North Carolina Quick Toss

While going through the film for the large Baylor O Write up I did here I saw North Carolina running something that caught my eye.  They used a quick toss to the RB from the shotgun to try to get outside.  Now this was nothing new, I have been doing this from gun for years… it gave us a “same side” RB alignment play and we tried getting to the edge.  The problem is, we would always outside zone/reach block it… The better DEs would string it out, we couldn’t get around them, and we wouldn’t gain much.  North Carolina DID NOT reach it, they used the defense’s technique against them.  They blocked the play using “Power” blocking rules.  The play side Down Blocks, and they pull the Backside Guard up inside to LB.

This had a tremendous effect on the Baylor DEs.  They had to respect the tackle’s down block, and they were taught to squeeze everything down and wrong arm the guard.  Rather than fighting him and trying to reach, they use his own technique against him.  The tackle steps down, the DE squeezes him, thus giving up the edge and you are able to get outside of him.

Here is a diagram of the play

IMG_4598

I highlighted the DE with a large circle to indicate that he can be read.  In the clips below you will see the UNC QB taking a quick shuffle step and tossing it out there.  My personal hypothesis is that it was a pre determined play, UNC knew Baylor would squeeze the down block and they would get the edge immediately.  It is very possible (I have talked to several HS coaches who do this successfully) as a true read play.  This is just a variation on the Inverted Veer or the speed option.  The action would be somewhat like speed option, but the blocking is with a standard power scheme (what most use for inverted veer).

Toss 1

Toss 2

Toss 3

Toss 4

Play Action Pass

Baylor ran a play action off of the Toss backfield look.  It appears the QB wanted to go deep, and had nothing open so he threw it down to a backside route.  Although the play didn’t gain any yards, watch the effect it had on the OLB and the MLB.  You will see them take off initially to attack the toss.  They definitely opened up space to throw the ball behind or between them.

Toss Play Action

I love the simplicity of this play.  You can make it a predetermined call if you know from film/scouting that a DE is disciplined and will squeeze every time.  If you are not going up against someone who is more disciplined, or you want to be able to get the QB involved in the run game more, making it a true option read might be better.  I just love how easy the RB is able ot get out of the box.  There is no fighting to reach a DE, there is no turning him out.  He just goes away from the play because he wants to do what he has been coached to do all week, in this case “block down – step down”.  Like I mentioned in the video, the most critical component to the success of the play is the WRs’ ability to block in space.  North Carolina’s successful toss plays came when their WRs were able to occupy those playside threats.

Baylor’s record breaking Rushing Game against North Carolina

One of the big stories of College Bowl Season was the dominating performance by the Baylor Bears ground game against North Carolina.  Baylor famously played the entire game without a true QB (due to injuries).  They used a collection of different RBs and WRs taking direct snaps in route to the most dominating ground performance in Bowl game history.

The major components of the Baylor ground attack were Inside Zone (IZ), Iso/Lead, Counter, 1 Back Power, Dart, and Jet.  The majority of this post is going to focus on their “Dart” Scheme.

DART

Dart combines elements of a man scheme and a gap scheme.  The playside is blocked similar to “1 back power” but the backside tackle pulls to wrap through the first open hole playside.  By pulling the tackle rather than the guard, it allows the OL to use the C and backside guard (BSG) to combo up to Will LB.  The backside End is left alone.  The play is designed to work against a 6 man box and UNC gave Baylor favorable box numbers all game long (5 and 6 man boxes).

Below are two diagrams of the play.  Note that the playside guard will either down block the 1 tech, or base block the 3 tech out… it just depends on the alignment of the DT on his side.

IMG_4595 IMG_4596

Against a 3 man front  the guard would combo with the nose.  It would be tough to play a 5 man front against a spread offense but if it happened you would need to man up with the playside OL and still pull BST through the first open gap he can up to playside LB.

Baylor ran this concept with the RB and QB (wildcat guy) over a dozen times.  Below I will breakdown several of the variations they used.  These are just a few examples of the many times they ran Dart. What I love is the little variations/wrinkles they threw in, but the play stays the same for the OL up front.

Dart 1

Dart 2 (with H back motion out)

Dart 3 (with a TE backside) Here is an example against  a 5-2 look.  By having the TE run up the seam it occupies the DE briefly, and the LB carries here vertically which takes him completely out of the play.

Dart 4 (from empty)

Dart 5 (TE backside again)

Dart 6 & 7 (Ran it back to back plays with tempo)

Dart 8 (H back motion across to empty) includes skyCam angle

QB Counter

Baylor also ran a QB counter scheme that timed up similar to a draw.  In this scheme they would use the BSG to kick or log the DE like usual but would hinge backside with the BST.  Their 2nd puller, or “wrapper” was the RB.

