Concepts to Defend Trips


 During this time of year I find myself spending a lot of time watching film and looking for ways to improve.  This past off season I took some time to watch some other High School Football games, and instead of looking at things I could do to get my team better, I took the approach of How could I help that team?  I found myself getting real interested in the role of consultant because in trying to help other teams get over the hump, i was reconfirming my beliefs in the things I do.  There is no better way to solidify your beliefs in your own work then to try and sell it to someone else.  One of the things I stumbled across was the amount of problems Trips formations caused for some teams.  It seemed like the more film I watched the more I realized defending trips is about defending what teams do out of trips.  There would be teams that gave up leverage and numbers to trips all night, teams that gave up single side runs all night, and teams that compromised the integrity of their defense by creating a new defense to defend trips.  There are two major things I look at when I watch my team on film defending trips....

1)Can I or someone else watching my team tell what we are trying to play?
2)Is what I am trying to play defending what they are trying to run?

What I would like to talk about today is how you can defend trips formations to take away the things that your opponents do in trips.  Like any good defense you must first understand the strengths and weaknesses of your concepts, and then match that to the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents offense. I recommend having 2 or 3 ways to handle trips in your base defensive package.  There should always be one standard check that your defense has to trips formations when you are playing base defense. This should be what you think is your best trips coverage and something you feel comfortable doing every week. Off of that you should have 1 or 2 checks that strengthen the weaknesses in that particular coverage, and counter the strengths of the offense. I am a huge fan of the book "The Art of War" which discusses the strategies of war used by Chinese General and Philosopher Sun Tzu.  One of my favorite quotes is"Know thy enemy and Know thy self and fear not 100 battles." (Get "The Art of War" on Amazon) That is really what defense comes down to in general terms.  Let's have an idea of what we are trying to do, and let's have an idea what they are trying to do to us.

My base trips coverage is an x out theory that will help my kids turn a 3x1 formation into a 2x1 formation.  We will play man to man on #1 to the trips which allows us to play 2 Read on the remaining 2 receivers with the Down Safety and the FS.  This also allows us to play our Cover 2 Concepts to the single receiver which helps with run support weak, and helps alleviate the pressure of playing the single receiver man to man.  What it also does is it puts us in a better leverage position to defend the bubble by #3.  The Down Safety is 7 yards off and 1 yard outside the #2 receiver to the trips side. The Free Safety is 10 yards off and 1 yard inside the #3 receiver.  These players will play 2 Read concepts with their primary read being the #3 receiver.  That means if #3 runs the bubble the Down Safety drives it immediately and he is outside the #2 receiver with better leverage. 4 Verticals should not be a problem because I have 4 DBS in position to play the 4 Verticals. Now with that being said, this coverage is weak to perimeter runs to the trips side and intermediate spacing routes to the trips side. I would only play this coverage in a Nickle Package or if you think your OLB can run with a Vertical by the #2 receiver. 

Stress or Solo or Trap coverage uses the backside safety to handle the Vertical of the #3 receiver.  This seems to be the most popular version of coverage for teams that only deploy 2 safeties in their base scheme. This coverage allows you to play regular 2 read concepts on the #1 and #2 receiver to trips so it is nothing new for trips side corner, free safety, and OLB. It is better for run support to the trips side with the OLB in a better position to play the run. 4 Verticals should not be an issue because of 4 back end players ready to handle that concept.  However in this coverage you are out leveraged on the bubble to #3.  You are also in man to man on the single side receiver with the weak ilb playing man on the back if he releases to the single side. The quick passing game to the trips side is an issue but that is something you will always deal with in quarters coverage concepts.  The field side flat is rarely attacked in high school so you can get away with that weakness.

Roll coverage is usually some form of 3 Deep coverage with a strong side roll to the trips.  It will help defend the quick and intermediate passing game and should help with perimeter runs to the trips side. This is a very good change up from 2 high structures because it can be disguised very easily and you can change who you want to roll down to the trips side. I have seen teams roll the coverage with the corner or a safety, depends on what you are trying to defend. The weakness with this coverage is the strong side roll makes you a little more vulnerable to weak side runs and weak side throws to the single receiver. It also becomes a 1 high structure which opens up the possibility of 4 verticals.  Very nice concept to defend trips side spacing concepts that hurt your 2 high structures.

Those are not the only versions of trips coverage, but just a general look at how each coverage has a strength and weakness.  The key is identifying the opponents strengths and trying not to match it with your weakness. Your film study will become very important to determine how the opposing team attacks out of trips formations and where they align their best players.  Again the whole concept of this blog is to get lower level football players to play fast by avoiding confusion.  Have a plan defending trips and then have a backup plan to alleviate the weaknesses in that coverage.  Get your kids to recognize trips and the plays that come out of it, then get as many reps as possible.


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