defense

A Philosophical Approach for Play Calling

If you have read my latest book “Calling Plays” you will already understand that it does not matter if you’re a Spread guy, a Wing guy, or an Air Raid guy. All play callers will benefit from calling plays using Wing-T principals.  That doesn’t mean you have to get in double wing X over… you can still use the same principles in four and five wide receiver sets.  Its about the philosophy, not the structure of the formation or type of plays you prefer to use.

Wing-T play callers start by using formations that force the defense to spread themselves thin in the middle or risk being outnumbered on the flanks.  That should sound very familiar to the coaches who base out of the spread.  Each formation and play call in the wing-T is designed to put a specific defender into a conflict.  You can also do this in ANY OTHER offense out there.  It is the philosophy that you will use.  The particular offense doesn’t really matter as long as you have the personnel to do the things you want to do.

You are going to be using an If/Then call philosophy.  If the defense does that, then I do this. It is very simple and makes calling plays instinctual.  Now to do this, you will have to go against one of the latest fads in offense.  That being the “Pre Snap Reads”. Don’t get me wrong, they definitely serve a purpose and have proven effective…. But I also believe that “actions speak louder than words”.   Pre snap, the defense can lie to you.  They bluff, and stem and roll and feint and do all kinds of dishonest bull crap pre snap.  After the snap however; they become a patron saint.  They have to tell the truth about what they are doing, or they will give up a big play.  So, that being said, most of the play call decisions you will make will be based on post snap ACTIONS of the defensive players. Also remember, you don’t have to outsmart the DC… you must outsmart the defensive players.

Using If/Then to guide your play calling will allow you to call plays much faster than normal because you will know exactly what to do based on the reaction of the defender that you were attacking on the previous play.  Each formation you use will show you the general idea of how the defense is going to play you, but post snap will tell you EXACTLY what they want to do.  Using this concept also gives the other offensive coaches a stake in the offense as each one can be in charge of watching a spot on the defense to let you know as the play caller where the ball should go next or in the near future.  For example; I always have a coach that oversees the watching the safeties.  As soon as the safety is stepping down hill on the snap instead of back pedaling, he lets me know and the very next play is a play action shot in the area he is supposed to be defending, but has forgotten because he is too concerned with fitting the run.

When using If/Then philosophy each play will target a specific area and the next play will be determined by how a specific defender reacts.  This is where the “Same As” plays come into play, that is, those plays that look like other plays used to place defenders in conflicts.  Examples would be Belly and Belly Option in the wing-T.  If the edge defender is squeezing the Belly, you call Belly Option and now that defender who thinks he is doing his job to stop the belly is getting pinned inside and the ball is outside.  A spread example would be matching the fast bubble with the bubble go or the wheel/sluggo combination.  Both look like bubble pass initially and if that safety is cheating on the bubble the play before, you have a good chance at big play.  This is also why having your entire offensive staff on duty helps.  Each guy will be watching for an If/Then call!  Dress up these “Same As” plays with some window dressing and they get even more effective. We will get into how to If/Then from each offense in their respective chapters later in the book.

Wing-T philosophy also works under the understanding that formations are a weapon.  Your formations need to serve a purpose.  It is my belief that what ever offense you run, your formations should be used to expose the flank of the defense and get more numbers outside than they have.  This can be done in spread or tight sets.  Being multiple with formations can cause confusion in the defense as well. We will cover the use of formations for each offense later on. For now, let’s get onto moving the football.

In all offenses, yes even the wing-T you must get the ball into grass.  One might logically think that spreading out accomplishes this with simple offensive structures… but that leads to a false sense of security.  Space is relative to the number of your blockers to their defenders.  If you line up in five wide and try to run the ball into six defenders you will quickly find that you don’t have that much grass to work with and your quarterback will be more testy than prom date dumped on the night of the dance. So how do we use wing-T principals to find the grass?

Believe it or not, in the passing game it is simpler to do this than the run game, we want to get the ball into the spots with open grass.  There are many ways to do this, but the two easiest will always be: spread the field and find the empty space or use formations that force DBs into run fits and pass the ball to the spot they were supposed to be occupying after a good play fake. Your passing attack should directly reflect what you are trying to do in your run game.  Meaning, if you are going to spread the field, you should be passing to open the run game, if your condensing the field it should be done so your run game will open up big downfield strikes.  The best teams can do both.

