defense

Running Effective Football Practices

Football season is here!  Summer has been filled with hard work, sweat and hours of scheming for offensive and defensive installations.  However, how much thought has been put into establishing effective and efficient practices?  I am a firm believer in the fact that games are won and lost Monday through Thursday!  These are the days in which we prepare our teams for the coming game.  Practice too short or waste time in practice, you will be unprepared.  Spend too long at practice and you risk being burnt out by Friday or negatively effecting moral.  It really is an art, to run a proper football practice.  The purpose of this article is to shed some light on this and provide a guide for running a “good” practice.  While I do not claim to have the perfect system here, it has proven to be effective for me and the teams that I have coached for.

SAFETY

Let’s start with the obvious and get it out of the way now.  Football, when played well, is an aggressive contact-filled game.  Because of the nature of the game there are possibilities for injuries.  Such injuries, and in particular injuries of a serious nature, can be minimized by playing with the rules, wearing proper equipment, and using the proper techniques for your position as taught by your position coach.

Special attention should be paid to the proper head, neck and body position when blocking and tackling.  The use of the head as a weapon in blocking and tackling is not only against the rules, but spearing techniques can be the cause of serious injury to yourself or your opponent.  A well-conditioned football player, using correct techniques, with his body in the correct heads-up, bull-necked football position, greatly reduces his chances of injury. In fact, FOOTBALL IS SAFER TODAY THAN IT EVER HAS BEEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT!

BASIC PRACTICE GUIDE LINES

  • Pay strict attention to time segments.
  • All segments are important, treat them as such.
  • Breed confidence and success into your team.
  • Gain respect from your players, do not demand it. You must earn it.
  • If you get tired pray for strength, because you should practice at a high tempo and you must have the same energy you ask your players to have.

You should also be very selective in the drills in which you select for your players to do.  All of your drills should do the following:

  • Cover considerable ground in a short amount of time.
  • Be well planned and administered.
  • Be known by name to the players so that they do not require re-explanation after they have been run two or three times.

Do not make drills too elaborate.  Keep them short, snappy, crisp and positive.  The coach running the drills should see to it that they are prepared in ADVANCED.  This should include any teaching aids such as balls, bags, cones and etcetera.  When establishing your football drills you need to choose from the following four types of drills:

  1. Fundamental Drills – these are to teach all the skills of tackling, blocking, stance, etc.
  2. Reaction Drills – primarily for developing quickness, balance, and agility.  These should be included briefly in almost every practice.
  3. Toughening Drills – the primary purpose here is to develop and encourage the desire and ability to utilize the physical contact aspect of the game of football.   These drills should be used only to the extent so as not to dull the desire for further contact.
  4. Fun Drills – used to lighten the practice load late in the season or as a morale booster.

Do all these things, and your practices will set your players up for success on and off the field.  As I said earlier, it is my belief that many teams lose the game on Mondays through Thursdays because they do not know how to properly practice and prepare.

THE OBJECTIVE OF PRACTICE

  1. Mental Toughness – this can be developed and is expected.
    1. Learn to deal with pain and to never except defeat. Do all the little things right all the time.
    2. Defeat all negative thoughts. “When your body says no – your heart says go!”
  2. Physical Strength and Quickness
    1. Weight Room – Benefits are well known, this is where championships are won, and champions lift IN season!
    2. Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility.
  3. Intensity – Must teach the 150% attitude
    1. Everything is done with a high level of enthusiasm and competitiveness – Push each other.
    2. Never be satisfied.
    3. All-out effort – All the time – 150% effort every minute accept nothing less.
    4. Expect more from yourself as coaches and players.
  4. Unity – Only as good as the last coach or last player with the merit role in the program.
    1. Always talk “Us” and “We”, not “I” and “Me”. Make being on the team the greatest experience of their lives.
    2. Hard work together equals Unity of Team. Encourage each other to work harder – the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.
  5. The Difference between Them and Us.
    1. We do work harder, 150% effort all the time – Outwork the 110% opponent.
    2. Discipline – must live with it, must expect it, must do right 150% of the time.
    3. If a 150% effort equals hard work, then we can accomplish it.
    4. As a team we will sweat the small stuff. The little things we do will make us Champions.
    5. Our Success – Our Attitude – Our Work Habits are things we can control, choose to be in control of our destiny. Never allow our opponent to dictate our destiny.