In all 3 of the examples below you will see the play side DE squeeze the down block and wrong arm the guard.  This forces the BSG to log him and seal him inside.  This is a clear read for the RB to get around him to pick up the LB.  The QB now just needs to give the RB enough time to get ahead of him, and cut off of the block the RB makes on the LB.

QB Counter 1

QB Counter 2

QB Counter 3 (Great End Zone Shot)

 

Jet Sweep

The last series Baylor used that I want to discuss is their Jet Sweep series.  For any one unfamiliar with Jet Sweep, it involves bringing a WR in full speed motion to run a sweep to the edge.  Typically a team will use outside zone or reach blocking to try to run around defenders, sealing them inside.  Baylor does some interesting things with Jet Motion, and for a team with no real threat to throw at this point, Jet sweep becomes a great way to get the ball in the hands of your playmaking WRs.  Baylor uses some unique formations to set up the Jet Sweep.  They will often run Jet from an unbalanced formation or cover up WRs.  This allows them to get an extra blocker outside or an extra OL playside working to reach defenders.  It is also common for Baylor to use a TE/H back aligned just outside of their end man to help seal the edge and lead up on an OLB.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about their Jet Sweep package, is that they DO NOT hand the ball off to their jet motion man.  The QB will do a quick touch throw/flip forward.  The benefit of this quick flip is it technically makes the sweep a “forward pass”.  This gives Baylor some built in protection in case the mesh is mishandled, it will be called an incomplete pass, rather than a fumble and a potential turnover (you will see why soon).

Below are 2 examples of the Jet Sweep.  North Carolina’s defense does an excellent job of fighting the reach blocks and not giving the jet sweep player an easy lane to the outside.  They are able to stop these 2 attempts without letting them develop into long runs.  Their defense flows incredibly fast to the football.

Jet 1

Jet 2

Here is an example of why doing Jet as a “forward pass” has merit.  The toss is bobbled, but because it was forward, it is ruled an incomplete pass, Baylor loses a down but they do not lose any yards or the football.

Jet Keep

Noticing North Carolina’s fast flow to stop the Jet Sweep before it gets started Baylor had some success with the QB keeping it on the backside.  This can either be a true read on the backside DE, or it can be called by the coach from seeing the defensive reaction from the pressbox or sideline.

Jet QB Keep 1

Jet QB Keep 2 (80 yard TD run)

 

Conclusion

The Dart, QB Counter, and Jet Series were certainly not Baylor’s only reasons for offensive success against North Carolina.  Inside Zone, Iso/Lead, 1 back power, and a few completed passes were critical to their success throughout the game.  I thought these plays were unique and deserved to be highlighted here.

In total Baylor tallied

756 total yards, 645 of which came on the ground

Stanford Offense: Stretch

I love studying offenses that run the football.  I get that the spread offense and RPO packaged plays are all the rage in college and HS football, but a team that can pound the ball from 21 personnel is a beautiful thing to watch.  One of my favorite teams to watch is Stanford (both for their style of offense and the fact that they are local).

One scheme I want to analyze here is their Stretch or Outside Zone Scheme.  We run a ton of stretch from multiple personnel sets and do so very similarly to what Stanford does.

In the 3 examples below I am going to analyze Stanford is aligned in a basic Pro I formation.  TE and WR to the left, one WR to the right.  FB and RB (Christian McCaffrey or as i have dubbed him “C-Mac”) in the “I”.

Scheme

The OL is going to work wide to the playside looking to reach defenders to their playside gap.  If they step playside and have no threat they will work to climb up to LB level.  On the playside, the TE always has the option to turn a defender out if they simply cannot reach him.

The FB is reading the block on the edge and is looking to either insert if the DE widens/comes upfield or work around him to the force player if the DE gives up the edge.

The RB is reading it the same as the Fb. He will work a wide path to “stretch” the defense horizontally and look to make 1 vertical cut up the field and get going downhill.

Example 1 vs USC (i love this play near the goal line, the defense comes right to you)

Example 2 vs Iowa (DE widens, TE turns him. Fb inserts)

Example 3 vs Iowa (DE widens, TE turns him. FB inserts. Now defense flows more faster toward the play, opens up a huge Cutback lane after C-Max gets downhill through the LOS) Notice the great job backside OL guys do to stay engaged and work butt toward the sideline, giving C-Mac an alley.

