Offensive Line

Offensive Line Technique for Wide Zone

The one question that I get asked the most when it comes to running the Wide Zone is without a doubt concerning the footwork and techniques used by the offensive linemen.  This makes a lot of sense, because if you cannot cover your basis up front, then it will not matter what you run as an offense scheme.  In this article we will cover the techniques used by the covered and uncovered linemen for the Wide Zone.

Covered Footwork and Technique

The steps and hand placement of the covered lineman to the play side will depend on the alignment of the defensive player, and whether or not the covered OL has help coming.  The 1st step must be lateral.  He cannot step up field or he will lose the fight. The width of that step is directly proportional to the alignment of the DL.  Tell that OL that he needs to take the step necessary to get his hat across the face of the defender.  We want the shoulders to stay as square as possible but understand that a wide alignment of the DL (like a widened 5 tech) will cause the blocker to naturally open his shoulders some to accommodate getting his head across, this also will prevent him from becoming over extended. A head up alignment might be a 2 to 4 inch step, while an outside shade might be 6 to 8 inches worth of step.

Regardless of how small the step we always need to GAIN GROUND! Ground needs to be covered.  Always be vocal about this, they need to hear you say it all the time. Picking the foot up and putting it back down, or worse bringing it backwards will result in the OL being beat by the DL in almost every occasion, no matter what scheme you are running.  On that 1st step the OL will also load his hands.  Loading the hands means the OL will pull his elbows back with his thumbs turned out.  Having the thumbs turned out forces the elbows in tight where we want them.  Remember this 1st step CANNOT be up field.

While the 1st step provides leverage and get off, the 2nd steps provides hat and hand placement and the lateral drive of the block.  The 2nd step is a hard, aggressive up field step that will split the crotch of the defender.  It needs to be violent, and right in between the legs of the DL. I use the coaching cue of “knee him the balls!”  They need to understand that the ferocity of this step is paramount to it being successful.  The 2nd step is when contact with the defender is made.  The hat and hands will strike at the same time.  The hat goes to the outside shoulder of the defender. The hands will now deliver a violent punch (thumbs out).  We do not extend this punch, we want to stay tight to the defender. The play side hand will strike the play side armpit and the backside hand strikes under the breast plate like an upper cut to the sternum and the OL will work the outside half of the defender.

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The 3rd step will again gain ground and work towards the outside half of the defender.  The hat of the OL is to remain on the outside half of the defender, HOWEVER!  Here is a big misconception of the wide zone.  We are not trying to reach the defensive lineman and capture his outside shoulder.  We put our hat on the outside to get the lineman to fight outside and help us create lateral movement. By the time the OL takes his 3rd step the DL will either have committed outside or have been pushed outside by the OL that is doubling.  Once the DL has been forced or has committed outside the OL will straighten out his backside hand and RUN as fast as he can and take the DL on his path.  He needs to keep the back hand locked to prevent the DL from trying to throw him by when the RB makes his cut. Coaching Points: the DL belongs to the covered man unless he makes an inside move on the snap.  It is the job of the combination to force him outside so the covered OL can take him on his path. By the 3rd step the OL should be running the DL towards the sideline. 

If the covered OL does not have help coming from the OL inside of him (meaning the adjacent OL is also covered) then the technique changes slightly.  The hat, hands and footwork remain the same.  We still want hat outside, but now it becomes more of a drive block down the middle of the defender, with the back hand in the backside armpit instead up in the sternum (thumbs still turned out).  This will take away from some of the lateral get off and movement, but we must protect against an inside move by the defender (see below).  Taking the outside half can put the OT in a situation to fail, so we line him up down the middle once contact is made.

(pic below is bad juju….  use the technique described above to eliminate this.)

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Every single day you need to start practice with a drill called Stance and Starts.  This can be your 1st drill in individual period, but I prefer to do it as a pre-practice drill.  The Drill reinforces foot, hat and hand placement and once taught, the drill should be done rapid fire, as quickly as possible.  Start off by having all the OL line up on the goal line and get into a proper stance: Feet set at shoulder width or just inside the shoulders, toes pointed in, flat backs eyes up.  Balanced stances, you should be able to kick their hands out from under them without them having to take a step forward.  This is actually important!  If they have too much weight forward, they cannot step laterally and will step forward and lose.  It’s just physics.  Make them hold this stance in 15 to 30 second increments.  You can use this time to speak to them about anything you need as well.  After the stance hold, have them partner up on the goal line facing each other.  One side will be dummies, the other side will be blockers. (see below)

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Here is how you will operate the drill. You will use this cadence: “hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut”. This is done fast.  Make them work.  The presence of the dummies is to provide landmarks for the blockers. The dummies will start off head up.  The blockers will take one step (lateral) to the right and load hands (thumbs out) with head outside of the dummy.  Do this over and over again until satisfied.  Then move to 2 steps.  1 lateral, 1 splitting the crotch. On the 2nd step the blocker delivers the hat hand strike on the outside half of the defender with all the proper land marks for the hands (thumbs out).  Do this over and over again until satisfied. You then will work overtakes, the blockers will overtake the adjacent man’s dummy.  Like this:

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Force them to sprint back to the start point, you want to keep that “hand down, set hut” cadence going.  Once satisfied have the dummies and blockers flip and do the same thing.  Once finished with the new blockers flip back to the originals and go to the left.  The whole thing should take 5-10 minutes.  It gets shorter as the OL learns how the drill works and can operate without much instruction.  Coaching Points: if I catch one of the blockers using improper footwork or hand placement on this drill it is because they are being lazy, I make both the blocker and dummy do up-downs. The blocker for being lazy and the dummy for allowing his teammate to cheat the drill and not get better.  The dummies also operate as coaches, if they see improper feet, hands or hat, they must correct it.

