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.


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