Posts Tagged ‘Play-action pass’

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.


I struggled, albeit briefly, on whether to continue building our roster with a tight end next and certainly with the success being experienced by many NFL clubs this season using tight ends as a major component of their scheme, having a solid running back trumps the tight end position for us.

An instinctive, hard-nosed runner allows you to control the time of position and may be the single most important component in the identity and personality of your ball club.  A physical run game will wear down an opponent and as the secondary must be involved in support, allows you to utilize play-action to gain explosive plays.

A dynamic quick twitch runner that can score from anywhere on the field will not allow the pass rush to “pin their ears back” and disrupt the drop-back game providing a cleaner pocket to deliver the ball downfield, be effective in the draw scheme, and if the defense is overly aggressive the screen game becomes paramount.

There is still a place for two-back sets and a solid fullback as a lead blocker and a powerful quick hit dive back and trap carrier will always carry merit.

Having a solid run game has proven over the course of time to be the lynchpin of championship football teams.  Throwing the ball all over the park is fun and exciting but ultimately if you can not effectively control the ball with a run game you are applying undo stress on your entire club.  Now go find this vital cog by using these evaluative tools for the position of;

                                                                      RUNNING BACKS

INITIAL QUICKNESS                     Movement upon snap of the ball, explosive start, straight ahead, lateral, type of stance, hitch or false step, quickness to the hole, get-off from 2 or 3 point stance

INSTINCTS/VISION                        Natural feel as a carrier, peripheral sight, focus on the point of attack (POA), quick reactions, ability to create or alibi positive yardage on poorly blocked plays

INSIDE RUNNER                             Vision, presses POA, pick, slide and accelerate through the hole, ability to find and hit a crease, body lean, pad level, strength, power, break tackles, short yardage and goal line, follow and utilize blockers, cut in the hole, pound type, gain yards after initial hit, leg drive, effort, ability to finish runs with authority, make aggressive tough 2 and 3 yard runs, step over trash, traffic burst in the hole

POWER/BREAK TACKLES           Play strength to break tackles, gets behind pads, can be own blocker and move the pile, leverage, short yardage and goal line, leg drive, refuses to be stopped, slasher, hard nosed, not afraid to initiate contact

SHORT YARDAGE RUNNER        Efficiency in converting short yardage situations, run skills, power, desire, pad level, leg churn

OUTSIDE RUNNER                          Speed and quickness to turn the corner and take the ball wide, game breaker, can score from anywhere on the field, elusiveness to make tacklers miss, instincts, plant and cut, attack downhill

ELUSIVENESS                                    Makes defenders miss, type: darter or weaver, deceptive, dancer, quickness, balance, agility, plant and cut without loss of speed, can dip in and out, gear change, straight line limitations, create, avoid, slip and slide

BALANCE                                             Ability to retain body control in the execution of various fundamentals of carrying the ball and in blocking, regain body control after temporarily lost, lower body strength to stay on feet

ACCELERATION                              Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get to a hight rate of speed

BALL SECURITY                             Chronic fumbler, ball protection, carelessness, physical make up, number of fumbles, pad level entering contact

PASS ROUTES                                   Ability to get out of the backfield and into routes quickly, type of routes, experience as a receiver, awareness, vs man/zone understanding, comfortable in open space, hand placement to the throw, allows blockers to to get in front in screen game

HANDS                                                  Type: soft or stiff, body catcher, extends to throw, adjust to the ball, able to make difficult catch, frames throw, relaxed, natural

RUN BLOCKING                               Willingness, attitude, effort, aggressive, initial contact, base, balance, knee bend, power and explosion, stays on feet, follow through, finish, react to games and stunts, chop blocker or face up, experience, courage

PASS BLOCKING                              Willingness, attitude, effort, initial contact, base, feet, balance, stays square, face up, strike and recoil, shadow defender, does not over-extend or lunge, dogs and blitz recognition and pick up

DURABILITY                                     Physically able to perform consistently over a long period, doesn’t miss time – game or practice, understands the difference between pain and injury, number of carries (game/season), stamina, maintains concentration when in pain or tired late in the game

                                                                   CRITICAL FACTORS


RUN SKILLS                                      Over-all talent, inside and outside, production as a carrier, creates, avoids

INSTINCTS/VISION                       Natural feel as a carrier, quick reactions, eyes, ability to create, makes something out of nothing

SPEED                                                   40 time, burst, acceleration, play speed

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso and feet in unison and rapid succession

HANDS                                                  Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher


INSIDE RUNNER                           Vision, feet, agility, strength, power, pad level, short yardage and goal line, finish runs, courage and toughness

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso, and feet in unison and rapid succession

BLOCKING                                         Run/pass, willingness, attitude, toughness, production

HANDS                                                 Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher

MENTAL                                              Intelligence, schematic understanding, assimilates strategy, adaptability, toughness