Running DUO from BUNCH

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hearing formers Raiders assistant OL Coach Tim Holt speak on Bunch Run Game Concepts. One of the concepts Holt spoke about was “DUO”.  Duo seems to have taken over the social media coaching fraternity in the last year.  I first heard about duo about 2 years ago.  I saw a few diagrams and saw a few cut ups of a play quite often called “Power without the puller”.  I REALLY started to notice it more and more watching NFL games this past season.

At first glance it can appear like just another Inside Zoneplay; I think it is a bit more powerful, with better angles like you get in GAP schemes.

Coach Holt did an excellent job of explaining how they teach it and the key to making it all work.

Offensive Line:

The play starts with the Center “ID”ing the Will LB(#1 LB).  He will work with the BSG to double team on a path to pick up the Will.

The BST can work OUT on the backside DE similar to how he would by himself on an inside zone block.

The PSG and PST can double back on the DT on a track toward MIKE(#2 LB) like how they would on Power. Coach Holt made a very specific point that they ONLY need to worry about the Mike IF he fills A gap.  They don’t need to worry about him if he goes over the top into B gap because the RB is reading him (more on this later).

The Bunch:

The TE and 2 WRs in the bunch are what make the play work.  The TE (aligned off the ball) kicks the DE out.

The 2 WRs in the bunch HAVE to account for the #3 LB(Sam in the diagrams below).  This was Holt’s biggest key to making the play work.  Duo can only work if they are able to get #3 blocked. Their general rule is to “zone it” both working inside to pick up the #3 LB and the next closest box threat (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1

If the defense aligns with a defender heavy on the point man on the bunch, they can also use a fold scheme… having the point man block out, and the other WR go behind him to pick up #3 (Diagram 2).

Diagram 2

The last blocking variation they use is to Push the outside bunch WR to Safety when they see a Cloud Corner… they figure the Corner can’t make a tackle on an inside run so they are better off getting the safety blocked (Diagram3).

Diagram3

 

The success of the play is built around being able to block #3 (drawn above as the Sam).  IF the QB feels the WR can’t get to him because of his alignment (too far inside or too shallow) the QB must check out of the play.  They would most often just check to Stretch to the bunch (Diagram 4), which makes sense if Sam is playing tighter inside or they can check to a pass concept.

Diagram 4

RB READ:  The RB is READING the Mike LB.  This is what allows the PSG/PST to focus on their double team getting vertical push… whichever gap Mike fills, the RB should cut into the opposite gap.

I like this version of Duo from the bunch set.  I have always felt that GAP doubles are more physical than zone doubles and this scheme allows you to get 2 double teams.  By using Bunch you can usually get a consistent alignment from the Defense.

Qb/RB Mesh:

They just opened up and handed the ball off to the back… his aiming point being outside leg of the guard, and let him read the Mike.

Some teams, specifically the New England Patriots work almost counter steps/mesh in the backfield in an effort to freeze the LBs which lets them stay with the double teams longer.

This concept is also often run from 21 or 12 personnel as well.  Using one TE to block OUT on the DE and using a FB or off the ball TE to account for #3.

Below is a clip James A Light posted of Sean Kugler talking Duo when he was with the Steelers.

Here is a solid play action scheme from the New England Patriots (you can also see the counter like Qb/RB mesh in the backfield). This is from Ted Nguyen.

 

 

Swing Screen with QB Counter

I spent yesterday, like most football diehards, watching the 2 College Football Playoff games.

In each game I noticed a package play… a RB swing screen to the wide side of the field, packaged with a QB GT Counter to the short side of the field.  Below I will breakdown how Alabama and Oklahoma each ran this play for explosive first downs.

 

The design of the play is to have 3 lead blockers on the perimeter for your RB swing to block the Corner, Sam LB, and Safety.  Bama ran there’s from a 20 personnel set with my favorite RB in the world Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs in the backfield.  Oklahoma ran theres from a spread trips formation.

The perimeter players block the screen, and the OL blocks the counter for the QB.  The QB reads the Swing side DE… if he squeezes/chases the pulling tackle throw the swing.  If he attacks the RB, tuck it and run following the pullers.

The backfield action attacking out wide, with the OL blocking counter the other way really stresses the defense and truly cuts them in half.  The box players have to respect the counter, the perimeter players have to respect the Swing screen.

