college football

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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Whip em with Waggle

The waggle is a staple in just about every wing-T offense. It is one of… if not the most effective play action pass ever developed.  A down hill play fake, a horizontal play fake and TWO pulling guards.  The Waggle pass can be a nightmare for DBs that also run gaps to fill due to the unconventional formations that the waggle is usually run from.  While you can definitely run the waggle pass from many different formation sets including shotgun and even four wide sets; I feel it is most effective when the QB is under center so you get the hard play fakes with the QB’s back to the defense.

WHEN TO RUN WAGGLE

You want to call the waggle in similar situations you would a boot pass in, or a keep pass in.  When you see that the DE is not checking the QB, then the QB will be able to get the edge on waggle.  Now, because of what the play side guard is doing, all you have to do is wait for the backside to DE to squeeze just a little and you can get the edge with the QB.  Another good time to call the waggle is when the LBs are chasing motion, or the DBs are no longer back pedaling on the snap.

BLOCKING RULES

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  • Backside Tackle – The backside tackle will have hing protection
  • Backside Guard – The backside guard has two rules:  If the B gap is empty, he will pull play side and gain depth to lead block for the QB.  He must hesitate on his pull step to allow the FB to clear.  Once outside the pocket he will settle for the QB to pick up any bombing LBs. If the B gap is full, he also becomes a hinge blocker.
  • Center – The center will have anybody from A to A.  (he may end up doubling withe the PST)
  • Play side Guard – The play side guard will pull to the play side and pin the outside shoulder of the first defender outside the offensive tackle.  This is a position block, meaning he has to position his body on the outside half of the edge defender.  Waiting till this man is squeezing helps him accomplish this
  • Play side Tackle – The play side Tackle will have any man head up to inside of him.  this means a 5 tech does not count.  His primary rule is to take away the inside gap.
  • Motion Back – after going in motion and faking the buck sweep, the motion back will pick up any backside leakage.
  • QB – I count the QB as a blocker because his play fakes will hold defenders.  The QB will open play side faking the dive to the FB, then fake the buck sweep to the motion back, then will boot to the edge gaining about 7 yards depth.

ROUTES

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The routs for the waggle are very easy no matter what the formation.  Simple use a number system that starts from the play side as follows:

  1. As a default, for me this is a vertical route to clear out any defenders.  Tagging comebacks and double moves is effective too! I have waggle with a comeback tag illustrated above (If running to the TE side, the TE will have a corner route.)
  2. This is usually the fullback, but could be a slot if you run it from gun.  After the dive fake tell the FB to find the easiest path to the flats.  He has a 5 yard arrow.
  3. the third receiver from the play side has a 10 yard drag.
  4. This receiver will always have a post
  5. (Optional) you can always tag the motion back on a backside wheel if you feel the defense is not paying attention to him.

QB READS

After completing the play fakes and booting out, the QB will read:

  1. Flat
  2. Deep
  3. Drag
  4. When in doubt…. TOTE IT!

Number 4 is the most important!  If the QB has any doubts, just tell him to run the rock and get what he can.

CLOSING

The waggle has been around a long time!  It can be run from multiple different looks and sets.  In the film below I have tagged a video of traditional waggle and shot gun waggle for your viewing pleasure!  Be sure to subscribe to the email list to get an update when ever you a new article drops! Follow me on twitter here at @TheCoachVogt.

 

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.

Adding Air Raid Concepts to Any Offense!

Using a simple quick passing attack in a run first offense can keep the defense on its toes.  This article is an excerpt from my book “The Speed-T Offense”. This concept can be used in any run first offense from flexbone/SBV to single wing, but if you are interested in checking out some wing-T stuff, you can get my book HERE!

The passing game covered here will be to use in addition to your current play action passing attack.  The purpose here is to put in something that is super simple but still effective.  Most of your time will be dedicated to your run game, and play action passes.  This needs to be something that is inexpensive yet will yield good results.  For that purpose, we are going to steal a concept directly from the Air raid offense so frequently seen in offenses today.  So, all that said, let’s dig in.

BASICS

First, and foremost, it needs to be simple. It needs to be simple for the offensive line, and for the skill players.  Both in protection and routes being ran.  Second, it needs to utilize high percentage routes.  Lastly, it needs to get the ball out in three seconds or less, to make it easier on the offensive linemen and the QB alike.  Here is how you will accomplish this.

