football drills, coaching football, football playbooks, pdf football playbooks, playbook software
Unbalanced Offense Theory & Procedure
If they do not have the ball, they can’t score. It’s just that simple. If they do not have the ball, they can’t score. If they can’t score, they can’t win. The fundamental basis of our offense is ball control. A big average gain per try can be very misleading. The important percentage is determined by the number of plays run that gain 3.5 yards or more. When this consistency is in the area of 70%, the offense can control the ball long enough to score a sufficient number of times necessary to win.
Our offense will strive to maintain high consistency through ball control. Our aim will be to eliminate all the mistakes that cut down on consistency such as bad plays, missed assignments, penalties, fumbles, interceptions, and lack of aggressiveness.
In order to maintain a consistent offense, our motto will be: "Drive For Five." On each play we will drive down the field for five yards. We will be successful if we can maintain a high number of plays that net a five yard gain. Our squad must create within itself a burning desire and pride, that will never accept anything less than its best efforts. Each player must absolutely know his assignments with no exceptions. Lack of aggressiveness is often the result of not knowing your blocking assignments or a feeling of unsureness. A lineman or a blocker must hit, hit, hit, hit, and drive! A ball carrier must run, run, run, and never be brought down by just one man.
Ball carriers must first hold on to the ball. Fumbles will defeat a team quicker than anything. Secondly, ball carriers must develop an attitude that no effort is too great to score. No defensive tackler will ever bring you down. Guts, drive, and determination will win more games and make up for lack of speed, or elusive running ability.
Our offensive alignment is unique. It is unlike any other offense our opponents will encounter the rest of the season. Therefore, they will have to spend extra amounts of time during their practice week adjusting their defenses to combat our offensive scheme. In addition, our offense forces their defensive personnel to play in alignments they are not accustomed to playing. Simply stated, our offense gives us an edge before the kickoff.
The four things that a defensive coordinator does not like to see from the opposition are:
1.An unbalanced line, 2.Men in motion, 3.Bastard end splits, 4.Triple option football.
Our offense has all three built in. These three things force the defense to think and adjust on the field for every play. It gets them to thinking about situations they have not encountered the entire year and forces them to move and adjust just before the snap. Thinking adjusting, and moving at the time of the snap takes away a certain amount of the defensive aggressiveness. It puts them on their heels and gives us the advantage.
Just before every snap of the football, the players on defense must recognize the following, answer these questions and make on the field adjustments in the few split seconds prior to the snap:
1.Unbalanced which way? How do I adjust? 2.Where do I line up? 3.How does the man in motion affect my coverage? 4.What is my option responsibility?
The unbalanced set forces the defense to adjust or be out flanked. This adjustment places the defensive personnel into positions they are unaccustomed to playing and they only have a few practice sessions to prepare. The man in motion forces further adjustments by the defense which puts additional pressure on the mental acuteness of the defense. We always have the hreat of the option. On every play the defense has to recognize the offensive set, locate the unbalanced, adjust, react to the man in motion, keep their pass responsibilities straight, adjust and remember whom they have on the option. There is a great deal of thinking and reacting that must go on in the minds of the defenders during the 3 - 5 seconds before the ball is snapped. Forcing them to think - on every down - takes away much of their aggressiveness. In fact, it is proven that if you put too much into the heads of high school football players, their feet don’t work. You can get people out of position very easily by just putting one man in motion. We have seen as many as six people move and adjust on defense with the movement of just one man on offense.
The basis of the offense forces the defense to continuously be making decision while the play is being run. Due to the nature of the plays, often whatever decision the defense makes will be wrong. In other words, when they commit to one aspect of the offensive, we will take advantage of that commitment and do something different or unexpected. This is “smart” football. No one is collectively any smarter than we are. Through our practice and commitment we can outsmart our opponents.
