The field side of a football field is the wide side, determined by the location of the ball before the snap. Conversely, the boundary side of the field is the short side. The closer the ball is to the hashes the more room there is to the field on the opposite side. Identifying the boundary / field side can help defenses adjust their alignment for run fits and zone coverages.
The field and boundary designations are more important in college football than the NFL, as the hash marks are farther apart and therefore can create more (or less) space to the field and boundary sides. An example of the boundary and field side can be seen below, courtesy of the 2016 game between Cal and Washington State. The receivers and defenders to the field side have far more space to operate, and as such are more spread out in their splits, while the players to the boundary side are more condensed.
The field side of the playing field is the wide side, and some teams will use this to determine where each corner plays. In schemes like this, there will be a field corner who plays the wide side of the field on every play. Often times a college team’s boundary corner is their best cover player, allowing them to play single man coverage to the short side and devoting more defenders to the field. Additionally, if a team is running Cover 6, also known as quarter-quarter-half coverage, the field side will be the “quarter-quarter” side of the field where the team is running Cover 4.
An example of a team running Cover 6 using the field side of the field for the “quarter-quarter” coverage comes from the Colorado Buffaloes. In the below example from their 2016 game against the Colorado State Rams, with 6:17 remaining in the first quarter, the Buffs will run Cover 6 by using the boundary / field determination.
The Rams have a 2X2 set, with an even amount of receivers to each side of the field. Therefore, they use the boundary / field determination to decide that the field side of the Cover 6 coverage will be quarter-quarter (Cover 4) and the boundary side will be half coverage (Cover 2).
The field side is a useful determination for offenses and defenses to make, and a simple one to identify.
See also: Boundary side
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Ryan Dukarm wrote this entry. Follow Ryan on Twitter @DBRyan_Dukarm.
Film courtesy of NFL Game Pass and DraftBreakdown