To find the grass in your run game, you will always need to adhere to these three simple rules:

  1. Place defenders in conflicts – As stated before, there are several ways to do this. Let’s review:
    1. Have plays that look like other plays. This is the easiest way and EVERY play in your play book should look like another play in your play book.
    2. Using formations that place defensive backs into run fits. Force the DBs to make tackles in the run game and it will open your pass game. (bubble pass counts as a run in my book)
    3. Reading defenders with options and RPO’s. If you got the QB with the wit to do this and make the correct read consistently you will cause the defense a lot of problems.  If he can’t do it with more than 75% correct read ratio… you are probably causing yourself more grief than you need to.
    4. Using motion and misdirection. Eye candy and window dressings take eyes away from what’s really going on.  Especially if the eye candy threatens an area that is supposed to be defended by that player.
  2. Use angles – There is no arguing here. If you give your blockers an angle to their block, they have a significantly higher chance of success.  As long as they can throw a basketball pick then then have a chance.  For example; call a play where the tackle just needs to wall off a three tech inside instead of reaching a loose five tech. Or a play where the tackle can just wall off that loose five tech.
  3. Attack the bubble – Every defensive front will have open spots on the line of scrimmage. That is the bubble.  Attack there, while giving your blockers angles and you should at least get three to four yards before your ball carrier is touched.

The more of these rules you can incorporate the better the call is.  Always aim to have at least have two covered every play call.  Try for all three whenever possible!  If you only have one, the chances for success decrease.  If the call does not use any of the three rules, then most likely you will experience a failure on the play and end up behind the chains. You want to avoid losing yards in the run game AT ALL COSTS.

You also have one more rule you must live by… NEVER RUN INTO MORE NUMBERS THAN YOU HAVE BLOCKERS!  If you have three to one side and they have four, the three rules of the run make no difference.  Even if you are going to option a defender, do it to where the numbers are at least even, so you end up having plus one in the blocking scheme.

Let’s review this section and the philosophies we are going to focus on for play calling: Use If/Then principals. Use formations as a weapon. Find the open space in the passing game and use the two rules to get there.  Use the three rules for the run game. NEVER run into more numbers than you got. Focus on outsmarting the opponents players, not their DC. (that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t scout him up and know what he likes to do when… just that you need to remember, he isn’t the one strapping up.)

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DEFENSIVE IBUPROFEN

“Cover three can solve a lot of headaches.”

With the advent of the spread offense, defense has had to adjust to keep up.  Resulting in changes and adaptations in coverages and defensive fronts and movements.  All this has led to the prevalence of “Palms” and “Match Quarters” coverages.  There is no denying that match coverages have made a huge impact on the defensive football world.  I believe it should be in every DC’s arsenal.  However, people tend to forget about a tried and true coverage that is both simple to teach, and simple to execute.  It relies more on discipline than athletic prowess (yes it helps of course).  This coverage is Cover 3.  For this article we will focus on base cover 3 and its use against spread offenses.  In a future article we will go over “Match 3”.  For now, lets look at some reasons to use cover 3 as your base coverage.

  1. Simple – Cover 3 makes alignment extremely simple since you typically have 1 high safety. It’s a balanced defense for the most part.  The rules are extremely simple, especially for the DB’s
  2. High School Players on Offense – the philosophy for running cover 3 can be reinforced by the players on the opposite side of the ball. Most OC’s will smirk and say, “I’ll just run 4 verts!” when they hear about cover 3.  They forget that very few high school QBs can consistently hit the seams, or that few high school teams understand the spacing.  Or that the QB will typically have to throw under pressure due to numbers in the box…
  3. Numbers – being in cover 3 allows you to put more bodies in the box and force the offense to throw the ball. Most good teams still prioritize running the football, so let’s stop what they want to do!
  4. Impatient OC’s – I’ve only come across one OC that will throw the hitch and stick with it. Eventually they ALL go deep or try to run a double move… that’s when you get your sack, or your pick because they threw under pressure.  Stay the course and be more patient than the OC.

