Using TB Push Motion-5 Simple Plays

Mazzone Push Motion

Today we are going to talk about incorporating TB push motion into your offense.  I first started seeing a lot of this when DeMarco Murray was at Oklahoma but really have to give credit to Noel Mazzone for making it a staple in my offense.  Although I do not follow Coach Mazzone's system "NZONE" verbatim, i do like a lot of his ideas.  The push motion by the running back is a short quick pre snap motion out of the backfield working wide towards the sideline.

1)Puts immediate stress on width and perimeter of defense
2)Gets athletes in space
3)Makes defense defend 2 back sets, while you quickly motion to 1 back
4)Helps differentiate coverages
5)Allows QB to make post snap decisions which helps tempo

This motion is usually most effective in an up tempo hurry up style offense.  It lends itself to several post snap read plays and constraint plays which help offenses play ultra fast.  The best up tempo teams are the ones who incorporate multiple reads and options for the QB all in a single play call.  We all remember the Ole Miss bowl game a few years back when they went down the field in 5 plays in less than 1:30 and 4 different players touched the ball.  Although that was not using push motion, what it was using was the simplest of up tempo theories which is one play with several options.  Let's face it, anybody can be up tempo and call plays lightning fast but do those plays give the QB enough options with the ball.  You could line up and run toss sweep 5 times straight out of the same formation, and probably snap the ball in under 15 seconds each time.  But is that effective?

20 Personnel 2 Back
So what we are looking at is a 2 back spread set with 20 personnel.  With 2 backs in the backfield you are going to force the defense to defend 2 back runs.  You still have power and isolation type plays.  The defense has to account for all the gaps in the run game if you have 2 back sets.  Now, using push motion you can create width, leverage, and numbers very quickly.  You will essentially be getting into a 3x1 set almost immediately.  You already have twin receivers flanked wide and you are now adding a third receiver that gets out there very quickly with limited time for the defense to adjust.  If you have ever coached defensive football you understand that 3x1 sets usually involve different variations of coverage.  By aligning in 2 back twins and pushing the TB out we will get to a trips set immediately giving the defense short notice to adjust.  Although the coverage structure may not change drastically the defense has to account for the numbers and leverage advantage of the offense.  The movement and adjustment of the defense is the read for the QB alerting him what to do with the football.  You are simply trying to play a game of chess with the defense and ultimately always have the last move.

The best thing about it, is the fact you can stay within your base core plays and schemes and not try to recreate the wheel offensively.  What I would like to do today is give you 5 very basic plays you can incorporate using push motion.  They all feed off one another and there is consistency in your teaching.  Many great offensive minds have always said "Don't change your plays, just change the presentation." We are merely giving the defense a slightly different look to run our standard offensive plays.  I hope you enjoy the video and keep PLAYING FAST!!!!

Defending The Flex Bone


Today I want to talk about defending the base flex bone offense from your base 425 package.  We will be looking at the standard double wing version of the flex bone offense, and the most basic runs from it.  The key here is playing it from your basic defensive package that will not require a ton of changes or adjustments.  The key to remember is you may only have 2-3 full days to prepare for it.  With that being said you cannot ask your kids to try and play something new in 3 days.  You have to have a system that can adapt and adjust to that offense.  We will look at how we use our 425 to defend the basic concepts of the flex bone offense.  It will only cover the basic concepts of the flex bone, and i know there will be some flex bone fans that will insist there is much more to the offense and i admit there definitely is.  If you watch a fine tuned Georgia Tech, Navy, or Air Force offense it is a nightmare to defend.  I want to look at defending the simplest forms of the Veer, Midline, Rocket Toss and Counter play.

The biggest thing to understand is staying with your base system of playing defense.  Do not try and become something you are not.  Figure out a way to play what you play all the time with "MINOR" wrinkles and adjustments.  This will allow your kids to play fast with confidence, and allow you to continue to grow throughout the season.  If you try to change what you do for one week it will slow your players down and slow down the development of the defensive scheme.  When playing against an option style offense assignments and keys will be the biggest challenge for the week.  Making sure guys know where they fit vs. option schemes is a huge deal.  An even bigger deal is keeping it simple so the fits and assignments stay the same.  Trying to play the veer or midline plays 4 different ways may seem intriguing but it confuses players.  Letting your players play to their comfort level with speed and aggression is your safest bet.  With that said there will be some wrinkles but they are minor adjustments.

