Monday, June 21, 2010

Football 101: The Cover 2 Defense

WT Executive Moderator

Football season is getting closer and closer each and every day. This season I am going to get to sit back and enjoy some football unlike last season with my entry into the United States Air Force with basic training and my technical training.

So in commemoration for the upcoming season, with me being the football freak that I am, I am going to do a series on some of the basic defensive schemes we will all see.

This first edition I will be outlining the "Cover 2 Defense".

Use this picture to refer back during the whole thing...


I will be using the basic 4-3 package. As you can see there are 4 down lineman up front. There responsibility are pretty much standard.

Defensive Ends
The D-Ends responsibility is to keep containment on the edges in case of a scramble and an outside bounce and to put pressure on the quarterback(obviously). Unless the D-Coordinator has called a stunt where the Ends pinch down inside and the backers rush the edges or the ends drop back into coverage of the flats but we'll not get into that since this is just the basic Cover 2.

Defensive Tackles
The two inside defensive tackles responsibility is inside. They will get off the ball and take the inside gaps and try to penetrate the protection and disrupt the pocket from inside. Doing this will cause the QB to make a bad throw or scramble outside, which will play right in to the D-Ends responsibility for containment of the edges and lead him right to the rushing D-Ends.

The linebackers will drop back to coverage(unless on a stunt from the D-Coordinator). As you can see, the backers coverage zones are pretty much the same. They all are responsible for the "Hook and Curl". It's there job to read the backfield for inside routes(if there is backs). The defensive backs will help them with outside receivers coming inside to there zones by giving them an "In" call to let them know to get there head around to the outside man's inside route. They are to blow up any inside route that comes there way.

In a basic Cover 2 scheme, the corner backs are responsible for the flats. Running backs running short outside routes coming out of the backfield, receivers running short stop routes, out routes, etc. If there matchup out wide runs a deep route, the corner will keep a cushion(usually a 4 yard distance between them) but keep aware of his flat zone. If his man runs a deep route and someone runs to his flat zone he will give an "Out" call to the safeties to signal there deep route and will get back and play his flat zone FAST. On the other hand, if no man comes to his flats he will keep dropping.

The two deep safeties are responsible for the deep routes. They have the best view of the play from being back deep. They can scan there halves of the field and watch the play develop. When one of the corners gives an "Out" call to signal there man on a deep route, they are to pick up that man coming into there zone whether it be a vertical route, deep post, dig route, deep out, etc. The safeties have the most critical part of the zone defense. They are the last line of defense and CANNOT allow anyone behind them. Whenever a deep route comes they are to roll over to guard their deep half of the field in which the receiver is coming and not let them behind them.

For the whole defense, one can easily tell a run from a pass as soon as the ball is snapped and even before. Before the ball is snapped you can usually read the O-Line and get the upcoming play based on there stances. An O-Line that is top heavy in there stance and getting low usually means a run play is coming. When the O-Line is leaned back in there stances on there heels it usually means a pass play is coming.

Likewise, when the ball is snapped, on a run play the O-Line will explode off the ball and stay low off the line of scrimmage. But when it's a pass, you all know the O-Line can't pass the line of scrimmage(unless it is a screen behind the line) so they will drop for protection. This is usually how the secondary will read the play since they aren't down on the LOS and aren't really able to read the stances from that far back.

The Cover 2 defense is very simple and basic. Just like every basic zone defense, it is all about zone responsibility and communication.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The War for Kentucky's Quarterback Position

WT Executive Moderator

The Kentucky Wildcats football program has an interesting battle on there hands within their own team this preseason. Senior leader Mike Hartline, sophomore standout Morgan Newton, and redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski are all battling to be the head General for Kentucky's offense in the 2010 football season.

The Wildcats offense, ever since the 2007 high octane offense led by Andre Woodson, has been dissapointing production wise. The Wildcats have struggled in the air ever since Andre Woodson's senior class departed Lexington in 07. The quarterbacks have struggled being consistent, putting up numbers, hitting the open routes, the deep ball, etc. Basically the Wildcats offense has relied heavily on junior Randall Cobb in the backfield and out wide, and senior Derrick Locke rushing the ball.

