My friends … we have some tremendous new techniques to learn from our new coaching staff, and this article begins a crucial area for us as fans to understand. One-on-one coverage or “man” is the most difficult for us fans to know whether if the form or technique is correct, and Coach Morris is going to help us again learn what this new Oregon staff is teaching. Learn more football! Charles Fischer
The most impressive aspect of Oregon’s new defense is the corners’ press technique which will be taught by Coach Charles Clark. Goodbye to the old “bump-and-run” by the Oregon corners and hello to the new “shadow technique” as the mastery of this skill for the Ducks’ cornerbacks will be an important aspect of the new Jim Leavitt defense to watch this fall.
To illustrate this technique, let’s watch highlights of Colorado’s game last year against Washington. Each Husky pass pattern will be run by their All-American, ninth player selected in the recent NFL draft wide receiver John Ross, who recently broke the NFL Combine record by running a 4.22 40-yard dash – the fastest ever, by anyone, at the combine. Three Colorado corners (not nearly as fast) held Ross to only 4 catches for 51 yards, Washington QB Jake Browning was 9 for 24, for 118 yards. Those stats include a 19-yard TD pass from Browning to Ross that was a totally lucky, farcical, play that shouldn’t be held against the defense.
It was an amazing corner performance against the top receiver in the college game, but then three of the Colorado secondary defenders for Charles Clark and Jim Leavitt were drafted as well. All three weren’t highly recruited.
Below is our 1st example of the shadow technique:
Although the tight, inside leverage alignment (above) is typical of all press coverages, note the corner’s footwork after the wide receiver’s outside release. The corner doesn’t try to hit the WR because using their hands causes corners to lose their balance and get badly beaten.
The corner (above) tries to “shadow” the WR, by staying slightly deeper and slightly inside him, as they sprint upfield. The DB must “get on top of the fade” – not get beat deep. (In the old bump-and-run, corners were taught to be between the passer and the receiver) As he sprints upfield, the corner must watch the inside hip of the WR because the WR must “drop his hips” to break on a shorter pattern.
When the corner (above) is sure the WR is running a fade, if the corner is “in phase” with the receiver – he can “extend his near arm in front of the receiver’s chest” — the defender does that, as he leans into the WR, and turns his HEAD [never his shoulders; that would greatly slow him down] and looks for the ball.
In the example (above) the WR, John Ross, actually interferes with Colorado’s corner, Ahkello Weatherspoon. And Colorado’s [not needed] free safety should have made an interception.
What if the WR breaks to a short outside route from the vertical route? (Such as below)
Our second example (above) shows a 3rd and 7 short stick pattern by receiver, John Ross. Now the Colorado corner, Isaiah Oliver, sees Ross drop his hips and thus Oliver breaks outside with the talented wide-out. The corner could have had an interception.
How many times last year, (in a similar situation) have we seen Duck corners line up too deep and essentially give the WR his 8-yard gain?
In the example above, we see Buffalo corner, Chidobe Awuzie alter his goal-line press technique. Because of Ross’ very wide alignment, Awuzie thinks Ross will run an inside pattern; he doesn’t have enough room to the outside to successfully run a fade. So when Ross tries to slant inside, the Colorado corner wonderfully maintains his inside leverage, by using correct hand placement on the shoulder pad, and breaks up the pass. (More pass deflection technique will be taught in a future analysis)
Whether it is a long vertical pass, or a short pass route outside or inside–techniques taught by the coaches coming to Oregon from Colorado will make an impact that is very importantly needed by the Oregon cornerbacks.
Fall ‘ball’s a comin’. Ready to see how our corners will do with their new shadow technique?
Mike Morris (Grizzled Ol’ Coach)
Pleasant Hill, Oregon
Coach Mike Morris spent 30 years coaching at seven different high schools throughout Southern California. He coached many players who went on to Pac-12 programs including Oregon, such as Saladin McCullough. He is a writer, Football analyst and a good friend of the Principal of the site.
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