I just love Stretch.  it is safe against any defensive look you are going to see and it is a great combination (especially with a FB) of an outside run and a downhill run.  It gets the defensive flow of an outside run, but using that FB to insert anywhere he sees the opening along the front, and the RB making one cut and getting downhill give the play a smash mouth feel.

Stanford RB option concept

If you have watched any Stanford film from this season you have probably seen Christian McCaffrey running circles around defenders.  They involve him heavily in the run game and return game but perhaps his most impressive skill is as a receiver out of the backfield.

The core concept to feature his crazy agility, footwork, and cutting skills is the RB option route.

Formation

Stanford primarily runs this from some form of 3×1.  By putting 3 to a side they are able to stress the defense to covering up those WRs.  They have to keep a corner home on the backside against the single WR.  This often leaves them with a 1on1 match up on the backside with C-Mac and a LB or safety.  In Stanford’s case he is their best athlete period (most teams best player is their RB).  It gets him matched up 1on1 against a player with lesser cover skills.

Stanford can run any concept to the trips side.  If the defense is playing 2 defenders over their 3 they can pick that side apart with their quick game.  When the defense works 3 over 3, it is an easy decision to work the backside of the field and work C-Mac on the option route.  They can run different things with the backside single WR but they typically will run him vertically to remove the corner from the equation.

IMG_4573 (1)

Stanford often uses a quick out concept to the trips side.  This is the exact play they use in both video examples below.

Option Route

The RB will work around the OT attacking the outside shoulder of the LB or safety over him.  I have read that they try to push this to 5 yards of depth but C-Max often breaks this route sooner to make his move before the LB/Safety is able to get hands on him.

Attacking the outside shoulder puts pressure on the defender.  He has to decide what kind of leverage he wants to defend C-Mac with.  If he stays heavy inside the Rb will break to the sideline and run away from the defender.  If the defender opens his hips to the sideline or is playing with outside leverage the Rb will make a move out but break across his face attacking the middle of the field.

In the 2 examples below C-Mac is abel to put the pressure on the defender, fake him outside, and cut across his face to a wide open middle of the field.

vs USC in Pac-12 Championship (C-Mac 1on1 vs a LB)

vs Iowa in Rose Bowl (C-Mac 1on1 vs a Safety)

 

iBook Preview – Jet

Jet is not a huge part of our offense but it can be an effective way to get a speedy WR involved in the run game.  It is also a good wrinkle to add some deception to your offense and help open up your inside run game.  Jet motion puts stress on the defense and forces them to start moving guys to attack it (can be the DE, a LB, or a secondary player) or risk getting torched on the sweep.

For my iBook I have combined the Jet sweep content (write up, cut ups, screen recording of video review) with the “Toss” content to make one iBook that essentially focuses on just our outside runs.

In the past we have done it both from Pistol and with the Rb off set in the gun.  I prefer to have the RB offset, it makes getting to his block much easier.

Here is a clip of jet sweep

This is the last of my iBook previews.  All of the content for the iBooks is done.  It is just a matter of putting the pieces together and making it available for download.

I will keep you all posted about the release date.

Rewarding your Offensive Line

No matter how talented your QB or skill guys might be, we all know you will only go as far as your Offensive Line can take you.  Coming in to this season I was nervous.  The 2014 team had broken every school rushing record for a season and game, and we graduated all 5 starters.  My new 5 starters (plus our TE and our RB) were a great group of kids who embraced the GRIND of playing OL.   We spent most of our time alone in our corner of the field working block after block, rep after rep.  I try to be a source of energy for my players during INDY time to liven things up.  Working down block steps thousands of times can get boring so I found when I would go ALL IN in terms of energy level, they would match it.

I knew we would at least be OK but the Major turning point for the OL was when I introduced syrup to them.  At the end of the summer, just prior to our season starting, i was reviewing film and we just were not finishing blocks.  I explained that we would work every single drill to FINISH through the whistle ansd strive to pancake a defender every play.  I took an empty bottle of syrup, cleaned it out, and would fill it with cold water every practice.  When we got a pancake in an INDY drill from a great effort to finish I ABSOLUTELY LOST IT.  I would scream “POUR SOME SYRUP ON EM” or “PANCAKE” at the top of my lungs and pour the water on the kids on the ground (its usually 90 degrees plus so they really enjoy it).  “Get the syrup” became a common expression at our practices. It significantly improved not just our “finish” on blocks, but it amped up the in practice competition level.  Guys wanted to pancake other kids, and they wanted to get revenge if they were the ones who got pancaked.

