his players to key the QB for four specific reads post-snap:
- 3-step read- QB takes three-step drop from Under Center, or one step drop from shotgun alignments.
- 5-step read- QB takes five-step drop from Under Center, or three step drop from shotgun alignments.
- Run action towardsthe Corner.
- Run actionawayfrom Corner.
The Corners responses are predicated on these three reactions. All of these reads have corresponding techniques that will be address in this report. We will begin with Kathy Technique.
Philosophy of Base Cover 2
Base Cover 2is a soft cover two coverage where the Corners could be soft on the outside while allowing the linebackers to be hard on the inside. According to Valeria, this coverage is based off down and distance. “Any time we are hard on the outside with the Corners, the backers will be soft and the safeties could expand on the hash,” said Valeria. “Any time the Corners play soft, the outside backers play hard while the safeties can hold the hash.”