The rule of three
The essential number to playing winning defense against the spread.
Pass defense has become one of the most complicated dimensions to the game of college football. The best defenses employ detailed pattern-matching systems of coverage which direct their players on which receivers and routes to cover in different scenarios with the aim of squeezing closed passing windows and denying leverage for efficient throws.
Just try and grok all of Nick Saban’s machinations in the world of pass defense.
Yet for all that, good college offenses who can field a competent O-line and savvy field general at quarterback throwing to two NFL-caliber receivers will tend to shred any defense. I’ve yet to see a top college defense which could stop an elite spread passing attack. Clemson couldn’t figure out 2019 LSU (no one could), back in 2009 Alabama was nearly undone even after Colt McCoy’s injury by Texas’ spread. Even the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs were completely destroyed in the SEC Championship by a healthy Alabama.
But elite level success notwithstanding, it’s possible to play good pass defense and lock down teams who don’t have multiple pro receivers. There are two tricks to it and both involve the number three.