CONDITIONING

A note on conditioning. It is my personal belief that drills done for the sole purpose of condition are largely, a huge waste of time.  To me, if you have to do drills just for the purpose of conditioning your players, it means you are NOT practicing hard enough.  Let me say this now, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO PRACTICE INTO SHAPE!

Your practices need to be run at a high tempo.  Once your players are familiar with your drills, they should be rapid fire and you need to coach on the fly.  Save the slowed down teaching for pre and post practice, or in those situations in which immediate correction is non-negotiable.  When it comes to conditioning, there are certain drills that will allow you to do this AND have your players get meaningful reps at the same time!  Here are some such drills:

Edge Period– This will be the starting offense minus the wide outs against the starting defense minus the secondary.  The offense will choose one formation and attack the edge to the left and then to the right as fast as possible with the same play over and over.  This conditions both sides of the ball, and forces the players to communicate with each other quickly under pressure.  Yes the defense will know the play and inevitably start cheating…. It will make you tougher, get over it.  The ball carriers will be on a quick whistle, no tackling to the ground.  Do this drill on Mondays.

Inside Run– Everybody knows what inside run is.  Increase the tempo, tackle to the ground, get after it!  Do this drill on Tuesdays.  “Tuesday is Bruise Day!”

Man Drill– This drill is where the wide outs and defensive backs can go during edge period and inside run.  They will work on man coverage.  This needs to be high tempo.  No ball needs to be thrown here.  Work four wide receivers at a time against four defensive backs.  They will work normal routs for three to four second goes.  If the wide out gets separation, then he wins.  If the defensive back stays manned up, then he wins.  Work about ten reps in a row before switching.  Communicate the routes with the wide outs in the fastest manner your system has, I find the best is to have all the wide outs run the same route.

Pursuit Drill– Ah, pursuit drill.  The most overly complicated drill in existence.  No other drill seems to have so many complicated ass ways of doing it.  It’s really not necessary.  Here is a highly effective pursuit drill that is also super simple.  I call it “Fire Ant” because you want your defense swarming the football like a bunch of fire ants.  Here is out it works:  you will have six cones, three on each side line.  One on the goal line, one on the ten, and one on the twenty on each side of the field.  The defense will be on the goal line in the middle of the field.  A coach will snap a ball as a faux center and the defense will step to their run fits or pass drops based off the second defensive coach’s action and start chopping their feet.  The second defensive coach will then point to a sideline and yell out the number one, two or three.  The defense will then turn sprint to that cone, break it down on that cone as a unit, and then run back and get set for the next rep.   Repeat as much desired before switching to next group.  Simple stuff.  Do this drill daily.  Put them on a timer to get there and back and set by!

Screens and PA Period– This drill is an offensive drill done while the defense does pursuit drill.  The starting offense will be on the ball on the thirty yard line going in and the entire back up core will be lined up about ten yards behind them.  The OC will call a screen or a play action pass.  (have bags set up for land marks for your screens)  The offense will then execute the call and every single person, starters and backups will sprint to the goal line and back once the ball has been caught.  On screens make sure the OL and other blockers run to the land mark before running to the goal line.  Do this drill daily.

PRACTICE SCHEDULE (with explanations)

Let’s assume that you start practice at 3:00 PM for the following example of a practice schedule:

2:45 – Pre Practice: This is where install should be as well as stance work or lineman, ball security, extra snaps, chute work, technique teachings and etcetera. 

3:00 – Team Stretch: Another thing that people tend to really over complicate.  It shouldn’t be a production.  If it takes you more than ten minutes, you’re doing it wrong.  They should be loosened up from pre practice anyways.

3:05 – Special Teams: Work Punt and PAT first at same time, every day!  Every day means every day!

3:20 – Individual Period: Get after it.  Use a high tempo

3:40 – Skelly: Ten minutes for both offense and defense

4:00 – Edge Period:  As described earlier in article.   Tuesday will be inside run. Wednesday blitz pick up.

4:10- Team D

4:30 – Team O

4:50 – SPP: Screens, PA, Pursuit

5:00 – DONE

NOTE:  If you can, have a trainer with a blow horn, use the horn to mark the start of every new period based on the schedule above.  This will help keep all groups on schedule and prevent from losing track of time!

