New Mexico's Offense in High School

LOBO'S Option Offense

Today we are going to take a brief look at New Mexico's version of the triple option as it is leading the NCAA in rushing in 2016.  The cool part about this is that it is done from the Shotgun which leads me to believe it can be incorporated into an Up Tempo Spread offense.  It isn't rare to see a triple option team leading the country in rushing, Navy and Georgia Tech are always high up the ranks.  What is unique is that it is being done from the true shotgun depth of 5 yards.  Combine that with the ability to use simple zone schemes and spread the field and i think you create a monster.

Nice Eye Candy
The offense itself is generically 3 back in nature which is similar to The Flexbone approach to triple option.  They will use some wrinkles like the Maryland Stack I, and some motion adjustments.  Its all really about changing the presentation not the play.  Typical to triple option schemes they will have a dive player(zone), the QB keep option, and a pitch phase.  So while this is hardly revolutionary its their approach from the shotgun that makes it unique.  By being in the shotgun every snap I think it makes this offense more spread scheme friendly.  You will help your High School QB or Middle School QB a ton in the passing game by being in the shotgun, especially when they are not all 6'5!!! You also add in the element of Run Pass Options which is also option football in it's most basic form.  Let's face it, in High School football the talent level between two teams can make it extremely difficult for most teams to compete.  I'm not sure about your area but where I am the playoff teams are usually the same about 75% of the time.  There are really only 4-6 teams that have a chance to win the state title each year.  So how do we level the playing field?  By reading more players which means blocking less players.

How Much is Too Much
The real question at hand here is how much can you actually do and be successful.  Most option teams can never really throw the football.  They spend so much time perfecting all the phases of the triple option and the blocking wrinkles that there is not enough time to teach a successful passing game.  There is also a certain skill set that comes with being a triple option QB, and that skill set usually sacrifices the ability to be an effective passer.  Also let us not forget the protection part of the passing game.  Throwing more may effect the types of Offensive Lineman option teams recruit.   Enter the era of the modern day "Dual Threat" QB.  More and more colleges are playing Dual Threat QB'S.  They are asking these QB'S to be runners and throwers while also being guys that can read defenders in the option game.  It is making the game more 11 on 11 now than 11 on 10 in the run game.  So can you take the best elements of the Spread game(RPO,Zone Read,Jet Power Read, Screens, Air Raid Theories) and mix it with the New Mexico triple option offense to create the ultimate "FACEMELTING" offense?  Only time will tell but I am willing to bet there will be some people trying including MYSELF!!!!!  It's a copycat game so take from everybody.


High School Kick Return


Today we are going to talk about Kick Returns for High School Football.  This is a scheme I have developed after coaching 20 years of High School football.  It was developed not as a superior scheme that I learned at a clinic or college visit, but as an alternative approach to Kick Returns to maximize the potential of my current players.  Over the years I have watched the front line of kick return players in High School struggle to turn and sprint the distance required to execute traditional kick returns.  What you normally see is Kickoff guys running right by the front line of your return team and blowing up the returner.  For years I tried to find players that could run 20-25 yards and set up wedges, talking about angles and leverage.  We tried crossing front line players to create angles for kick out blocks.  After years of what I thought was sub par performance in the return game I decided to make a change.

What we do now is not going to be a new trend in Kick Returns or a revolutionary idea that changes football, but it works for us.  We now use a 6-1-2-2 kick return alignment that is a straight man blocking scheme.  The 6 front line players are only going to drop 8-10 yards before engaging their blocking assignment.  Now I realize that with these short drops if we miss or don't maintain our blocks we are giving clearer paths to the kickoff team and better angles to the ball. But I also believe I am giving my kids an assignment they are better able to execute.  I am basically turning it into a WR stalk block with leverage.  I am asking guys to block a man in a certain direction and win with that leverage.  They don't need knockouts or pancake blocks, they need to occupy a body as long as they can and win with leverage.  We now only need to drop 8-10 yards before picking up our assignments so I think the task is physically more conducive to my players talents.  We now have made it more accountable for our players.  It's simple, don't let your guy make the tackle.  Now it has become easier to identify where the mistakes are in the return.  The middle guy in the scheme is there to protect against ambush onside kicks, help adjust to sky kick schemes, and be a 7th blocker to get a body on a body as quick as possible.  The 2 upbacks are always in position to receive pooch or sky kicks, and then are usually used to double team the best player on the kickoff team. Sometimes they will be used to trap or kick out a player based on the return.  The 2 deep players are just your traditional return home run threats.

We are going to use all skill players on this team.  We want WRS, DBS, and RBS.  We will sacrifice size for the ability to field kicks.  When you look at our return team on film it is hard to pick out a weak link for onside kick opportunities.  Now the perfectly executed onside kick may still give us trouble but I feel like I have 11 players on the field that can field kicks.  To me the most important aspect of Kick Return is not giving up your possession of the ball.  We never want to lose a possession in a game.  We can recover from a poor return or a missed blocking assignment, but it is very difficult to recover from a lost possession.  We see so many sky kicks and pooch kicks in High School.  If you can handle these situations you will generally start with decent field position.  Our alignment helps us adjust to sky kick formations because according to game plan we can use the middle player in our 6-1 alignment to help field sky kicks.  Our alignment also helps us get bodies on bodies sooner which helps prevent the kickoff team from free runners at the returner fielding the sky or pooch kick.

All in all it is a very simplistic approach to the kick return game.  We have not lost a possession yet this season with our return team and our average starting field position is the 31 yard line.  To me that is just as good as a 25 or 30 yard return.  We have brought 2 returns past our 40 yard line as well and last season returned a kick for a TD.