COUNTER – The Ying to Power’s Yang

I can not imagine running Power without running Counter.  The two plays go together  very well and the cutback action of counter will hurt defenses who flow very fast to the RB’s initial path.  It is also a great answer to teams who want to load up to your FB  or strong side in an effort to shut down Power.

We run multiple variations of Counter.  The core of the play is down blocks and/or double teams play side, just like Power.  This is why I think counter is a must have in your arsenal if you run power, because there is so much carry over between the schemes.  In counter, our Backside Guard (BSG) is the kick out man, now rather than skip pull he will take a very tight inside path to kick out the first color that shows, which is usually the play side DE.
This is all the same in every Counter we run.  Our variations come from who our 2nd puller is and who secures the back side.  Our 2nd puller is also called the “wrapper” because they will wrap inside of the guards kick out block to lead up on the play side LB.  If the opposing DE steps down to wrong arm our guard will drive this, logging the DE, and our 2nd puller and Rb have to read this and bounce around it.

Counter FB
We will use the FB as our second puller, this tells the BST to stay home and secure the back side.

Double Tight Counter
This is very similar to counter FB, but we run it from double tight, we use our BS TE as our 2nd puller since we don’t have a FB in the game.  This was a great play for us, the extra gap in double tight was great for us because it isn’t something you see much with so many teams spreading out on Offense.  Being in this balanced look up front also helped to stop teams from loading up one side to shut down Power.  We could line up the same and call the play either direction.  We miss a down block in this clip but it is a great example of our 2nd puller working down the field to spring us for a huge TD.

Super Counter
I didn’t run this scheme often but it had serious big play potential because we are aligned in a heavy formation to the strong side, but then pull 3 players to the weak side.  In super counter, we have 2 wrappers.  We pull both the FB, and the TE up through the hole to lead for the RB.

QB Counter
The last type of counter I want to describe is often called GT.  The T represents the BST acting as the 2nd puller and wrapping up to LB.  If we ran GT to our RB we would either block the BSDE with the FB, or have to read him.  In this example (my favorite play if you have an athletic QB) we use the RB to block back side and have the QB keep the ball.  This maximizes our blocking while being spread because we use the back as a blocker, and it provides some misdirection by faking to the back and going the other way.

In most cases if the defense is shutting down power, counter is wide open.

Power Variations #6 – Overload Power

One of my favorite ways to run our 2 back power is using unbalanced/overload formations.
We are stilling running our same 2 back power scheme, but we overload the defense by lining up unbalanced and getting an extra hat play side.  Most teams who use unbalanced bring a tackle over to where the TE usually plays.  This past season my TE was my best down blocker so we just covered him up.  I liked this because we still had 2 wide forcing the defense to walk someone out over the slot, but we were still running 2 back power to the TE side.
We had a few overload sets but the diagram below was the main one.


We had a lot of success using this formation running power.  In the clips below, both were done near the end of the game where we had to run the clock out to finish off the game, the type of situation where everyone knows you are running the ball.  The first clip is from a series where we ran overload 2 back power 5 consecutive plays, to march down the field, while running the clock out, and eventually scoring to end the game and beat our cross town rival.  They never adjusted to our overload and we kept pounding the ball.

Yes it sets us up in a very heavy formation to the strong side but i feel it makes play calling easy, it all comes back to numbers and seeing how they adjust.  We used this formation for some play action shots and if I felt they were loading up to the overload side, we could run power to the weak side.  The clip below is an example of weak side power away from the overload, it isn’t blocked great, we miss a down block, but we are able to punch it in.


The last example I am going to share of an overload set we used on the first play of the game in our 1st round playoff match up.  We still covered up the TE, but we removed our slot WR, and replaced him with our usual starting TE (best blocker) and lined him up in a wing position.  We are still running power but you will see him work inside and we get both him and our BSG through the hole. 70+ yards untouched is a great way to open the game.


Small adjustments like this are great wrinkles to mix in through out the season.  It just expands a base play by using another formation.  This can be difficult for a defense to line up to, especially if they haven’t seen it on film to prepare for it.  My only caution is to have something ready in the play action game, and back to the weak side, so you can take advantage when they over adjust to stop that strong side run.


Power Variations #5 – Super 1 back

Today’s power variation is simply combining two concepts I have already discussed.
From our double tight formation we would run 1 back power (because we don’t have a FB in, we are in 1 back) and I would add our super tag on to tell the back side TE to also pull.

