If you’ve decided to simplify your defense with a spot drop coverage, you’re probably looking at how to play cover 3 vs 4 verticals. Coaches are realizing the value of the spot drop cover 3’s simplicity but offensive coaches are licking their chops to attack it, too.
This week’s episode of the JDFB Quick Clinic looks at key points for coaching the deep third defenders. From the basics of Cover 3 alignment and the zone turn, to the much more difficult question of how to stop those 4 vertical attacks.
Critical Free Safety Coaching Points for Cover 3 vs 4 Verticals
The Free Safety is by far the most critical part of how your defense will handle 4 verticals with any 1-high safety coverage. He’s got to be patient and stay centered or the Quarterback will take advantage when he picks a side. Most QBs are taught to look off the Free Safety to attack the seams.
Along with staying in his peddle and not getting drawn to a side early, he needs to also key the Quarterback to see the ball come out of his hand. Good Free Safeties need to cover from hash to hash to give your Cover 3 maximum effectiveness against 4 verticals.
Couple that importance with his critical role as the alley defender in your run fits. Your Free Safety should always be the best athlete on the football team. One thing that’s remained consistent is that the quality of the Free Safety will dictate just how good your defense can be. You can’t hide this guy.
Coaching Cover 3 Cornerbacks
High School coaches usually try to hide a guy at Corner. They aren’t directly involved in your run fits, so they don’t need to be a great tackler. And he’s the farther defender away from the Quarterback, so the throws tend to be lower percentage. Even in routes on air drills.
To maximize the ability of the cornerback, and get any real help from your Cover 3 vs. 4 verticals, you’ve got to keep his coaching simple. The ASKA for Cornerbacks is detailed but not complicated.
Corners always want to force the Quarterback to throw outside of them. Because it’s a longer throw, he’s got plenty of time to react and squeeze the go route. He’s also got sideline help to the outside. If he can force the Quarterback to overthrow the ball or throw it too far outside, it’s an incompletion every time.
Listen to this episode of the JDFB Quick Clinic to find out the extremely important coaching point I learned from a Kirby Smart clinic talk about a decade ago. It’s the most important teaching point for corners in Cover 3 vs 4 verticals that I’ve heard.