Part of playing smart is taking a basic play and blocking it several different ways. If you are playing defense and are constantly getting hit from many different directions, it creates indecision on your part. Our offense will use many different blocking schemes for our plays. These blocking schemes are designed so that you may have the best blocking angles in the execution of your assignment. Once again, even in blocking assignments on certain play, we will allow the defense to make a decision. We will allow the defensive man at the POA to move down the LOS one way or another. We will then block him in the direction he wants to go and keep him sealed off in that direction. We will then react to his decision, go the opposite direction into the opening created by his movement, and gain yards.
You see, defense is all reaction football. The defense must react to the offensive formation, any motion or shifting done by the offense, wait for and react to the snap count of the offense, recognize what the offense is trying to do, react to this action, get to the point of attack and make the tackle. All this needs to be done in 4.5 seconds or less which is the average length of the average football play. In a certain number of our plays, we force another defensive decision into this equation, react to that defensive decision, and execute an alternate offensive action that they do not have time to react to in the span of these 4.5 seconds which will allow us to gain yardage.
There is an old coaching cliché that states, “Whoever Has The Chalk Last, Wins.” An offensive coach who has the chalk after the defensive coach has aligned his forces can design a play to defeat it. Conversely, a defensive coach who has the chalk after the offense has designed their attack can position his forces to stop the assault. And the debate rages on and on. Of course, the offense has the ability to audible, but the defense can adjust to the audible. Audibles are good, however, you are relying on eleven 16 - 17 year old kids hearing, adjusting correctly, and executing in the space of less than 5 seconds.
Our offense gives the biggest piece of chalk to the inside offensive tackle (IOT). He will make offensive line blocking calls based on defensive alignment, strength, and strength of our offensive line vs. their defensive players. This is an audible, but it is something we will have worked on together, every day, from the first day of practice with thousands of repetitions. This blocking call on the LOS puts our players and team in the most advantageous position as the ball is snapped. It is up to you to execute after that. It is what goes on in the 1.5 seconds after the ball is snapped that determines the success of any offense.
The average block is not sustained in high school football. The average high school football team is comprised of average high school athletes. Average high school athletes are 5’10” tall and weigh around 170 - 190 pounds. There are players who are bigger, but there are players who are smaller. What goes on at the POA 1.5 seconds after the ball is snapped becomes critical. Timing and execution are crucial. Every football team and program has a signature play. It is the one play that the opponent must stop. It is the play that you turn to for the foundation of your game plan. The green bay packers under Lombardi had the sweep. The 49’ers have their short passing game. Archie griffin won two Heisman trophies at Ohio state from the tailback (TB) position with the I formation isolation play. Our base play is the fullback (FB) dive play.
The Base Play
Over the years we have had great success with the FB dive run a variety of ways. We believe that this scheme gets the most bang. The success we have has has been with a wide variety of athletic types playing fullback. With all else that goes on offensively, the myriad of things that spin through the minds of the members of the defense, often the simple dive play is either overlooked or not given the respect it deserves. We keep attending coaching clinics and hear coaches talking about “KISS” (keep it simple stupid), and they go into complicated offensive and defensive schemes. Not only is their a lot of information that flows though the minds of the defense, there is also a lot of information processed through the minds of the offensive coordinators of the world.
We have tried it all over the last 25 years - option, veer, 1 back, quick pass, run-and-shoot and on and on. We have come to the conclusion that the only thing we have done is complicate matters making it more difficult to be successful. The FB dive base play provides a minimum number of requirements of execution to be successful:
1.QB takes the snap, seats the ball, opens at a 45 degree angle and hands off to the FB. 2.FB takes the handoff running straight ahead with head up looking at the blocking develop at the POA. 3.At the POA a blocking call has been made that will maximize our blocking angles, skills and strength of our players vs their defense. 4.Everyone else on the LOS executes a “cut off” block, i.e., cuts off their assigned defender from a direct path to the ball carrier. A devastating block is not needed, but just a simple screen will do. This screening technique is very frustrating for the defense. 5.The remaining backs carry out as great a fake as possible. An old maxim of ours is, “A Good Fake Is Worth At Least Three Blocks.” In this scheme with its minimum number of plays, more emphasis and work can be devoted to faking and the finer points of the play action.
