Cover 2 zone defense is a good coverage scheme that is popular on the high school- profession level of football. I have not seen much cover 2 zone defense at the youth level. We are probably one of the few youth football teams that use zone coverage. We do play some cover 2 zone, but our base coverage is cover 3. Here is all the information you need to know about the cover 2 zone defense for youth football.
- Safeties play deep, 12-15 yards. They are responsible for cutting the field in half. Each safety has a deep half responsibility. I like having deep safeties, it helps prevent big plays. When playing cover 2 zone defense it is important that nothing gets behind the safeties.
- Corners are up in press, playing with outside leverage. The corners will be up close on the receivers. You want to roll up and reroute the receivers. It is vital that your corners do not give up an outside release, especially the wide side cornerback. You want the corners to funnel the receivers inside. If a receiver gets an outside release it will be hard for the safety to cover all that ground to make a play. Stress not allowing any outside releases. When playing cover 2 zone defense the corners need to get physical with those receivers.
- Corners should play with slight outside leverage on receivers.
- The linebackers will have curl and hook zones. This varies, it all depends on the type of defense you are running.
- Defensive linemen responsibly will vary, it also depends on what defense you are running. Many coaches will run cover 2 zone defense out of the 43. Having the corners play contain will allow the D-coordinator to put their defensive ends in 7 techniques. Putting DE in 7 techs will help defend that C-gap, which is so often attacked in youth football.
- Vital Coaching Tip- when playing cover 2 zone defense you always play high to low. This means you always want your defenders to keep receivers in front of them. They must get depth! This is especially important when the offense floods a zone. You want your players to play high, then break on any underneath routes thrown.
- You can get creative by having the safety roll up and the corner taking the deep half. You can have the CB and S switch responsibilities to give a change up look.
Cover 2 Zone Defense Strengths
- Having two good athletes deep to help prevent big plays in the pass and in the running game. These safeties need to have good range (really have to be able to fly around the field).
- The corners playing press with outside leverage will mess up any timing routes. The goal is to force the receiver to the teeth of the underneath coverage.
- Helps defend against sweep plays. In youth football, coaches will give their best athlete the ball on sweep plays. Having these corners up will help contain and help force RBs inside to the pursuing defenders.
- You can put DEs in 7 techniques and jam tight-ends. This is also a tough look to run an off-tackle play against. We all know if you are able to stop the off tackle and sweep play in youth football you will have a great shot at winning.
- Both Flats are covered, especially the wide side. Many teams including myself love attacking the flat zones. Having the corners in the flats will completely take that away. What I love to do is to attack the flat off of play-action. Playing cover 2 will eat that up.
- You can utilize “trail” techniques with your corners. Trail technique means the corners cover their receiver but will be able to come off if they see a player coming into the flat. The defender will stay on the inside hip of the receiver but will not be completely step for step. The trail technique is usually played in press man to man coverage and when there are safeties over the top.
Cover 2 Zone Defense Weaknesses
- Having a two deep safety look will give the offense a soft box. Soft box means there are 7 or less defenders in the box. If a defense gives us a 7 or less defender box we will run the ball down their throat all day. Youth football is a run heavy league, having anything less than seven or eight defenders inside the box is a mistake (at least at the younger levels vs. spread teams you can’t have eight in the box). If the defense has some good solid D-linemen that can hold two gaps then the cover 2 is great. I think cover 2 is soft against the run, but that is debatable.
- Middle of the field is wide open. When you have the safeties playing deep half the area between the safeties will usually be open. Run the two outside receivers deep and have the slot run a post- it will be there all day. Many times that middle linebacker will not get enough depth (get under) to make a tough throw to the post pattern. Running the go and post off of play-action will kill cover 2. The MIKE (middle backer) will step up for run and will not be able to recover. We had a team that ran this play against us last season and we gave up big yards on the play twice (beat our cover 3-we did not get a good enough jam on the inside receiver). The go and post patterns kill cover 3 also. Plus it’s tough to defender 3 or 4 receivers running verticals.
- Blitzing in cover 2 zone defense will leave big gaps in the defense.
- You must have athletic and disciplined safeties. These safeties must be able to cover ground quickly. Many youth football teams cannot afford to take two of their best athletes and put them 12 yards deep out of the play.
Play that will beat cover 2 zone defense:
The outside receivers (3 & SE) will run go & fade patterns. The slot receiver (4) will run a post. The QB (1) will fake a handoff to the (HB). This fake to the (HB) will make that middle linebacker bite up for run. You can work the TE into a passing route as well. I would have the (TE) block because this play does take a little time to develop. The (HB) can release into the flat after faking. This will put that cornerback in conflict.