NOTE:  For the sake of productivity, have water placed with each position group.  This way they can grab a quick swig at natural transition periods without having to leave group.  Each position coach can also control when they send their unit for water.  Also, the water they drink during practice doesn’t really help, its more of a mental and physical break than a need for water.  Coaches need to constantly push the need to drink as much as possible between practices.

This is a two hour and fifteen minute practice when you count the pre practice period.  This is probably the perfect amount of practice time.  Long enough to done what is needed, but short enough to keep tempo at a high pace and keep moral high. Below I will provide an example of a practice template:

practice template

This is a generic template anyone can find online. I’m simply providing it to you so all your coaches can be on the same page.  Obviously you can label the sections as you see fit.  The purpose here is simply to provide a template.  You can put this on a document such as google share and have all your coaches fill in what they will be doing then print it out each day and every coach will know what every coach is doing and when!

CLOSING

As practice begins in the next few days, take some time to consider how we are practicing and purpose that it serves.  Is your practice structured in a manner that provides a clear purpose?  If you can’t easily answer yes, then you should consider changing things.  I will never claim to have all the answers, or that this is the end all be all of practice templates… but it’s a pretty good start.   Subscribe to my email list so you can be notified whenever a new article comes out!  Follow me on twitter at @thecoachvogt and also check out the following EBooks:  “Installing the Wide Zone” and “The Speed-T Offense”.

 

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The Speed-T: A Sneak Peak

The traditional Wing-T offense was developed in the early 1950’s by Coach Tubby Raymond at the University of Delaware.  Since then, the Wing-T concepts have permeated every single offense in the country from youth to the NFL. The principals of this offense are visible in zone based offenses, gap based offenses and even spread offenses.

The Wing-T is much more than a style of play, it is systematic way of attacking a defense. The very nature of the offense means that if the defense takes away one play, they are leaving themselves open for its companion play.

The Speed-T offense takes these concepts one step further.  The traditional Wing-T bases everything off of series, the Buck Sweep series, the Belly series and the Lead series.  The Speed-T takes these principles and simplifies them into basing the offense off of one singular play that will place considerable stress on the defense.  That Play is the Speed Sweep.

As I stated in my previous book “Installing the Wide Zone”, I am not here to give you a bunch of fluff.  I don’t want to tell you stories or waste your time with anecdotes and jokes.  My goal here is to provide a no frills, gimmick free, easy to read, and easy to apply system that you can install right now and start running the offense.  Everything will be straight forward, detailed in an efficient manner, and discernable for practical application.

There are a lot of offenses one can choose to run these days, and even more plays to choose from to be a part of that offense.  I a firm believer in “less is more” especially when it comes to football.  I believe every team from the peewees to the NFL can benefit from a condensed playbook.  Choose only one or two plays to base your offense from and have a companion play for each of those to bring to a total of NO MORE than four plays.  The Speed-T offense will base itself off of the Speed Sweep, let’s find out why by taking a look at Chapter One of “The Speed-T Offense”.

Part 1: Why the Speed-T

Why someone would choose the Speed-T offense for their team are many.  Utilizing the Speed sweep as a base play will take the advantages of the traditional Wing-T and amplify them.  Here is a look at how it accomplishes this feat:

  • Speed to the Edge
    • The Speed Sweep has the innate ability to get to the edge of the formation with great speed. By the time the ball is snapped the speed back is running full speed and gets the ball in stride.  Within 2 two to three steps he is on the edge, forcing the defense to react immediately or risk being out flanked.  There is no time for the defense to be cute and try and disguise what they are doing.  They most do it now.  Often they will do it pre-snap, showing their hand and exposing weakness based off your motion.
  • Numbers on the Flank
    • The formations of the Speed-T offense allow for extra run gaps to be created while still posing a vertical passing threat. This creates a natural conundrum for the defense. They can load the box and expose themselves to the Play Action game, they can defend the edges and give up the quick hitting inside game, or they can try and run down the speed sweep while defending inside gaps.  Most defenses will try the latter option as a game plan, which will allow you to chew them up four and five yards at a time, even with slow backs.  I don’t know about you, but I would do that all season.
  • Angles
    • The use of angles may be the single biggest advantage of this offense! Your blockers, OL or Skills, will never have to drive a defender backwards, they will always have an angle to their blocks. This allows you to use smaller or less athletic linemen and still be successful.  The entire system is based on taking what the defense is not defending, and getting there with as much speed and simplicity as possible.
  • Defensive Backs in Conflict
    • The extra run gaps created by the formations in the Speed-T offense will force the secondary players into run fits. You want to force the DB’s to make tackles.  When they start to play the run first, instead of the pass, now you can call the play action for a go ahead and score.
  • Companion Plays
    • Companion Plays are plays that are designed to look like the base play, but in reality are going to a different ball carrier or hitting a different spot. The companion plays to the Speed Sweep will infuriate Defensive Coordinators as they are quick hitting C gap to A gap runs that get fast easy yards into the heart of the defense.  The defense CAN NOT defend both.  They must make a choice.  The good DC’s will keep you guessing, but this can be mitigated with a check system we will talk about later.
  • Easy Rule System
    • Your Offensive Linemen will only have three possible rules in the run game. Yes, that is correct, just three.  They will have Reach, Gap, or Pull.  This allows them to play fast because they know the rule system in and out.  The rule system is also designed to place the blockers in positions that set them up for success so they gain confidence in the offense and their role.
  • 3 Ball Carriers
    • You have three possible ball carriers on any given play that the defense has to defend. If you incorporate the QB as a runner then the defense has to account for four ball carriers.  This forces the defense to spread itself thin by allocating defenders for each possible ball carrier.  Add in the fact that backs not getting the ball will be carrying out fakes, and you have a nightmare situation for the defense.
  • Sustained Success
    • History is on the side of the T based offenses. Most other offense produce “flash in the pan” success.  They will be good for a year, two years, and then back to obscurity.  While the teams that run a T based offense are consistently good, regardless of talent levels.  I don’t need to convince you of this, simply think of the successful teams in your state, or district.  Good chance the ones with sustained success are ones basing out of T concepts
  • Win with Lack of Talent
    • This goes back to the sustained success. Why does this happen?  It is in the way that the system works.  Blockers have numbers and angles.  The ball carries all carry out fakes taking defenders with them.  Companion plays work off each other to keep each play viable.
  • Easy to Call Plays
    • The Speed-T is an extremely easy system to call plays in. Implementing count systems and identifying who makes the tackle tells you what play to call.  It is an If/Then offense.  If the defense does this, then I do that.  It is very simple and keeps the defense from focusing on one portion of your attack.
  • It’s New Again
    • As a Speed-T guy, you will be the new kid on the block. You will be different.  People will not know how to line up one you or be sure how to defend you.  Your offense will be different than any other team, and those teams will be used to lining up on spread, four wide receiver sets all year long.  They will only have three days to prepare for you the week that they play you.

The Speed-T offense will allow you to take advantage of several factors.  You will be able to stress the defense with an edge attack that rapidly stretches the defense out.  You can use the edge attack to set up a punishing and quick hitting inside run game.  Then you can attack the defense with a complete passing series to take advantage of the defense when it sells out on the run game.  All of these things work together to make a complete offensive system.

CLOSING

Keep an eye out for the release, it will be happening very soon!  Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and subscribe to my email list to be updated any time I release a new article!

The Big 100 Formation System

Probably the most cost effective way to stress a defense is with multiple formations.  This is often forgotten in the world the spread offense and hurry up mentality.  Using multiple formations can keep a defense practicing lining up all week instead of practicing your plays.  Having multiple formations is a lot easier to accomplish than most coaches think it will be.  Just like anything else we do in this game, it is better when it is done as a system.

The Big 100 formation system allows you to use tag words to get into over 100 different formations.  The best part of this system is it can be taught to your players and installed in just one day!  Paired with a simplified play book you can now focus on running your base plays with the confidence of know that the defense is going to have to spend the majority of their time lining up correctly instead of repping your plays.  It is my opinion that you should pair this system with no more than four run plays.  I myself only use three.  You can learn all about my number one play HERE.

We start learning this system by learning the Tag Words and who they talk to.  We will then start going through the formations based on how many backs are in the backfield.  For the sake of brevity, all plays will be drawn up to the right, and the count will cover right and left alignments.

