Miami Review: Cover-1 From Miami, and Heavy Blitzing From the Hokies

Miami’s Cover-1 baited Ryan Willis in his first interception. (Photo by Jon Fleming)

These are getting tough to write. I’m going to dive right in. 

Caught in a Rat Trap

Ryan Willis’ interception wasn’t a gamebreaker, though it was a big play that had some schematic things going on I haven’t touched on this season.

Miami was playing Cover-1, which is a defense where all of the pass-defenders are playing man coverage except for the free safety, who plays a deep middle zone (hence he is the “1” in “Cover-1.”) The defense is also known as Man Free, as it’s a man defense plus a zoning free safety. When possible, the defense tries to funnel receivers towards the safety so that in-breaking routes are effectively double-teamed.

Since most defenses have a base four-man rush, that means there are six defenders with man coverage assignments. Since the offense can only throw to five eligible receivers (the other six players are ineligible linemen and the QB), somebody is left without a man.  That defender usually ends up being a middle linebacker.