Let’s look at some base alignments vs typical spread sets before we get into the rules for cover 3:

2×2

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Spread tends to be the easiest offense to line up on in most situations.  2×2 is by far the easiest to deal with as far as alignment is concerned.  Your Corners and Free Safety will be 8-10 yards deep and the corners will have inside leverage.  Remember, the most difficult balls to throw are high and outside. Inside leverage is just enough to encourage the WR to stay outside on a deep ball while still playing in “confined” space.  The FS will align directly over the ball when in the middle of the field and over the B gap when on the hashes.

Your OLBS/SS will align head up to an inside shade on the slots.  You can play with their depth; I typically like them about 3-4 yards off.  Most slots are off the ball anyways and can’t be jammed.

3×1

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For 3×1 sets you have a couple options based on being in 2 high or 1 high.  For now, lets focus on being in 1 high.  Your Corners and FS will align the same way. Your SS and OLB will stay on their respective sides.  The SS/OLB to the 3wr side will align apexed between 2 and 3 but will back up to 6-8 yards deep.  (will cover rules later).  If you got a corner that can lock up in man coverage, feel free to bring the other OLB/SS over to the 3wr side, but you will have to slide backer’s vs motion if you do this…

20p

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Against 20p I like to keep 7 in the box.  The alignments for the FS/Corners will not change.  The SS/OLB alignments depends on the following.  To the 2wr side, he uses his 2×2 rules.  The OLB/SS to the 1wr side will align 6 yards deep over the center in the middle of the field or to the field side when on the hashes. if your using an odd front.  If you’re in an even front, have him follow the H around to take away the powerO.

Empty

You can treat it like 2×2 on one side and 3×1 on the other… or you can take a guy out of the box.  If the QB can tote it…. do the first thing I said.

RULES

Corners – DON’T GET BEAT DEEP!  That’s the number one rule.  Nothing gets behind the corner. He is responsible for the deep third of the field.  They play deep and rally to the ball once it is thrown. They don’t leave the deep third till the ball is in the air. If number 1 runs a hitch, then his eyes go to QB as he continues to sink to take away the corner/out by number 2.

Free Safety – Deep third and back pedal on the snap.  Eyes will be on the QB and can drift with the QBs eyes.  We are looking for and deep route across the middle.  Break on the ball once it is in the air.  It helps if the FS is an instinctive guy with some ability to run.

OLB/SS – against 2×2 they will have eyes on the OT to read run or pass.  If pass is read, they will collision anything vertical or inside and then drop to curl. The collision is important to reroute the WR and screw up the spacing.  If 2 goes out they will widen and drop to curl. If number 1 tries to cross face or run a slant, the OLB should clean his clock.  This area of the field where OLBs and slots play are the most under officiated parts of the field… do be afraid to get physical.  After a collision if a back crosses their face while dropping, they will widen.  Break on ball once it is thrown

Against 3×1, they will align back at 6-8 yards.  On the snap they will drop with number 2.  They will jump any flat route/hitch.  If you’re in an even front… hithes by number 3 can be an issue.  Motion back to 2×2 he goes back to 2×2 rules.  Motion to 3×1, he backs up.  If you are facing a team that effectively and correctly runs RPO’s, you will need to get into some man or some Match 3.  I will have an article on Match 3 in the future.

WEAKNESSES

Deep Outs/Comebacks by #1 – these are tough routes.  They force the corner to bail then the receiver is breaking outside.  It’s the toughest route to cover in football.  However, it is also the toughest route to complete.  If you have an offense that can consistently complete this ball, the coverage really doesn’t matter… it can be a long night if you don’t start bringing pressure or have a corner that can lock down the WR in man.

Post Wheel Combo – this route effectively mitigates spacing issues with 4 verts. Undisciplined corners tend to chase the post route leaving the wheel open. Make sure the corner stays in his third and the FS reads the QBs eyes.  Both post routes are coming to him anyways.  Fortunately, this combination tends to take a while to run, allowing pressure to get there.  “A good pass rush is better than 4 Champ Baileys”.

Smash – This is an issue because the corner rout by 2 keeps your corner deep.  Forcing the OLB/SS to take the hitch.  Train your OLB to read the eyes and widen so he can make a play on this.  Quite often a schooled up OLB/SS can break this up or get a pick.   If drops straight back, the hitch can be an issue, fortunately, most OCs wont sit there and throw the hitch over and over as we discussed earlier.