In years past we spent much of our play path time working on various series. We had a sweep series, option series, veer, counter action, sprint-draw, blast series and on and on. We put so much into the athletes’ heads that their feet did not work right. They slowed down. We as coaches with our elaborate offensive scheme robbed our players of their aggressiveness.
Lou Holtz in his championship season at Notre Dame talks about a successful high school program. When asked why that program is successful he said it was because that coach did not tire of running his basic play.
Not tiring of running the base play is essential. If you are successful to some degree with your offense, you will run 50 - 60 plays during a typical high school game. That fact dictates that you call the FB’s number 20 - 30 times a game. That means the TB, QB, WB and receivers share the remaining 30 reps.
The FB position is the heart and soul of the offense (behind the muscle of the tandem in front of him). You can sub for the FB on offense. In fact, it can be advantageous to do so. A new dive back half way through the 2nd qtr with fresh legs and a different running style can be devastating, even more so in the 4th qtr.
The FB needs to average close to 4 yards per carry to be successful. That extrapolates to 100 - 120 yards or more per game from the FB position. The other 5 players who handle the ball will have a much larger per average attempt once the FB is established each ball game. The SE and the TE will average around 10 yards per reception. The WB will average around 8 - 10 yards per carry (which will only be around 4 - 5 carries per game) and 15 yards per pass reception. The QB and TB will average 6 - 8 yards per attempt. This offense will generate 300 - 400 yards per game with 200-250 on the ground and 200 - 250 in the air.
The Base Play
The foundation of the base play consists of the tandem of blockers and the FB. Everyone else on the offense can, and do, appear in varied alignments, but the base unit remains the same. The tandem consists of the strong guard, the inside tackle and the outside tackle. When a Right formation is called the tandem aligns to the right; when a left formation is called, the tandem flip flops to the left side of the formation. The advantage in this is that everyone on the LOS is constantly working together.
The line splits are important. Generally speaking, as the ability of your offensive line increases, so may your line splits. With average lines a split of two feet between each player works best for the timing and execution of the offense. Two foot splits also uses the defense as blockers. Close, two foot splits cause the defense to trip over and bounce into each other while trying to pursue the ball carrier. We will narrow down the line splits in goal line or short yardage situations vs short yardage defenses that are much more aggressive on the LOS.
The basic alignment for the fullback is feet at five yards off the ball positioning himself directly behind the IOT. He is in a two point stance. As the speed of the QB (in getting the ball to the FB) and the FB increase, the FB would align wider and deeper. The five yard depth and two point stance allow the FB to hit the LOS with maximum amount of force and vision during that 1.5 seconds after the ball is snapped.
The unbalanced line with the short split end puts great pressure on the defensive front. They must either adjust to the unbalanced or be out flanked.
With adjustments etc., The defense must play out of position. What they are looking at just is not the same as they have seen in their previous football experience.
The base play, as well as others in this book, will be drawn up against a worse case scenario, eight to nine man front, base 6-2 or 6-3 gap, goal line pressure defense. How the defense adjusts to the formation at the perimeter is not important when discussing the base play. The only way we feel that the base play can be stopped is to overload the heart of the defense which will leave a tremendous opening and opportunity in other areas which we would then exploit.
The goal of the base play is to get the FB into the outside running lane of the defense. All defenses, by alignment, have certain running lanes that are created and must be exploited. These lanes are either there at the start of the play, or they appear as the play develops. The lane we are after in this case exists outside the LBer, between the DT and DE, and extends down field between the HB and SS. The lane widens as yardage is gained and also as the play develops. The lane opens as the play develops because we have the threat of the option play. Some defender (usually the SS) is responsible for the pitch back in the option play. When play action develops, the SS must honor for at least a brief period of time the threat of the option and step to cover the pitch back. Because both ends release off the LOS, the deep secondary (who are usually taught to take 3 "read" steps) must honor for at least a brief period of time the threat of a developing pass. In addition, someone, usually the DE, is responsible for the QB on the option. For these reasons, the running lane widens as shown, and in those two seconds after the ball is snapped the LOS changes its look as shown.