What we do is we play an 8 man front with the FS letting the motion of the wings dictate our read side which becomes our quarters coverage side.  Both corners will play aggressive man so the motions do not affect them.  The motion sets the read side for the FS.  In essence when a flex bone team runs orbit or pick up motion it becomes a 2 back set.  If they run a bunch of plays without motion it puts you in a one high concept but it also limits the numbers they can create with motion as well.  We played the veer option play with simple rules.  The ends try to eliminate the dive, the ILB'S run over the top to the QB, the down safeties play the pitch, and the FS runs the Alley playing QB to pitch.  If we use any stunts we send dlineman underneath so they still have dive responsibility and ILB'S still have QB.  We stay away from exotic movements that change the option fits.  We like the inside LB'S on the QB because in Florida the offensive lineman cannot cut LB'S so they have a hard time getting to LB'S running over the top to the QB.  With that said your LB's have to know what they are looking at and looking for because if they hesitate they will get blocked.  If the wings try to block the ILB then the FS must play the QB in the alley.  The midline play will be played differently but in a similar theory.  We like our dlineman tackling the dive and our LB'S on the QB with help.  Normally there will be some sort of fold block by a wing so we can get an extra body on the midline if our down safety can fold when the wing folds.  This involves tremendous eye discipline from the down safeties because the play may look similar to the veer option.  The ends will be C gap players because they normally get base blocks by the offensive tackles.

All of these things can be very hard to explain in writing so I hope you can watch the 40 minute YouTube video which will go through defending the veer, midline, rocket toss, and counter plays.  It will talk about the coverage we use and the option fits.  I hope this helps. Keep Playing Fast.

Sprint Out Passing Game For High School Football

Play To Your Strengths

I think it is safe to say that more and more HS football teams are using mobile, more athletic QBS in their offensive systems.  The evolution of the spread game and QB run game has offensive coordinators heading in a new direction.  Let's face it, every coach loves a guy that can extend plays and get you out of trouble.  It acts as a safety net for offensive coaches knowing that their best player with the ball in his hands can make a lot of things happen, especially when plays go bad.  It forces defensive coaches to be sound with their pressures, think a lot about rush lanes, and make sure they can fit 1 back runs that can now be lead and isolation plays with a QB that is a runner.  But what also happens is the offensive coordinator now must get creative in the passing game.  Most offensive coaches can draw up route combinations.  They all love the Mesh, 4 Verticals, Shallow Cross, Y Stick, Y Cross, Smash, Curl/Slide and the list goes on.  But many of those concepts involve three very key components that not all HS coaches have. 1)You need a pocket QB that can make all the reads and throws, 2)You need an offensive line and backs that can protect and 3)You need to have a plan for pressure which involves hot throws or sight adjustments.  Not to mention the amount of time you need to spend working on the timing and adjustments of intricate drop back passing schemes.  Think about Mike Leach saying he only has a few plays and the offense is installed in 3 days!!!  If that is the case imagine all the reads and adjustments those few plays must have to put up the yards and points Coach Leach has the last 15-20 years.

Using Your Athletic QB
What I want to look at today is the Sprint Out Passing game which helps QB'S that might not be traditional drop back passers, and lineman that may not be able to effectively protect in the 5 Step passing game.  Sprint Out passing moves the pocket which changes the launch point for the defense and effects their rush lanes.  It keeps the athletic QB on the move with the added potential of every pass play possibly becoming a perimeter run with a gifted runner.  On the negative side it will cut off half the field for the offense, and coverages will adjust or sling which makes it harder sometimes for QB'S to read.  There are generally two types of protection you can use when Sprint Out passing.  You can reach the frontside and hinge the backside with your RB becoming an extra edge blocker to the play side or you can fully turn your line away from the sprint out side and put the back on the edge.  Keep in mind most states have rules where you cannot cut the edge with a RB so putting him on a defensive end can be an issue.  We choose to reach the frontside and hinge the backside.  This gives me the ability to use my RB as an extra blocker for second level secondary contain LBER'S.  The issue with this is you give the DL reach blocks at the point of attack which triggers them to run to the play side.  Both protections will be very solid for sprint out passing, you just have to understand the constraints.