TAGS

Z – wing, double, strong, R, L, H, Plus all one back formation alignments.

T – G, double, plus all one back formation alignments.

F – King, Queen, Empty

Y – Over, Open

X – Over

Tackles – Extra, Over (both tell the offensive tackle to move over to one side)

3 Back Sets

Three back sets look like the traditional Power-I sets of yesteryear.  The side in which the z back will align is determined by the play call, so each strength call could have the z to the TE side or the quick side.  This causes the DC to draw up an extra card, and counts in the formation count.

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The above formation is representative of  Rt and Lt, and with the z back on either side for both strengths.

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2 Back Sets

Two back sets consist of 21 personnel pro sets.  The F can also be tagged in Queen, which puts him in a sniffer behind the left B gap or a King which puts him in a sniffer behind the right B gap.  So in reality you could add 2 more formations to each of these sets, we will not add them to the count for this article however.

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Wing-T Sets

The Double tag puts the T in a wing to the left side.  The F has the option to queen/king himself depending on the play call.  We will not add that to the count however.

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1 Back Sets

Using extras and overs you can get very creative with your formations in one back!  These multiple look one back sets make it very easy to find formations that will out number the defense.

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Shot Gun Sets

The shot gun sets never need to be called “gun”. The players know it is gun because there is no wing, and only one tight end or no tight ends.  The alignment of the full back is determined by the play call, so for each formation (Lt, Rt) the full back can be on the left side or the right side.  Just like in 3 back, with the z, this causes more formations to be drawn up by the opposing DC.  You can also tag empty here to add two more formations to each set.  we wont count them or draw them up here, but with an empty tag, the fullback will always go to the weak side in a slot.

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CLOSING

While this may at first seem like a lot, upon a closer look you will see that it is in fact, quite simple.  Will you use all these formations in a game? Of course not!  But it will allow you to use multiple looks until you find the formation that gives you what you want to see and the advantage to your offense.  I have gone games where we have only used 4 formations!  I have also shown over 30!  COACHING POINT: the secret weapon of this system is the multiple ways to get into unbalanced!

If you are looking for the perfect play to use in conjunction with the Big 100, then check out “Installing the Wide Zone“. No other play is as versatile or consistently productive, and it matches perfectly with a multiple formation system like the Big 100.  If you need a sneak peak at “Installing the Wide Zone” then take a look at “Why Go Wide“.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt. Stay tuned for a future article covering trades, shifts and motions!

Why Go Wide? A look into “Installing the Wide Zone”

This article is a preview of my exclusive ebook: “Installing the Wide Zone“. It is the only resource available that comprehensively covers full installation of the system as an offensive scheme.  You will have access to drills, diagrams, change ups, and how to block the play against different fronts.

Installing the Wide Zone” is a complete guide to installing, applying and running the wide zone play, the most consistent play in football today! The book will cover philosophical applications, coaching points, drill work and change ups. This comprehensive guide is complete with diagrams for blocking different fronts, how to establish and carry out the drills necessary for the success of the play, and how to get the most out of your offense by using the wide zone system. Take your offense to the next level and incorporate the most consistently productive offensive system ever developed in the game of football!

Blocking the wide zone is very easy in concept, but requires a lot of patience, discipline, and repetitions.  So why commit to something that takes so much effort in order to run correctly?  Let’s see why:

  • It’s safe
    • You are blocking a zone instead of a man, or a gap. Each zone is accounted for by the adjacent lineman.  The lateral movement of the offensive line eliminates penetration by the defensive line.
    • It is effective against stunts and pressures. Because the zones move laterally you will find that stunts and blitzes are picked up naturally by your blockers.  This makes blitzing extremely dangerous for the defense.  Once the stunt is picked up, the runner is up and in the secondary!  There is no DB in the nation that likes to see a free running ball carrier bearing down on them.
    • No 1st level penetration. The lateral movement by the offense means that the defense line also has to move lateral or risk being overtaken.  An up field step by the down lineman results in being cut off from their assigned gap.  The use of double teams up front also forces the DL to choose; flow, or be cut off.
  • It forces the defensive front to be disciplined
    • The flow of the offense forces lineman and linebackers to maintain gap integrity and flow with the play. If just one man is not fast enough or is too fast you will have running lanes open for the ball carrier.
  • It places defenders into conflicts
    • The linebackers are taught to flow and pursue… yet doing so will cause them to get washed by the play as it cuts up behind them. The backside LBs are taught watch the cut back… but this is a cut UP play.  They will hang back and be cut off by the climbing OL.
    • The defensive line is taught not to get reached. They fight outside and the play will cut up behind them.  If they try and jump inside to stop the cut up by the back, the back takes an outside path and the offense captures the edge.
    • The secondary will be forced to make plays in the run game. This naturally puts them in a huge conflict with their assignment.  Do they play safe and let the ball carrier chew up yards? Do they come up to support the run game and give up the pass?
  • It takes what the defense gives
    • The movement of the offense takes the defenders on the path they are choosing to go. The defender will feel like they are fighting leverage.
    • This allows less athletic lineman to block much better athletes on the defense. Let’s face it, as far as linemen go, the best athletes almost always play defensive line, and now we are asking the guys not good enough to play defensive line to go block them.  Why not use a system in which the OL can use the DL’s natural athleticism and ability against him? Your OL only has to be willing to do one thing, RUN! (which we will dive into later)
    • Do not have to drive defenders off the ball. This is a big misconception with wide zone.  We are not trying to set the edge, we are trying to stretch the defense out!  If the defense gives us the edge we will take it and a big play will ensue, this happens when the defense becomes frustrated at being chewed up in between the tackles on a play that looks like an outside run.
  • Limitless complementary actions
    • You can use the same blocking scheme up front for change ups, motions, back field actions, play fakes and options. All this, without changing rules for the offensive line.
  • Universal progression
    • A TE can play center. A guard can play tackle. A center can play TE.  Every rule is the same for all offensive linemen.  They all practice the same techniques and drills.  This makes the play by its very nature, extremely injury resistant.  If somebody gets injured, you can move a starter to the edge or to center and put an inexperienced guy at guard where he is protected.

By incorporating the wide zone into your offense you will accomplish a few things.  You will have a base offense to use each week.  You may have a change up or two, but your “offense” will be the same week in and week out.  You will have a scheme that your team has master’s degrees in.  They will be confident in the play because they have run it a thousand times that week.  They know they can block anything the defense throws at them because they have had the answers drilled into them.  They don’t need to think, or analyze, they can just go play ball.

You will have an offense that can control tempo.  Whether you are a face melting spread team or a team that likes to get into 21 and 22 personnel.  You will have a system that can control the tempo with a consistent and effective ground game that stays in front of the chains. Staying in front of the chains avoids the dreaded 3rd and long.  3rd in long gets you stopped.  To many gets you beat.

You can now focus on manipulating the defense with formations.  Because you can run this play from any formation and any personnel set, you can develop as many formations as your heart desires.  This prevents the defense from practicing against your scheme, and forces them to practice lining up correctly all week long.

You will avoid becoming too scheme heavy.  Having to jump from scheme to scheme makes you fundamentally unsound.  This also leads to illogical progressions.  Switching from scheme to scheme cuts down on practice time.  You can only practice each scheme so much, then factor in each scheme vs multiple fronts. You will simply run out of time.  Having too many concepts also causes lineman to become tentative because they are unsure of the answer.  They develop paralysis by analysis.  By limiting your schemes you give your lineman the necessary repetitions in practice to be confident and play with reflex speed instead thinking speed.

CLOSING

Installing the Wide Zone” might be the key ingredient your offensive is looking for this season!  Eliminate negative plays and be sound against anything the defense tries to throw at you.  Don’t waste any more time and grab your self a copy now!   subscribe to my email list to be updated anytime I post an article and follow me here on twitter @thecoachvogt.

 

Find Your Number 1!

“I fear not the man who knows 10,000 kicks.  I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times!” -Bruce Lee-

punch

Roy Jones Jr, Rocky Marciano, Joe “Brown Bomber” Lewis, and Floyd Mayweather. What do they all have in common?  Other than being phenomenal fighters, they all are known for the straight right hand.  you know its coming, its their best and most frequently used punch.  They throw it all the time, and they land it.  Why?  Lets look at wrestling and Olympian and NCAA champion Jon Smith.  The low single is coming, no doubles, no ankle picks, no throws.  Just the low single, and guess what? He is going to get it and take his opponent down.

