First off, the players I have right now have only played football for about 3-4 years max, so I have to break down things very simply for them in terms of how we block things and who to leave, how to double team, etc. We are an I Formation team that mixes in some 3×1 and 2×2 looks in the Spread. Basically, we run a ton of Power, Iso, and Dive to the strong side, so the Counter Trey usually hits really well to the weakside of the formation. As far as personnel goes, I’ve put my two best linemen at the guard position, because we pull a ton on Traps, Powers, and Counter Trey, and they need to be able to help our weaker players on double teams. An added benefit is this really helps the kickout on Counter Trey as this player gets double the reps by running trap.
Counter Trey: Rules and Details By Position
Our general rule for Power and Counter Trey is to leave the outside most down lineman, and the outside most linebacker to the playside unblocked.
Weakside Counter Trey
Playside Tackle: He needs to leave the EMOLOS and the outside most linebacker on counter trey. He will be responsible for the next inside linebacker from the linebacker we are wrapping to. If there is a player in his inside gap, he helps the Guard double team the down linemen to the linebacker he is responsible for. The way I coach the double team is to make the angle of the block similar to the angle of the linebacker he is going to. So if the linebacker he is responsible for is stacked behind the defensive tackle, then the double is more of a vertical double team to the linebacker. If the linebacker is more towards the A Gap then it becomes more of a horizontal double team block to the A Gap. I tell the kids on Counter Trey that you can’t come off of a double until the linebacker gets to you and that they should not chase a linebacker if he goes away. If there is no possibility for double team, he just duck walks/moves slow waiting for the first player to show. Ideally, he gets his butt perpendicular to the LOS to make a wall and make any other pursuit bubble around his block.
Counter Trey: Vertical Double Team:
Playside Guard: His responsibility is to double team wherever the down linemen aligns when we run Counter Trey.
If there is a 3 technique defensive tackle, he helps the playside tackle as described above. He must make sure to work his butt around into the hole as the tackle leaves to get the LB. We work these double teams every day, and it takes some guys that have heart to really get it done. Once the tackle leaves, it essentially becomes a reach block. I teach this part just as I do on our toss play. I teach it this way to keep the skills the same throughout. If the player can’t reach him, then he just needs to drive him whichever direction he is already going. You’ll be fine as long as the DL guy doesn’t slip off the block if the guard does this.
Counter Trey: Horizontal Double Team:
Against a 1 technique defensive tackle on Counter Trey, the playside Guard and the Center double team to the next linebacker inside of the tackle’s linebacker. At the classification we play in (smallest in Indiana) that LB usually doesn’t cause many problems as he gets caught up in the trash thinking the play was something else, but at the higher levels, this becomes a pretty critical block. When we run counter trey, this double team with the Center tends to be more of a horizontal double team, but a 4-4 will make it more vertical since he will be going to the other inside linebacker.
Center: If he has a 1, 2i or 2 technique to the pulling Guard’s side, then he must fill for the puller using a down block. This can be kinda scary vs. a quick 2 tech if you have a slow Center like I do. The angle he will have to take will kind of get him in the way of the pullers, but generally we are okay. We tend to get either a true 1 or 2i as we face quite a bit of Under Fronts. We leave a 3 tech for the FB as he has a little better angle to get the DT. More on this later.
If there is no A Gap threat to the pulling linemen side, then he looks to double with the other Guard as mentioned above. His double technique is as same as the Guards if he is staying on the down lineman.
Backside Guard: When we run counter trey he needs to pull and kickout the EMLOS. His head needs to be on the inside half of the defender, i.e. Guards helmet is between the defender and the hole we are running. With this aiming point, I am hoping to turn the defender inside out as well. Attacking that inside half will also turn the defender around making it harder for him to make the tackle if he does get off of the block. As for the pull itself, I tell the Guard to pull straight down the line, but inevitably he has to bow a little to get around our slow center. I tell them to treat the pull on counter trey as if they were trying to steal 2nd base. The first step is 6″ from the starting position horizontally with the foot turning to become parallel with the LOS. The second step is almost a crossover step to turn the body toward the defender they are blocking. How close you get the 2nd foot to the 1st depends on how deep the player needs to get to clear the trash. Real close to the foot = heavy trash. Far away= no trash. Guards generally get no trash and tackles get heavy trash. On the kickout block, we teach it as if it were a drive block that had more of a run up. The player needs to use the palm of his hand and deliever a blow to the bottom of the shoulder pads forcing them up and into the defender, all the while throwing their hips and arching their backs. Once the defender gets taller, I tell the guys to start running the defender as he is off balance and it helps keep the blocker’s feet moving on impact as well.
