One of our loyal followers, Roger Calder, had some questions about DB techniques and secondary play for our DB coach Ken Stills.  Coach Stills had such a thorough and detailed reply to his questions that we thought it would be a great idea to have him post his answers!

Roger’s questions:

In the cornerback videos do you suggest any zone defenses that work best when you’re facing a team that runs two tight ends and three backs like double wing or a wishbone? Also, what about double moves and how to defend them? I know you did the speed turn versus a post corner but what about an out and up, slant and go, or if a receiver tries to stem you like discussed in the wide receiver videos by Coach Van Tassel? 


Thanks for your questions and hopefully these are the answers that will help your team and players become more successful!

Let’s talk about zone defense and that defense’s success against the Wing-T and Wishbone offense.  Really we can talk about zone defense all day but the key to successful zones are players playing disciplined zone concepts. Each player must execute his responsibility. If you’re a flat defender, be in the flat and if you are a half field player, be in your zone. It’s all about 11 guys working together as a team.

The one defense that all teams should install and use as their base defense is cover 2. This defense allows your players to contain the outside run (speed sweep or option) as well as the inside A and B gaps. You will also be in position to handle the play action pass with half field defenders.

Regarding double moves, many of the adjustments a defensive player makes are when they are out of position.  If a receiver is running a double move on a defender and the defender is in proper position he should be able to react without having to speed turn or grab a receiver.

An example: versus the out and up route.  If a defender (player B) has a proper cushion (3 yards) and the receiver (player A) runs the out route, player B should be able to drive the out route, peak at the QB and still be able to react to the up move without getting beat on the second move.  If the cushion has been reduced by player A and player B has to open his hips, he will be out of position to react on the out route.  Once he does, the second move will come and the defender will be forced to grab the receiver and draw the penalty.  The same rule applies to the slant and go. Proper cushion is a must as this will allow player B to make the adjustment on the move without having to grab or collision player A.

Regarding receivers and stemming off the ball. Pre snap alignment is crucial for all defenders. Based on the defense and the receiver’s alignment (versus zone defense) a head up to inside alignment is always recommended. Your man to man alignment should look exactly the same.  Proper depth is key allowing the defender to read inside for the run or 3 step passing game.  Lining up outside the receiver is rarely recommended.  The defender should still be able to see the receiver in their peripheral vision and still see inside to the QB and football.

As an example, let’s talk about off-man to man coverage with no inside/post help.  If the defender (player B) has proper depth and alignment and the receiver (player A) starts to run his route, the defender should have time to read the 90 game (3 step drop) and react to a double move.  Player B’s alignment is head up to slightly inside which allows him to weave inside, not exposing the quick slant or drag route, allowing Player A to run away from Player B. Player B knows he has no inside help so weaving inside and keeping a proper cushion is paramount. Once your cushion has been pressed or taken away, Player B must turn to Player A trying to stay on the up field shoulder if possible. You have no help inside or over the top so leverage is everything. Now it’s all about route recognition and reading the receivers eyes and hands. To see one of my videos demonstrating defensive back techniques click here.

Thanks again for your questions and continued success,

Ken Stills
DB Coach

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