Earlier, we, at FishDuck.com, showed examples of Colorado’s 2016 corners using the “shadow technique” to effectively neutralize the Washington Huskies’ great WR, John Ross. Remember, this pass defense technique will now be taught by the Oregon Ducks’ new, outstanding corners’ coach, Charles Clark.
Today, we’ll look at what a defensive back must do if he fails to execute the shadow technique perfectly; if he gets beat deep. We’ll also answer that age-old question from well-intentioned fans and announcers, “Why didn’t he just turn around and look for the ball?!”
Answering that last question first: If a defensive back (DB), in man coverage, looks back for the ball too soon, the Wide Receiver (WR) he’s covering will gain significant vertical yardage on him. The WR will be “pulling away” from the peeking DB. Oh, there’s a specific time a DB can turn his head, NEVER his shoulders toward the ball. It’s called “being in phase” with the wide receiver, and it’s mentioned and shown in our previous analysis.
Let’s look at an example below from the Alamo Bowl with Colorado cornering Isiah Oliver covered the great receiver for Oklahoma State, James Washington.
When a DB is not “in phase,” (above) he must haul ass to keep as close as possible to the WR, who has gotten past him. Now he must concentrate on running real fast and looking at the WR’s hands, specifically when the ball is coming into the Wide Receiver’s hands.
When the ball arrives, (above) the DB must aggressively PUNCH the ball up and out of the Wide Receiver’s hands, with his near fist – an “uppercut”. And, despite way-too-many announcers incorrectly saying the opposite, the DB doesn’t have to look back for the ball, to avoid an interference penalty. The defensive back can’t legally make contact before the ball touches the receiver, but then the DB must make it impossible for the wide receiver to control the ball.
Above is a perfect video example from 2016 of Colorado corner, Isiah Oliver, punching out a beautifully thrown pass to Oklahoma State’s great WR, James Washington, probably the best WR in college football next year. Be sure you listen to the audio of this video.
Our last video example is from this year’s Oregon Spring Game. The Ducks’ freshman corner, Thomas Graham, appears to be beaten deep by sophomore WR Malik Lovette. The picture of a great leaping catch by Lovette was sure to be featured in the newspapers, until Graham delivered his punch-out.
FishDuck Note: I noticed a drill on the sideline at the Jesuit High School Spring Scrimmage where defensive backs would take turns punching a football upwards out of the hands of another DB. I thought it was a curious drill, wondering if that was a new technique, and our own GOC just answered that it is and they actively practice it! Charles Fischer
There you have further enjoyable evidence of the improvement of the Oregon defense. Also, hopefully, you won’t get so upset when the Duck corners don’t always turn around and look for the ball.
Coach Mike Morris (Grizzled Ol’ Coach)
Pleasant Hill, Oregon
Top Screenshot from Pac-12 Network Video