January 3, 2010

Why We Disguise

All This Disguising Is A Waste, Coach...
Barring specific gameplan alignments and/or adjustments, our secondary last season always had the goal of showing a 4-across alignment as often as possible, even though we ran cover 3 more than anything else. Our goal was corners at 7-8 yards and safeties at 8-9, with the attempt to show the same look every play.

One of our offensive guys who knows a lot of football asked me why we do it, since we end up rolling/creeping the safeties most of the time pre-snap to get to our alignments. His argument was that there was no point, since the offense will adjust within a quarter or two and then we might as well line up in our post-creep positions. Furthermore, he thought that by week 2 there would be no more secrets about our scheme and thought that we were wasting a lot of time working on things that weren't going to be a factor for most of the season.

To an extent, I agreed with him, although I differed on reasons at times. One of the reasons that I thought he was right was that it was wasted effort for most've the teams we played. We played a DW-esque pistol offense, triple option, 2 spread, 1 fly, 1 spin/DW, 2 pro-style, and 1 grab bag POS offense. Of those teams, only 3 had QBs where disguising was even relevant. The others just didn't have the knowledge or training to where it mattered if they knew what we were running or not. Hell, one of them threw a pick to one of our OLBs who literally moved four steps from his pre-snap alignment. He also had a point in that, by creeping, we get into the guessing game stuff with the offense where they dummy a cadence, check with the sideline, and then audible. But, we only played two offenses this year who even had the capability of making that adjustment.

So What You're Trying To Say Is...
I may seem like I'm arguing for his points or counter to the useful-ness of disguising and all the work that we put into making our scheme work with that goal, especially with regards to the idea that we only face a few offenses and QBs where it matters. But the big thing to point out is this: of those few offenses I'm talking about, the road to the league championship depends on beating two of them. Once we go down that road, then we're in the playoffs and playing better than average teams with better than average offenses and QBs. And once we're in that mode, disguising coverages will be important. No, not even important, CRUCIAL.

Playoffs around here are largely dominated by either spread teams or teams with somewhat more 'typical' offenses with QBs who are a cut above the type they typically get. For a team looking to get to a place where they are routinely in playoffs and going more than just one and done once they get there, such as we would like to be, the ability to disguise, manipulate, and confuse is crucial. Going back to my idea of simplicity vs complexity, until we get the athletes where we can declare "We're going to run cover 4, do something about it", we will need to disguise our coverage and creep and give false keys to the offense to lure QBs into missed passes and hopefully INTs.

I try to do my best to make decisions outside of the immediacy of NOW, at least regarding football stuff. I want to do things that are hard now, but are necessary to get to the next level because we cannot resign ourselves to any kind of short-sighted approach that doesn't take into account where we want to go as a program.

Next Year
We're going to keep a lot of our scheme the same, but with some small differences. For one, we're not going to play much traditional cover 3. We'll do a lot of 1/4, 1/4, 1/2, a lot of cover 2 and cover 4, some man to man, but our cover 3 will be mostly limited to the 3 deep 3 under 'fire zone' coverage that everyone does.

One new aspect that we're going to incorporate is that our DB coach is now going to be responsible for signalling to the DBs what pre-snap shell he wants them to show. Regardless of what the actual coverage is, our guys will line up in either 4-across, 2-high, or 1-high before moving to their actual alignments, or staying if the shell matches the coverage. It'll take a bit of work in the spring, but once that's taken care of it gives us more complexity (!) with a simple concept/application (!!).

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