“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” 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.
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.
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:
Here are some film clips of Belly G:
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 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:
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.