Chris Brown, author of Smart Football, (a great read for football junkies, by the way) posted an article last week about Nick Saban and his defensive backs, specifically, that they aren’t taught to backpedal.
The article took a quote from former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who said he never learned to backpedal at UA, and examined the statement further. Brown tells an anecdote from Saban’s coaching time with the Browns and talks about how Saban adapted techniques to fit the skill set of a slower cornerback he had to coach.
But does Saban still use that technique today? He was asked about this during today’s news conference:
“They’re taught to backpedal. They all can backpedal,” he said. “You come to practice every day, they backpedal in individual, they backpedal sometimes on their plan. We play our corners up on people a lot, so sometimes they bail-off; sometimes they play bump-and-run. Sometimes they get off and backpedal.
“I just think that we’re just not philosophically in to playing a lot of soft coverage, where you line seven, eight or nine yards off a guy and give him a lot of easy throws in front; but we do teach them how to backpedal. We teach them how to plant and drive out of a backpedal. There are coverages that we have where our corners do play off, that’s just not philosophically how we play most of the time.”
Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was asked a similar question about what Kirkpatrick said and whether he was taught to backpedal. His answer seems to confirm what Saban said – that the defensive backs do learn to backpedal, but Saban plays his defenders closer to the line than most teams, so they don’t have as much room to do so.
“I have no take on that – what went on with Dre Kirkpatrick in Cincinnati. I really don’t know anything about that,” Clinton-Dix said. “We do backpedal in practice, so I don’t know exactly where that came from. So I have no clue on that.”
As for whether Saban himself was taught to backpedal as a cornerback at Kent State?
“And I can backpedal,” he joked. “I backpedalled when I played, and I can still backpedal – and cover – somebody.”
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