CLOSING

Obviously, there are a lot of nuances and little things you can do with alignments and techniques.  This is meant just to be guide on the simplicity of cover 3 and to show that it is still a very viable defense to use against spread offenses!  I happened to be lucky enough to be a part of staff that won 3 straight state titles, in those three years we got out of cover 3 only a handful times per season!  So, it is effective when you understand its components and limitations.  Subscribe to the email list to be updated whenever a new article posts!  You can follow me here on twitter at @TheCoachVogt and be sure to check out the STORE for the Ebooks: Installing the Wide Zone and The Speed-T Offense.

11 Signs You Played Offensive Line!

Whether you’ve played it, coached it, or both, you know that there is something special about those that call themselves offensive linemen!  Unsung heroes for those not in the know, and sometimes for those that do know as well.  But that’s OK. Its part of what makes being Hawg so great!  In honor of the trench warriors, here are 11 signs you might have played offensive line!

  1. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know what its like to finish two plates before others finish their first.
  2. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You have experienced the spiritual joy brought forth by a clean hitting trap block.
  3. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that the worst part of practice is always jogging to the next drill spot.
  4. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that the “lineman trot” is learned skill that not just anyone can master.
  5. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You have experienced the anticipation for inside run because you need to shut-up that DL sumbich for all that trash talk during 1 on 1 pass rush.
  6. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… When you knew it was you that busted an assignment, but you act like you couldn’t hear coach yelling from the sideline.
  7. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You understand that a proper jersey tuck under the shoulder pads can determine making it through practice or not.
  8. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… On Friday nights you know all the other teams DL by name and what they are gunna do just by how they line up.
  9. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You used to bring snacks, so you don’t get hungry between final bell and pregame meals.
  10. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if…. You’ve seen the panic in a DB’s eyes because you got a free release to the third level.
  11. You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You don’t know what words bring more soul crushing dread: “GET EM CHOPPIN!” or “TO THE 5 MAN!”

BONUS:  You might’ve been an offensive lineman if… You know that you have a group of life long brothers that will have your back till the day you die!

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10 Ways to Sell the Wing-T

There is no denying the success of the wing-T offense.  It has perforated into all levels and all offensive styles today as described in a previous article (A Legend of the Fall).  However, choosing to run this system in today’s age of flashy spread schemes does come with a few speed bumps that you must overcome.  This is mainly due to stake holders like parents, boosters and players simply not understanding the offense, as all they see on tv is what they want to do.  That’s not just football, that is life in America.  The masses tend to emulate what they see on tv and other media outlets.  But for those of us who know and understand the offense, we know that it is simply the most cost effective and adaptable system available.  Hence, the wide spread use of its concepts from youth leagues to the NFL.  This article will give you 10 easy ways to help sell the wing-T offense to your players, parents and other stakeholders in your program.