Super 1 back power


Another way we can run super 1 back power, is to call our 1 back power scheme, but from 21 personnel.  Since our TE is the kick out guy in our 1 back power, the Fb is used as another insert player along with the back side pulling guard.
21 super 1 back power
Here is a clip of the play, we get good base blocks from our RT and TE, and a very good down block from our RG to open up the B gap.  Now we lead our FB and LG through the hole and our RB can get downhill behind them.


Tomorrow will be my final post in the Power Variations series, it will also be my 100th Post!
Tomorrow I will focus not a a new power scheme, but running power from unbalanced formations.

Power Variations #4 – Power Arc

Any well coached defense is going to have answers to try and shut down your base plays.  Most teams will try to stop POWER by coaching up their DEs to squeeze the down block and blow up the FB.

Power Arc is a great way to handle well coached DEs who do a great job with block down step down.

This is the simplest tweak we have in my opinion.  “Arc” simply tells our end man (could be the TE or the OT to the weakside) to Arc release instead of their usual down block.  They will open up wide, trying to clear the DE, and block the defenses force (OLB/SS depending on defense).

So while we are running power, that DE is seeing a reach block, the better coached the DE is the more effective this tag is.

 Power arc

In the clip below, the DE we are going against (#59) is an All Everything DE headed to BYU next year.  He is very well coached, and very difficult to run power against.  In this clip we use the Arc tag, he expands with our TE because the block looks like reach.  This gives our FB a much easier kick out block, and helps us run Power right at one of the best defensive players in Northern California.


Power Variations #3 – 1 Back Power

Standard power is a great play, BUT it requires you have a lead blocking back in the game.  I knew early on that POWER would be our best play, but wanted to be able to do it from different formations and not rely on HAVING to have our FB in the game.

So after we had some solid experience using our regular 2 back power (first half of summer worth of practice) I  installed our 1 back power.  We call it power base.  In power base, since we have no FB in, we use our TE to be the “kick out” guy.  The “base” tag tells our TE and play side tackle they will base/kick out on anyone head up or outside of them.

I include the play side Tackle in understanding this base tag.  If he doesn’t have a base block to execute he does his usual down block like every other time we run power.  Against a 4 man front, we often see a 3 tech (b gap DT) on the TE side, so our tackle would down block as usual.

 Power base even

Against an odd front we most often see the play side DT lined up head up to outside of our OT so he would base block. We just about always see a defender lined up head up or outside of our TE and this is the player our TE will base block.

Power base odd

By simply adding the word “base” to the play call we are running our bread and butter power scheme and only changing the TE’s block, and the OT’s block against an odd front.

Here are a few clips of us running 1 back power.


Power Variations #2 – Super Power

The bread and butter of any Double Wing(DW) attack is Super Power.  Traditional Super Power is the same as the standard power I described yesterday (play side down blocks, with a FB kick out, and a back side guard wrap) but the SUPER in super power comes from adding an additional puller/wrapper.  Now usually, DW teams use guard and tackle as pullers and have TE cut block to stop backside pursuit of the play.

We pull on super power a little bit differently, we pull the backside TE as the second puller/wrapper. This gives us a few advantages, we are pulling a faster, more athletic kid who can get to the hole quicker and has better feet to be able to redirect to pick up a LB.  It also lets us keep our back side tackle home with his usual protect b gap and hinge.  This means no new teaching for our back side tackle, in fact ours has no idea what the difference is between power and super power.  Keeping the backside tackle at home and upright is a more powerful block and I feel does a better job at sealing off the back side than the TE cut block.

It is key for the BS TE to get depth on his pull, and re enter the LOS square.  Ideally, when the guard gets through the hole he looks head up to outside, and the TE looks head up to inside.

Now we didn’t do this from a DW set, we did it from our base 21 personnel pro pistol set.

I Twins Right super power

Here is some video of us running super power.  Please excuse 2 of the clips, our camera guy started a little bit late so you miss the very beginning but you can see us pull both BSG and BSTE through the hole.

Coming tomorrow, 1 back power!

POWER Variations Series

Now that the season is over, I can get back to some real writing.

Power is my favorite scheme in football.  I am a huge fan of the standard play side down blocks, with a backside guard pull up to LB.

I am also a big fan of some variations a coach can use to help the run Power scheme in different ways.

This post will be the first in a series of some of the different ways I have taken Power and made slight tweaks to get a TON of mileage out of one play.

