Training Trap Corners in the Run Game

Jun 8, 2020 | Defending Run Game, Position Groups, Cornerbacks

By Jamison M. Bisch
Defensive Coordinator
Bemidji State University (MN)
Twitter: @coachbisch


At Bemidji State, we believe all 11 players on Defense should have the ability to defeat blocks and make tackles when given the opportunity. I am fortunate to have an upper-echelon defensive staff here at Bemidji State that starts with our passionate Head Coach and former DC Brent Bolte, two DB coaches Rich Jahner and Sheldon Tucker, DL coach Darius Carey, and Sam/Nickel coach Alex Gray.  Rich Jahner is a former Defensive Coordinator with over 20 years of experience overseeing the Secondary, and Sheldon Tucker a young, cutting edge coach who focuses on the CBs. More than anything we have a group of selfless young men who buy into our system, our coaches, and each other, they play with relentless effort, communicate, and have a team-first mindset. We were fortunate to have 3 All-Conference DB's in 2018 as well as an All-American in Gunner Olszewski #36 who played both CB and Safety. Players make plays, players win games!

We will play a variety of different concepts in a given game plan including Quarters, Man, Cover 3, Cover 2, and Pressures. Being multiple means, we must train each player on the field how to fit the run accordingly. While it is not our main concept, we have played some variation of Cover 2 or Cover 3 roughly 20% of the time in 2018. In doing so we typically ask one or both Corners to fit the run game whether it is Cover 2 or Cover 3. When we play Cover 2, we usually play one of the following variations: 2-Man, 2-Carry, 2-Carry with pressure, or Tampa 2. In the coverages we usually allow the CB to play pass first except for Tampa 2, where he becomes a primary run defender and a Curl-Flat pass defender essentially. Likewise, within our Cover 3 calls, we can roll the secondary strong, roll the secondary weak, insert the safeties strong/weak, or cloud/trap the CB's strong or weak. When we trap the CB's strong or weak, they become primary run defenders much like Tampa 2 and we will teach the run fit and eye progressions the same in 3 Trap/Cloud and Tampa 2. Therefore, for this article I will focus on the CB run fits in Tampa 2 and 3 Trap/Cloud calls.

Coaching Points

Whether we are playing Tampa 2 or 3 Trap/Cloud the rules for our CB’s become the same. Both Tampa 2 and 3 Trap/Cloud are what we consider “Even” fit systems. In other words, we will have an even number of fitters vs the run as the opponent has gaps/blockers. In our “Even” fit systems we will use the Lever-Spill-Lever concept with our LB’s/Secondary. We define a lever player as someone who attacks Fullback outside in, keeping outside arm/leg free, keeping the ball inside, not letting it bounce. We define a spill player as someone who attacks Fullback inside out, wrong shoulder, to make the ball bounce/spill outside to the lever player.

Basic rules for the Trap CB are as follows:

Vs 2 or 3 WR

  1. Eyes: QB thru 3 Step

  2. Run Fit: Primary Force (Outside 2)

  3. Pass: Curl-Flat, field-side CB can be slower to landmark if working outside-in


Vs 1 WR:

  1. on Fullback if applicable, no Fullback key QB thru 3 Step

  2. Run Fit: Lever Fullback. If FB to = Lever. If FB away = Lever widest gap/ball. Must be aggressive vs run.

  3. Pass: Curl-Flat


We allow our CB's to have some freedom to play off at 6-8 yards or to play closer to the line of scrimmage from a press look when they are the trap CB. We base their alignment on formation, field position, field/boundary, type of player, and other factors based on the game plan. Both an alignment and a press alignment have their advantages and disadvantages when playing trap technique.

Off Alignment

Advantages: Broad vision, Angle to run fit, reduces whole shot vs pass

Disadvantages: Further away from the line of scrimmage to fit, WR can scoop or crack him with a good angle

Stance/Technique: 6-8 yards off, can play it at 10-12 yards off to field in certain situations. Heal-Toe alignment with inside foot back, hips angled in at QB. Versus run trigger with downhill angle.

Press Alignment

Advantages: Closer to the line of scrimmage to beat the block of WR, can jam WR while keying run game (good vs game-changer at X)

Disadvantages: Vision/Angle not always ideal vs run, opens whole shot down sideline more than off alignment.

Stance/Technique: 1-2 yards offline of Scrimmage, can loosen up slightly for vision. Square stance. Make it look just like press man. Versus run trigger with a flat angle parallel to the line of scrimmage to find an appropriate fit.

I prefer initially teaching off what we call Flex Formation, which is illustrated below with some coaching points for Tampa 2. From this formation, you can move the Y (Fullback) to get 2x2 and 3x1 formations and the fits remain the same based on where Y is at. For reference Cuff = Curl/Flat.

Diagram 1

Game Film Vs. 2-Back Formations:

Diagram 2

Vs Flex. Right CB: Shows press, eyes inside on fullback, trigger vs the run, lever widest open gap