Getting Your Playmaker the Ball – Braxton Miller

2 of the most common phrases in coaching are “get the ball to your playmaker” and “put athletes in space”.

One drawback against “the spread” offense is is easy to get the RB touches, but it can be difficult to get a WR touches.  In 2015, Ohio State took their former dynamic QB, Braxton Miller and transitioned him to being a WR.  He did so many great things with the ball in his hands at QB that Ohio State had to make sure they continued to feed him the ball in his new position.  We as coaches often find ourselves with a “tweener” or a shifty WR that we just need to get the ball to any way we can.

Below I will explain several of the things Ohio State did to get their human highlight reel the football.

WR

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Officially Braxton was a slot or “H” receiver. Below are a few clips of him showing his speed, quickness, and hands to catch the ball down the field.

RB

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They already had a dynamic RB in Ezekiel Elliot, but using Braxton in the backfield gave them another lightning quick runner.  OSU would both align Braxton in the backfield pre snap, as well as motion him into the backfield just before the snap.  Here is a clip of them motioning him into the backfield to run counter from a splitback set.

Aligning him in the backfield became a great way to throw the ball to him as well.  Aligning him in the backfield has 2 big advantages, it can match him up vs slower LBs, and it is easier for defenders to lose routes (not see them) if they come from the backfield. Here are 2 examples of him taking short, high percentage passes for good gains.

 

QB

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The popular term for this would be “WildCat”.  Put your best athlete at QB, let him run around and make plays. Ohio state used both designed QB runs and option style runs with Braxton.

For option runs they used the “inverted veer” and “speed option” schemes.  Braxton was familiar with these schemes from his 3 years playing QB and it added another wrinkle for the defense to defend.

OSU used a variety of designed QB runs and backfield actions but one of the most common OL schemes was COUNTER. (I have written about Counter herehere, and here.

Jet

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One last way to “feed the beast’ was to use Jet motion to get him touches and get him on the edge of the defense.  Ohio state used 2 schemes with their Jet to get Braxton to the edge.  The first was to full reach or outside zone the Jet.  The other was to cross block with the OT and OG.  The down block from the OT was used to make the DE squeeze slightly and allow the guard to pull and try to run around him.  Against a disciplined DE, this can be an easier way of getting the edge than fighting to reach him.  Also, notice they use the touch pass to execute the Jet, rather than hand it off.

Sprint Draw

This post is a combination of a few REALLY old posts from my previous blog.

Back a few years ago, when I was still sipping the “have to live in 4 wide spread offense” Kool-Aid.. we ran a lot of sprint out.  Off of that sprint out action our best play was not the sprint out pass, but our sprint draw.

First I will explain the action.  In our sprint out game our QB catches the snap and sprints with depth to the edge, the RB aligns playside and will lead block, helping the tackle seal the edge or pick up any sort of backer free off the edge scenario.  We want the sprint draw to look similar, so our RB will slide 2 steps playside then work back for the mesh.  Qb catches the snap and takes his sprint out, sticking the ball in the RB’s belly on his way by.  Now in the clips you will not see a great slide by the RB’s, and our QB doesn’t sell the sprint far enough or long enough.  We just didn’t emphasize these small details like we should have that year.  Fixing these mistakes will further sell the sprint out look to the defense.

Now to what really matters… the offensive line.

The biggest reason I am so high on sprint draw is the investment I have to put in to it.  There is no new scheme to it.  We block it the exact same way as we would any pass play.  We ID fronts, have a man that we have to block.  We will set, punch, and then drive block the defender whichever way he is going… the biggest thing is to stay engaged.  If say, a guard is responsible for blocking Mike in pass protection, then he would set, show his hands, and then fire out upfield to that LB.

In the case of a 6 man box, where the RB fits into pass protection we keep all of the rules the same.  Generally our RB has a specific LB depending on how we ID the front.  On draw, he is still responsible for that LB, only know he is responsible for making him miss.  I know it doesn’t guarantee a hat on a hat but it allows us to keep our rules 100% consistent and we get so much LB movement from sprint out that it makes the RB’s assignment of making him miss easier.  Really you want to call sprint draw because that playside LB is over reacting to sprint out to disrupt the sprint out game.  This is where the constraint comes in to play.

You can use Half Slide For Everything

I am big on recycling schemes.  You can get away with using your existing half slide rules to block any kind of draw (Rb, QB, or Sprint).  I want the QB calling the half slide away from the RB.  This would typically put the RB on the playside inside LB.  This LB is the most influenced and the majority of teams have a built in sprint rule for this LB to fire off the edge to  help contain the QB when he sees sprint.  The rest of the OL blocks their gaps or their man.  This is what my rules above evolved into, we just began calling our half slide protection away from the RB.  The blocks may change some (which is how this play hit anywhere from near to far B gap for us) but the rule doesn’t change.

