By Mike Kuchar with Chad Byers
Inside Linebackers/Co-Defensive Coordinator
Furman University (SC)
For Coach Byers, the watershed moment came against NC State back in 2021. The season before, Coach Byers and the Furman staff were modeling their trap pressures off of what nearby Clemson was doing by inverting with the field safety. Problem was, they were continually giving up the hole shot in the vacated space created by the field safety invert. The field safety is not in good position to wall number two to the field, giving up a big play before the boundary safety can rotate.
The defensive staff at Furman loved field trap coverage with pressure so, directly after the season the staff kept the same coverage but started to invert with the boundary safety, providing a different look for the quarterback, particularly those trying to identify coverages by scanning the boundary safety.
While Coach Byers admits it’s a long way to go for that safety and may tip off single high rotation- something the Paladins don’t major in as more of a two-high outfit- the alteration proved to be a better answer for the continual horizontal pass game prevalent in the Southern Conference. “We used to start with the field safety working off number two and the boundary safety pushing for high hole but we don’t run enough cover one to supplement or disguise that,” he said. “We switched it up with safeties to give less of a honey hole.”
Field Trap Pressure Responsibilities:
Furman is a conventional Even front defense that plays with Nickel personnel, including a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end to the boundary. While they rotate between Even and Odd spacing, this particular pressure will resemble a 4-2-5 look. The Nickel (Spur) and Mike linebacker are tied to the pressure while with the back end will have the following responsibilities:
Boundary Safety- “WIC” (wall in breaks and carry verts) on number two
Boundary Corner- Halves coverage to boundary
Boundary Outside Linebacker (Bandit)- boundary flat
Boundary Inside Linebacker (Will)- “WIC” on number three
Free Safety- Halves coverage to field
Field Corner- Field Flat
The adjustment proved to be fruitful for the Paladins defense. They ran it on 24 snaps this past season and helped catapult a defense that ranked 10th in scoring defense (20.2 ppg) and 11th in 3rd down defense at the FCS level. It became a go-to for Coach Byers on second and long or second and medium to get teams in third and long.
“The only route you’re weak on is a hitch to number two but nobody lives off of that so it doesn’t affect you too much, and should be a Catch-tackle,” he said. “The dig by number two may be open if WIC player doesn’t have great eye discipline because his wall won’t be as efficient as it should be.”
The field trap coverage and new pressure pattern- which is addressed below- held up against RPO concepts and two-back offense because of the wall two player to the pressure side. It also was an efficient pressure against bunch or cluster formations because the shorter edge produced by the trap corner allows him to play anything out to the flat right way. It brings the corner closer to the formation. And in most cases, offenses do not run those RPO concepts from compressed formations.