Blocking Run Pass Concepts



Since I have already done some blogs involving packaged plays I figured I should go over the blocking schemes we use when reading second level defenders.  When thinking about adding new schemes the first thought that enters my mind is How much will it affect the offensive line?  We really try to keep our schemes as simple as possible up front.  We really only run gap schemes, and outside zone schemes.  So when I want to add a new concept I try to fit it into one of those schemes.  

When I started researching run/pass packaged plays I needed to figure out a way to teach it to my olineman without adding and extra scheme.  My first thought was to block it like veer but make a lock call for the front side tackle. This way he would block the end and the QB could read the ILB.  Then I realized that if there was a 3 and 5 technique front side the guards assignment changed as well.  Then it dawned on me that the front side of the play was man and the backside was essentially a zone scheme.  We already taught a half slide half man pass protection so my brain started turning to figure out how to do that in the run game.  What I came up with was a simple tag to give the center to alert him and the oline that we were blocking half slide pass protection rules with run blocking demeanor. 

So we came up with different tags to alert the line to run block our half slide assignments.  That allowed us to get man blocking on the front side with the center turning away to work towards the BILB.  Now we could combine a run play with a pass play and conflict a 2nd level defender.  There are several different ways to do this.  You can run QB Draw off of a TB Flare, You can run inside zone with a stick route or snag route.  The bottom line is your offensive line is aggressively blocking a run play with the ability to throw a pass downfield.  Remember within the rules your line can get 3 yards downfield without being called for ineligible man downfield.  Add into to that the human error factor because referees are human and all of this happens real suddenly and you get 5 yards downfield!  We actually completed two vertical routes that were thrown 30 plus yards without being called for a penalty.  Remember a penalty is only a penalty if a flag is thrown!

Hopefully this blog and the video helps you better understand packaged plays.  It's not what you know but what you can get your players to know.  PLAY FAST!

Defending The Zone Read



I received a few email requests to talk about defending the Zone Read so that will be the topic of the day.  First I think we must define what the Zone Read is.  It is basically a simple option football theory done from the shotgun.  The traditional method involves the QB reading the C Gap defender, although the play has morphed into so much more.  The play wants to put a defender in conflict by reading him and choosing a course of action based on the conflicted players reaction.  In theory the "READ" player should never be right.  An option team that spends their time focusing on option style plays will be able to get a QB to read the conflicted defender correctly about 75% of the time. The beauty of option football is the QB becomes the "11th" player for the offense making the numbers game equal on both sides of the ball.  With traditional under center offenses where the QB hands the ball off to running backs technically the defense is playing 11 vs 10 in the run game because the QB will only be a threat on bootlegs or waggles. The other enticing part of option football is forces the defense to play sound, and discipline football with a lot of emphasis put on individual defensive players executing their individual assignments.  It is a way of trying to slow a defense down and not let them play with reckless abandon.

As a defensive coordinator you can try and dictate who will carry the ball in the option game.  When you are dealing with a "PRO I" tailback with the QB under center you know he is gonna have the ball 30 times.  Think about it, everybody knew guys like Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, and Earl Campbell were going to have the ball 25-35 times a game.  Best you could do was load the box and try and get extra numbers in the run game.  The interesting thing about defending the Zone Read is you can dictate who you want to have the ball.  The first thing you should always determine is who is more dangerous with the ball the QB or the RB?  The next thing to consider is are they double option or are they triple option?  And the last thing to consider is Do they have any passing concepts tied to the reads?  You usually will not have to worry about the passing concepts when talking about the defensive end, but in today's offenses your second level LBS will get read as well with passing concepts tied in.

