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prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
LINK

Fascinating.


florabama16
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2018
57 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
Thanks for posting this! I love to read in-depth analysis like this. You can’t get this on TV because it’s super in-depth and not everyone is that type of football nerd to enjoy that stuff, but for those of us that are this was great.


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Vidic
USA Fan
Member since Jan 2010
3660 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
Thanks for posting. I’m always Looking to expand my football knowledge


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TomRollTideRitter
Alabama Fan
Member since Aug 2016
9225 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
Great stuff. Thanks for posting.

Reminds me of one my favorite responses ever on here. Before the Peach Bowl against Washington, a new poster came on here and started a thread asking if Saban still used the Rip-Liz-Match concept. The first reply was, “Good luck Chris your team’a gonna need it.”


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prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense


prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
What got me started on all of this is the fact that as a football player and now as a fan, I prefer defense. If I could live life over again, I'd likely go into coaching with the dream job of bigtime college defensive coordinator. Anyway, I really wanted to know exactly "what was what" when it came to Saban's pattern matching scheme, both in what it meant schematically, and how it related to our secondary woes in 2018.

And if you dive deep down this particular rabbit hole, i.e. cutting edge passing defense in the spread era, it really gets fascinating, especially considering the fact that these cutting edge defenses are paired with explosive offenses. Shockingly, some of the best innovation is coming out of the Big12, most notably TCU and Iowa State, but I digress...

The reality is that turnovers, whether on downs or via fumble/interception, are becoming the chief goal of a defense, rather than being stingy each and every play regarding yards allowed. It's becoming such that completely confusing a QB (one who will definitely let the tater fly) one good time on a drive is better than playing close coverage the entirety of the drive. You see, with the current rules, offenses have the advantage, and "good" coverage is getting beaten regularly now, and so getting a drive to end in as few points as possible is the goal, rather than the fewest yards as possible, and this metric is most affected by goose eggs. Ergo, ZERO points is the goal, and this stays true in the face of giving up some yards and even TD's in the process of the game. And one should endeavor to obtain that goal by any means necessary - field position doesn't matter much if your own offense is explosive, and again, if your own offense is explosive, you are willing to give up some points in the name of stops.

(Now, it must be said that I'm not implying that Saban and Co. don't want to play stingy every play - they certainly do. The difference is that any defense like ours wants to be stingy each play with the utmost goal of limiting points, not yards. This is how the game has changed. Teams are willing to trade giving up yards for getting stops. Just like Clemson in the Natty.)

Which is why I find all of this mesmerizing. Todd Blackledge spoke about our DC's desire to "take the game out of the OC's hands, and put in back in the QBs hands" - make the QB be the decision maker, not the OC - and in order to do that, our secondary, and secondaries across the country, are going to being doing more exotic things over time, much like what Venables did to Tua. The announcers said that according to our offensive coaches, Tua went to the right place with the ball based on what his cues told him, but that Clemson was going against not only tendency, but also traditional coaching of the secondary - by using Tua's cues against him in disguising the coverage deep into the play, i.e. baiting him. And how big were those 2 interceptions? Momentous, literally.

If anyone wants to dive down this particular hole, I'd suggest checking out the following links:

FILM STUDY: A NEW KIND OF HYBRID DEFENDER HAS EMERGED IN THE BIG 12, AND THE REST OF THE NATION SHOULD TAKE NOTICE

Iowa State’s defense presents a unique challenge for WSU’s Air Raid

Running Dime as Your Base – A Lesson From the Big 12

Breaking down Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense at TCU

Nick Saban’s Alabama Pass Coverages

Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, and Pattern-Match Coverages

A corollary: No, I'm not saying that the Big 12 plays better defense than the SEC. Of course not. What I'm saying is that the Air Raid and other similar schemes are on the forefront of offensive football, and one should be paying attention to what the excellent defensive minds in that conference are doing to combat it. Remember, this thread is about passing defense, not defense as a whole.

And lastly, I would really like to know why we ran a lot of Dime early in the game versus Clemson and then went away from it - and we went away from it before any injuries occurred. In that game, I honestly thought we looked more in sync in Dime than in Nickel, but whatever. I guess the coaches figured that getting our best 11 on the field meant having Moses on the field, which I can understand. What I'd give to have a recording of the defensive coaches headsets from that game. Anyway, Roll Tide.
This post was edited on 5/2 at 6:51 pm


Legba007
Alabama Fan
Franklin, Tn
Member since Jul 2013
140 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
thank you ...love this


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Bamaorbust
Member since Jan 2019
110 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
I wish I understood the strategy of football better.


prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
quote:

I wish I understood the strategy of football better.