As far as the routes are concerned they are several combinations you can use.  Keep in mind with the QB moving you will want routes that are either breaking outside or stay on the outside.  One of the biggest mistakes a QB can make is throwing a blind ball back across his body to the inside.  Even if you like a combination with inside breaking routes, if the QB can not throw those routes before he passes them with his sprint out action, they may be a waste of time.  The two easiest combinations that are standard in just about every offensive system are the curl/slide and hitch/corner combos.   Keep in mind if you run inside breaking curl routes you will want to widen the split of #1 so the QB does not pass the curl window too soon.  You can adjust the hitch/corner combo as well by making the hitch route push the sideline with width since the sprint out action will make that an easier throw.  If you are sprinting towards trips you can now use flood routes which overload defenses with a deep route, intermediate route, and a short or flat route.

Hopefully the Sprint Out Passing game can help your offense move the football down the field.  As always the execution of the play is more important than the play itself so coach it up.  KEEP PLAYING FAST!!!!!

11 Robber Coverage As a Change Up

Old School Robber Coverage

Today we are going to talk about old school Robber coverage as a change up to your base coverage concepts.  When we say old school "Robber" coverage I don't mean the Robber coverage you hear about today where the Corners are deep half players and the FS is a Robber player off the release of the #2 WR.  We are talking about Robber players that will be run players first and then become low hole and high hole rat or robber players vs pass. This is actually the way Robber coverage was first taught to me in the early 90's.  Mickey Andrews and Florida State were having a lot of success playing it at the time, with outstanding defensive lineman and great cover corners.  It was actually their defensive base at the time if I remember correctly from clinic notes that I took from a clinic in the late 90's.  It was really good vs. 21 personnel because they would put the Sam LB on the TE and play their end in a wide 9 flying off the ball up the field in a "Jet" technique.  This helped turn all runs back inside and really helped with pass rush.

Shades of the "46" defense
There are two different reasons I wanted to use this style of Robber coverage as a change up.  The first reason is all about the coverage.  When people know you are a split field coverage, pattern match team, you will see a lot of "coverage beaters" in the passing game.  You will also see a lot of run pass option(RPO) stuff.  I wanted to have an answer for these things that wasn't always pressures or movements.  The thought of tighter man coverage to help vs the "beaters" and "RPO'S" was very intriguing, but usually came at the expense of pressure.  Pressure becomes a "BAND" scenario which generally means one school's band will be playing after that play, ours or yours!!! I love using pressure but do not want that to be my only answer.  11 Robber gives us tight man coverage with a low hole player to help vs screens, draws, and QB scrambles and a high hole player to help the over the top throws.  It also allows us to stay with our base 4 man front principles so there is no new teaching other than widening a defensive end.  The run fits are not exactly the same but they are real close and we have 2 safeties to help clean them up vs 21 personnel.  Run fits are the most important part of a defense in my opinion, but that topic is at least a Blog of it's own.  The second reason I like the 11 Robber stuff is it gives my front a slight change up.  Although not exactly like the old fashioned "46" or Bear front, the vice player on the tight end with the defensive end coming from real wide gives a similar feel.  As a standard even, over front team, we need some subtle changes to our front to protect it a little.  We move and stunt a whole bunch, but in general we need some other looks to make the offense prepare a little more.  The ability to play odd and even fronts is the best answer, but when trying to keep things simple you may not get to all that.  This is a nice wrinkle that helps on the front end and back end.

The coverage portion is basically a man under scheme.  The Corner's will play press man on the #1 WR'S, the SS will play man on #2 and vice(press) vs a Tight End.  The Mike and Will are man to man on the remaining backs while the FS and WS are the Robber players.  This will give us the 9 man box we want vs 21 personnel teams.  Because we are playing man we can afford to be aggressive with the Robber Safeties.  They do not have vertical routes by themselves so play action does not hurt them as much.  The WS is the adjuster vs. 1 back sets.  Quick history lesson, the "46" defense was named after Doug Plank who did most of the adjusting for the original "46" under Buddy Ryan.  He wore jersey #46 and that is how Ryan named the defense. The WS for us will adjust to all one back sets and play man on a receiver or Tight End.  This leaves the Mike and Will bracketing the single back with one of them becoming the low hole rat or robber.

