EWU Pattern Match Coverage System

Dec 25, 2018 | Defense, Coverage, Two High Coverage Structures

By Cherokee Valeria
Cornerbacks Coach
Eastern Washington University
Twitter: @CoachCherokee



easternwashEastern 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 team that mixes in Cover 3 and Zone Pressures out of a 4-2-5 front. In this clinic report, I will share our Quarter-Man Technique that is used when we are playing Cover 4 and we want the cornerback in an off technique. 

Theory of Cover 4:

When installing a new defensive call to our players, we will always break down the theory, strengths, and weaknesses of the coverage. This allows us the opportunity to explain why we will call a particular coverage at a particular time of a game.

XO Labs PPT Template1

For instance, we tell our players that Cover 4 is a pattern-read man concept that is accompanied by a four man rush. It is not your typical zone coverage, where defensive players are responsible for particular areas of the field. Instead, they are dropping and relating to route combinations that are ran by the offense.

We explain to the defense that there are three underneath match drop defenders, and four vertical attached players. At Eastern Washington, we primarily run this coverage out of our four man fronts and is used on normal down and distance situations.

Quarter-Man Technique

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Techniques:


  • Direct vision on the quarterbacks release from center provides quicker Run/Pass key
  • Easily disguised within our other off techniques
  • Natural cushion allows corners to run with a vertical release by the receiver


  • Cornerback’s off-alignment opens up the threat for offenses to attack the quick game to the flats. (The flats are a weakness in Cover 4)
  • Alignment causes a later reaction to a Push-Crack by the wide receiver
  • Takes cornerback out of the pattern match equation, therefore the safety or linebacker has to run with any slot receiver to the flats


  • Cornerback alignment is “7x1” meaning seven yards off number one receiver, one yard inside.
  • Alignment will be based off of a split rule adjustment
    • Ball in the Middle of the Field = 2 yards on top of the numbers
    • Ball on the Hash = The boundary corner will be at the top of numbers and the field corner will be ½ way between the numbers and the hash
  • Against any type of run towards us we are responsible for secondary support
  • Against any type of run away from us we will carry out our insurance responsibilities (Cutback – Reverse – Pylon)
  • Against any pass we will be responsible for identifying the release of #1 and playing man coverage

When do we play our Quarter-Man Technique?:

Our techniques are based off the position of the first eligible receiver on our side of the core formation. In most situations this will be on a detached wide receiver or an attached tight end.

Our Quarter-Man technique will be executed when we are aligning to a detached wide receiver. We have a completely separate technique that we call our clamp technique that we will use on an attached tight end.

Leverage on a Wide Receiver (Inside or Outside):

Our leverage within our alignment is based upon the wide receivers horizontal relationship to the core formation. We call this our ‘Split Rule Adjustment.’