The first thing we teach our defensive ends is to "squeeze and pop" off of inside releases by the offensive tackle.  What that means is he will take the air out of the inside release and close the gap between him and the offensive tackle.  He will do this with his hips square to the LOS.  Your end will see the QB mesh with the TB and at that point he pops back outside to play the QB.  Your LBS will handle the zone along with your other D Lineman.  The next thing we will do is "bend and chase" our defensive end to the side we have the open B Gap.  Now the end will physically turn his shoulders and chase the inside part of the zone or the TB.  He is essentially cancelling out the B Gap vs. an inside release by the offensive tackle.  You will now have a LB or Safety or Corner responsible for the QB on the Gap Exchange.  The reason I mention the Secondary players is because you can get them involved with the QB if you know it is only double option.  Depending on which way you have the front set, you can predetermine some line games that will change the reads for the QB as well.  Keeping the reads dynamic and multiple for the QB makes his job harder in the read game.  The only issue is it also makes things harder on your defense when there is more involved.  If all else fails you can always try bringing pressure.  Zone pressures are much safer vs athletic QBS.  If you are going to use pressure make sure you have a "spill blitzer" and a "contain blitzer".  The spill player handles the zone portion or inside part of the option and the contain blitzer handles the QB or outside part of the option.

I hope this helps you understand the zone read game a little better and gives you a few ideas to slow it down.  Remember at the end of the day it is better to outplay your opponent instead of out thinking them.


What is Your Philosophy

How Do You Approach the Game


I would like to switch gears a little bit today from schematics to philosophy or approach to the game.  I am going to go through some questions that I think help shape the mindset and mentality of your football program.  For me I have always tried to get my teams to resemble my characteristics as an athlete/coach.  I am a very energetic, high wired coach that tries to instill that attitude in my players throughout everything I do in my program.  I want us to be up tempo in everything we do, playing with as much self confidence as possible.  The best players and coaches in any sport have a self confidence that is borderline arrogant.  The difference in the two is the respect you show your opponents and the game itself.  If you want to be successful you have to have a belief in your own abilities.  If you ever enter a competition with self doubt your opponent already has a leg up on you.  How do you eliminate self doubt?  You try your best to cover every scenario possible and be as prepared as you can possibly be.  A lot of people talk about "outworking" other people.  The truth of the matter is you may never know if you have outworked someone unless you know exactly what it is that they are doing.  I never know how my opponent is practicing, training, or preparing for a game or a season so I have to do everything i possibly can to believe I am outworking them.

Now the questions I am going to cover today are very simple in nature, but should give you a better idea of the type of coach you are.  Do you take a lot of risks? Do you play close to the vest with every decision based on percentages? Are you offensive or defensive minded? Do you play an attacking style or a conservative bend but don't break style?  Do you always make the same decision at the coin toss?  Does your opponent affect your decision making? After every season I like to go back and look at the decisions i made and see if my team really reflected my personality.  There are always going to be teams and players that force you to adapt your thinking a little bit but in general who you are as a coach should always stay consistent.

Now Think About Why You Do Things
After looking at some of the questions I posed in my video segment the next question you have to answer is Why do you do things the way you do?  For some people I am almost certain the answer is because its what they know or have always done.  I do not like to think that way because I feel like that is when you allow yourself to get stagnant or deny your own growth.  There is nothing wrong with a set way of doing things especially when you are getting great results.  The question I ask is How long can it last?  Will you be able to adapt when the game changes or your players change? 

My goal with this particular Blog is to go around the North Florida area and talk to different coaches that have been successful and see how different the mindsets and mentalities are.  I want to start bringing other coaches in on the topics I have been talking about and get some different perspectives.  Guys can try and kick each others teeth in from August until December, but we all know from December through July its time to share, learn, and grow.  Hopefully some of these questions spark some curiosity into your own programs and your own mindset.


Spicing Up Your Practice


Today I want to talk about developing a practice plan and adapting that plan to the needs of your team.  I changed jobs for the first time in 15 years and got off to a rough 1-4 start.  I immediately realized that the things I did at my previous school were not working at my new school.  Sometimes losing creates the biggest learning opportunities.  You really focus more on the areas that need improvement in your program when you hit the wall.  Sometimes when you are winning you tend to overlook some things that are done poorly because the result of winning hides some of the inadequacies in your system.  I am going to go through some of the changes we made in the middle of the year that have helped us a bunch.