I'm certainly no expert, but if there's anything specific you'd like to dicuss or understand, I and others would be happy to talk about what we know.

The discussion could be fun, if you have specific questions...
This post was edited on 5/3 at 11:41 am


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Tider95
Alabama Fan
Tuscaloosa
Member since Dec 2017
1721 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
quote:

(Now, it must be said that I'm not implying that Saban and Co. don't want to play stingy every play - they certainly do. The difference is that any defense like ours wants to be stingy each play with the utmost goal of limiting points, not yards. This is how the game has changed. Teams are willing to trade giving up yards for getting stops. Just like Clemson in the Natty.)


This is the biggest change football has seen in the past 5 years (the spread has been coming for a decade plus, defenses truly embracing the "bend, bend, bend, and roll the dice for a drive ending play" has only really come around in the past few years) and it is something that the Alabama fan base has completely missed the boat on so far.

I love the fact that Golding has always had the same mindset that Clemson brings to the table which is points are the only thing that matter and because turnovers are almost completely random, you have to get as many rolls of the dice as possible per game since with paired with an explosive offense every turnover can be up to a 14 point swing.

quote:

And lastly, I would really like to know why we ran a lot of Dime early in the game versus Clemson and then went away from it - and we went away from it before any injuries occurred. In that game, I honestly thought we looked more in sync in Dime than in Nickel, but whatever. I guess the coaches figured that getting our best 11 on the field meant having Moses on the field, which I can understand

I have only re watched it twice, mostly from a looking at Clemson's defense perspective, but my honest evaluation for going off of Dime to Nickel was that Saban went back to his old tendency of throwing the defense into cover 1 man on man when the team is struggling and that played right into Clemson throwing it up 1 on 1 to large receivers on the perimeter. He has a pretty famous quote that when the defense is struggling he goes back to basics with his cover 1, which the link below explains his mindset further.

Saban Cover 1
This post was edited on 5/3 at 12:58 pm


prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
quote:

I have only re watched it twice, mostly from a looking at Clemson's defense perspective, but my honest evaluation for going off of Dime to Nickel was that Saban went back to his old tendency of throwing the defense into cover 1 man on man when the team is struggling and that played right into Clemson throwing it up 1 on 1 to large receivers on the perimeter. He has a pretty famous quote that when the defense is struggling he goes back to basics with his cover 1, which the link below explains his mindset further.


We couldn't have been in Cover 1 much, as we had 2 high safeties most of the game. Cover 1 has a single high safety.

I do agree though, that it looks like we went to a more man defense without switching for the 2nd and much of the 3rd quarter. Perhaps is was Cover 2 Man-Under or similar. Outside chance it was Cover 6.

But we definitely went back to doing some pattern matching by the late 3rd quarter, and I believe an example would be this play: LINK, and this plays a few plays later: LINK.

I'd guess that we wanted to play Cover 2 Man, but it's weak versus trips, as you end up with a safety playing off-man coverage. I think struggling with Trips forced us back into playing some Cover 3 Pattern Matching, or just showing Cover 2 and dropping down to Cover 1 just before the snap. Whether we switched on motion would be the tell between the 2, as far as I know.

EDIT: We also showed blitz and dropped to a zone a few times.

As a side note on Trips, 2 interesting articles:

How do you beat Cover 2 with trips? Let me count the ways

How do you play Trips? Pt. 1

There are 3 parts the the last one.
This post was edited on 5/6 at 12:51 pm


Tider95
Alabama Fan
Tuscaloosa
Member since Dec 2017
1721 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
quote:

We couldn't have been in Cover 1 much, as we had 2 high safeties most of the game. Cover 1 has a single high safety.

I do agree though, that it looks like we went to a more man defense without switching for the 2nd and much of the 3rd quarter. Perhaps is was Cover 2 Man-Under or similar. Outside change it was Cover 6.


You are right. I should've been more specific that Saban and the idea of the Cover-1 is more about simplifying and stabilizing through man to man which as you noted the team did. His famous quote is the cover-1, but as you noted it was trips that was doing real damage against us and was forcing the staff to gamble/on the fly try to confuse Lawrence with coverage more than they probably would've liked (in regards to dropping into zone and blitzing).


prevatt33
Alabama Fan
Member since Dec 2011
2354 posts

re: ARTICLE: How to understand Nick Saban's pattern match cover-3 defense
*Outside CHANCE it was Cover 6.

Just saw my mistake.


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