Backside Tackle: On this version of Counter Trey, sometimes known as Counter GT, the backsid tackle pulls and wraps to the outside most playside linebacker. His steps are like I mentioned for the Guard above. His aiming point is to come right off of the double team where ever it may be. We do this for a couple of reasons. 1st, if the outside linebacker tries to close the hole as he is coached to do, it gives the Tackle a good angle to kick him out and create a decent sized hole. When we run counter trey, we generally don’t get linebackers that are that sound, but if we do get a team with that ability level in the season, I want to be ready. 2nd reason is that if we are running it against an Under front, he will be able to turn inside and look for the LB pursuing. I tell the OL guys that where ever our point of attack is, I want to be like Moses and part the sea. Pulling right off the double team helps keep that part of the sea intact so to speak. If the pulling Tackle has no one to block, I tell him to now turn into a running back and score a touchdown. This gets the pulling tackle more upfield to get the angle on the pursuit. We tell the RB to get behind the pulling Tackle and follow him like he’s a bullet shield style to the endzone. We have some bigger cats playing Tackle and some of the defensive backs have to think twice about trying to blow up that pulling Tackle to get to the runningback!
Tight End: On the weakside counter trey / counter GT, he basically just steps and hinges the backside. He is essentially responsible for the next down linemen past the B Gap. I generally tell the tight end to cut the guy, or if the defender is slow, just get in his way for a second, then try to go cutoff a pursuing player. As long as his guy doesn’t run right through, it doesn’t really matter what he does if he slows his guy down.
Fullback: We teach the fullback to cut right off of the pulling Tackle to take out the 3 technique or anyone following the pullers. All he really has to do is stone the player and they play will be successful. One thing I’ve told the fullback if taking on a bigger DT is to block him and “accidentally” fall down towards his feet without grabbing cloth…A nice way of saying “Cut him” without having to make it too obvious. Our fullback is pretty good though and doesn’t have to use it much if ever.
The few things that give us problems are the 3-3 stack teams and getting the timing down with the fullback and Pulling Tackle. For the 3-3 teams, it depends on what all they are doing with the Overhang backers and how they are playing the DT/LB stack to the play side. One thing we’ve done against those teams is to go more Twins looks to clean up what the overhang is doing, and to get the angles back in our favor.
The fullback and pulling Tackle problem just has to be repped to death. As it turns out, our fastest player is at FB and one of our slowest is at one of the Tackles and they always get jacked up. The FB just has to be more patient and not get in a hurry. Going a hair slower also helps hold the linebackers to the playside for an instant longer, giving us better angles for the double teams.
Conclusion on Counter Trey / Counter GT
Counter Trey tends to be provide a pretty good sized hole to run through if you can get bodies on a body. One thing I did not mention above, is if we get a wrong armer. We honestly don’t get many good defensive ends that can do it and stay close to the LOS. Most of them are 3-4 yards upfield when they try to do it, so it doesn’t really happen much to us. What we do though when it is happening is to just take the wrong armer where he wants to go. I honestly don’t even tell the kids either. I really don’t want them to have to think about whether they are getting wrong armed or not. It slows them down. Anyway, I just tell the Tackle to be ready to bend around the block. Being a tad deeper on the pull by the Tackle helps this too. As you can tell, we also don’t skip pull. I coach a bunch of hippos that have no business doing that ballerina crap. If we went more spread than we already do, I’d consider it, but it just isn’t worth the time to coach it at the moment.
Lastly, as I mentioned the spread, we do run counter trey out of the gun. Only thing that really changes is what you do with OLB and the Slot WR. It is somewhat of a gameplan thing in terms of were the hang backer is at and if the slot can block him. If you are interested on how we do this out of the Gun, don’t hesitate to email or comment below.
Hopefully, you all have learned something today. Let me know if you have any other questions.