  1. The ball is spread to multiple playersWhen run correctly, this is a true spread the ball around offense. At minimum it is a 3 back offense, 4 if you incorporate the QB in the run game!  Due to the deception and ball hiding nature of the offense you don’t need a dominant player at WR, QB or RB, (of course it always helps when you got one lol…) but, you can spread the ball around while faking it to the other players, forcing the defense to spread itself thin to account for multiple ball carriers and to play assignment football or they risk following the wrong player!  As far as who is getting the rock, it is hard to beat the true balance of the wing-T offense.  Use this when selling to your athletes.
  2. History of successHistory 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. Especially with spread teams!  If they can’t recruit a DUDE at QB every year… its hard for them to stay consistent. 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.  On top of that, its very easy to call plays in the system.  I detail that HERE. Use these things when selling the wing-T to your coaching staff, boosters and AD.
  3. If you can play, they will come“You won’t get recruited by a college in a wing-T offense” what a completely ASININE statement! Yet I have heard it multiple times!  This tends to be a thing repeated by players as why they would transfer…. Lets be real about this… this is from ignorant adults, not kids.  The ranks of college and the NFL are FULL of athletes that played in the wing-T or a derivative.  Hell, you still see the Wing-T in the NCAA and NFL today!  One simply needs to show this to the kids and parents with real statistics to squelch this silly rumor. 9 times out 10 this is told to players and parents by “street gurus” that have an investment in a rival school.  Like most things in life, look at the motives behind what somebody says and the light will shine on their true intentions.  Fact: it does not matter where you play ball at… if you are good enough, the recruiters will come.
  4. VersatilitySomething that I believe is unique to the wing-T offense is its versatility! There are more ways to incorporate wing-T concepts than you could ever do in a season.  Double options, triple options, shot gun, pistol, gun option.  People are even running the wing-T out of 4 wide personnel groupings.  It is truly adaptable to any skill set your players may or may not have!  This is reflective of the wing-T’s pathogen like infection of every offensive system you see today! This is also why you will see sustained success with wing-T teams. Target your coaching staff and AD with this one.
  5. Change NamesSimple word change propaganda goes a LONG way. Case and point:  in the 1980’s the Afghanistan militants were fighting against communist Russia and the USA called them “Freedom Fighters” and even supplied weapons and training.  Fast forward to the 2000’s…. and well, we wont get into all that, but you get the idea.  What I’m saying is… change the terminology to pander to the minds of your athletes!  Call your base wing-T formation “Spread rt” and “Spread lt”!  instead of calling the Fullback a Fullback, call him a B back… or even better, call him a Tailback! Instead of calling the wings, wingbacks… call them Slots!  You know they are wings… but that simple title change goes a long way.
  6. It’s a Team first offenseThis is the ULTIMATE team offense. Your Backfield and WRs will be selfless and block or fake on play they don’t get the ball. Which will help them, when they do get the ball.  Your skill guys know that if they block hard, or fake with conviction, the same will happen for them when they get the ball.  This is self-promoting!  This happens on its own with just some guidance from the coaching staff.  Everybody knows they will get the ball, everybody is involved in the game.  There is no need for that one WR that gets the ball every other play.  It is a true team system, that helps lead to a IDENTITY.
  7. It makes the defense tougher
    1. There is simply no arguing here. This type of offense is down hill and physical with high frequency, further building the team IDENITY. This forces the defense to develop an edge and a hardness that they simply cannot get by lining up in space every snap and playing tackle 7on7. This tends to ruffle feathers when I say this to folks… but facts are facts.  Furthermore, the nature of the offense means you can run the clock and have your “better” athletes play defense!  Your DC will be your new best friend.
  8. It’s DifferentBeing a wing-T offense you will be different. You will be something that, with a good chance nobody else you play is!  This will cause your opponents to have issues defending you.  They will be used to playing against 4 wide and shotgun 20 personnel all season long, and in practice against themselves all preseason and spring.  They will only have week to get ready for your formations and deceptive ground and pound offense.  Your players will also discovery that they are different, than anyone they play against.  This further leads to building an IDENTITY!
  9. Angles and NumbersThe 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.  The formations of the 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.
  10. IdentityDifferent, hard nosed, team first. This all leads to strong sense of identity for your players.  You will watch your players start to take pride in the fact that they run this offense.  As somebody who has run multiple offensive schemes, I have not seen this happen with other offenses.  This sense of identity is self-feeding into the team first, hard nose nature of the system.  But don’t take my word for it!  Watch this video and then try and tell me these kids (and Coaches!) being interviewed don’t have a strong sense of IDENTITY:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOrwXVlpFfU

Bonus: It’s Fun!  Fun to call plays, fun to watch on film. Fun to coach. And ive NEVER had an offensive lineman that did not LOVE the offense.  OL enjoys the offense…. Nuff Said.

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MATCH QUARTERS from the UNDER FRONT

Match Quarters has become highly prevalent in defensive football world over the past decade.  And for good reason! It works!  It is an outstanding way to combat the ever increasing number of spread offenses you will see from week to week.  2read, MQ, quarters read, match quarters, whatever you want to call it, the principals remain the same.  This article will focus on running the concept from an under front. Specifically, a 3-4 under which I simply call “Shade”.

BASE PHILOSOPHY of “SHADE”

We will stop the run! First and foremost. We will not allow people to move the ball by running it, we will make necessary adjustments to ensure this from week to week.  Basing out of the shade will give multiple looks to the offense and allow us to easily incorporate stunts and pressures when warranted.

I call it shade because it tells the front they will be shading the OL instead of aligning head up. (heads) While in shade, the strength will always be called to the passing strength.  the only rule breaker to this is if you get a TE and wing on the same side, then the strength MUST go to the TE/wing combo.