These legendary athletes were never hard to scout.  Every fan in the stands or watching from home knows exactly what is coming.  The problem is, its coming from all types of angles.  All types of looks.  All types of different scenarios.  It must be defended at all times.  The opponent must be sound against it in all aspects of his game plan!

The point that I am trying to make here is that all of the greats find what they are good at, believe in it and rep it thousands of times!  How does this apply to football you might ask; well I as you this, HOW DOES IT NOT?!  I can tell you now, that when I am scouting a team that we will play, I never get nervous when I see a plethora of different blocking schemes.  More often than not they are mediocre at all of them and if you stop one, one time they illogically jump to another scheme. Want to know what makes me nervous?  When I scout a team and they run 2 or 3 plays, and they run them over, and over, and over.  They have PhD.’s in those plays. They come from all different formations, from multiple looks. What makes it worse is if their number 2 or number 3 plays look just like number 1!  That is a nightmare!

system

I’m sure all of you can think of somebody you play that is like this. Some real life examples I can give are Bishop Moore in Orlando, FL and Gold Beach in Gold Beach, OR.  It is no secret the speed sweep is coming when you play Bishop Moore.  You are going to have to stop it.  Not once, twice or three times; but all night long.  You will have to stop it and be sound against it from multiple formations, looks and set ups.  Its coming, and its coming frequently.  In Gold Beach you better be ready for the veer!  Its coming, right at you.  You may stop it, but guess what?  It is coming again, and again, and again.  To quote the head coach for Gold Beach @kdawgswift “You better buckle up peckerwood, because we are gunna run it till you bleed to death!”  (still one of my favorite quotes of all time lol)

So, what constitutes a good number 1 play?  Your number 1 play should meet these criteria in order to be considered as your go to play:

  • Must be able to run it out of any formation
  • Must be able to run it out of any personnel group
  • Must stress the defense in multiple facets (assignments, techniques, alignment)
  • Must be gap sound against all defensive fronts
  • Must have a companion play that constraints the number 1 play while looking the same
  • Must run it religiously

Here are my top recommendations for number 1 plays in no particular order, beneath each play I provided example(s) of good companion plays:

  • Jet Sweep
    • belly, inside zone, GTO, trap
  • Wide Zone
    • dive, inside zone, GTO, keeper, load and speed option
  • Power O
    • jet sweep, power read, GTO
  • Trap
    • jet sweep, GTO
  • Veer
    • mid line, trap, GTO
  • Mid Line
    • veer, trap, GTO
  • Inside Zone
    • wide zone, keeper, GTO
  • Belly/BellyG
    • jet sweep, toss, buck sweep, GTO

DISCLAIMER: GTO is in there a lot.  Everyone should be able to run some counter…. BUT; counter is a set up play,  not a play you live and die by.  Many a teams have learned this the hard way…

CLOSING

This article follows along the lines of two of my previous articles “Whats Your System” and  “A Systemic Attack”.  KISS is my general coaching philosophy, and most teams that adopt this approach tend to experience success.  By doing this are you going to go win a state title???  Well, if you do please give me all the credit!  All joking aside, I can say this: If you simplify, results get better, period.  Subscribe to my email list to be notified when ever a new article is published and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

The Lost Art of the 4 Minute Offense

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It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season.  I can guarantee most of you have as well.  You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team.  The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock.  The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game.  Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them.  Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.

In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock.  What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do.  Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast.  What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!

WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE

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At some point it is going to happen.  There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.  YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:

  • The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs.  First downs turn to touch downs.
  • The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
  • For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense

I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:

  • It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
  • It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
  • It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
  • It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
  • Easy to get into unbalanced formations

FINDING PERSONNEL

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I know, I know…. I hear some of you already.  “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.”  Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next.  That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out.  Everybody has those guys.  Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots.  The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches.  Period.  You have them I promise.  We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids.  We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last).  Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:

  • Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
  • Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
  • Bigger bodied wide outs
  • Back up offensive linemen
  • Bigger bodied running backs

WHAT PLAYS TO RUN

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The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations.  You can call the same plays.  The rules for your offensive lineman will not change.  You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock.   Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.