When the ball is snapped:
1.The DE, DT, and MLBer move toward their assigned gap that is threatened. Our offensive linemen fire out, strike the opponent, and drive these defenders down the LOS and execute a cut off block preventing them from getting back to the outside. 2.The secondary for the defense executes their "read" steps. These read steps start opening up the running lane. 3.The DE comes across the LOS looking to cover the QB for the option. The WB who has been in motion, breaks down and screens the DE to the outside. The important technique for the WB is to keep his body between the FB and the DE. He usually uses his hands and pushes the DE to the outside and uses the momentum of the DE to also push him deeper. This action opens the door of the running lane. The rule for the WB is to screen out any defender that aligns on the outside shoulder of the OOT or beyond. This action frees the OOT to block down the LOS giving him a great blocking angle on the first man to his inside on or off the ball. If someone aligns head on the OOT, the OOT would block him and take him the way he wants to go and the FB would read the block of the OOT and bend opposite his block while crossing the LOS. The FB would then look to hit the running lane to the outside, or he may want to hit the running lane that exists between the HB and FS. 4.The SE and TE release off the ball down field. For the 1.5 seconds at the start of the play, it looks like they are releasing for a pass route. This action forces the secondary deeper and wider. After he has driven the HB as deep as possible, the SE breaks down on the HB when the defenders begins to react to the running play that is developing. The SE’s job is to screen the defensive HB out of the running lane by executing a good stalk block. The TE not only drives the FS as deep as he can, but he must also start moving cross field to position himself between the FS and the ball carrier. Many people call the block of the TE a "down field" block. Actually it is a "cross field" block because we want the TE to get across the field in order to make his block on the secondary person closer to the ball carrier. 5.The rest of the line executes a cut off block on the DG, other DT and LBer. 6.The FB moves straight ahead toward the LOS. It is important for the FB to move straight ahead to get the hand off for several reasons. Since the DT is aligned outside the plane of the FB at the snap of the ball, by moving straight ahead the action of the FB gets the DT to step down the LOS making for an easier block by the OOT. The 5 yard depth of the FB allows him to move straight ahead to receive the hand off, set the block of the OOT and then cut off that block to the outside and get into the running lane. The cut is not a dramatic one - more like a bend to get into the running lane. It is important for the FB to be "under control" while receiving the hand off and then to accelerate off the block of the OOT into the running lane. 7.The QB takes the snap from the center, seats the ball, steps back at the correct angle to mesh with and hand off to the FB. After the hand off it is vitally important for the QB to carry out a great option fake. A good fake is worth three blocks. 8.The TB cross over steps to the sideline and gets into the same pitch route that he executes on the option play. It is very important for the TB to run the exact path he would on the option. Again, a good fake is worth three blocks. Good option faking by the QB and pitch back will take the DE, SS and HB out of the play and/or provide better blocking angles for our personnel. These defenders normally have specific option responsibilities. The fear of the option is a great tool.
When the defense knows we run the option, defenders will be aligned to defend the option and be given certain responsibilities. Some defenders will be responsible for the dive back, others for the QB and pitch back. When option action begins, they must respect that action for at least a short amount of time as the play begins. This action enables our blockers to gain a better angle and gets them into position which results in greater success. It is similar to a defensive back being told, "don’t get beat deep!" A number of years ago we had a FS who was a fine athlete. Our defensive backfield coach at the time made such a deal of "not getting beat deep" that he took himself out of almost every play. Don’t misunderstand. He was always there; he was always in position to make a play. But he was always one or two steps away from making the tackle. He always had a correct pursuit angle, but someone else would always make the tackle before him. He never got beat deep, but he was never in on many other plays.