Note the movement even crappy fakes create from the defense in a few of the clips, also notice there are many clips where the OL isn’t exactly dominate, but they are able to stay engaged on a defender and let the RBs use their vision and athleticism.

CLIPS:

Get more reps Blocking Power and Counter during Indy

If you frequent my blog or my twitter account you know I LOVE POWER and Counter!

I am often asked how I work the blocks associated within the schemes.  I set up my drills up in a way that I think is efficient and maximizes my players’ reps.

  1.  My TEs and FBs are usually with me during Indy time
  2. I do not pull my tackle on counter, I pull my FB and/or TE as the wrapper(s).  (This comes in to play with efficiency in skill acquisition later)

I work our down blocks and double teams as separate drills.  I have written some about my general blocking progression (that can be applied for down blocks) here and here.

What I am about to share is how I work all of the other necessary blocks on Power and Counter in an efficient way.

Position:

FB:

  • Will practice a good “banana path” to kick out the DE on Power
  • Will Pull and Wrap to LB on Counter

Backside Guard:

  • Will Skip Pull and Wrap to LB on Power
  • Will Square Pull and Kick out the DE on Counter

Backside Tackle:

  • Will Step to B gap and Hinge on BOTH Power and Counter
  • The efficiency in pulling the FB on counter, is the BST’s job doesnt change.  He can master this skill

Center:

  • Execute a great snap and block back
  • he has 1st threat backside, BST has 2nd threat

Setting up the Drill

First I teach the kids the name of the drill so we can move faster (speaking the same language).  I call this “backside pulls”.  They know which line to get into.  We always start off setting up for Power Right.  All Centers are in one line.  All Guards are lined up at LG.  All Tackles are lined up at LT.  All FBs are aligned to the right.  2 players hold bags as DEs.  1 player holds a bag as a LB.  Keep your lines of kids to rotate at least 5 yards deep so the kids getting the reps have room to pull.  Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.45.07 PM

The blocker takes the bag and becomes the defender.  The defender jogs around and joins the line for their position.  The other Center(s) catch the snap from the Center getting the rep.

Power Right

The FBs practice their kick out.  The LG skip pulls.  The Center works back.  The LT Works the hinge on the DE.  I let the backside DE play games, sometimes slanting across the face, sometimes changing it up.  This lets them get a variety of looks.

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Counter Right

After a few minutes (can get a lot of reps in 3 minutes) we switch to counter.  I hand signal the new play.  So we do not have to switch lines we just bump our FBs over to the left.  This makes the transition quicker

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Switch Sides

Now the LG is kicking out the DE.  The Fb is pulling to wrap up to LB.  The Center and LT’s job stay the same.

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Now that we have blocked both plays to the right, we turn around to switch our lines and now we block to the left.

Power Left

The FBs kick out the DE.  The RG skip pulls to LB.  The RT will step to B gap and hinge.  The center will snap and block back.
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Counter Left

Again we just bump the FB over to transition quickly and we are set up for Counter left.  The RG pulls and kicks out the DE.  The FB pulls and wraps up to LB.  The Center and RT’s continue to rep the same skills.

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When I first teach this drill I go much slower, and I take more time.  In Spring Ball i will spend probably 5 minutes on each play because they are still learning so much (so 20 total for the circuit).  By the time we hit the season it is roughly 2-3 minutes a play before we switch to the next one.

Advanced Skills

As your players improve you can begin to work more advance skills in.  You can have your bag holding DEs squeeze and wrong arm to get your kick out man practice at “Logging” and get your 2nd puller (wrapper) practice at seeing the log, bouncing around the log, and finding color.

Impact on Player Safety

The biggest changes in football are not RPOs they are what we are doing now and in the future to ensure player safety.  Brain health is no joke and the way society is moving progressive measures to keep players from full contact is reality.  Here in California a rule is about to pass where we can’t wear helmets all Summer, not even for 7on7 because they do not want the risk of players making contact.

What I love about this drill is that we can get great work from it, improve our skills, AND avoid beating each other up.  We always do these drills with the defenders holding bags/shields.  We do these drills the same whether we are in full pads or no pads.  We are a smashmouth team every Friday night, but Monday-Thursday we are not risking injury and slamming into one another.  A lot of this comes from our culture as football coaches (and former football players) that drills have to be about “toughness and violence” but they DON’T!  Drills are about making your players better at what they need to do for you to win games.  They can’t win games when they are sitting out for a month on the sideline.