Category Archives: Offensive Formations

Adding Unbalanced Formations to Your Offense

One of least utilized tools in the Offensive Coordinator’s toolbox has to be the use of the unbalanced offensive formations.

What I mean by unbalanced formations is either covering up an eligible receiver by other receivers to create an overload, or switching an offensive lineman and a receiver such as a TE to create dilemma between defending the passing or running strength.

Many option offenses often use different types of unbalanced formations, but not many Zone or Gap teams utilize these looks. The purpose of this article will be to present unbalanced formation concepts to these types of offenses to use against defenses when a schematic advantage might be needed versus a superior opponent. Continue reading

NIU’s Empty Formation QB Power / Counter Combination Play

Northern Illinois has a pretty nifty offense. It seems to be all the rage these days. However, when you watch the film, the vast majority of the offense relies heavily on the old, reliable power blocking scheme. In this case, since they run QB power from an empty formation, they’re kicking out the end with the guard in this specific usage of the power scheme.

You may consider this a trap play, but it’s using the power blocking concept (specifically the “counter” play scheme, with the QB’s read acting as the “wrapper” typically filled by the fullback or pulling tackle).

They run a lot of QB power, and this article will focus on their combination QB power play with the jailbreak screen. Continue reading

Flexible Passing Concepts for Multiple Teams

With more and more offenses trying to be multiple in this era, there is a unique need to minimize new learning – especially in regards to the passing game and passing concepts.

I’m of the belief that excessive new learning truly tanks your teams ability to excel. I’ve touched on this topic several times already, but not so much in the passing game.

Let’s be honest, in any of your passing concepts, if a receiver screws up a route, it can be devastating to your offensive attack. For high school teams that try to be multiple with formations, this can lead to problems.

Below you’ll find a fairly solid system for passing concepts that ensures you get receivers in the correct routes, generally. While passing concept systems are not perfect, this one included, they do minimize learning, without teaching a numbered route system. And I feel this system is one of the best at minimizing learning. Continue reading

Using the H-Back Pistol Offense to Manipulate the Defense

The “H-Back”. Talk about something most coaches as the small college, high school, and youth football levels decide to give up upon because they don’t “have that type of athlete”. Well, for those of us who aren’t pessimists, the H-Back Pistol Offense adds unique elements to manipulate the defense.

Let me start by addressing some of your concerns. Yes, you probably have an “H-Back” in your program. No, he’s not a 6’6″ tight end unless your New England in 2011. Let me also say you probably don’t have a QB of Tom Brady’s caliber either, but you probably still use a quarterback in some fashion or another. Don’t let that lame excuse force you to ignore this article. Okay, so rant over. You got to coach up all your players – use tight end drills like these to start.

The H-Back, or really any movement player with some running and/or pass catching and blocking ability, can add a whole new element to your offense. The H-Back does a number of things to manipulate the defense. First and foremost, he can move the offensive gaps around quickly and easily, forcing defenses to respond with some reaction. Continue reading

Creating Big Plays out of Two Tight End Formations

22 personnel. Often forgotten about with today’s spread offenses. Often relegated to the goal line or other short yardage situations, these heavy two tight end formations can create big plays.

See, there is a certain psychology that comes with two tight end formations these days, grounded in what I just spoke about, goal line and short yardage situations. Many defenders run fits change versus 22 personnel, so they need to pay extra attention to their alignment and assignment, just like they used to do versus trips formations!

Because these two tight end formations use exactly that, two tight ends, the defense must respect an extra gap. They might do this by using their own goalline set, or by removing a safety and adding a linebacker. Regardless, you force a pass responsibility defender to play in an unnatural position – either because he’s the best backup and he’s not naturally used to being on the field – or because he’s a safety and he’s near the line of scrimmage. Continue reading

Beating Press Coverage in Football with Bunch Formations and Motion

With coverages getting tougher and tougher in today’s game, offenses are seeing more and more press coverages. While receivers are being coached to handle it better, in high school football especially you might get some tough matchups. Beating press coverages is becoming more of a priority for offenses.

Their are two popular strategies to handling press coverage, and sometimes they are used in combination. Receivers bunched together (two or more) and motion. My favorite is motion, but that’s because teams I’ve been apart of haven’t used many bunch looks.

