One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the defensive football world is the complexity of teaching Rip & Liz match coverage concepts.
Dan Owen, the defensive coordinator of Presbyterian College, believes that this coverage is simple and over complicated by a lot of people. He feels that teaching match principles is easy to teach to his players and that his guys pick it up quickly. So much so in fact, that he installs it on day 1 each year.
Of course there are plenty of questions that come about, but after those are all answered and clear roles and responsibilities are defined, the defense is off to the races.
Coach Dan Owen breaks down the coverage concept in a simplistic manner using both film and diagrams, and outlines how to teach this information to your athletes.
This article and video are taken from Coach Owen's 3-Part Presentation: Advanced Coverage Concepts HERE
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more
The Check Release: 3 vs 4 Verts
In this first scenario, we’re looking at the responsibilities of the secondary players against a 4 verticals concept. Here, if the number 2 player goes vertical, the seam flat player goes with number 2.
This often raises the question: “How will you handle the hook/flat players?”
Coach Owen has an answer to this, but the biggest factor in this situation is when encountering a check release tailback (they don’t get out of the backfield right away). This can be problematic. Hook players need to know if they’re playing match or spot and that will determine how they push to the tailback.
For example: If 2 releases on a vertical route, and the tailback checks and releases, the Will linebacker knows that he has to run to the flat of the tailback (number 3 player).
On the backside, the secondary is matched up and stays matched up while they play vertically in man.
Coach Owen talks more about defending the flats in this video talking about Trap Coverage Technique.
In free release situations, your players always need to talk about “where’s number 3?”. They will respond with “the back is to you,” and thus you get an “alert push-push” call.
If the back free releases at the snap, the Will can tell the boundary safety “ we’re gonna push-push right away.”
It’s very important that your defenders are able to identify specific pre-snap reads to make the proper alert and push calls.
The push call has no effect on the opposite side of the defense when in match coverage.
When facing the drive concept, if the “S” was cut pre-snap, the defense is already making an “under” call. This means that if confirmed post-snap by an underneath route, the Sam linebacker (seam flat player on 2) will pack it back inside expecting something coming back across his face.
For example: If “S” goes under, the S defender will still yell “under under” and zone off, pack inside a bit, and pack straight back at the release of number 1.
The other side is still running verts. The Will knows that the boundary corner and safety are matched up, so he knows the boundary safety is the curl flat player to the boundary.
This means that he (the hook 3 player) has to take the final crosser coming back to his side in match spot coverage. This is just a true zone drop while knowing you need to take a final 3, knowing what happened to the boundary.
When going up against the smash concept, Dan Owen has one major rule: if number 1 starts on the ball and number 2 is off of the ball, the defense needs to automatically switch from match to spot principles. This is so important that coach Owen installs it on day 1.
The purpose of doing this is to prevent the slot fade or corner route from being able to attack a seam flat player which is a severe mismatch for the defense.
In this instance, the field corner is still responsible for holding off the hitch route for the first two steps, but then he is allowed to transition to play the low outside hip of the corner or fade route by the number 2 receiver.
Coach Owen wants him to get beaten over the top by the corner route because it changes the read for the receiver and forces them to catch a pass like a fade ball.
When handling switch verticals on the backside of the play, DBs are coached to run with the receivers.
The boundary corner is taught to stay on number 1 and the boundary safety is taught to stay on number 2.
As your defense develops, you can install change up coverages that include switching and running, or continue to have them run man to man on vertically breaking routes.
A good example of this is a one-word defensive call: Cowboy Coverage, which we discuss in another article.
Check out the entire series from Coach Owen - Advanced Coverage Concepts: The Complete Series HERE