I hope you can watch the video and adapt this concept into your defense if you are a split field pattern match team.  It is just a wrinkle for us but really helps protect our defense vs some of the things schemed up to beat us.  We will use it more as our kids gain a better understanding of what our defense is all about.


Simple Dime Package


Today we are going to take a look at adding a simple Dime package to your defense to help defend 3rd down situations and spread teams.  We are a 425 defense so we are technically a Nickel package already.  Adding another DB gives you more speed on the field and the ability to cover tighter.  At the High School and Junior High level the key is keeping your coverages simple and consistent.  A lot of times at the college and NFL level they will have specific schemes set for nickel or dime packages to take away the route combinations they will see.  They have more time to work on their substitution packages and more meeting time to go over the coverage adjustments they want to make. Its important for us to have a lot of carryover when we add a package or change a look so we keep things the same when we add a DB into our package.

The way we will generate confusion for the offense is by going to a Base 50 or Okie Front in our Dime Package.  That is different from our base even front and gives the offensive line and offensive coordinator another thing to work on, which affects their practice plan and practice time.  This way we are causing some confusion up front while keeping our back end coverages the same, in essence making the offense play slower while we try to play fast.  We will always have one wrinkle in our coverage scheme for longer yardage situations but we would like to play our base coverages as much as possible.  The way we accomplish this is by adding a second free safety in the game while removing a defensive lineman.  Now we have the ability to play any of our base coverages to either side of the formation.

50 Slant and Angle
We basically will become a 50 Slant and Angle defense much like the great defenses under Bo Schembechler.  We will always slant strong in our Dime Package, bringing the Down Safety from the side with the least receivers with the 3 defensive lineman creating a 4 man rush.  The safety that is rushing must make a call to the defensive line giving them their direction to slant.  Now we can play our base coverages behind that depending upon the formations we see.  If we see a 2x1 formation we will play Quarters strong side and Cov 2 sky or cloud weak.  If we see a 2x2 formation we will play 2 Read to each side bringing the down safety that is on the same side as the Will LB.  That allows the Will LB to walk out and be the Apex player to a 2 removed receiver which is how we play it in base defense.  If the offense gives us a 3x1 formation we play our standard trips checks because we have an extra FS in the game giving us the ability to play trips to either side without changing strength.  We will add simple zone pressures from both sides and a zero pressure to keep the offense honest.  We always want to have the ability to pressure from any package we run.  The zero pressure is really good because you have all DBS covering the 5 eligibles which makes for good match ups, and allows you to bring an outside LB in the pressure with the 2 ILBS.

If you are interested in our base coverage concepts I have an Ebook out on Kindle called Split Field Coverages.  It gives a good brief introduction into how we declare our coverages using split field principles.  Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it.


Bootleg/Waggle Variations

Adding Bootlegs and Waggles to Your Offense

Today we are going to talk about Bootlegs and Waggles in various formations.  A bootleg or waggle is a play where the QB will roll outside the pocket away from the original direction of the play.  It is designed to be misdirection that slows down the defenses flow to the football.  You can choose to pull a lineman in front of your QB or allow your QB to boot "naked" with no protection.  We choose to use naked boots because it protects the misdirection of the play.  You can use several variations of routes on your boots and waggles but for simplicity sake we will use the same route combinations.

One thing that is very important for an offense of any level is to use the strengths of your QB.  If your QB is not very tall but is a good athlete, moving the pocket can help him see the passing concepts he may not be able to see from the pocket.  Let's face it, we are not always going to get a 6'3 QB in High School or Middle School.  Putting a QB on the perimeter puts a lot of stress on a defense.  He becomes an immediate threat to run which makes defenders want to come out of their pass drop responsibilities.  Defensive coverages that are zone orientated usually have specific drops for their players based on the coverage concept.  When you use a bootleg or waggle you are forcing the defense to adjust those drops because the QB has left the pocket.  This can create some holes in the defense if they are not discipline.  You can also affect the pass rush lanes and mindset of the defensive line since containing the QB will become a huge concern now.  Finding out what your QB is good at and playing to his strengths will be a huge asset for an offense.