The threat of the option can have the same effect on the defense. Everyone at the corner of the defense has specific responsibilities against the option. Great faking makes the base play look like the option for just enough time (perhaps two seconds) to get these people at the corner to step to their option areas of responsibility. They either freeze or react to the play either making them easier to block or completely taking themselves out of the play altogether.
The option is a great play. We all have seen the devastation it can cause when executed properly. It takes a great deal of practice time every day to run the play effectively; a great deal more time to run it expertly. Because our offense does not have a large number of plays, practice time is freed up to work on the option and the faking necessary for success. Even though the option play may only be called 6 - 7 times a game, those times that it is called will result in big gains in crucial situations. Running the option keeps people honest, it keeps them at home, it limits their aggressiveness, all of which are extremely beneficial. More on the option later.
Run the base play at the "bubble" on the LOS caused by the position of the LBer. LBers, especially in high school, like to flow up and down the LOS making tackles from sideline to sideline. Very few high school LBers relish the thought of trying to tackle a fullback coming straight at him, with a full head of steam, being led by either an IOT or OOT. In most offensives today, fullbacks (and other running backs) do not run the ball directly at the LBers. They run at oblique angles which provide LBers shots at the sides of the back. More often the FB is a blocking back for an I formation tailback. A great many defensive schemes today have the LBers "key" the backs of an offense and not the line first. The LBer directing his attention to the backfield will not "see" the block coming from the IOT. Additionally, when keying the backfield action, there will be "eye contact" between the ball carrier and the LBer. Every good running back knows that when running directly at a LBer with a blocker leading him, eye contact will "freeze" the defender facilitating the block allowing the ball carrier to "run to daylight." This run to daylight is made by a bend more than a cut. FB’s are not supposed to "cut." They are to run north and south. They are goal line directed. The base play is run at the heart of the defense. On either side of the POA there will be five defenders scrambling to catch up to the play. Timing and execution dictate that the FB get up field ASAP. Cuts and cut backs are not in order here. What is in order is for the FB to bend past the block on the LBer by the tackle and move on to the FS or DHB. Many times the FS/DHB will be out of position to make a good tackle on the FB due to the option faking and responsibilities. Properly executed, the base play puts the FB passing the LBer and 4 - 5 yards down field in a one-on-one situation with the FS/HB 2 to 2.5 seconds after the ball is snapped with everyone else on the defense in a run-down situation. While most FB’s are not going to break away and score, they will win with persistence and tenacity which is more effective in breaking the heart and will of the defense. After one or two head-on collisions with the FB, most FS/DHB’s move to the side to make the tackle and get carried for a few extra yards, get stiff armed, or slide off while the FB makes extra yards. It is not uncommon with everyone on the defense trying to catch up to the play to see the FB carrying three or four people on his back while gaining six, seven, eight or more yards on the play.
There are a great many offensive schemes today that no longer have a FB in their offense or a TE. Those people who believe that the FB position is not an essential part of today’s offensive game plan (especially in high school) should look closely at what Notre Dame does with their FB and what Seattle did over the years with John L. Williams. For a long time the only true consistent plays the Seahawks had were with the FB. Additionally, how many times have you seen the Run-and-Shoot offense die inside the 20 yard line because they do not have a FB-TE scheme for short yardage offense?
We believe that there has to be allowances for both. There is a time and place for the one-back-motion offense, but there is also a time for the FB-full house-short yardage offense. Our offense has it all, but it begins with fundamentals. The fundamental play in football is the dive. The success of the dive depends upon the effectiveness of the Tandem.
The tandem is made up of the strong offensive guard (SOG), inside offensive tackle (IOT), and the outside offensive tackle (OOT). In a right formation they take their position to the right of the center, and in a left formation they take their position to the left of the center. They are a unit that always works together. The FB aligns five yards off the ball behind the IOT. On most formations there will be a dive back positioned behind the IOT. There are times when you could position your tailback in the dive back position and have the FB or possibly a receiver assume what many refer to as an "h-back" position in the one back formation. Putting your TB in the FB position, adding another receiver, in motion, often weakens the defensive front so much that giant gains can be made with the base play with the TB running from the FB position.