The first thing we had to do was identify what we thought were the problem areas in our practices. We were starting a lot of really young kids and we were having a hard time finishing games.  We lost one game 28-27 and missed 2 extra points, we had two other games where we were tied at the half in one, and behind by a point at the half in the other.  Here are the three things we came up with:
1)We were not executing technically or fundamentally
2)We did not compete for 4 quarters
3)We did not fully understand football situations and scenarios

So what we decided to do was increase our reps vs. scout teams by using 2 different scout teams in every group period.  Having 2 scout teams allowed us to get more reps in because you always had a scout team ready to play.  Normally when dealing with scout stuff your practices slow down tremendously because of the time it takes to get the scout team coached up on the plays they are running.  By using two scout teams you can have one running a play, while the other team is being coached up on the next play they will run. Now our offense or defense has to run back and forth between the two groups while getting a call and getting lined up.  The other scout group is ready to go already so there is an immediate focus on alignment and assignment with no down time.  We wanted to replicate the pace of the game and the ability to play under duress. The increased amount of reps allowed us to really focus on the technique and fundamentals of our players.

The next change we made allowed us to kill 2 birds with one stone.  We came up with a few competitive team setting drills that allowed us to focus on winning and losing every snap while also teaching situations to our kids.  The first drill was a team goal line drill with 5 goal to goal plays run from the 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 yard lines.  After every snap the losing group did 10 up downs. It forced our kids to value competition.  It also gave us a chance to coach situations.  We could talk to the ball carriers about getting north and south on short yardage, or to the DBS about playing tight press coverage inside the 5 yard line.  There is nothing more frustrating than watching a DB play 5 yards deep in the endzone with the ball on the 2 yard line.  You start yelling at players in a game about stuff you may not have covered in practice.    The next drill we did was a 3rd Down drill we called "Best of 6".  We had 6 consecutive 3rd down plays starting with 3rd and 1 and ending with 3rd and 6.  The loser of the Best of 6 had to run 2 half gassers after the competition.  We were competing while also coaching our kids on 3rd down situations.  We were talking about tendencies and formations and personnel groupings.  We were teaching receivers to know where the sticks were.  Our kids started taking a lot of pride in the competition aspect while not fully realizing they were learning to play based on situations and circumstances.  The last one we did was called the "40 Yard Dash".  The offense had one drive from the 40 yard line in 4 down territory to score a Touchdown.  It forced our kids to compete in a game setting with the ball being spotted and moved.  They had to know down and distance.  Our offensive players started to understand the mindset of 4 down territory.  Again the loser of this drill had a consequence whether it was up downs, gassers, or who got to eat pre game meal first.  What the loser had to do after the drill was not important, the main goal was getting our kids to value competition and understand there was a consequence for losing.

We are 3-1 since the making the changes to our practice structure.  The kids are having more fun, and we feel we are getting more game specific teaching done.  Another thing that helped us a bunch was keeping practices under 2 hours.  We determined that our kids had about an hour and 45 minute window that was productive for teaching and learning.  Anything more than that and we were wasting our time.  There is no right or wrong way to do things so keep tweaking your practice schedule until it fits your players.  This is not about my way or the highway, it's about understanding your kids and your program and doing things that give you the best chance to win.




In an earlier blog we talked about pass protections and building a passing game for lower level football programs.  Today we are going to look further into the concept of "Hot" throws.  I consider myself fortunate to have so many people viewing the blog and following me on you tube, so when one of those followers asks a question about a topic I will always try to respond.  One of the recent questions I received asked me to explain "HOT" throws so I will do my best to explain the concept.

A "Hot" throw is a throw made quickly by a QB because he is being pressured by a LB that we did not account for in our pass protection scheme.  The number of defenders you can account for is determined by the number of receivers you release into the passing concept.  If you release 5 players into a pattern, then you only have 5 players left that can block.  This means a 6th defender rushing the QB will come free.  Hot throws are quick inside or outside breaking throws that the QB makes before the unblocked blitzer can get to him.  You must have receivers that are in position to receive these hot throws if you want to complete passes.

