Inside the Alabama Playbook: Nick Saban’s Pattern Matching Schemes


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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has put together another elite team in 2014 that is the #1 seed in the inaugural college football playoff after winning the SEC for the second time in three years.  The Crimson Tide are led by one of the top defensive units in the country once again, a calling card for Nick Saban’s SEC teams since he took over at LSU in 2000. Since 2000, Saban has won 4 national championships at two different schools: 2003 at LSU and 2009, 2011 and 2012 at Alabama. The hallmark of Saban’s defenses are his pattern matching schemes. Essentially pattern matching is a matchup zone defense that allows the defense to create 8 & 9 man fronts and utilize 3 over 2 and 4 over 3 coverage schemes versus multiple sets. Pattern reading gives the defense the best answer to routes which offenses use most often to attack zone defenses.

In this article I’m going to go over a couple of Saban’s more common pattern reading schemes that you will see with his defenses on a week in & week out basis.

The first pattern reading scheme is known as Rip/Liz Match.

Here are the Rip/Liz match diagrams and pattern reads from Saban’s 2008 Alabama defensive playbook

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