That was just a little background that leads me to the real point of this post.  This OL (along with our great RBs/WRs) improved on last years record breaking totals by over 800 yards.  We rushed for over 4400 yards and had a team average of 9.3 yards per carry (best of all medium and large size schools in our area).

Below is a simple step by step of what I did to recognize the starting OL, our TE, and our FB  for their work.

I made each their own brand of syrup.

  1. print a pic of each player
  2. buy 7 bottles of syrup (or as many as you want to make). Dollar store is cheapest
  3. trace the label and make a stencil

image

4. Trace the stencil over the pics you want and cut them out

5. use glue/adhesive spray to glue the label on to each syrup bottle

image

6. Get stickers from a craft store and put the players’ jersey numbers on the bottle

image

At our awards banquet Sunday night our RB was given the Offensive MVP Award (no surprise if you know who he is).  After I gave a speech about him and his accomplishments and brought him up front for the award I had HIM help me pass out the syrup bottles to recognize his OL/TE/FB for all of their work in blocking for him.

Here I am with our starting OL, TE, FB, and our RB.

IMG_4567

Conclusion:

This is a cheap, easy thing all OL coaches can do to recognize their OL.  It cost $7 in syrup.  A few dollars in stickers.  It took me about 10 minutes to download the pics from a website and print them.  My GF helped me trace, cut, and glue the pics on to the syrup bottles.  It took us less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  So for about 10 bucks and an hour tops, you can make something to give your OL that they can cherish and has a deeper meaning to them.  it is a symbol of ALL those reps throughout the summer and season, all of those steps, all of those blocks, all of that work.

 

The Lunge Clock- new favorite auxiliary lift

I am a big believer in squatting heavy 2x a week. For us our lower body days are Mondays and Thursdays.  I like to have some variation in our auxiliary lifts between these two days. We have done a lot of lunges and Bulgarian split squats (1 leg split squat). I was watching an old video of a D1 strength coach and he began talking about what he called “the lunge clock”. We often train in a very linear, straight ahead fashion but football is anything but that.

The lunge clock is easy to understand but works the players’ hips and groin in ways they’re not used to in the weight room.

The athlete starts with bar on back (or with Dumbbells)

imagine standing in the middle of a clock. They are going to step to every position on the clock.

We go right foot first, 12 o clock

1 o clock, 2,3,4,5,6

then the left leg will work around the clock the other direction

12 o clock, 11,10,9,8,7,6

 

in total it is 7 reps on each leg, but they are working at all the different angles going around the clock. We typically do 4 rounds of this as an auxiliary to our squat one day per week.

The day after our first use my kids loved it, they were sore in places (side of their glutes and groin) they didn’t know they had. I don’t make my kids do anything I don’t do personally, so I have been using it and I love it.  It doesn’t take a ton of weight to feel a great deal of stress and you can also feel your core working to stabilize you as you step around the clock.

here is a video clip of one of my QB’s doing the Lunge Clock yesterday

iBook Preview – Toss

We added a quick toss to our offense this season.  It became a wildly explosive play for us averaging just over 10 yards per carry.  We try to overload the defense on the perimeter by pulling multiple offensive linemen to the perimeter and using angle blocking for our WRs to stop inside pursuit of the play.  This is a great play for us to get our RB outside and away from the loaded boxes we see.

We will run this play the exact same from Pistol and with the RB off set to the side of the QB.  All of the blocking rules, drill video, and cut ups with my voice over are included in the iBook.

Here is a sample of the toss play I detail in the iBook.

Auburn’s Buck Sweep

Here is a brief break down of Auburn’s Buck Sweep.  They will run the sweep with different ball carriers and backfield actions.  It is a flexible scheme that can be used in any style of offense from a true power team to a spread offense.  The scheme is built on angle blocking and Wing t principles.  It provides a great constraint for how defensive ends are playing your inside run game.

Auburn brings a RB in motion from the slot to receive the mesh, while using their QB and Tailback to fake an option course backside, you will see the effect this has on slowing down the defense’s pursuit of the play.

 

iBook Preview – Buck

In the next preview of the schemes I discuss in my new iBook I will be introducing our RB Buck play.

Our Buck a RB version of the buck sweep.  It was the biggest addition to our playbook this season and we averaged over 10 yards per carry on it.  In the iBook i detail multiple ways we seal the edge and pull our guards to lead block for this sweep that can hit anywhere from the alley to the sideline.  I re use many of the skills we work on in our power and counter schemes and it gives us a great answer for team who are defending those schemes well.

This is a play that has become a huge part of Auburn’s success running the football.

Here is a clip of our buck play that begins looking just like power, and then pops out to the alley for a big gain.