Today I will focus on your standard 2 back Power.
2 Back Power is what we install first, and requires a FB or H back to be the “kick out” guy.
The play side OL all block their inside gap (we can work doubles if the defensive front allows it).

Our FB is our kick out guy and is responsible for getting his head inside of the EMLOS.
Our back side guard will execute a “Skip pull” and work through the first open hole he sees play side to attack the play side inside LB.
The back side tackle executes a B gap hinge, stepping to secure B gap pressure, then working back to stop backside chase.

Here are a few examples of our standard 2 back power.

You can read a very in depth article of my blocking rules, how I teach the blocks, and videos of drill work for the Power Scheme as part of A Coaching Arsenal.
My entire chapter focuses on OL play in the Power Scheme.
Some more information on this iBook is available here and here.
Links to ENTIRE Power Series posts here:

POWER game film

I have been an all 4 wide coach my entire time at my current school.  A number of factors contributed to us needing to make a change midway through the year.  We became a 21 personnel “pro style” offense.  A major play for us was the standard “Power” play.  Just wanted to share a few clips of us running power that I felt we executed decently.  You will notice the guards skip pulling, it is a technique I understand in clinic talks but I am not 100% sold on it.  They entered the hole square, which is the whole idea behind it. However I feel most kids can get to the hole quicker, and with more speed (and therefore momentum) with a standard pull.  I think I will experiment with both through spring ball and summer next year.
Well, enjoy a handful of POWER clips


Using an H back to enhance your Inside Zone Package

For most Spread teams Inside Zone is the bread and butter of their run game.  It is one scheme that can be installed and run vs any front.  It is a safe play that you can count on to eat up yardage consistently and then BOOM RB squirts up the gut or cuts back and hits the home run.  It was our best, most consistent run play last season.
I feel that I have become better at coaching it this off season through research into what others do and reflection in to what worked and didn’t work for us with IZ last year.  I have decided that our entire first week of Spring Ball will be devoted to IZ.  I am getting rid of my 3 day install plan I used a year ago, and the only run play we are going to use for the first 4 days is IZ.  I want to emphasize it’s importance as well as make sure my kids have at least a basic understanding of the play before adding anything.  Much of our offense relies on our ability to run IZ.
There are various styles of IZ, I won’t get in to that now… whatever your style is… if it works for you, keep doing it.  I believe our style works for us so I will keep refining/improving it.
I am writing this article to shed some brief light on some popular concepts and simple tags off of Inside Zone that I think are worth investing in and plan on running this season.
The core concept here is INSIDE ZONE…. for the sake of the drawings I put up the same front so you could see the differences in each.  This is against a 6 man box and using a true “Read” of the Backside DE as the base way of running IZ.
Each formation I have drawn up has the RB on the left and the H back (he is Y in our offense) on the right side.  I teach an outside the tackle alignment so put the DE in more conflict as now he can be blocked both from the inside and the outside. Some teams prefer directly behind OT, or even more inside for a better position to kick out on power… if that is what you do, wonderful… all of these concepts apply to any position you align your H back.
1. Standard IZ Right
The beauty of IZ is that you can run it from any personnel grouping.  It should be the same for the OL whether you are in a 4 wide environment, or begin adding TEs, H backs, Full backs whatever to the formation.  My goal as an OC, but more importantly as the OL coach is to make life easiest on the 5 Offensive Linemen.  I want to reduce how much they have to think at all times.  To keep their rules the same when we add our Y to the formation, likely he brings another defender into the box with him (likely the defender over him when he is spread out in the slot).  Just like he would spread out in Ace, our Y is responsible for blocking that OLB/Overhang.  He will condense some… could play at true LB depth, could walk up on the LOS, could play somewhere in between, either way our Y is responsible for him. This is just our base IZ RT call and if we are having success there is no need to deviate.

Now if we need to throw something else at the opponent we can begin to use tags to slightly alter the blocking scheme and/or give us a numerical advantage.

2. Slice
I love the idea of the slice tag.  We block IZ RT and rather than read the BSDE we kick him out with the Y. Just like Darin Slack talks about defeating the man advantage in the pass game using routes that cross the center line, I think there is a tremendous advantage in the run game in borrowing blockers from across the center line.  By bringing the Y at the snap on a sharp angle to kick out the DE we set up the potential for a huge cutback lane by the back.  The back must stick with his “chase the center’s butt” read and press the heels of the OL, but he knows when this is called that the cutback has big play potential.  The defense gets almost lulled to sleep by pounding IZ strong over and over, and this cutback catches them off guard. Our best IZ runs last year were on cutbacks and that was without a true kick out on the DE, we only influenced him wide and up field with the QB pull threat.