It is not our place here to be discussing all the blocking combinations that are available with the tandem. The ones that are most often used and carry the highest degree of success are the most important. Remembering that we first want to run the base play at the "bubble" on the LOS caused by the alignment of the LBer, you most often get one of the following looks from the defense.
To open the inside running lane vs a gap control defense, the following blocking scheme is often used:
In this first case, the IOT calls for a fold block by the OOT and himself. The rule is to always block the down man on the LOS first. The IOT, therefore, goes first and the OOT steps around the IOT’s block to move and block the LBer. This "step-around" technique is important. The OOT (and other linemen) need to perfect this movement as they will be using it repeatedly throughout the season. From his stance the OOT takes a small position step with his inside foot. This is around but no more that a 6" step at about a 25 degree angle to his left. His second step made with his right foot would be a normal sized step landing in a 45 degree position from his initial stance. On his third step he should be "squaring up" in the hole at the LBer. At all times he should work to keep his shoulders parallel to the LOS. Parallel shoulders not only facilitate good blocking position, but they also allow the eyes of the blocker to always be looking at what he is going to block. You cannot block what you cannot see. This technique keeps your head up. You can see where you are going. You have your shoulders square, and if all else fails, you can at least be squared-up in the hole and in the way of the LBer making the tackle and the FB can move the whole pile forward for a gain.
The IOT executes a fan block on the defensive man on the LOS. His first step is a short 6" 45 degree step across the LOS into the defensive lineman, for best results the aiming point of the block should be the hip of the defender. The IOT has the angle and the opportunity to strike the hip of the defender.
Striking the hip accomplishes two very big requirements for the offense. First, by striking the hip the defender now is in a run around situation. He must run around the block of our offensive lineman to get to the ball carrier that is carrying the ball to the inside. Secondly, the hip is a very vulnerable target area. It is difficult to defend the hip area. Once struck in the hip area the defender is easily knocked off-course and off the LOS.
The SG executes a down block on the defender in his gap. This down block is the same block with the same advantages as the fan block of the IOT just discussed.
With average execution by the tandem there is an area on the LOS that is 9 - 12 feet or more wide on the LOS that the has to fill and cover. This wide area also has the OOT as a lead blocker in it that the LBer must defeat and make the tackle on the FB who is hitting the hole with maximum velocity. When run right at the LBer in this fashion, he has a tendency to become a "catcher" of the play rather than an attacker. It is the job of the FB to read the block of the OOT, bend into the open area, and run to daylight. Properly executed, the base play will gain large amounts of yardage, control the ball, eat up the clock, make a lot of first downs that eventually lead to touchdowns.
In the next situation we note that the LBer is aligned one whole wider than in the first case. Remembering that we must block the down man on the LOS first, both the SG and the IOT block the down man to their inside gap. The OOT in this case also must block the LBer in the inside gap while the WB in motion will shield block the defender who is aligned in the bastard split. Keep in mind that these defenders who are aligned at the end of the LOS will have option responsibilities, and the option fake will keep them home to some degree.
There are other gap situations that arise, but the basic rules apply in all situations for the tandem. There are times when you might have defenders aligned in every gap on the LOS.
In that case a "gap" call would be in order. A gap call means that every offensive man on the LOS is to block the inside gap and drive his man down the LOS. The motion WB is responsible for the defender on or outside the OOT. In the situation shown, which is the base responsibility for the SE, the SE also blocks down the LOS and seals off the LBer. There are not too many times that you are going to see this alignment because it so weakens the defense in other areas. In addition, a simple automatic by the QB to either an option or a quick pass would keep the defense out of this gap eight type alignment. The point is that anytime we are faced with a gapped out situation on the LOS, the simple solution is to block down the LOS and roll back the defenders. The back who breaks a tackle at the LOS will have a big gainer ahead of him.