In the Bama clip they’re able to hit the RB swing for an explosive 22 yard play.

In the Oklahoma Clip Baker Mayfield keeps the ball and runs for an explosive 22 yard run.

Clemson Quick Toss and QB Counter

The Power Read Concept took the football world by storm a few years ago.  The new version of this play is to Toss the RB the ball rather than sweep mesh, to get him outside faster.

I first saw the play last year from a High School Coach and then saw several college use it during the 2015 Bowl Season.

I wrote about North Carolina using it last year here.

The idea is simple… OL blocks Power playside.  The Rb aligns playside and runs a toss.  The Qb catches the snap, shuffles towards the back, reading the DE.  If the DE squeezes or attacks him, toss the ball to the RB now.  If the DE widens to play the RB, keep the ball and run inside.

This is a great way to get the ball on the edge against talented DEs.  It is difficult to reach a great DE to get the RB the edge, but by blocking down with the OT and getting the DE to squeeze that, you can toss it outside and use what he is taught to do against him.

This play became a big part of the Clemson offense in 2016 and they really hurt Ohio State in their playoff game with the QB Counter off of that action.

The Toss:

  • Use what the DE is taught against him and out leverage him at the snap for squeezing down blocks

QB Counter:

  • Deshaun Watson killed Ohio State in this game with the GH Counter (Guard and H back ) off of toss action.

PA Pass:

The next play to look at in this series is play action pass.  Now I will be honest, this play is somewhere in between quick toss and QB power in terms of run action… The Rb path is definitely more vertical than on the toss but it is similar enough that I included it here.  Although incomplete, this is another way to stress the defense.  RB attacks wide outside of the OT and gets vertical down the middle of the field.  A more accurate pass away from the safety and this is a 1st down completion.

Combining Jet And Toss:

Clemson is known for combining their Jet and Toss into one play.  I do not know if the play is called or read but here are 2 ways they did it in the game.  The first from under center with an unbalanced Jet look, with quick toss going opposite.

This other look was not as successful but you will see them going Jet one way, with quick toss the other.  The OL blocks power toward the toss, away form the Jet.

 

 

 

Pitt’s Jet Sweep + Inside Zone

I have been watching a good amount of Pitt’s 2016 film lately.  They did several interesting things under OC Matt Canada (who just got the LSU OC job).

To me, the most interesting thing they do is the way they package Jet Sweep with their Inside Zone (IZ) run game.  It is unique to me in that they are executed the EXACT same.

Pitt runs the Jet going one direction, with the IZ going the other way.  From looking at several clips of this it appears that Part of the team is blocking IZ, while others are blocking for the Jet.

For example, imagine Jet going Right, with IZ (and the Rb) going left.

Everyone from the RT position over toward the left, will be blocking IZ Left.

Everyone from the Right TE position and/or H back Position will be blocking for the Jet .

Notice I said “position” to describe each spot.  That is because Pitt does a lot of unbalanced formations, and often a tackle will be over next to the other tackle, and end up as the 3rd man to that side, or “the TE position”.  His follows the rules as if he was a TE.

Below are some diagrams to describe what I am talking about.

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The beauty of doing it this way, gives the defense NOTHING they can key on and read to get all of their hats to the football.  There is nothing tipping the offense’s hand.  Box players have to play/respect the IZ.  DBs/Force players have to respect the Jet.  DE’s get caught in between, seeing TE/H Backs run one way and OL go the other way, unsure of who has the ball, and still having some responsibility for QB boot if the Jet and IZ were both faked.

Below I will go through some clips of this concept.  You will see it really divides the defense as players have to honor their responsibilities and it isolates defenders, forcing them to try to make open field tackles.

 

My favorite thing about this play series, is that it completely cuts the defense in half.  In the 3 clips above you see defenders being fooled by where the ball is and it reduces the ability of the defense to pursue the ball.  I think it also makes the Jet Sweep a more viable option than just “hope it gets the edge”.  Because the LBs have to honor the Inside Zone action, it removes them from being inside out flow players on the Jet.  Even if the defense is able to force the Jet to cut it up, there aren’t LBs sitting there to blow it up… they are trying to tackle the RB on the other side of the field.

Great concept from Pitt, and I look forward to seeing LSU run it next season.  I am curious to see the challenge it presents to those NFL SEC defenses.

