How did Alabama's McCarron beat up Notre Dame's Cover 2?

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Click here for my Cover 2 "cheat sheet."

A.J. McCarron and Alabama put it on Notre Dame last night to win their second straight BCS National Championship. With the Irish playing some Cover 2 (and Cover 6: Quarter, Quarter, Half), the Tide ran a base 2-Deep beater (Flat-7) to produce in the passing game. Let’s go back to the video and breakdown some coaching points from last night’s matchup.

1 .Flat-7: Jet Personnel (4WR-1RB)

- Motion to a stack alignment on the closed (strong) side of the formation. Why? To get a free release off the line of scrimmage for WR Amari Cooper. The CBs in Cover 2 are taught to jam (re-route) No.1 and then sink at a 45-degree angle to protect the deep half safety. However, with a stack look it forces the corner to play off (called a “soft squat” technique). That gives Cooper a free run up the field.

- What are the WR splits telling the Irish here? Tight to the core of the formation (plus a stack alignment) should be an automatic alert to the Flat-7. Alabama is using this reduced split to create room for Cooper to work the deep 7 cut (corner route).

- Set the bait for the CB (Flat route) and go to work on the safety with a deep, outside breaking route. And as we can see on the replay, the Notre Dame CB bites up on the flat and leaves the safety in a tough spot driving the 7 cut from his Cover 2 landmark (2-yards on top of the numbers in college).

- Notre Dame wants this ball to go to the flat. If the CB gains depth in his drop and cushions the 7 route, the defense can force McCarron to come off his deep read and dump the ball underneath. However, with the CB now removed, McCarron can step into this throw and hit Cooper for a explosive gain.

2. Flat-7: Ace Personnel (2WR-2TE-1RB)

- Alabama has Ace personnel on the field and aligns in a bunch look to the closed side of the formation. Off of play action (Counter OF), McCarron will roll out of the pocket and work a two-level read.

- Check out the pre-snap alignment of the CB. You won’t get a re-route vs. a bunch look. Again, the CB has to sink hard underneath the 7 route and force McCarron to dump this ball in the flat.

- With the safety late off his landmark, and the CB sitting short, this is another example of how ‘Bama targeted Cover 2 last night on their way to the championship.

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