Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 28

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 28

By Gir Todafunk
Special to the Daily Magi
July 31, 2054


How's everyone doing, Mitakiharans local and worldwide? I am Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, with another Weekly Column for the Magi Football Blog and the Daily Magi newspaper. Don't look now, folks, but we are now four weeks away from action starting. We're going hard and fast with these practices, and next month, they will be a little bit lighter, so that we can focus on film studying.

I want to go ahead and talk about my position. A cornerback (CB) (also referred to as a corner) is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in American and Canadian football. Cornerbacks cover receivers, to defend against pass offenses and make tackles. Other members of the defensive backfield include the safeties and occasionally linebackers. The cornerback position requires speed and agility. A cornerback's skillset typically requires proficiency in anticipating the quarterback, back-pedalling, executing single and zone coverage, disrupting pass routes, block shedding, and tackling.

The chief responsibility of the cornerback is to defend against the offense's pass. The rules of American professional football and American college football do not mandate starting position, movement, or coverage zones for any member of the defense. There are no "illegal defense" formations. Cornerbacks can be anywhere on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage at the start of play, although their proximity, formations, and strategies are outlined by the coaching staff or captain.

Most modern National Football League defensive formations use four defensive backs (two safeties and two corners); Canadian Football League defenses generally use five defensive backs (one safety, two defensive halfbacks, and two corners). A cornerback's responsibilities vary depending on how the defense assigns protection to its defensive secondary. In terms of defending the run, often corners may be assigned to blitz depending on the coaching decisions in a game. In terms of defending passing plays, a corner will be typically assigned to either zone or man-to-man coverage.

In zone coverage, the cornerback defends an assigned area of the field. Many schemes and variations were created to provide defensive coordinators great latitude and flexibility which aim to quell offensive schemes. When a team is utilizing zone coverage, some areas of the field require special attention when defending against specific pass plays. They include the flats (to defend the screen pass and hitch routes), mid range zones including the void (to defend the "stop n go", quick post, fade, hook, curl, and "sideline" or "out" routes), and finally the deep zones (to defend the post/deep post, chair, streak, "fly", "go", bomb, or Hail Mary routes). These are basic terms (perhaps the most generic) for the basic zones and routes which vary system to system, league to league, and team to team.

Advanced forms of coverage may involve "quarterback spies" and "containment" coverages, as well as various "on field adjustments" that require shifts and rotations; the latter usually initiated by the captain of the secondary (typically the free safety) during the quarterback's cadence. At this time the captain attempts to "read" the alignment (pro set, split set, trips, etc.) of the offensive "skill players" (backs and receivers) in order to best predict and counter the play the offense will run. He will base his decision on past experience, game preparation, and a sound comprehension of his teammates strengths, abilities, and tendencies. These adjustments may change on a play by play basis, due to substitutions or even evolving weather or field conditions. For example, defensive coordinators may favor a tendency to play a less aggressive containment style zone coverage during wet or slippery field conditions to avoid problems associated with over-pursuit (when a defender takes a poor angle on a ball carrier and cannot redirect in time due to poor footing).

In my next weekly column, I will talk about some of the forms of zone coverage that are used in our Morning Rescue set. Till next week, I am Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

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