Senior leader Mike Hartline(6'6 205 lbs.) from Canton, OH and little brother of Brian Hartline, wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins seems to have the early upper hand based purely on his experience but by just a nudge. Last season, Hartline threw for 802 yards and 6 touchdowns by completing 79 of 133 attempts. But also threw 7 interceptions.

Sophomore Morgan Newton(6'4 235 lbs.) from Carmel, Indiana, was a very highly hyped quarterback coming out of high school. He was named to the All-America High School Football Team, ESPN/Rise Athlete of the Year in Indiana, Gatorade Football Player of the Year and also Indiana's Mr. Football. He came to Lexington as a immediate impact player. Newton had a pretty good Freshman season sharing snaps with Mike Hartline. Newton threw for 706 yards and 6 touchdowns by completing 75 of 135 attempts and threw 3 interceptions. But, on top of that, Newton rushed for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Mossakowski looks to factor into the Wildcats offense after recovering from shoulder surgery. Mossakowski was highly touted coming out of high school as well. He was named an All-America quarterback by SuperPrep and PrepStar magazines. The Wildcats coaching staff have nothing but good things to say about Ryan. They have said his shoulder has healed perfectly and he is a heady player that picked up the offense well for a true freshman.

Many factors play in to being a successful quarterback.


Experience plays a big factor in to being a successful D1 shot caller. The quarterback has to be used to the speed of the game which is completely different and much faster than all other levels of play, with the obvious exception of the NFL. Senior Mike Hartline has the obvious upper hand in this area by being the starter as a sophomore in the 2008 season and taking half the snaps as a junior in 2009 alongside true freshman Morgan Newton.

Football IQ

The quarterback must be able to ready the opposing teams defense pre-snap and during duration of the play to make good decisions. They must be able to pick up on the defense's tendencies, read blitzes, read coverages and find holes in zone defenses, know the mismatches outside, know when to audible out of the current play based on the defense's alignment and front, etc.

One obtains this vast knowledge by years of experience, film study and scouting report on the opponents tendencies and blitz packages, and practice. Having a good football IQ and being able to read the defense will translate into good decisions throwing the ball down field and audible out of the original play to a different pass play or even a running play to obtain yards based on the alignment tendencies of the defense.


A D-1 quarterback has to be able to make things happen when things do not go his way due to a blitz breaking through his protection or even just his protection breaking down on a 4 man rush. Morgan Newton has the obvious upper hand in this area over Hartline and Mossakowski. Newton can scramble and make things happen with his arm, and also tuck the ball away and make things happen with his legs.

The War

Joker Phillips has given this seasons Kentucky team a military theme and rightfully so with the war going on to become the Wildcats General under center. Kentucky fans be prepared to see 3 different quarterbacks during the course of the 2010 season.

Senior Mike Hartline will get the beginning season starting nod based solely on experience and leadership over Newton and Mossakowski. But expect sophomore star Morgan Newton to slide his way into the starting spot eventually as the course of the season unfolds. Newton is the best of the three candidates overall and expect him to eventually make his way under center as the starter much like he did last season.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John Wall on ESPN the Magazine Cover

Former UK Point Guard John Wall is on the cover of the ESPN Magazine as Wall is considered by many reports to be the overall #1 Draft pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and to the Washington Wizards. John Wall will be UK's first #1 draft pick ever in the NBA Draft. UK has had 3 former players go at #2 Alex Groza(1949 Indianapolis), Tom Payne(1971 Atlanta), Sam Bowie(1984 Portland); 1 at #3 Rick Robey(1978 Indiana); 1 at #4 Jamal Mashburn(1993 Dallas); 1 at #5 Kenny Walker(1986 New York); 3 at #6 Melvin Turpin(1984 Washington), Antoine Walker(1996 Boston), Ron Mercer(1997 Boston); 1 at # 8 Rex Chapman(1988 Charlotte). For a complete list of Kentucky Players Who Were Drafted or Played in the NBA click here. UK looks for all 5 former 2008-09 players to go in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft with John Wall leading then way, followed by DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe. We wish them all the best in the NBA.