There are two different approaches to receiver routes in the "HOT" concept.  You can choose to build routes into your concepts that can be thrown if you get hot blitzes or you can have receivers read the hot blitzers and alter or "sight adjust" their routes if they get a blitz.  I choose to build routes into my concepts that can be thrown hot so it involves less teaching with the receivers.  Now the issue that arises here is this may limit your drop back passing concepts.  That is why most higher level college and pro teams will sight adjust vs blitzes so they can run all of their concepts.  By keeping it simple I choose to teach the QB all the reads vs blitzes based on our protection and route concepts while allowing the backs and receivers to simply run their designed routes.  

One thing to keep in mind is having a plan vs. blitzing teams may reduce the number of times they blitz.  Unfortunately at the lower levels of football some teams and coaches only know how to blitz and will blitz regardless of the outcome.  Because of that mindset and ideology you must be prepared to handle blitzes if you want to throw the ball successfully.  Changing the number of players you use to account for blitzes, and changing your protection schemes will also help.  If you use a half slide protection scheme all the time then good defensive coaches are going to figure out which way the center turns, and constantly pressure away from that side.  Using full slide protections with running backs helping opposite the side the line turns will help increase your chances of keeping the QB in an upright throwing position.  Using 5,6, and 7 man protection schemes will also help vs heavy pressure teams.

I hope this explanation and video helps you better understand "HOT" throws and pass protection concepts in general.  Always remember to PLAY FAST.

Speedball Tempo Plays

Fast Faster Fastest

 It seems like almost any offense can operate out of no huddle in today's game.  I would venture to guess that more than 50% of high school and college teams are now no huddle offenses.  The fact that teams can operate without a huddle does not make them a tempo team.  In reality the huddle was used as a method of communication for the offense.  Coaches needed a way to get all the information into the players, so the QB acted as the interpreter gathering information from the Coach and then delivering all the information to the players in the huddle which was where all 11 players were.

Offense Is In Control

How many times have you seen an NFL team get shutout for 28 minutes, go to a 2 minute drive at the end of a half and go right down the field and score?  You ask yourself why they don't do that more often, and the answer is simple.  They can't communicate their entire playbook that way so they usually have 5 or 6 things they practice each week in a 2 minute drill.  What you find out is the defense has a hard time communicating with their players and you usually see more base defenses which makes it easier to execute on offense.  So offensive coaches figured out since they control the personnel changes and the pace of the game, why not do it all the time?  Being in or out of the huddle is not about schematics, it's more about how you choose to communicate with your team.  That is why any offensive system can operate as a no huddle team so long as they can streamline their communication.  The question that arises now is can you be a tempo team?  That is where schematics comes into play.  If you are a power I team that has all predetermined runs and passes it is very difficult to be a great tempo team because you do not possess built in answers to how the defense chooses to defend you.  You will have to teach your QB how to check out of bad plays which essentially is slowing down your pace of play.  That is why the true "UP TEMPO" teams are so good at what they do.  Their plays have built in answers to adjust to the different looks the defense presents.

Today I am going to talk about a philosophy called "Speedball" which is essentially the fastest you can play on offense.  When using a speedball approach you are essentially staying in the same formation and running the same play as fast as the refs will allow you to do so.  This really puts a strain on the defense because your players already know that but the defense does not.  When you use this philosophy coming from the sideline your offensive guys already know what they will be doing but the defense has to react to it.  You have now negatively impacted the defenses lines of communication because they are trying to get a call and you already have yours.  Now the issue that arises is you have to have a play that has different built in options for the QB to get you out of bad situations.  Usually the best case scenario for speed ball is any form of option football that has built in access throws for the QB based on coverages.  In this scenario you can get the football to 3 or 4 or 5 different players without ever changing the play.  Now you have to have a QB that can read and react on the fly as opposed to a QB that can stop and change the play.  So in general you still need a smart and savvy QB that has to be well trained to execute this type of offense.  

Keep in mind there are no magic bullets in football.  It will still always come down to blocking, throwing, catching, and securing the football on offense.  I took a new job in the off season and we got off to a slow start and lost a few games because we did not execute the fundamentals of football.  But our kids understand how to run the speedball tempo and the few times we have done it this season it has worked for us.  It actually eliminates a lot of the thinking on offense because you do not have to worry about formation, snap count, or assignment changes.  At times I think coaches including myself make it more difficult than it needs to be and in essence slow kids down when our whole intent is to PLAY FAST!!!!!