Our secondary will play a base coverage called “Palms” (same as rest of America). In this we can align to any formation and still be sound vs the run and the pass.  Every day as a team, we will tackle, and we will run “block destruction” drills.

GOOD ENOUGH for BELICHICK, GOOD ENOUGH for ME

Run Defense

  • Set the edge, turn the ball back inside to pursuit
  • Attack at correct angles
  • NEVER GIVE UP CONTAIN
  • Force Player will force ball inside then shed block and make play
    • Push back the LOS
  • Must teach players to defeat blocks
  • If QB can run, somebody MUST BE A 2 GAP PLAYER
  • Backside set edge for reverse, boot, counter and cutbacks
  • Every week emphasize setting the edge
  • Run through tackles, never leave feet

Pass Defense

  • Collapse pocket to get to QB
  • Push up middle, don’t want QB stepping up
  • A rusher deeper than the QB is the worst position in football to be in
  • A good pass rush helps the coverage more than 4 all stars in the secondary will

ALIGNMENT

  • Weak Tackle/End aligns 4i and steps hard inside eyes on guard
  • Strong Tackl/End aligns 5tech and plays squeeze
  • Nose aligns playside shade on the center
  • Sting will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
  • Ram will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE

Here is a look at the shade alignment vs some common offensive sets:

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PALMS OVERVIEW

Quarters Read. Corners and safeties read number the number 2 receiver.  To a TE the safety becomes run support.  Corners Toes at 6 yards with inside leverage, his read steps are backpedal weave.  Safeties toes at 9 to 12 yards.  Safeties are a PASS FIRST defender and backpedal on the snap.

  • Corner and safety will read number 2 to their side.
  • To 3 x1 the read man remains number 2 in slide and moves to number 3 in roger/lucy. This is a concept called “mini” we will save this for another article.  The easiest adjustment to 3×1 is to simply slide into cover 3 with your secondary.
  • To a single receiver side with no 3×1 alert, the corner and safety will default to cover 2.

RULES FOR PALMS

The rules for Palms Coverage are relatively simply in concept.  The number 2 receiver can only do 1 of 4 different things.

  • Number 2 goes out
    • Corner takes number 2 and safety plays over the top
  • Number 2 goes in
    • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
      • Safeties eyes go to QB and he is going to end up robbing any deep middle route by the opposite number 2
    • Number 2 goes vertical
      • Both safety and corner back pedal into quarters
    • Number 2 blocks/cracks
      • Corner will spike inside for run support
      • Safety gets over top in case of bubble/go or play action, then rallies for run support. He still PASS FIRST

Here is a look at Palms vs some common 2×1 and 2×2 route combinations:

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depending on the scout that week will determine when the corner comes off.  To be safe… tell them “when in doubt, stay deep!”

CLOSING

Like most things, people tend to over complicate it.  Pattern match coverages are no different.  It really is that simple.  Repetition is key.  Once your players are confident in what they are doing.. they can play fast.  When they can play fast, good things happen!  Stay tuned for an article on the “MINI” coverage mentioned previously! Be sure join the email list so you can be updated anytime an article posts!  Follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt

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Using Wide Zone to Set Up the “Look Pass” By: Chad Weeks

In the first article Building an Aerial Attack Around the Wide Zone I talked about the 2 primary passing compliments to Wide Zone, the Keeper and the Solid Pass. These are most certainly the core components of our non-drop back passing offense. In this article, I will discuss another key component of our passing game built around Wide Zone, which is the Look Pass.

THE LOOK PASS

1look

The Look Pass is our simplest compliment to Wide Zone. It is cheap to install and we only have to work it 5 minutes a day. We attach this to the backside of Wide Zone, though we have attached it to the backside of several different runs.

We only run this under center because we want the ball to come out fast. The receiver will not have any blocking so he has to have the ball fast and accurately to be able to make a move. If we were going to run something like this in shotgun, we would have to add a blocker, which is fine, but that’s not what we are trying to do here.

We predominantly run Look Pass to the backside of 3×1 formations but it can be done to a 2×2 formation. The inside receiver simply push-cracks the safety and is not part of the Look pass equation.

