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Thursday, October 8, 2009 Nick Saban: Middle of the Field Safety Co era!

e "rinci#les $Co er %&

Cover 1
The simplest and best defense in football is man-free coverage. It covers everything, it stuffs the run, and it defends the middle of the field. Its the #1 coverage in pro ball ....basically because you cant get away with playing Cover . 'ust like it sounds, (an)free co era!e is (an)to)(an defense *ith a free safety in the dee# hole $and a linebacker in the shallo* hole&+ "layers si(#ly line u# and #lay the res#ecti e (an across fro( the(+ %+ Corners al*ays take the first recei er outside $and use the MOF di ider ,ust like in C-& 2+ The Stron! Safety dis#laces to the second recei er -+ The Mike and Sa( #lay the backs res#ecti ely $Sa( has first back out stron! . Mike has third back& /+ The 0ill takes the first back out *eak or the second recei er *eak+

1s can be found on #a!e %23 of the 4S5 #laybook, *here it e6#lains Co er % assi!n(ents and ad,ust(ents to each for(ation+ The #osition)(aintenance co ered in the first section of this series #lays a (a,or #art in funnellin! recei ers into the free safety . rat)in)the)hole hel# and eli(inates du#lication of effort+ 0ith (an co era!e, there beco(es fe*er o##ortunities for interce#tions, but it increases the chances of an inco(#letion+ The (ain nuance of this co era!e has to do *ith a challen!in!.conflictin! assi!n(ents for the backers+ 7ecause the (ain thrust of the defense is to sto# the run fro( the inside out and kee#in! the defenders #layin! fast, the #re(ise is to kee# the linebackers focused

on the backs and T8+ Saban uses an alert code $91T& to #re ent a #otentially :co era!e breakin!; route+

<91T= is used to alert inside backers of the stron! safety #assin! off his res#onsibility $ti!ht end& to the inside linebackers+ 0hen the second recei er $ti!ht end& ste(s inside $shallo*&, if the stron! safety ran *ith hi(, he *ould be i((ediately acatin! the #eri(eter $*here the run !a(e *ould likely be attackin!& as *ell as runnin! into the #ath of the $run !a(e& #ursuin! linebackers $#otential rub.#ick&+ To >uickly circu( ent this ha?ard, *hen the ti!ht end ste(s inside, the stron! safety *ill declare.yell <RAT!. <9at= (eans a !uy is co(in! into the funnel $is bein! funneled& and the re(ainin! defender in the hole should cut.reroute and ,u(# this recei er as he a##roaches+

This call acco(#lishes t*o thin!s+ First, it alerts the ne6t backer o er $Sa(& that the stron! safety *ill take his assi!ned (an $first back out&, and he should no* ad,ust to the

second back out stron!+ Secondly, it tells the Mike, *ho is the <rat in the hole= that he is !oin! to ha e co(#any soon $crossin! ti!ht end& and can ,u(# this route as it co(es+

This lea es the defense *ith @% in the bo6, #uttin! - linebackers on 2 $re(ainin!& backs $see dia!ra( belo*&+

7ecause the AratA rules can be influenced by the first crosser, ho* does all this shake out in a real)ti(e scenarioB Co* is it all able to re(ain consistent and ad,ust to (ulti)le el #assin! attacksB Dn the e6a(#le belo*, the Eshallo*E or ENC11E #ost.di! conce#t is utili?ed to attack the defensi e co era!e at - le els+

The corners ob iously eli(inate the outside recei ers+ 7ecause the F ali!ns inside the di ider and is bein! funnelled into (iddle)of)the)field co era!e, the stron! safety ali!ns outside and his ertical #ositionin! on hi( *ill be lo*)shoulder $see first #ost on #osition (aintenance&+ This #uts the stron! safety in #erfect #osition to deny the ertical)to)inside breakin! di! route $*ith additional free safety sittin! o er the to# in the dee# hole to deny the di! and the #ost&+ 7ecause the second recei er i((ediately takes an inside route $shallo*&, he is #assed off to the rat)in)the)hole $S& *ho is lookin! to cut this recei er as he co(es across the for(ation+ The flo*)side backer $M& to the side the back $F& releases takes his (an into the flat.flare+ 7ecause the back is accounted for by the absolute AfunnelA rules $2 on %&, the 0, *ho has released his shallo* to the rat, is free to 9O7OT $Roll and Run to find the seam/TE&+ Since he is not threatened by G%, G2, or G- *eak, the 0, in this conce#t i((ediately bails to find the T8 and rob the inter(ediate hole $9O7OT&+ This #ro ides a -)le el)(an)defense a!ainst this conce#t+ Ob iously, *alkin! out a linebacker on a *eak recei er is not ideal, so *hat ha##ens if a back (otions out of the backfield or you are confronted *ith a true %)back setB Ho you dis#lace a linebacker and lea e yourself ulnerable to inside runB This isnAt a !ood o#tion, therefore a second alternati e is offered $E% 1lertE&+

1 ALERT

7ecause *e ,ust *ant linebackers (atched u# *ith backs and ti!ht end, *hen confronted *ith a second recei er *eak, <% 1lert= is used to #reci#itate an ad,ust(ent by the safeties+ The defense *ill s#in the safeties to the second recei er *eak+

% 1lert (eans the ti!ht end and re(ainin! backs are taken by linebackers+ 1ll breaks are taken by safeties+ To acco((odate or ad,ust to this, the safeties *ill s#in the co era!e

$ty#ically a*ay fro( the T8&+ 9ather than *alkin! out backers, the safeties ad,ust and the S takes the T8, lea in! the M I 0 on the re(ainin! back $2 on %, as #ictured belo*&+

This essentially slides the backers a*ay fro( the s#in, lea in! a 2 on % ad anta!e *ith the linebackers on the re(ainin! back+ The linebacker to the side the back releases takes the back, the re(ainin! linebacker beco(es the rat in the hole+ Dn su((aryJ

Funnel *hen 47s ha e - on 2 ersus the backs Alert *hen 47s ha e 2 on % ersus the backs+