By Brian Stoldt
Former Defensive Backs Coach
Alfred University (NY)
Playing defensive back is one of the most physically difficult positions in football considering that defensive backs need to defend the best athletes on the field. One of the best ways to gain an advantage on the opposing offense is through our pre-snap eye discipline. Many physical traits are essential for a successful defensive back such as good feet, being balanced, but mentally, defensive backs can create a major advantage with their eye discipline. Specifically, this report will focus on the eye discipline of a strong safety in our Cover 3 Buzz.
First, the players need to understand the basic concepts of each coverage they are running. Man, Zone, or Zone blitz? No matter the coverage, eye discipline is incredibly important. Based on each coverage we run, each formation we face, and certain tendencies that we find, our safeties will have different responsibilities in each given situation. The process all starts with their eyes.
In Zone coverage, we want to have awareness of the offensive formation, but defensive backs want to read the drop and shoulders of the QB. This is especially true for an insert safety in our Cover 3 Buzz.
Buzz vs Run
The first key for our Strong Safety when he is inserting is to get a run/pass read in the backfield. If he sees the ball handed off, his responsibility is to take an inside path to the ball carrier by tracking his inside hip to the ball. Essentially, he is a spill player because he has a force/flat player outside of him. That player’s responsibility is to force the ball back inside. In the first clip, our strong safety, #5 reads that there is a low ball, and he inserts inside the RT to make the tackle.