Sometimes I forget myself, but it is important to try and remember our goal is to PLAY FAST.

Run Access Throws

Today we will be talking about access or free throws on the backside of run plays.  As a Split End or X Receiver growing up in the late 1980's I was always stalking the deep man middle of the field on runs away from me.  My coaches would always tell us to work like hell to get to the FS because that was the "Home Run" block.  But then they would tell us that we may only get to that Safety 4 or 5 times a year, but when we do it will be a big play.  It was not very efficient in terms of time spent practicing it and times actually accomplishing it.  We were not an up tempo team so the QB was responsible for getting us in and out of good plays.  As a Head Coach today in an up tempo offense I choose to give my backside receivers and QB'S access or free throws.

We Are In Charge
As an up tempo team the Offensive Coordinator is in charge of getting the team into good play calls.  Let's be honest, we are going to watch way more film than a 16 year old QB so we should be in charge.  If you are going to try and play fast you have to give your QB a chance to get himself out of possible bad situations with easy throws.  You also want to be able to take anything "free" or easy the defense gives you.  If you are a check with me team it is much easier to get into good play calls after watching the defense line up.  As a tempo team it becomes a little harder.  Your goal is to call plays as fast as you can so you do not always see what the defense is in.  You are usually relying on film study and tendencies, but you are going to make bad calls as a tempo coach.  If you watch a lot of up tempo teams play, you will see them in some 2nd and 12-15 scenarios.  We have to be honest in our approach and understand the other team has coaches and players as well, and we can't win every down.  One of the ways you can help that is by using access throws on the backside of runs.  This will allow the QB to make decisions within play calls to put the offense in a good situation.  It also allows your receivers to stay excited with a chance to get the ball on run plays as well.  Your front side receivers will still have to block the point of attack but the guys backside will be running routes which is what they really want to do.  Everybody has seen their share of receivers backside taking plays off, heck I did it as a player as well.  Now with routes built in and the potential to get the ball, they won't take plays off(we hope).  As a Head Coach I would like to think that I do not tolerate guys taking plays off, but in reality it happens to all of us at all levels.

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat
You can choose several different routes on the backside to run.  Some guys like slants, others like outs.  I suggest keeping it simple while having an answer for press coverage and off coverage.  I try not to let the players make a lot of decisions, but rather give them rules on what they can run and when they can run it.  We have experimented with letting the QB give a signal for the routes which works when you have an experienced QB but I'm not sure how good that would be with a younger or newer QB.  The access throws theory allows me to call runs as quickly as I can or want while giving the QB a chance to take what the defense gives us, or get me out of a bad call if the side of the run is overloaded.  It also gives us a chance to use the same play 2 or 3 times in a row with the ball going to different players.  If you are going to be an up tempo team I suggest you use the access throws theory on the backside.  Remember the execution of these plays is more important than the scheme itself so coach all the little things up and clean it up.


Coaching An Effective Screen Game


 When discussing the Screen game in terms of offensive football we must consider the reasons we are calling screens.  I think it is commonly understood that screens were used to slow down an aggressive and effective pass rush.  But in today's game of up tempo football you are seeing screens used as a psychological ploy as well as a physical attack.  The idea now is to get the guys up front to have to run early and often, and then make them line up and do it again.  Teams are trying to take the legs out of the dominant rushers by taking the wind out of their sails.  The offenses intent is to make defensive lineman and linebackers fatigued which makes them easier to block late game.

