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.

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.

Stanford Pin n Pull

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Stanford is one of the best in the country at utilizing the Pin and Pull Scheme (PNP).  PNP is a style of outside zone that gives some offensive linemen better angles to achieve their blocks.  Rather than rely on a full zone or reach scheme, PNP uses a combination of PIN or down blocks, and pulls.

TE:

The TE is they key to a successful PNP scheme.  The TE will typically work to seal the edge by reaching a DE.  If he is unable to hook the DE he will flip him outside and try to expand the C gap for the pullers and Rb to turn up inside.

Variations:

Against a C gap defender or 7 tech as many call it (often in an odd front) the TE can either pin him and rely on a puller to block whoever has walked up on the edge (D gap) or he can make a call for the OT and him to both reach playside.

There can be some variation in how the TE/PST choose to block this.  A personnel or gameplanning decision will often dictate how they want to block the edge for the week.  A team can also use blocking tags to tell the TE/PST when to follow the PIN or PULL rule, and when he and the OT should reach it.

Another variation is with the backside guard.  Sometimes Stanford chooses to pull him playside as well, and use the backside tackle to cut any backside interior DT.  My guess is they pull him when they think they can do it without risking a big loss and against the better DTs choose to zone it to avoid a big hole opening for a dominant DT to penetrate through and blow up the play int he backfield.

Pullers:

This scheme can use anywhere from 1 to 3 pullers from the OL working playside.  They need to have vision like a good Rb as they aim to work around the block of the playside TE.  A general coaching point would be to “follow his butt”.  This means that as each OL pulls playside, he is looking to work off of the butt of the OL in front of him.

So as one OL pulls, if he sees TE’s butt getting around the edge, he follows it outside and works to either kick OUT a force player or lead UP.  If he sees the TE’s butt facing him, the TE has had to kick out the DE, and he must turn up inside of this block.  The next puller(s) are chasing/reading the butt of the puller in front of him.  If he kicks out force, the butt will be facing them and they should turn up.  If the butt gets square and is working around, they should follow it outside.

Stanford often ends up with a wall of bodies leading through the alley for Christian McCaffrey.  It helps having a back with great vision as he can find holes that open up in the defense as they are stressed horizontally but teaching the OL to have great vision is critical to the play’s success.

I run a similar concept at my school and the general rule for all pullers in space is OUT, UP, IN.  Their eyes/hips/feet should be following this general progression.  First puller would likely be getting a kick out on force or leading up on a LB/SS.  The next puller would be reading the butt and leading UP or IN based off of his block.  I tell our pullers on this play they get to be a RB and find the holes.

Backside:

The backside OT and OG will scoop/reach their playside gaps while the general rule for the frontside OL is to PIN or PULL.  Pin a defender if they have one to their inside gap, or pull playside to lead the play.

Below is a basic example of what PNP would look like against a 4 man front.  The backside zones.  The RT down blocks.  The TE reaches the DE.  The RG and C pull.

Diagram 1: Pin and Pull vs 4 man front

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Here is an example against an odd front.  Here the TE will pin the DE/7 tech and the OT will pull to the walked up OLB.

Diagram 2: Pin and Pull vs 5 man front

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In this variation the TE and OT will work to reach the DE and OLB while the rest of the OL follows their PNP rules.

Diagram 3: Pin and Pull vs 5 man front with OT/TE REACH

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Below are video breakdowns of several of Stanford’s PNP runs from this season.  These video breakdowns show some great examples of both the most basic PNP rule following scheme (first video), to their variations in the scheme (other videos).

 

Some more resources/info on the Pin n Pull Scheme can be found herehereand here.

Stanford Play Action

One of my favorite offenses to watch is Stanford.  I admire how they pound the ball from various personnel groups and formations, and are able to get big plays in the play action game.

Below I will break down a few of the different play action concepts Stanford uses with unyielding success.

  1. Power Pass – Basic concept used by most teams in the country.  Stanford does this often to a Nub side, forcing the defense to condense down and defend a run heavy formation. This play aims to capitalize on a corner or safety getting over aggressive in the run game, and allowing the TE or back to get behind them. They bring the lone WR on a short motion, to make his drag route get across the formation quicker.  One interesting thing Stanford does is to release the RB on the flat route and leave the FB in to block.  Many teams slip the FB out and have the RB block on power pass.  The OL slides away from the play and the FB blocks the playside edge.  The RB fakes off tackle and attacks the front pylon of the end zone.

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In the clip below I break down a game clip of this play.

2. FB Wheel – From another run heavy formation, Stanford fakes to the RB and the QB sets up in the pocket.  The lone WR and playside TE attack vertically down the numbers and seam, this pulls the deep coverage with them.  The FB widens at the snap and runs a wheel route.  His route ends up following the vertical routes and he is able to settle in a wide open space cleared out by the vertical routes.  The backside TE works the middle of the field to get open as a check down option for the QB

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In the clip below I break down a game clip of this play.

3. 3 verticals Switch – From a heavy personnel set, Stanford uses the 2 TEs to widen the safeties and open up the middle of the field.  The boundary TE widens on a vertical route.  The field TE widens with his release and runs a corner route to occupy the safety over him.  The Wing (on the wideside) works vertically with some width, and crosses underneath the TE’s corner route.  This “Switch” or criss crossing gets him wide open

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In the clip below I break down a game clip of this play.

4. Wheel – In this concept Stanford fakes a perimeter run, in this case their Rb quick toss (with power influence blocking) .  By stacking the WRs by formation, they are able to cross their route stems.  The outside WR pushes vertically and settles inside.  The slot works wide like he is attacking the corner to block him, and then turns it into a wheel route.

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In the clip below I break down a game clip of this play.

5. RB Wheel – From a 2 back (splitback) set, Stanford shows inverted veer, or power read in the backfield.  The blocking scheme sets this play up.  They would often have the single WR crack the LB, and put the playside RB (in this case Christian McCaffrey) on the CB.  On this play action, C-Mac is actually running a wheel as the corner follows the #1 WR inside, and the safety flies up to aggressively force the run.

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In the clip below I break down a game clip of this play.

Conclusion: Stanford is able to protect their best run concepts by having answers in the play action game.  The play action pass concepts Stanford uses look just like their top run concepts, and are designed to attack specific defenders who are being overly aggressive, and vacating their pass coverage responsibilities in order to make plays in the run game.  Stanford’s play action game is efficient, and is a balanced mix of quick hitting routes, vertical routes, and wheel routes.  From the examples above it is clear that the wheel route in various fashions is a main concept in their offense and provides big play potential.  In the clips above Stanford was able to get big plays on wheel routes to a slot, a FB, and a RB.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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

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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.

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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.