Run Boots From Any Offense
The last thing we will discuss is the ability to vary your boots regardless of your offensive scheme.  You can run bootlegs or waggles from any offensive scheme.  Plays that are not scheme specific provide variety for the offense.  I am going to show you today bootlegs off of quick game passing, 3 back power offenses, flex bone offenses, and spread jet sweep offenses.  You can be very creative with boots and waggles and incorporate them into any offense.  Keep in mind the nature of the boot or waggle is to provide misdirection.  We want these plays to come off of full flow in the opposite direction.  This is a sure fire way to slow down the reaction and pursuit of the defense.  Always keep in mind on offense you want plays that protect your plays.  If we are a big jet sweep team we will want to incorporate some things that go opposite the jet sweep and keep the defense honest so they cannot overplay the motion and the jet.  I will also show you a boot or waggle off of the quick passing game which provides a packaged play mentality and helps your QB make good decisions and not force throws into bad looks.  You want your offense to have diversity and the ability to answer problems created by the defense.

Hopefully you can add some of these boots and waggles to your offensive system.  Be creative in your offense.  Whatever it is you run it is very easy to incorporate boots or waggles into your playbook.  Get your QB moving and give him some easy throws to help boost his confidence.  When your QB knows you are trying to keep him safe and you are giving him easy throws to complete he will play with more confidence because he trusts you.  Get your QB to buy in to play action fakes and the ability to "sell" the run game and work these mechanics into his practice routine.


3-3 Stack With Split Field Coverages

3-3 Stack With 5 DBS

Today we are going to look at using the 3-3 Stack or 30 Stack Defense with Split Field Coverages behind it.  The 3-3 Stack is still very popular in High School and Junior High Football, while it is being used in college and the NFL primarily as a 3rd Down pass rush defense.  Some schools choose to use it VS. spread offenses but there are very few teams in college basing out of it anymore.  The 3-3 Stack allows you to use smaller players that are more athletic because they are constantly moving.  The 2 Way Go really disrupts blocking schemes in Junior High and High School and the ability to bring multiple second level defenders causes confusion for offenses.  Generally speaking there will be 2 Defensive Ends over the offensive tackles and a Nose over the Center.  There will usually be 3 Linebackers stacked directly behind these defensive lineman.  The fact that the defensive lineman are head up and the backers are stacked behind them gives the opportunity for tons of movement and gap exchanges.  This can be a way to equalize bigger more physical offenses with smaller players, or to get more speed on the field.

One of the issues with the 3-3 Stack is the fact that there are 2 BIG bubbles on each side of the center that offenses can exploit with Gap Schemes in the run game.  The premise will be to remove one of these bubbles by slanting or moving the front and bringing at least 1 LB with it.  You will usually be moving into an under or over front.  You can maximize your speed on the field with this concept, but keep in mind you can move out of plays as well as you can move into them.  I want to look at playing Split Field Coverages behind the 3-3 Stack which really maximizes your speed on defense.  Now we can have the ability to move and play 2 High structures which is how we base on defense.

I feel like that quote describes a lot of the Stack teams I see in High School.  To move just for the sake of moving on defense can be problematic.  Yes the Stack lends itself to a ton of great movements, but you need to have a disciplined approach to those movements so you can attack an offense while protecting your defense.  Your movements should be calculated with your coverages behind it.  I think this is part of the reason you see so many 1 High structures behind the Stack Defense.  It seems like the 1 High guys feel like they can move anywhere and be sound behind it.  While that may be true, I do not think that is the best way to attack the offense.  By using 2 High Structures you can defend spread offenses a little better in my opinion, but you must also teach a little more to your players.  You will have more coverage options vs 2x2 and 3x1 sets, but your movements and coverages must match each other.  This will give us the ability to defend sets based on the picture in front of us which is the premise of our Split Field Coverages.  When you narrow it down you can only see Pro Sets, Twins Sets, and Trips Sets on your Read side, and single receiver or 2 receiver sets on your Away side.  If you can coordinate your movements with the coverages you want to play to each look you can build a really productive package.  Your 3 Stack LBS will become "Hybrid" players that will need to learn more than 1 role in a coverage.  That may not make a lot of people comfortable, but if you are used to playing split field coverages then you are used to teaching this way.  In addition an offense can trade or motion you into some things you can't control so cross training linebackers and safeties is in your best interest anyway.