First we must discuss the different types of screens an offensive coordinator can use to get the job done.
1)Bubble or Leverage Screens:These are outside quick screens where you are trying to get the ball in a play makers hands as quickly as possible.  Bubble screens usually have 1-2 blockers to account for 1-2 defenders in the area of the bubble screen that can make a play.  The term leverage means you are throwing the bubble based on the alignment of the defense because you have them "outleveraged".  Sometimes these screens can be part of a packaged play tagged with a run or sometimes they can be called plays.  They usually work better as part of a packaged run concept because the QB will make the decision to throw the bubble based on the alignment of the defense which assures a better success rate.
2)Stand Up or Now Screens: These are quick throws to the outside with receivers showing fast hands and feet and then flashing their numbers to the QB.  The receiver will not be moving towards or away from the QB and is actually catching the ball in his original alignment.  These are usually done vs soft coverage with no underneath help and considered an extended run play because the idea is to get it in the hands quickly of one of your best open field players.  You can also use the #2 or #3 receivers in sets where the defense does not cover down on receivers.  We usually try to get a RB and Playside Guard out as well to help block but the throw happens so fast they will only get there if your receiver makes the first man miss.
3)Slow or Tunnel Screens: These are screens that take time to develop, and unlike the first two mentioned will have multiple lineman out in front blocking for the receiver. These screens are usually thrown off of some type of 5 Step or Drop Back action because you need the Dline to get a good pass rush to help the play.  I usually throw these to my running backs, but I have used my #1WR with the same blocking assignments bringing the #1 receiver down inside toward the ball in a tunnel screen type of action.  We always pull the 2 Guards and the Center.  First man out has to kick out the first defender towards the sideline(sidewalk).  The 2nd OL player to get out turns up inside the kick out block and leads the receiver through the tunnel(alley).  The last lineman out has to wall off any backside players trying to chase the screen(Wall).  Sometimes we peel him back to pick up any defensive lineman that did not get a great pass rush(Rat Kill).   I like to leave my tackles on the ends the whole time to ensure they get a good upfield pass rush.
4)Jailbreak Screens: These are quicker released throws then slow screens usually thrown to receivers working all the way back inside towards the ball.  Most of the time at least 4 offensive lineman and sometimes 5 offensive lineman will release on these.  We generally just flash a quick high hat with our line and get all 5 of them involved in the screen.  We give them all landmarks to release to and not player or man assignments.  We send the tackles 2 yards inside the hash marks, the guards to the uprights and the center to the goalpost.  We tell them to block the first opposite colored jersey on their track.  Do not double team or stone a defender at the LOS because that defender will hurt the success of the play.
Screen With A Purpose
As an up tempo team, screens should be used early and often.  We want to mentally and physically fatigue our opponents.  It is OK if theses screens are not huge gains as long as the defense has to run to defend them, and you are forcing the issue with your tempo.  Remember slow screens will be less effective later in drives and later in games if your tempo is effective.  If they cannot rush the passer because they are tired then do not screen them.  When using bubble and stand up screens think about players not plays.  Try and get those throws into the hands of players that can take it to the house.  


Put Your Players in A Good Position

Give Your Players One Job

All too often in coaching we expect our players to do things that are just not possible.  We give them 2 or 3 assignments and when they get beat we scream at them.  I have been guilty of the same things myself in the past.  Maybe you tell your lineman to get movement on a double team and then yell when they don't come off for a backer.  Or you tell your corner not to get beat deep and then scream when he gives up a hitch route for 8 yards.  You want your backers to play hard downhill, but yell for more depth on play action.


Today I want to look at corner play in Cover 2 to a single receiver side.  You have to know what you want from your corner if you expect him to do his job.  I think you have two choices for your corners.  They can either support the run and give up a jam on the #1 receiver, or they can hard funnel the #1 receiver and be late in the run game.  If you are asking him to do both you are asking him to potentially fail.  Unless you have an extremely gifted corner it will be hard for him to do both jobs effectively. To get the most out of your corner in Cover 2 give him a job based on down and distance or tendency.  if you are expecting run then play him in a "Slice" technique and squeeze him hard into the D gap creating an 8 man front.  Just understand in doing this he will not jam #1 and might be late to the hitch or out cut.  If you are expecting pass or facing a dominant X receiver have him play a hard jam or funnel technique.  When doing this he may be late to support the run unless it is into the boundary. 

You are not playing a different coverage, you are just giving him a chance to be successful in a technique that you want him to play.  If you treat the single side of formations the same in your coverages, your players can get good at the different techniques you want them to play.  You will be presenting a different picture for the QB while playing the same coverage with your players.

