Thursday, September 18, 2014

Inside the Playbook: Helping Lunt (Illinois) Read Coverage - PREVIEW

Wes Lunt transferred to Illinois from Oklahoma State. (USATSI)
Early in the first quarter, Illinois had success running crossing routes against Washington's man-to-man cover 1. They ran routes concepts like the drag and follow (drive and chase), mesh concept, and a Cadillac (levels) concept. These are concepts that are all-coverage beaters, but when Washington switched from a Cover one/Man Under to Cover two/four, Lunt struggled to read the underneath coverage quick enough.

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How To Make Life Easier for Lunt
So, first of all, Lunt needs pass protection. The example above wasn't the only time Heitz got whooped. In fact, several of the other concepts I got to diagram weren't allowed to develop before the pressure got in off the right side of the line. What that means is that the RT needs some help. You can give him help in several ways: line up a TE on his side, have a RB chip and help on the DE, or run play action. Play action forces the DE to remain engaged with the OL rather than getting vertical. Heitz's biggest issues were when the DE got vertical and was able to get Heitz off-balance.

The second thing to do is to provide quicker two-high coverage beaters to the outside. In this case, Illinois runs what is called a switch concept to the near side of the field. This acts as two verticals against a Cover 2, forcing the safety to pick to cover the post or cover the streak. Against Cover 4, the cross works to leverage both the safety and the CB to give the receivers body position on the defenders.

Likewise, there is what we call an "Alert". An "alert" is a receiver that has a good chance to break open based on the movement of a single key. In this case, the Cover 4 SS cheats up to protect the run. This alerts Lunt to look for the X-receiver to the top of the screen. The X-receiver runs a hesitate and go and gets over top of the CB and is wide open.


The key here is that even if Lunt doesn't go to the Alert receiver, he has helped protect himself with the PA, he has taken the underneath coverage out of the equation (both with the PA and the route concepts), and the switch concept has fairly easy read keys on the outside for him to read and make a throw. This is easier for him, it protects him, and it gets him away from having to read tight underneath zones.

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Follow the link to The Champaign room to view the whole article, including how Washington switching from a man to zone concept made reads more difficult on Illinois's Drag and Follow patterns.

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