Defending the Spread with Quarter's Concepts

Know thy Enemy, Know thy Self
Over the last 15 years, the evolution of the "Spread" offense has caused defense's to rethink how they want to defend the spread formations. The dilemma you are faced with now is whether or not you want to empty the box and defend the width of formations or stay tighter to the box to defend the Spread running attacks.  With the emergence of Quarterbacks as viable ball carriers, and the percentages of run/pass ratios in high school I tend to want to defend the running game first and make coaches and quarterbacks beat me with a consistent passing game.  I like to try and keep completions in front of me and make a high school offense drive the length of the field.
Give me 3 of Troy please
The advantage you have with the 425 is the 5 spoke secondary.  Playing the extra safety in the old fashioned "Nickle" spot allows more flexibility in coverage concepts.  For me I feel like I have more options VS 3x1 formations and a much easier time adjusting to Empty formations.  Let's first look at the standard options for 425 teams when facing 2x2 10 personnel sets.
Read Side Robber
Robber coverage to the read side is a standard for most 425 teams defending #2 removed in a 2x2 set.  This allows the Corner to be a deep half player and help on the deep outside routes of #2, which lets the down safety be the swing deep of #3 player and be in better position to handle the RB in the flat.  You may potentially lose the double on #1 if #2 runs the wheel route.
Read Side Quarters
You could stay Quarters coverage to the read side.  This would put the down safety on the flat route by #2 and he would be responsible for the wheel.  Now you can get the double team on #1 with the FS and Corner, but your Mike LB has a long way to run to handle the RB in the flats.
Read Side 2 Read
This is my favorite adjustment vs #2 detached but also comes with weaknesses.  Now the flat route by #2 will be handled by the corner as well as the wheel by #2.  The down safety is in a position to play the swing deep of #3 and RB in the flats removing pressure from the Mike LB.  The down safety will line up inside #2 which allows him to fold inside on runs quicker but opens up the field side flats.
My suggestion is to play 2 Read and either Quarters or Robber as a change up to keep the offensive coordinator guessing.

Away Side Man
The first option to the away side is playing man with the Weak Safety, Corner, and Will LB.  This option will help you defend the quick passing game and bubble screen game but leaves you vulnerable to big plays.  The Will LB can stay in the box which a lot of 425 teams opt for because it keeps his reads the same.  You will need to play end or backer force to that side.
Away Side Squat and Half
This is a traditional Cover 2 concept that is generally played into the boundary.  The Will LB may have to remove himself a little to help deny vertical entry on the #2 receiver.  The corner can play force and reroute #1 which will strengthen you vs perimeter runs and quick game.  Very hard to play in the MOF due to the distance of the corner as the force player, and the distance the Will may need to remove to help the Safety in the passing game.
Away Side 2 Read
Again this is my favorite adjustment vs 2x2 sets.  It allows you to play safety force instead of corner force.  Gives us pattern reading concepts that should be a little safer than man.  Also gives us a chance to play the bubble screens effectively.  The Will has to remove himself a little which changes his reads slightly, and is the reason most 425 teams like keeping him in the box.  If you study TCU they slide their backers a bunch and in my opinion don't always stay with the standard 4-2 box.
My suggestion is to play 2 Read in the MOF and Squat and Halves into the boundary.

Now let's take a look at 2 different 3x1 options sticking with the theory of split field quarters concepts.  Rolling to a 3 deep concept vs 3x1 is always an option but for the sake of this article lets stick to quarters adjustments.
The first adjustment is normally referred to as solo.  Keep in mind the reason we are making adjustments is because the Mike LB is a #3 vertical player in Quarters coverage.  If #3 is removed and he is a WR with speed that is not a good option.  Solo allows us to play the Read Side in standard 2 Read coverage.  The Corner and FS will play 2 Read on the #1 and #2 to the trips side.  The down safety will play his normal 2 Read assignment, lined up between #2 and #3 and he will be the curl/swing deep of #3 player.  The Weak Safety will be responsible for #3 vertical while the Mike LB becomes the short wall  of #3 player.  This adjustment makes the Away corner play man on the single and the Will LB play man on the RB if he releases to the single.  The Weak Safety needs to handle #3 vertical in the passing game, but also help on weak side runs.
This adjustment is an X out concept where we will man one of the trips side receivers.  By doing that we are effectively making the formation a 2x1 set so we can play it with base rules.  The read side corner will man the #1 receiver to the trips side.  The down safety and FS can now play 2 Read on the #2 and #3 receivers.  The Mike now becomes a curl dropper and his rule is #3 does not cross my face, #4 does not out leverage me.  The backside safety now drops down and plays flat force while the backside corner plays deep half.  we now bracket the single receiver and strengthen our weak side run game.

Here is a white board video on it, I hope it helps.


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