We have to try and coach smarter not harder if we want our players to be successful.  Think about giving your players simple jobs that they can be effective playing and their confidence will increase and you will build trust with your players.

Simple Pass Protection


I would like to talk today about building pass protections, and the two that I think are the most sound for high school, middle school, and youth football.  Again the fundamentals required to protect the passer are every bit as important as the schematics.  The offensive line is the hardest position to play on the field in my opinion.  The schemes involved should be easy to understand with simple rules.

We try to use two basic protections when we throw the ball. We use a full slide with the offensive line, which means the offensive line will all move one gap in the same direction.  The running backs are responsible for the edges of the offensive line.  This is generally the protection we will use when we are throwing our quick game.  We want to secure the A and B gaps inside and force any pressure to come from wider gaps. Because we are getting rid of the ball relatively quick we need to make sure there is no inside pressure.  The offensive line and running backs are both very aggressive in nature and we want to keep defenders hands down. We will also use a version of this protection in our play action passing game and generally keep 7 men in protection.  The play action version will not be as aggressive but we would like to keep a low pad demeanor to sell the run action.  It tends to look like a gap run scheme when we execute it correctly so it helps create more space in our passing game with linebackers fitting their run gaps.

When we are throwing 5 step or drop back combinations we use a half slide protection.  This means one side of the line will be man blocking and the other side will create a "zone side".  That does not mean a "zone" scheme like the run concept, it means we will be pass protecting areas instead of men.  The general rule for this protection is the first uncovered lineman on the man side will start the turn towards the zone side.  That is the easiest description or rule you can give your oline to handle multiple fronts.  Generally speaking your center, and guards will be a little firmer then your tackles.  You are trying to develop a pocket for the QB to feel comfortable in.  The tackles are usually working wide rushers, and you would like them up the field behind the QB.  You want the interior of the pocket to be firm so the QB does not feel like he has people in his lap.  With that being said you must train your QB to make throws under duress.  Very rarely will there be perfectly clean throws for the QB.  He must learn to manipulate the pocket with his feet and find throwing lanes.  He must also learn to make short step and no step throws in traffic.  Remember incompletions are always better than sacks if you want to stay on schedule with your down and distance.

When using half slide protection, the QB's, RB'S and WR's are also part of the protection.  Their role is understanding the "HOT" part of the protection, which is where the ball goes if the defense brings one more defender then we can account for.  Sometimes we have to account for rushers by throwing quick, hot routes if that defender rushes the passer.  The QB is always accountable for who these defenders are and must be trained to understand his protections better than everyone else on the team.  Keep in mind teams will only come after the QB with additional rushers if they feel like they can get to him.  Sending extra rushers compromises the defenses coverages, so they need to feel like they can get home if they add rushers to their scheme.

Some other things that can help the QB are varying the launch points, which are the areas the ball will be released from.  Sprint outs and waggles are effective ways to change the launch point.  Keep in mind your protections need to be simple enough for your players to execute.  You do not need a different protection for every front the defense shows.  The more protections you have at the lower levels of football, the more breakdowns you will have.  I hope this helps you keep your QB upright and complete more passes.


Simple Packaged Concepts For Up Tempo Teams

Lightning Fast Play Calls

 There is a difference between No Huddle "Check With Me" teams and No Huddle "Up Tempo" teams.  If you are a check with me team then you may operate using a no huddle system of communication but your concern is getting the best play called vs. a certain defensive look.  If you are an up tempo team then your concern is running plays as fast as possible and eliminating multiple calls and substitutions from the defense.

As an offense, staying on schedule with your down and distance goals is a huge concern.  When you are calling plays in an up tempo fashion and not getting a great look at the defensive alignment, packaged plays with multiple options for the QB can help save your job.  Now to say we have no idea what the defense is in would be a lie because we studied game film all week.  Our film study will help us generate an idea of how the defense will handle certain formations and what their pressure tendencies are.  It will also help us determine where they like to bring pressure from.