At the end of the day I think the 3-3 Stack can create a lot of issues for an offense.  Getting the offense to over think and play slow while your players are attacking full speed will lead to great results.  Depending on your staff and the knowledge of your players you can keep this package as simple as you want, or add more to it to make it extremely diverse.  I have always hated preparing for 3-3 teams on offense and with proper planning and coaching I think the 3-3 can be a very effective every down defense at the High School, Junior High, and Pop Warner levels.  Maximizing team speed while creating movement with multiple second level defenders that can rush or drop is a very intriguing concept.  I think about using the 3-3 Stack more and more each year as long as I can fit it into what we already teach.


Simple Defensive Line Stunts

D Line Disrupts


Today we are going to take a look at simple D Line stunts or games.  These are also known as disrupts because you are trying to alter or change the O Lines blocking schemes.  If you really want to affect an offense then get after their offensive line.  Movements and games are a simple way to do that while staying sound on defense.  It is also a good way to get smaller or less talented players to become more effective.  We will look at 1 man and 2 man games today.

For us as an Over Front most of our games come from the side with the 3 and 5 technique.  The gap exchanges are easier and they are closer together which makes the picks and rubs more effective.  Usually with two man games you talk about a penetrator first and a loop player second.  You can have the End penetrate first and the Nose loop behind him, or you can have the Nose penetrate first and the End loop behind him.  An important thing to understand is how the stunt affects the run gaps of the second level defenders.  If you simply gap exchange two defensive lineman there will be no gap changes for the linebackers.  But if you are changing gaps of players up front then you may be changing gaps of players behind them.  An inability to fit runs correctly will get you in a lot of trouble as a defense.  When you are changing gap assignments you must make sure it is taught and communicated to all involved.  Here is an example.  We like to take the 3 technique and 5 technique under 1 gap each vs. teams that like to run strong side inside runs.  By doing that we feel like we are eliminating the A and B gaps and forcing the ball wide so it is not gaining any ground.  When we do this the Mike LB now becomes a C Gap player on runs at him to the strong side.  The run fits to the strong side have changed and we must understand how to execute it properly.  The biggest problem a defense can run into is guys running around with no accountability.  You want to play fast and aggressive but also be gap sound with integrity.  We will also stunt the 3 technique and 1 technique 1 gap to the weak side.  Essentially the 3 becomes a 1 technique and plays the A gap and the 1 becomes a 3 technique and plays the B gap.  This changes the gaps of the Mike and Will so it must be understood by them so you can fit runs properly.  All of these things must be practiced and drilled daily to maintain proper run fits and gap integrity.

Teaching Movement
Another very important aspect of line games is teaching guys how to read and react while moving.  When a defensive lineman moves he must understand what his new visual key will be.  He must understand how to move with great body demeanor and leverage.  A lot of players want to stand straight up when they move and now will not play with pad under pad leverage.  Knowing their new visual key will be very important so they can understand how to react to blocks and maintain proper gap integrity.  For example, if a 5 technique is going to cross the offensive tackles face and become a B Gap player his new visual key will be the Guard.  If the guard was working out towards the 5 technique, the 5 technique needs to understand he must stay on the outside shoulder pad of that guard.  If he goes across the guards face he is now essentially in the A Gap and we are structurally unsound.  You never want to move just for the sake of moving.  Their must be a purpose and an assignment with the movement that must be executed.  You should always teach defensive lineman base block recognition and block destruction first, then use movement as your change up or off speed pitch.  It will muddy the water for offensive lineman.  It will also take advantage of offensive lineman with poor footwork and bad run blocking demeanor.