Motion I feel is easier because you can simply use return motion to force a cornerback out of press coverage. Continue reading

Why Offensive Line Coaches Need to Understand Defensive Run Fits

I’ve touched on the topic of offensive line coaches understanding defensive run fits in the past. But it is absolutely critical that offensive line coaches spend time with their defensive coordinator in order to understand how defenses defend plays. Then, the coach needs to take this information to the next step and equip their plays to be better prepared for well coached teams. I’ll use a simple example, weakside iso versus a 4-3 over cover 4 front, to show the importance of understanding defensive run fits.

Offensive Line Coaches Understanding Run Fits: “The Play Looks Wide Open Coach!”

Or… “It’ll be there all day!” Then it’s not. We’ve been there as O-line coaches. The defense makes an adjustment. For instance, below is an example of weakside iso versus the 4-3 over front. Every offensive line coach licks his chops when he sees this. There’s a big, natural bubble, and all we have to do is get a body on a body.

Weakside I Formation Iso versus 4-3 Over Cover 4

Weakside Iso versus 4-3 Over

I always assume the defensive coordinator is smarter than me. They’re not giving me a huge bubble unless they’ve got a way to protect it. In other words…

It's a Trap!

As many o-line coaches find out the day after film, while we draw it up and it looks perfect, the execution kills us. That’s because good defensive teams understand run fits and they do them so often that this play get’s clogged up. As you can see below, it was indeed a trap. The Mike linebacker has strongside B, the safety fills outside, and the Will linebacker plugs the kickout by the fullback. In other words, it’s hard as heck to get movement on the double and get to the Mike linebacker with a traditional horizontal combination block through the nose tackle.

4-3 run fits versus I formation Weakside Iso

Notice the bad angle for the combo to keep the Mike from Inserting Inside the Fullback

The Mike scrapes to B gap, and inserts inside of the Will linebacker, who should be taking the block on with his inside shoulder. Even if the Will linebacker takes it on wrong, the Rover is there. We can’t account for the Rover unless we get into some double tight sets OR use a receiver and get to him. So let’s assume the Will does forces it back inside.

On top of this, the Sam is probably flying to strongside A gap because the backside safety can take C gap. So now, we’re in a tough spot.  Three linebackers who are scraping fast towards the play. We’ve got to combo a nose AND hope the backside tackle takes a great path to the strongside linebacker.

Offensive Line Coaches Understanding Run Fits: Offensive Line Technique

As an offensive line coach, need to understand how your conference opponents will insert their run fits against your run game before the season starts. Why? Because then you can really focus on teaching the skills necessary to play their run fits, not where they are going to be at the snap.

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For instance, in the diagram below, we see a vertical combo block on the nose tackle through to the Mike. You may not get the dominating combo, but you will get a body on a body. The crease here in the 4-3 over weakside B gap is big enough naturally that the tailback should have no problem punching it through if the guard and center can get some vertical displacement on the nose and just come off to the Mike.

Weakside Iso versus the 4-3 Over Cover 4 with better technique

Notice the vertical combo on the nose tackle to the Mike.

The tailback also needs coaching here. He needs to trust that his linemen will come off off onto the Mike. If he cuts back at the line of scrimmage, he will run into cutback defenders. He should stay inside, true to the hole. It probably won’t be terribly clean, but he should be able to punch it through for 5 yards if not much more.

We also see the tackle and guard on the backside stepping tight together. This is almost a zone combination. Some coaches would say combo the backside defensive tackle to the Sam linebacker. I feel that the tackle, even on the vertical combo, can step too hard and knock the defensive tackle into the A gap in this scenario, closing that window for the linebacker, which in turn makes him press tighter to the playside because well coached linebackers go to the next open window. I’d rather have the backside of the offensive line here use a mentality like, “you two have those two”, and really zone through. So that way, if the 3 technique works into the offensive tackle, the guard can slip off for the Sam. If the defensive tackle gets hands on the guard, like he probably will, the offensive tackle will step inside (no matter what he’s doing that) and work on a 45 degree angle inside up to the Sam.

Conclusion

By taking time to understand how the Mike will flow (aka, his run fits), I will know to coach our guys to use a vertical combination block in this scenario, rather than a horizontal combo. Some offensive coordinators may need to be “schooled” on why that nose tackle shouldn’t be completely blown away by the combo. You need to care more about getting to the backer on this play. For winning teams, while it’s nice to physically dominate the defensive line, it’s better simply to get a body on a body so that way the running back can use his vision. So overall, when scheming plays, you need to make planning for a defense’s run fits a priority.

ChiefPigskin.com is a place you should visit today. They have some great drills that can help you.