Pitt Panther’s use of Power Read Shovel against Clemson

The Power Read Concept is nothing new in football.  It has taken many college and HS offenses by storm since Cam Newton and Auburn made it famous in their National Title run 6 seasons ago.  A good chunk of his rushing yards on the way to his Heisman trophy came from the power read concept.

Traditional Power Read involves some constants… the OL will block POWER.  The playside will block down or double, the backside guard will pull playside and insert onto the playside LB, and the backside tackle will check B gap to hinge on the DE.

The RB will run a sweep as the QB reads the defensive end to that side.  If he squeezes the QB gives it to the RB to run the sweep outside, if he comes upfield or out, the QB pulls the ball and follow the guard inside off tackle.

This is option football with the RB sweep being the outside threat and the QB pull being the “Dive Phase”.

It looks like this

qb-power-read-diagram-11

 

Pittsburgh worked a different version of this play as one of their main concepts in 2016.  Rather than run the QB as the Dive Phase, they used an H back/TE on a shovel pass to replace the usual QB run.  The benefit of this is it allows you to run the concept without having to run your QB.  This is beneficial for a team who either does not have an athletic QB or who wants to limit the contact that QB takes throughout the season.

Another great thing that the former Pittsburgh OC Matt Canada (Recently hired at LSU) is known for is his use of formations, shifts, and motions.  In some of these clips you will see he gets to this play from a variety of looks.

Even within the core concept of power read, with a shovel built in as the dive, or inside run, he gets into multiple looks with how the ball threatens the perimeter.

Power Read with Shovel:

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Power Read with shovel: Giving Sweep

Multiple shifts/motion with Power read shovel:

Below is an End Zone Shot of the play, so you can see what the QB and OL see.  After starting in empty, RB Connor comes in Jet motion to be the sweep phase and the h back does his usual shovel.  When the DE comes upfield attacking the Jet/RB, the Qb shovels it underneath for their first TD of the game

 

Speed Option with Shovel:

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Sprint Pass paired with Power Read Shovel:

Here is a clip from earlier in the game where Pitt came out with the same look, but the DE flew upfield allowing the QB to shovel it underneath to the TE.

Play Action Deep Shot:

Here, off the same Speed Option Power Shovel Look

Pitt takes a shot down the sideline to the RB running a vertical route from the backfield for a huge TD

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

braxton 4

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

braxton 2

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

braxton 1

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.

Backside Cut off Technique

A friend asked me to describe a backside cut off technique for an OL away from the play.  This is a skill set used in a variety of plays ina variety of offenses.  As more and more teams use the gun/pistol you see less teams working cut blocks (I know from experience refs are all over the place with allowing, or flagging you for cutting while in gun).  The old “just cut on the backside” is not always a viable option, so an OL needs another tool in the tool box.

I present to you, the backside cut off.  Imagine stretch or power to the left… something where we all KNOW the ball is going left, and your backside RT just needs to stop/occupy a backside 3 technique (so you can have RG work zone or so he can pull).  The RT needs to put himself between the defender (who has already out leveraged him, and the football (ball will be to the left off tackle or wider probably).

If the 3 technique isn’t that good he can just work a standard reach block technique… angle step, aim at his arm pit, get head across, run your feet… blah blah blah, he is sealed.

But if the 3 technique is too good (whether he is penetrating or reading and flowing) to cut off with a basic reach, we will use this cut off technique.

We call this a “Rip through” or a “box out”.

  1. RT will “bucket” or “drop” step with his inside foot in order to get depth off of the LOS, and open his hips up to run.
  2. he will bring the right foot aiming outside the defender WHILE ripping up through him with the far (right) arm.  This motion happens together.
  3. He will attempt to run around the defender, keeping pressure on him with the back of his right hand/arm/shoulder and back.
  4. once he feels the defender on his backside he will widen his base and just like a basketball player in the paint, he will “box him out”.

The OL can give up ground off the LOS to make the block, he can even get pushed down form behind onto his face, i don’t care… but if he is able to get his body in between the defender and the ball, he has effectively CUT HIM OFF from the play.

Step by Step of myself working the backside cut off/box out.

Full speed

Here is a clip of an NFL LT working the backside box out technique.  I give credit to @coachmattjones for this clip, he does a great job breaking down OL play on his twitter account.

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.

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.