The play call is going to set the formation AND the protection with one word.  We will use the words “red” and “blue” for the sake of this article, but you can obviously use whatever word you would like. Red will be 3×1 right, with protection set right.  Blue will be 3×1 left, with protection set left.  Next, you will say a number: one, two or three.  This will tell the receivers what to run. THAT IS IT! The play is called.  Here is a look at an example of each one:

BLUE 3:

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RED 2:

red 2

PROTECTION

Red and Blue are your protections and formations.  A simple half slide will suffice for this, half slide is covered in depth in my BOOK.  Big on Big can work, but will require a lot of work fundamentally.  Half slide is easy to do and simple to teach, in a future article I will speak on half slide as a base pass protection.  If you want to get even easier, go full slide, however, you will need to have a fullback that likes to take on defensive ends.  There are not too many of those out there, but if you got one, full slide is the way to go.  But if you already have a base protection for drop back passing…. just use that.

ROUTES

The routes are going to be determined by the number that is called. As a base rule, EVERY receiver will have a five yard hitch.  This means they will run to six yards, turn back in to the QB and stop when they get back to five yards.  Every receiver will assume that they are getting the ball.  If the number of the corresponding receiver is called, he will then have a vertical route. (If your QB is a good one, then your WRs can run option routes. I prefer corner/post for that) On his fifth to sixth step the vertical should be looking for the ball if he is an inside receiver.  If he is an outside receiver, he will look for the ball on his seventh to tenth step.  The number “1” will be the outside receivers.  The number “2” will be the Z.  The number “3” will be the A.  If their number is not called, then they have a hitch.  Your quick screens can be used in this series as well.  This may be the simplest pass game in America right now, Hitches and quick screens… combined with your normal ground and pound offense, you will need no more.

QB RULES

The QB only has three seconds to get rid of the ball.  If he has not gotten rid of the ball in that time he will throw it out of bounds or take off with it.  He WILL NOT throw a pick! If he can help it, he will not get sacked, or at least make it back to the line of scrimmage.  Where the QB will go with the ball is going to be determined pre snap.  He is looking for a hitch to be open pre snap.  When he identifies him, that’s it. That is where is going with the ball, catch the snap and get it out there.  If there is not a hitch open pre snap, or an obvious post snap movement to take it away, he will go to the vertical.  If the vertical is not there, he runs the ball or throws it away.  Very simple, even for young QB’s.

RUN PLAYS

Running the football is NOT what this is for, as sacrilegious as that sounds.  This is a change up for the defense, and something to add some new era flash to your offense.  Your kids will like it and get excited about doing it if you limit its use.  You are going to throw the football in these formations every single time, until you get a five man box.  Once you get your five man box you can call a run play.  Pick just one to use for this series.  Good ones to use are trap, Counter and sally draw.  Trap is obviously going to hit quickest, and sally draw is going to mimic a pass play.  What you choose is up to you.  In my personal opinion, sally draw would be the better choice as you will have a body on body, and the linebackers will most likely bail.

CLOSING

These are simple concepts that can be added to anything that you are already doing!  You can even incorporate them in to your base formations.  Whether that be wing-T or Pro-i.  use the same rules for the OL and WR and you are gold!  Please feel free to reach out with any questions! Subscribe to the email list to be notified when new articles post and be sure to follow me on twitter at @TheCoachVogt

 

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

Also be sure to check out the store for books and merchandise here STORE!

 

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

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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.

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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.

4look

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

5look

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.

Follow Coach weeks on twitter here @weekschad

Be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be notified when ever a new article is released!  You can follow Coach Vogt on twitter here @TheCoachVogt

BUILDING AN AERIAL ATTACK AROUND THE WIDE ZONE: Guest Post by Chad Weeks

About Coach Weeks.

Coach Chad Weeks is the Offensive Coordinator at Mosley High School in Lynn Haven FL. I first met Coach Weeks via twitter and we started having in depth discussions about the Wide Zone.  Very quickly he showed a strong aptitude for understanding football schemes as a whole.  Operating predominately out of 12 personnel, in two years time his offense would become what may be the best High School Wide Zone team I have ever seen.  Below is a guest post about building an effective play action attack in conjunction with the Wide Zone!

BUILDING AN AERIAL ATTACK AROUND THE WIDE ZONE

wzpic

INTRODUCTION

2 years ago, I came across some tweets by Coach Vogt talking about the “most consistent play in football”. Immediately I was drawn to the consistency of the play and was sold by Alex Gibbs’ proclamation of no-negatives. In the time since, I have built my offensive philosophy around Wide Zone and the mantra that Gibbs preaches in his clinic talks…if you are gonna run it, you better be willing to commit to it and cut out the rest of the fluff that seems to fill all of our playbooks at one point or another.

This article will not be covering the in’s and out’s of Wide Zone. This has been done in great detail in Coach Vogt’s eBook Installing The Wide Zone which is one of the finest manuals for running a football play I’ve ever read. This book is a complete guide to installing, applying and running the Wide Zone play. The book covers the philosophical applications, coaching points, drills and briefly looks at the many change ups that can be added.