Guys like Chip Kelly and Rich Rodriguez are famous for their high octane spread up tempo offenses.  What people do not realize is their pace of play involves a lot of QB options and choices depending on how the defense decides to defend them.  You would be crazy to think they are just calling plays off the top of their heads and hoping they work.  They are actually spending a ton of time with their QBS, helping them get the offense in good situations pre and post snap.  Peyton Manning is the best QB at the line of scrimmage pre snap in my opinion.  He almost always gets the offense in a good situation once he recognizes the defense.  With up tempo teams the QBS job is getting the offense in a good situation post snap as well.

Packaged plays are a great way to get your offense in good situations and play off the reaction of certain defenders we label as conflicted.  These plays can consist of 2 to 3 and sometimes 4 different options for the QB.  It is not like you are creating new schemes or magical bullets, you are just combining your concepts that have already been installed to maximize your efficiency.   Today we are going to take a look at some of these concepts.

The first one we will look at is a 3 Man Scat on one side with a slow screen on the opposite side.  The 3 Man Scat is already part of our offense.  By tagging it with a slow screen we can put ourselves in advantageous situations by reading a conflicted defenders reaction to put us in what we think is a great situation. This way we can call the concept as quickly as possible while still having the ability to react to different looks or reactions from the defense.

The second one we will look at is a quick game route on one side with a waggle concept on the other side.  When calling quick game as an up tempo team there are times where you may get a coverage that takes away the route you called.  Without having to worry about converting routes and getting the QB and WR on the same page, we can build a waggle concept on the back side to put us in a better situation.

Looking for Answers

Remember this does not become the automatic way to score 50 points a game.  It still comes down to blocking and tackling.  You have to execute if you want to be effective.  What we are trying to do is come up with answers as an up tempo offense to handle different schemes and reactions from the defense.  Keep in mind in this style of play we often will not get a look at the defense before calling a play.  Packaged plays help us try and avoid negative plays and get into good situations post snap since we are not doing it pre snap.


QB Counter Game


Today's game of football is starting to trend toward athletic more dynamic athletes at the QB position.  The ability of the QB to be an effective runner and thrower is forcing defenses to change how they want to defend an offense now.  Not only is there the read option game, but you now have 10 personnel sets essentially becoming 20 personnel sets because the QB is a very efficient runner sometimes acting as another tailback.  This gives you the ability to spread the defense while still attacking it with hard, downhill 2 back style runs.

Today we will talk about the QB Counter as a misdirection play to compliment and protect your fast flow outside runs.  One of the most important things to remember as an offensive play caller is you must have plays that protect your plays. If you are a team that likes to run jet or fly sweep types of plays with flat motion, you will need plays off of this action that help slow the defense down.  One of the first things a defense will do to stop the jet action is roll a safety down to the motion side to gain an extra player with leverage on the jet sweep.  You must be able to attack the areas of the defense that are vulnerable when this occurs.  Misdirection or counter plays help slow the defense down by making them honor the runs or throws away from the motion.  By doing this you are protecting your fast flow plays by slowing the defense's reaction down.  Play action passes, screens, and bootlegs are also effective ways to keep the defense honest.  A good offense must slow down the reaction time of the defense and cause doubt in their mind.  The best defense's are generally aggressive in nature with players that fly around and play very fast.

The QB Counter for me was always a predetermined, called run that we would not read.  I wanted plays in my offense that let me dictate who has the ball.  The Read portion of the QB Run game can be extremely effective, but a well coached defense can dictate to you who the ball carrier is.  The scheme is very easy to teach because it follows simple gap down rules.  About 85% of our run game involves gap schemes which makes it a lot easier to have carry over in your run game.  The counter scheme is almost identical to the power scheme because you have gap down play side rules with a player responsible for kicking a C gap player out, and a player responsible for wrapping on an inside LB.  The misdirection is provided by adding a jet sweep or outside zone player that will carry out a fake away from the counter that holds the defense longer giving your lineman the angles needed to win on their leverage side.  

I made sure to include a read scheme in the video for those of you who want your counter game to be part of your option game or packaged plays as well.  The counter play can be drawn up from several formations with several motions to "dress it up" and make it harder to defend.  Make sure you block first level players first as the key to any good offense is avoiding negative plays.  I hope you can add this play to your offensive arsenal to drive defense's crazy and help you move the chains.