The other primary concept for defensive schemes involves a man-on philosophy. This is usually seen when the defensive front is manned with seven people as opposed with eight defenders in the gap scheme. With man-on we confront primarily two situations.
The "normal 4-3" alignment allows three basic blocks by the tandem. First is just old fashioned one-on-one blocking. Just block the man over you. There is more to it than that however. Most man-on schemes involve slanting by the defensive line with scrape LBers covering opposite the slant. Knowing this we adjust the play in the following fashion. The FB is aligned behind the IOT and "reads" his block. Everyone else on the LOS fights to cut his man off (step with your playside foot, drive your head across the defender, keep your feet moving and maintain contact with the defender downfield). The man aligned over the IOT will normally want to slant one way or the other. The IOT drives off the ball under control, strikes the opponent and takes the defensive man the way he wants to go. Similar to the martial arts, the IOT just helps the defender move along the LOS to the area he wants to go. The FB reads this block and bends opposite just enough to breeze through the hole created on the LOS by the vacating defensive lineman. Of course, there is a LBer who is assigned to scrape into the area vacated by the defensive tackle. Keep in mind that the LBer is aligned three or more yards off the LOS. He must read his key, move laterally to his assigned position, defeat the blocker who is assigned to him and make the tackle. If he makes the tackle, it will be after a good gain by the FB.
The bend technique of the FB is very important on this play and he must keep in mind the concept of bending and not cutting. If he makes a big cut on the LOS he will simply run into the path of another defender. There is a window of opportunity that develops on the LOS due to the slant of the defense and the responsibilities of the defenders. The FB must focus on the block of the IOT from the beginning. Always focus on the POA. It is the responsibility of the QB to get the ball to the FB. The FB, therefore, "feels" the handoff from the QB while concentrating on the blocking that is going on in front of him at the POA. Generally speaking, if the DT slants out and is taken further out by the block and screening of the IOT, the seam to run at is to the inside and that is where the FB should bend. If the DT slants out, then it is the job of the LBer to fill to the inside. The SG is responsible for blocking the LBer. Often the momentum of the LBer and the block of the SG will take the block to the outside and the FB must bend around the block of the SG. Sometimes, however, the LBer does not step to the gap and the bend of the FB will take him to the outside of the block of the SG.
Once the bend is executed, it is important for the FB to run north and south because there are defenders from both sides of the LOS that are pursuing on to the FB and want to converge on him. The running lane that opens up is directly ahead between the FS and HB. The sooner the FB gets into that lane the more yards he will gain.
Man-on situations allows us many blocking combinations for the tandem (cross or x blocks, g blocks, combo blocks). During practice time the line will work to perfect these various blocks. The reason for having various blocking combinations is to make it easier to block their toughest man at the POA. By making blocking calls on the LOS at the POA, those executing the blocks will be able to determine what blocking combination will work the best which puts out linemen in the best possible situation for success.
One of the great advantages we have is that the tandem works together all year long on these various blocking schemes. In reality there are only so many defensive looks that they are going to see through the course of the season. The defense may think they are presenting us with a "new look" that we have not seen before, but in reality, at the POA there are only so many things you can do. Through practice and preparation on the practice field, we have a package that best suits the skills of the people who make it happen on the LOS. We can make the tandem’s job easier with various formations which will discussed later.
One of the basic plays that forms the heart of our offense is our basic short yardage/goal line play. For this play we change the formation by placing the FB behind the QB in a three point stance, and the TB moves up to a position three yards deep behind the IOT. This formation is called "power right."
From this formation we run a lead play with the FB carrying the ball over the IOT with the TB leading. Some years we may substitute another player for the TB in order to get better blocking at the POA. It depends upon the blocking capabilities and size of the TB.
