Posts Tagged ‘Manny Matsakis’

The mandate of an offensive attack is to dictate that the opponent defends the entire dimensions of the field.  Over the next few posts I will provide a basis for the spread attack providing variations for you to consider and implement into your current scheme.  Formationing, motion, personnel, blocking schemes in protection and the run game, and launch point differentials will be explored.

There is no question that the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach scheme has become extremely trendy and the Rich Rodriguez tailoring of the zone read option to Manny Matsakis and his tripleshoot have changed the way we think about offensive football, to name a few.

Exploring variations of the spread to fit your personnel is paramount.  Simply deploying a scheme that works for someone else does not necessarily translate into success for your squad without the proper skill sets of your players.

When putting together your approach, a reason for it must be considered.  Remember that a system should appear complicated enough in conflict to the defense but is easily implemented as a solid base attack to build from.  Ask yourself and your staff, “why use a spread attack”?

I am going to provide a bit of a differing approach than that of the aforementioned coaches yet there are definitely similarities in all our philosophical approaches.  The biggest of course that we all spread the field and push the clock but I’m going to provide you with a few things to consider to modify what these highly successful coaches have been able to accomplish.  The key to remember is that at the collegiate and professional levels, you can recruit to your system.  As a high school coach you will not always have the luxury of having the players to fit those schemes precisely.  My hope is to give you something to modify the scheme so that your kids have an opportunity to experience success and that is what coaching is ultimately all about.

For a run and pass offense to complement one another, they should operate from the same offensive sets.  Formations must force the defense to cover the width of the field without sacrificing the run game and that is why I used a two back/three wide receiver grouping (four wides in the CFL) so often to provide a direct conflict to the defensive thinking.

The three wide receiver set dictates a philosophy that widens the windows in coverage schemes while reducing opportunities for the defense to put eight in the box.  By spreading the formation it allows for full expression of the route combination forcing the defenders to expand in coverage across the field while providing the quarterback with a distinct view of the patterns and the coverage.

Two back sets are required to truly effectively run the football.  It provides a solid inside zone scheme allowing for the “downhill” attack of the defensive front as compared to the slower developing lateral run schemes.  Two backs strengthen the flank attack with lead blockers and extenuate the play action pass attack as every run has an accompanying pass.  Two backs will also create personnel mismatches in the pass game as motion will remove defenders from the box placing them in open space where they are less comfortable and continuing to provide a run threat with a ball carrier other than the quarterback still in the backfield.  The use of a hybrid fullback/tight end or “H” back is what we looked for to compliment the featured tailback motioning out to create new flanks or staying in the box as a run blocker and occasional carrier.  Part of the package included two true tailbacks which provided conflict in the double screen concept and in the broom sweep from the slot, to name a few variations.


Often this vitally important aspect of the program is an after-thought.  This position can virtually be placed anywhere in your roster building after quarterback.  These young men have more pressure, scorn, ridicule, and lack of respect directed towards them that in a moment of a single contact of foot to ball, can turn them into heroes.  More than any position on your roster, they are taken for granted and are expected to be 100% each time they trot onto the field.

The “talking heads”  continue to make comments when a kicker or punter is drafted in the fourth round or higher and will be the first to comment if a team plays a game and is consistently losing the field position battle or a missed extra point or field goal is the difference in the score of the game.

Many programs recruit these players as “walk-ons” with the promise that if they win the competition in camp or spring ball, scholarship funding will be made available.  A pro player struggles in a game or two and the next thing that happens is competition is brought in and the player has to compete during the course of the week.  They can be the most under-coached or over-coached players in the program. Yet always, they are expected to be perfect when called upon.  After-all, it’s all they have to do, right?

Extenuate the positive with these men.  Build them up and let them know that you believe in them.  They NEVER mean to miss a kick or shank a punt…NEVER…so show them you care and empathise.  Send your recruiters and scouts out on the road with these tools in mind and find the right:


HANDS                          Type: soft, stiff, eye/hand coördination, extends hands to the snap or body catch, adjust to bad snap, is punter the holder for PAT/FG

GET-OFF                       PUNTER – 2 or 3 step, distance covered/time, snap = 0.8 seconds or less, tough to toe = 1.4 seconds or less, launch = 2.2 seconds or less     KICKER  – 1.3 seconds or less on snap, pin, to contact

LEG STRENGTH        Distance, explosion into the ball

HANG TIME                 Height of ball on punts and kick-offs (check for cover patterns on tape to determine hang time, ie. on kick-off cover the team should be across the 30 yard line when the ball is caught by the returner)

HANDLE WIND         Against wind, with wind, cross wind, can he “drive” the football

ACCURACY                  Leg control, placement, field goal percentage for kickers

PRESSURE                  Game intensity, rush, bad snap (hand and adjust to kick), general demeanor, composure

TACKLE                        Cover ability, courage, willingness to be the last line of defense

RUN/PASS                   Bonus, check high school positions played, athletic ability, other sports played

PRODUCTION            Statistics, opportunities, does he get the job done, consistency

MECHANICS               Smooth and fluid, consistent, athletic, flexibility, extension, plant foot, drop

NOTE:                             Soccer style or straight on conventional (the last conventional kicker drafted in the NFL was my good friend and fellow coach Manny Matsakis by the Philadelphia Eagles), shoe or barefoot (am I dating myself?), right or left footed

                                                                     CRITICAL FACTORS  

Leg Strength, Accuracy, Distance, Production