There are 2 ways to teach this kick out block…

  • A. Aim for kick out on DE every time (log as last resort when beat)
  • B. Have Y Aim for Kick out and read the DE… if the DE flies up field for QB no need to kick him out, instead turn up and be an extra lead blocker for the RB (49ers began killing teams with his when Kap took over)

Some call the Kick vs the bluff kick and lead backside as 2 separate plays, I like reading it instead to “always be right”.

I am leaning toward the latter for our install purposes simply because the way it should time up… if that Y runs a hard angle for kick out, and the DE goes up field far enough where the Y can not touch him… I do not think that DE can come back and get into the play… no need to waste a potential blocker.  Y should be taught a path to kick out… if he has no opportunity to collision the DE, get square and up the field.

3. IZ Iso Strong

If the LB who condenses with the Y is still playing soft or you feel he is not a threat in the run game (you can bang it up inside or cut back before he can make a play) then I feel that a strong side ISO is an excellent tag.  In this example the RT base blocks the DE out like on IZ.  The Y is responsible for the Play side LB or “first LB in the box”  (we number our LBs when talking run scheme… starting from play side box, working back).

Y would fold under the tackle (potentially would fold through A gap vs a 3 tech and RG would base the 3 out)

Since Y has the Right ILB… it allows the OL to work their combos not rotating play side to front side backer, but rotating to backside backer… which should allow a longer double IMO. The key to making this strategy work is making sure the OL understands that 1 LB has been taken away so they are working up to LB differently.  The BST can be taught to either use his base zone steps and work with BSG to cut off 3 tech and any backside LB pursuing from outside the box or if you prefer to take the read aspect away from it he can hinge on the DE.

4. IZ Iso Weak
Once the concept of Y being responsible for a backer, and how that effects the OL sinks in, you know have the ability to run Iso week off of zone principles.  You provide a cutback same side play for the Rb (an important key breaker for gun teams who don’t have great run threats at Qb) and again pulling the Y gives the offense an advantage as they can now borrow a blocker from across the center line.

OL blocks IZ Left but leaves the Left Inside LB for Y.  Same rules would apply as strong side ISO for the OL, we are just pulling Y to lead block weak rather than fold him strong.  Again he would be pulling and leading (SQUARE!) up through the A or B gap bubble depending on the front.

5. Bootleg

The last play I want to explore in this series is a Bootleg off of the IZ look.  I can not take credit for the details of this concept as I got it directly from Coach Grabowski’s iBook (if you haven’t bought this yet you are hurting yourself, go buy it now).If I had our H WR on the left side I would just run him on a deep out, I just drew it this way to show how the drag should be run, under OLB and over the MLB.

The OL and RB are selling IZ Right.  OL will take their zone steps and if they have color in their gap will base block it but not go more than 2 yards down field, if they do not see color/feel pressure they will get their eyes up and look for work/help.

The OL HAS to block it the exact same as the run play to fool the defense.  Play side SE (X) attacks inside then gets to the corner.  H runs either the deep cross route or deep out depending on if it is too his side or away.  Y in this case would attack the DE (just like in Slice) and chip off into the Flat.

These are just some examples of what I feel are core plays in a spread offense that bases around Inside Zone.  Each of these concepts could very easily be run from Pistol.  Again the alignment of your H back position could be moved to whatever best suits your needs.

Cut up of the day: Sprint Draw

The Sprint Draw has been a hot topic in the coaching community.  It was a great play for us and was set up nicely by the amount of sprint out we ran, and the fear our QB as a run threat put into the defense.  This was a beautiful constraint play for us.

We got a lot of movement in most cases from the playside DE trying to fight reach blocks, and more importantly we made LBs move, in some clips they SPRINT out of the box to try to get under routes and by the time they realize the RB has the ball it is too late.

OL wise we work to our sprint side and pick up “our man” based upon our pass pro rules and how we ID the front (we use a typical air raid pass pro based on the Center IDing the front each play).

I LOVE this play… there are a lot of times we do not even block it great up front, you will see 1 or 2 guys getting killed, but as long as they remain engaged, the flow gives the RBs enough room to do their thing and be the great athletes they are.