Inside Zone:

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Power O:

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Wide Zone:

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Counter GT:

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Isolation:

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CLOSING

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The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art.  The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts.  In the end, only one average matters.  The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel.  Regardless of your base offensive scheme.  The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots.  They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time.  However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen.  They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

The Lost Art of Belly

“The fear of the belly, makes all other plays indefensible.”

Few things make defensive coaches pull out their hair quite like the good ole Belly.  It’s a quick hitting, power play that takes advantage of the natural weakness of the C gap.  Defenses are forced to declare when they are committing to stopping the belly.  It is difficult to lose yards because the speed in which the play hits.  When committing to stopping the belly, the defense will leave themselves open to all other plays.  The belly is a great set up play for other run plays, but specifically toss, jet and counter match up with the belly almost seamlessly, and the play action game off belly can be devastating!

BELLY HISTORY

“Belly” refers to the action of the quarterback and the fullback in which the quarterback will ride the fullback’s path with ball in his belly.  First implemented by Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech in the 1950s out of the “T” formation.  By the 1970s the belly had evolved to an entire series complete with companion plays.  You have Belly Dive (IZ), Belly G, Belly Option and even Belly Stretch (WZ).  The most common application of the belly is the Belly G, any wing-t guy worth his salt runs the Belly G religiously.  But these fellows are becoming less and less common.  The belly is becoming a lost art, it is not seen often, if at all in some areas of the country.

THE BASICS

Regardless of the variant being run, the footwork between the QB and FB will always be the same.  The QB will reverse out and step flat down the line to intercept the path of the FB and put the ball in his belly.  The FB will take a flat step, a crossover step and then step down hill at the tackles outside leg for an aim point.  It is important that the fullback keeps his shoulders square during the flat step and crossover step.  The tail back should do one of the following depending on your scheme/variant: carry out a fake (toss/jet), or get into pitch relationship with the QB.  Your quarter back should fake the option after handing the ball off if he is the mobile type.  For a more pro-style QB I like to have him fake a pass drop after he hands off the ball.

BELLY G

For the sake of this article we will focus on the most common variant is the Belly G.  The offensive line will scoop on the backside and gap block on the frontside. It is important to know that the playside tackle needs to gap all the way down to the A gap when a shade nose is present to help prevent penetration.  The playside guard will pull with a tight downhill path and kickout the playside edge defender, if the edge defender is spilling, the guard will log and pin him in so the FB can bounce.  If there is a wing to the playside then he will arc release and pin the playside linebacker, placing his head in front.  This variant in particular works extremely well in conjunction with a toss fake or a jet sweep fake.  Here is a diagram of Belly G vs a 50 front:

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Here are some film clips of Belly G:

BELLY COMPANIONS

If you are going to run the Belly G, I recommend you to have companions to go along with it.  When you effectively run the Belly G it will be so feared that the defense will clearly show you when they are selling out to stop it.  This fact makes it near impossible to stop your companion plays!  You will fake the Belly G and give the ball to a different back.  The fake does not have to be exact, it just needs to have the same initial action by the backs and OL to be highly effective.  Your companion plays should fall into 2 categories: same side companion, and opposite side companion.  Examples of same side plays would be jet sweep, toss and option.  Examples of opposite side plays would be counter and reverse.

Here are some examples of toss as a same side companion, toss is a great way to take advantage of edge players that are playing hard inside and spilling.  Take a look:

Here are a few examples of counter as an opposite side companion. Use counter when the defenses backside players are over pursuing to the playside. Take a look:

PLAY ACTION

Play action pass can be absolutely devastating off of a belly fake, especially when used in conjunction with formations that force the secondary into run fit responsibilities.  This places the defensive backs into a conundrum.  They must play the belly to support the run game, yet if they do, they leave open quick strike passing opportunities. The trick is to call them at the right moment.  Here are a few examples of what can happen when called at the correct moment:

CLOSING

The Belly Series is not something that has been common for some time.  But if you are in the search for that missing piece of your offense, it just may be the ticket.  Highly effective, quick hitting, multiple variants, and the ability to open up multiple set up plays.  If you wish to learn how to incorporate the belly into your current offense then check out the, TheCoachVogt.com installation page HERE where it is part of the Pro-T offensive series.  Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt and be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be updated every time a new article is posted.