Since this is a short yardage play where the object is to gain 3 yards, the defense usually aligns in a goal line defense. To maximize our blocking and prevent any inside penetration we narrow down the splits to as little as 6 inches. All linemen are to drive their inside gap. The POA for the linemen is the hipbone of the defender. We believe that if we strike the hip of the defender, we will be able to get some movement on the LOS. We want the near shoulder on the near hip placing the head and strength of our blocker "in the hole" so that the defender would have to run around the block to get to the ball carrier. With proper timing, execution and practice, the defender should not be able to run around our block and tackle the ball carrier. If they can do that, on this play, they are defeating our best blockers, and ball carriers, and they are going to win. (we would then vow to spend much more time in the weight room during the off season to ready ourselves for the re-match.) The WB from motion will step to the butt of the OOT when the ball is snapped and seal off the inside shoulder of the DE. The SE will drive down the LOS just behind the DE and drive the LBer to the inside of the formation. The TB leads the FB through the LOS. By the time the TB gets to the line, the OOT will have made contact with the DT and have knocked him down the LOS at least a step. The TB scrapes the butt of the OOT and blocks the first odd color jersey he sees. The FB’s first two steps are cross over and plant. His first step is a cross over step to get lateral distance to the POA. On his second step he plants with his right foot, receives the ball and drives into the LOS running on the outside hip of the TB.
This play is as much a hallmark of our offense as any other. Everyone knows the play is coming when we get near the goal line or need 1 yard to make a first down. It is probably our most successful play when you consider that the object is to gain 1-2 yards. It is just plain flat out hard to stop for less than a yard.
We have learned the hard way about the value of this play. How many times have you seen an offense drive the ball down the field and then get fancy the closer it gets to the goal line? How many times have you seen a one-back offense get near the goal line and not be able to convert and have to settle for a field goal try? Or how many times have you seen an I-back offense take the ball 5+ yards away from the LOS and hand it to a TB that has a hard time getting back to the LOS because the blocks break down?
A number of years ago we were playing a state #1 ranked team, on their home field, in extremely muddy conditions. Everything favored the other team. They were much more physical than we were at the time, and the muddy conditions negated our advantage at the skill positions. When I say muddy, I mean that your feet sank ankle deep into the mud on every step by the end of the first quarter. They got a sustained drive going and marched the ball down the field to our nine yard line converting two 4th down plays in that drive. We were in trouble and had little idea how we were going to stop them. Big mo was on their side . . . . Until . . . . On a third and maybe three play, their coach decides to call for a double reverse! Can you believe it? He gone and went fancy on us. Well . . . . They mishandled the first handoff and fumbled the pitch on the reverse. Our tailback happened to play defensive end, picked up the ball and scampered (plodded) 85 yards for the score that proved to be the difference in the game.
The fact of the matter is that in short yardage and goal line situations there is a definite need for the fullback to carry the ball behind a lead blocker and your strongest offensive linemen. Because the FB is up, behind the QB, in a three point stance he is close to the LOS. When the QB reverse pivots to hand the ball off to the FB, not only is the QB getting away from the LOS just enough, he is also getting the ball to the running back closer to the LOS than almost any other way.
Remember that if you want to be successful doing something, you must practice it everyday. Just as we cannot tire of running the base offense during the game, we cannot tire of practicing the base play on the practice field. We must take great pride in both activities. Several years ago we were playing a good football team. In fact, they just the week before had made USA Today’s top spot for total offense with over 450 yards of passing offense. Our game plan was to control the ball on offense and keep their offense off the field. In that game the FB carried the ball close to 30 times and gained over 200 yards.
During a point in the second half while our offense was getting into position to run the next play, our linemen heard the defense saying, Òover here, they’re going to run over here." Our IOT looked at the defense and said, "yes, we are going to run the ball right here, and there’s nothing you can do about it!" He and his tandem teammates were taking great pride in their abilities in controlling the LOS and the game which we went on to win by over two touchdowns.
We love the FB blast for a variety of reasons. It can control a ball game, get you the first down or score that you need, manage the clock in time of crisis, and just about the time that the defense thinks they have you stopped, you can run a play action pass, counter trap, or reverse off the basic play action and break a game wide open.