As always our main concern is getting our players to understand what they must do and do it as fast as possible with very little thinking.  If you can add simple movement to your defense that you can accomplish with very little thinking it will pay huge dividends.  Remember players that think too much play too slow.  Have a simple progression in your teaching and give them as many reps as possible covering all scenarios.  Until next time keep PLAYING FAST!!!



Today we want to talk about gaining your Weak Safety vs. single width formations.  If you have read any of my defensive blogs you will realize that my weak safety is in a down position most of the time vs. single width to his side.  It stems from an 8 man front theory and stopping the run first.  After doing a lot of research on my own tendencies and performance I came to realize that I am losing that player in certain situations and need to have ways to gain him back where I need him.  We will still use him down a majority of the time but situationally we will also now allow him to play on the hashmark to help vs certain route concepts.

One of the biggest issues we have is we are an 8 man front team that plays with the Middle of the Field(MOF) open most of the time.  20 personnel or twins open has become a more prevalent set for offenses recently.  This set puts us in Quarters to the twins side and Sky or Cloud to the single side by definition or rule.  When I say Sky I mean our weak side safety is down in a force/flat position.  This means the MOF is open and many teams will try to attack there in the passing game. I have never been a fan of quarters coverage to the weak side because that makes the Will LB responsible for #2 to the flat and on the wheel.  I'm not crazy about that with him also being a B Gap player. But if his leverage is good and he can see the angle the running back takes he should be ok.

This will allow us to be creative with our weak side safety.  We can still use him as a run defender, but if he gets pass reads we may be able to gain him where we need help.  The term I picked up at a clinic a few years ago was "vision and break".  Usually a quarters player with no threat of #2 vertical would rob the post, dig, curl routes of the #1 receiver.  What we are going to try and do is let the Weak Safety rob off the intentions of the QB.  After 16 years coaching in high school and intensive study of our last 3 years I have found that 95% of high school QBS will look where they are throwing the whole time.  I have found it very rare for a QB to look off of his intentions in High School.  You may get some well trained QBS that look down the middle first, but they immediately lock on to their progression side after that. So what we are going to try and do is let the Weak Safety play off the intentions of the QB.  This way he can help middle of the field throws, but also will be able to help on throws to the single.  Now we can help close the MOF without playing MOF closed coverages like 3 Deep or Man Free.  You have to be willing to play some press man on the single, and your Will LB on #2 man.  We are certainly going to look at it this spring.




 As a Football Coach I have always loved the analytical side of coaching.  It is one of the few sports where a call has to be made every single play, and that call can get you into and out of a lot of trouble every single down.  Let's face it, football will always come down to blocking, tackling and the execution of fundamentals.  But there is also the idea of putting your kids in the best position to be successful.  That means getting your offense into good play calls based on defensive alignment and coverages.  On defense it means giving your players a chance to exploit offensive weaknesses while defending the offense's strengths.  Its about an offense trying to get grass, numbers and angles, while the defense tries to play with great leverage and keep the ball inside and in front.  The game is constantly evolving and we must adapt as coaches or get left behind.

As a Coach you really need to stay focused on what the current trends in the game are.  The reason I say that is even if you are still running the same system on offense, you have to know defensively what other offenses are doing.  Most of the current offensive trends have stemmed from the roots of option football.  Offenses are finding ways to stress and conflict defenders, which clouds or fogs up a players reads and reactions.  This forces the defensive player to play slower.  The offense will always have a slight advantage because they know the play and their assignment.  The defense is always reacting to what the offense is doing.  Most defensive players have a run and pass assignment on every play.  With that being said if the offense can play off the vulnerability of the defenders assignments they should be able to stay in good situations.  Most good defenses you hear about are fast and physical.  You will never hear a coach say the other team plays really good defense because they are slow and soft.  A lot of your really good defensive teams are simplistic in nature so their kids can understand assignments and execute them relatively easy.