Instead, I will focus on the pieces that go around the base play. The “answers” if you will, to the many different challenges defenses will deploy once they make the decision to take away the Wide Zone. This be done in 2 parts. Part 1 will discuss the keeper off of Wide Zone and part 2 will discuss the play action passing game off of the Wide Zone. 

PART 1 – THE KEEPER

The keeper goes by many names…keeper, naked, boot…it doesn’t matter what you call it, but a Wide Zone team had better have it and had better be good at it. The secret to it is in the acting and the mechanics involved. The best QB mechanics I’ve come across to date come from the National Football Academies Self Correct System DVDs. They utilize the Set, Show, Snap, Sell moniker to describe the mechanics and I have found it to be very effective. The video below shows the keeper mechanics for Tight Zone, when adjusting for Wide Zone Keeper, the QB and RB would simply need to widen the track and landmarks.

The second part of the acting is the offensive line. The biggest mistake that I hear from other coaches on this is to simply tell the OL to “block the play”. This is one of the many gross oversimplifications coaches use that do not respect the details of making the play successful; much like a barber being told “just a razor fade”, without any respect for the skill and precision required to obtain the perfection at such a difficult haircut.

For the keeper to truly effective the OL must get the linebackers to displace themselves by selling the run. To make this happen they must come off the ball fast and flat down the line of scrimmage, literally running horizontally picking up anything that crosses their path.

A crucial part of this play is the “slam” block (or whatever you want to call it, it honestly doesn’t matter) by the TE/H. The player must come off the ball flat and fast to protect the QB from a free shot. In the video below you can see what happens when he gets beat inside…which then causes the QB to be rushed into a bad throw.

There will come a time that you may come across a DE that is so well coached that he will not bite, no matter how much Wide Zone you show him. In this case you can either abandon the keeper (not the wise decision), or you can tag the blocking scheme to deal with him by pulling a guard. The illusion you are showing the linebackers is somewhat affected but the result is that you don’t let one defender take away a significant compliment to a base play of the offense.

boot

The next piece to think about is the route combination part of the keeper. This can become convoluted very quickly. We as coaches tend to make things more difficult than they should be. This page from the 2013 Auburn playbook says it all:

nakedrules

BASE NAKED RULES: To the side we are running the naked back to, we always have a receiver in the flats (1), a receiver climbing at 10 – 12 yards (2), a Deep 20 yard comeback* to the sidelines (3) and a backside home run post (4). The way we get people in these spots may vary, but we will almost always have 4 players at these different landmarks on the field.

*For high school adaptation I would adjust the comeback to 15 yards if the QB didn’t have the arm for the deeper throw.

Keeper 1

keeper2

The location of where these routes originate can vary, and there can of course be substitutions for the routes they use, but the general idea is that you want receivers in those locations at all times on keepers so that the QB knows instinctively where to go. Often times he is going to be under pursuit and will inevitably have to make a throw under duress, so it is crucial for him to know where his people will be without having to think.

PART 2 – THE SOLID PASS 

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Any play caller worth their salt knows that there comes a time when one must drop the hammer on the defense. The good ones know are able to find those moments and also dial up the right play to make it happen. In this article I will discuss the different play actions that compliment Wide Zone as a base play. Some are deep shots, some are simple constraints to instill hesitation in the defense.

PROTECTION

As all good play do, this starts up front. Our Wide Zone play action protection is a simple one. We take exactly the same tracks and steps as we would on Wide Zone for 3 steps. After that we begin retreating and sorting out the defenders as they come to us. The only person who this changes for is the person blocking the backside end. This can be the backside TE or a H-Back slicing across the formation, this person’s goal in life on this play is to not let the QB get hit in the back.

WZ PA Protection

WZ PA Protection with Slice

ROUTES

The routes we use for play action have a High-Low progression with someone running a deep route, an intermediate route, and a flat route . We call these plays because we want to take a shot, but things do not always go the way we planned them and the QB needs to have options if things don’t work out.

Up Rt Purple 38 Z-BlazeUp Rt X-Cross

CLOSING

Coach Vogt talking here:  This is about as good as a guide you can get for the play action game off the Wide Zone!  It is very apparent that Coach Weeks is very sharp and knows is stuff.  Incorporating these concepts into your offensive attack is a must! That goes if you are a Wide Zone team, and Inside Zone team or a gap scheme team.  You must make safeties pay for getting nosy, and you must keep DC’s out of the box by stretching the field vertically for touchdown strikes and explosive plays.  Lets face it, every weekend defensive staffs meet and they say two things: 1) we gotta stop the run, and 2) we cant get beat deep.  Adding these concepts to your attack will allow you to exploit the two biggest fears defensive coaches have!  Be sure to subscribe to the email list so you can be updated any time a new article posts! You can follow me on twitter here at @TheCoachVogt and you can follow Coach Weeks on twitter here at @weekschad