2look

RULES

The rule for the QB is easy, and the decision is made pre-snap. If you feel the receiver has enough cushion to make the catch, secure the ball, and make a move then throw it. After that its on the receiver to do something with it.

The rules for the receiver are very simple. Our footwork is as simple as loading the weight on the front foot of the stance, pushing off and pivoting back. That’s it. After catching it his rule is to get to a point 5 yards downfield on the sideline, after that the athlete takes over.

3look

We’ve found that by having the receiver pivot away from the defender we have more success with it rather than foot firing or taking one pop step. First, there is now more separation, which means we can throw it to a tighter corner than most would. Secondly, the defenders typically are slower to trigger when the receiver simply steps off the line of scrimmage. This doesn’t look the same as the quick screens they are used to seeing every week. Finally, it’s a cleaner more consistent picture for the QB which leads to a faster throw. I work with the QB’s to get used to throwing from multiple arm slots. The most important part of this throw is to not sail it. Anything low the receiver can usually salvage it, anything high this is dead in the water and we may as well have handed it off on Wide Zone.

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I only ask for 5 yards, anything extra the athlete creates on his own by beating the man trying to tackle him one on one. It is crucial to coach that point though, they have to attack the sideline. This creates space between them and the other 10 defenders that will be pursuing and it give them the opportunity to cut back on the defender trying to tackle him one on one. The runner reads the leverage of the defender. If the defender keeps inside leverage he will violently try to rip under the tackle and press down the sideline. If the defender keeps outside leverage the runner will break down the cushion between them then get up field underneath the defender, but will get back outside as fast as he can to avoid the other pursuing defenders.

DRILLING IT

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We work Look Pass in a simple “pre-practice” drill. Again 5 minutes a day, if you want to get it done even faster, and you can be really honest with yourself, you could just throw this to the guys who would realistically be running it in games.

EXAMPLES

The following are good examples of Look Pass in action. Notice on all 4 the ball gets out very quickly and hits the WR in the chest. This makes his life so much easier and allows our best offensive player to beat the defender one on one.

These clips show bad examples of Look Pass. Notice on these two clips the WR’s hesitate and even work back inside, which is the worst thing you can do.

This clip shows an example of when the QB should have thrown it and didn’t.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

One of the adjustments we didn’t invest in until late last year was also running Look Pass with a 0-Step Slant or what we called “Strike” to beat the Catch-Man coverage we saw a ton of last year. The QB and WR would communicate this with a simple hand signal. By default it was a normal Look Pass, if the signal was given it was converted to the Strike. We didn’t run it live in a game, but it was something that we had available if we needed it. We will be investing in this heavier this year to make sure we get what we want from it and that the QB is comfortable with the throw.

CLOSING

As simple as Look Pass is it’s the best attachment we have for Wide Zone. Though not as sexy as post-snap RPOs this is cheap and simple way to get the ball into your best receiver’s hands on run downs. I feel just as comfortable with this short throw and catch into space as I am handing it off. One of the biggest regrets I have from last season is not pushing our QB to throw it more often.

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10 More Signs, You Might Be a Football Coach!

As a follow up to “10 Signs You Might Be a Football Coach” here are 10 more signs, you might be a football coach!

You might be a football coach if…..

  1. You STILL can’t get rid of those little rubber beads, you might be a football coach!
  2. You get more texts and calls in one weekend during the season than all weekdays combined; you might be a football coach!
  3. If you have taken multiple rides on a yellow bus where you can’t shake the feeling you forgot something, you might be a football coach!
  4. You would be rich if you had $1 every time you heard “I got my guy” on the sideline, you might be a football coach!
  5. You finally get the HC to call that play you’ve been asking for all game and it works: walkyou might be a football coach!
  6. You finally get the HC to call that play and it fails miserably: hideyou might be a football coach!
  7. If you get a new job and you have to eliminate more than half your wardrobe, you might be a football coach!
  8. If you’ve felt the chill in the air when a Wing-T guy and Spread guy enter the same room, you might be a football coach!
  9. When you talk about your plan for Friday with your significant other, she looks at you like your speaking a foreign language, you might be a football coach!
  10. You know what IV, ML, OV, IZ, WZ, RPO, LOS, EMOLS, PK, PAP, all mean, you might be a football coach!

BONUS: You know that feeling when a player comes to tell you that he got a scholarship offer, you might be a football coach!