 With all of that being said let us now take a look at how that daily battle has evolved today.  Run Pass Option plays are becoming the big trend in football today.  It all stems back to the roots of option football.  Offensively we want the QB to be able to put the ball in the right place by reading defenders.  We are trying to play off the aggressiveness and assignments of the defensive players.  Reading second level defenders is now what is en vogue in the football world.  What makes this so effective? Second level players usually have run and pass assignments that have a lot of space between them.  Because an offense can have offensive lineman roughly up to 3 yards downfield and still legally throw forward passes, they can combine plays that are runs or passes based on the reaction of the defense.  So in essence you are triggering a response from a defender and forcing him to play his run assignment.  You then strategically place receivers in the passing responsibility areas of that defender.  If he plays the run, the pass should be open.  If he hangs on his pass responsibility we should be able to gain 3-4 yards on a run play.

So all the Up Tempo football teams are really playing a best case scenario game with their players especially the QB.  Remember the days when the QB had to make a bunch of checks at the line?  Offensive coaches usually gave the QB the ability to get into and out of certain runs and passes based on the alignment and leverage of the defense.  As an offense you always want to avoid negative plays.  These usually happen when you have a play called into the strength of a defense. So if we just call a play from the huddle and the defense gives us a look that negates the chances of the play being successful we must have a way to get out of it and into something we like.  Enter up tempo football.  Now we are trying to stress the amount of things the defense can do in a short period of time.  Remember the offense knows the alignment and assignment and the defense must react to it.  But to simply think we can call a play fast and be successful is a recipe for disaster.  So what now?  Tempo football must have built in options that the QB can go to on any play call without changing the play.  Remember changing plays at the line can be effective but it is also time consuming.  If you want to stay Up Tempo you need options built into the play.

So now on the defensive side of the ball we have to have answers.  We can't sit in one coverage and get picked apart.  We need to challenge the run pass options by changing coverages.  You have to be able to play some type of man coverage.  This allows you to get another guy in the box who does not have the huge run/pass constraint.  You have to be able to change the leverage on receivers and change their zone responsibilities.  Running some line games and changing your gap responsibility while confusing the oline can help as well.  But the biggest concern is always going to be how much can my kids handle.  Can we do multiple things without them slowing down?  Will they be able to handle the coverage changes, or the run fit changes?

The Chess Game in football is to me what makes it the ultimate Coaching challenge.  It's what keeps the game fresh from season to season and gets me amped up for Friday Night Lights.  As a coach the physical aspect of competition is long gone so I have to compete in other ways.  I never lose my desire to compete, and since I cannot do it physically anymore I choose to do it strategically.


Half Line Drills to Teach Coverages

Quarter Quarter Half Coverage

The ideology of the whole part whole teaching method has always been a huge part of coaching football.  I like to introduce a scheme to a whole unit in meetings first.  Then on the field we will teach it and rep it in individuals or group sessions.  Finally we will get together as an entire unit and put all the parts together.  This method is really effective for us as a split field coverage team.  I really like teaching this way because our base coverages are meant to be played independently of each other, so working half line drills lets us focus and coach one half of the coverage at a time.

Today we are going to talk about the 3 base coverages we play and how we use half line drills to work run support and coverage responsibility.  Our base coverages are Quarters, 2 Read, and Cover 2.  We have to be able to play a combination of those at all times.  We really need to get good at these coverages and the nuances or slight change in assignments of each one.  What we will do is work half field or half line principles versus 2 removed receivers and a RB and QB.  We are going to emphasize the trouble spots or coverage beaters in each coverage.  I consider bubble screens and now screens as an extended part of the run game.  We will work run responsibilities versus speed option, bubble screen, and now screens.  In the passing game we will work curl/slide, hitch corner, and coverage beaters like post over dig, post and corner, post and deep out, and 2 verticals with a flat route.  I think it's important to stress the routes that can beat your coverages the most and let your kids react to and play other route combinations as they occur.

Keep in mind that this is just a segment of the practice where you are emphasizing certain scenarios with a small group of players.  You will still have inside or team run periods, 7 on 7 periods and full team sessions.  Ultimately the game is played 11 on 11 and you have to work as a unit to have success.  Breaking your work down into small groups helps you and your players work on specific techniques and fundamentals that will make the group stronger as a whole.  There are several other portions of your practice in all 3 phases of the game where half line teaching is very effective.

Always remember the key to good coaching is what you can get your players to know, not just what you know.  Hopefully this helps you organize your practices more efficiently and get your players to understand their responsibilities a little better.  PLAY FAST.