1 Knee Reach Drill: The 1 knee reach is designed to emphasize the lateral drive of the reach block.  You will set the drill up in two lines. It will look like this:

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The lines will work in opposite directions, one blocker at time so you can watch each block.  You will use the same cadence as the Stance and Start Drill.  Left side will go, then right side will go.  The blocker will get down on his outside knee and drive off his inside foot to take a lateral step and get on the outside half of the defender.  Make sure the blocker loads hands (thumbs out) on first step and splits the crotch and strikes on the 2nd.  You will quickly see which of your lineman are weak in the hips and legs with this drill.  Really stress getting that head outside, and getting on half the man.  Do not blow the block dead until you have the pair running sideways! By the blockers 3rd step he should be working to straighten the back and sprint that dummy to the sideline.

The dummy will be in a 2 point stance in head up alignment to start, take a short outside step on contact and work outside trying to act like a defender fighting the reach block.  Once the block is whistled dead, the dummy will go to the back of the opposite line and the blocker will become a dummy.  Make the new dummy sprint back.  He should be back and set before the block going the other way is finished.  You CANNOT wait on them to stroll back, it will kill your reps.  Every drill you do will be at a high tempo.  If you need to slow down for teaching purposes, then do so.  Once you have adequate reps with head up alignment then move the dummies to outside shades.  Coaching Points: always spend the most time on what you will see that week.  No point in working the shit out of head up alignment if they will be in shades on Friday. 

Reach Drill: The Reach Drill is essentially the same exact drill as the 1 Knee Reach.  The only difference is that now, the blockers are in normal 3 point stances.  Spend the majority of your reach work in 3 point stances.  You use the 1 knee reach when your OL is having footwork issues, such as stepping backwards, or not gaining ground laterally on the 1st step.

Remember to stress the difference in the 1st step in relation to the alignment of the defender.  The 2nd step splits the crotch and you get the hat and hand strike (thumbs outside).  By the 3rd step the OL needs to start working on straightening that back hand to torque the defender outside and RUN!  2 things should be repeatedly heard by your OL. “RUN!” and “GAIN GROUND!”  In live situations, improper hand or hat placement can be overcome by these 2 things.   Optimally of course you want it perfect, but when the bullets are live, you don’t get do overs.  So they will at least have pretty good chance if they are running and gaining ground! You need that lateral movement. Of course it’s great if you get some vertical push, but the lateral push is a MUST.  The key to establishing this is the uncovered offensive lineman.

Uncovered Footwork and Technique

The footwork of the uncovered lineman will remain the same no matter the alignment of the defensive lineman.  He will take a flat, open step directly at the adjacent lineman that he is in combination with.  He MUST gain significant lateral ground bringing his body with his step. He MUST open his hips and shoulders to do this. He must NOT step up field on the step.  The aim point for the uncovered OL is the nose of the adjacent OL.  His 2nd step will aimed directly at the nose of the adjacent OL.  This the path that must be taken in order to overtake any inside move by the defensive lineman. (example below)

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The goal of the uncovered OL is to get his hat across the face of the DL on an inside move by the DL.  If this does not happen by the 3rd step of the uncovered OL he will shove the DL onto the lap of the covered lineman and climb to the 2nd level for a linebacker.  The uncovered OL will initially make these fundamental flaws when installing the wide zone.

  • Taking a lateral step instead of a flat step
    • This takes repetition and demonstration. A good way to show the “why” is to have a DL take one step and the OL take one step so the OL can see where the hat of the DL is and understand it will be impossible for him to get his own hat across.  Then have them do the same thing, this time with correct footwork to show the difference.  Make sure in the stance and start drills you are vigilant about taking the proper 1st and 2nd
  • Shuffling instead of turning and running
    • The disdain that offensive lineman have for running is usually the cause of them being offensive lineman. Shuffling is easier than turning their bodies and running.  You must make them do this over and over again.  If you see that they are shuffling instead of running it needs to be addressed and fixed immediately every time. A drill to help with this is the 5 man sled fit.  The OL will line up leaving the last dummy on the sled uncovered.  Each OL will take uncovered footwork and fit on the dummy that is one man over and hold it there for the coach to check.  The last man on the line will go to the back of the line and the next guy will fill in so each OL gets 5 reps in a row before resting.  Make sure they fit on the outside half of the dummy. Once satisfied, switch directions.

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Another good drill for this is the 2 man fit and run.  2 OL will start fitted up to a DL and will RUN him sideways until the uncovered man can push him outside. This drill is more for demonstrative purposes to show the importance of running.  By running often times a combo can take the down guy and sit him in the laps of scraping LBs.  If the DL can’t or won’t run with the combo your offense will have the edge!  When you capture the flanks good things happen.  This is true in all combative sports and is strived for in military tactics.  You will repeatedly smash the football into B and C gaps until the defense jumps inside or can’t run anymore and you will get big plays on the perimeter.

  • Going straight into a 2nd level climb instead of combo blocking the down guy
    • You must stress the importance of taking care of the down guy 1st at any cost. Even at the cost of leaving an LB unblocked.  The down guy will get you for a loss.  The LB will have to make a tackle in space, we at least have a chance there.  The job of the uncovered lineman is to take 3 steps on track so he can shove the DL outside and then climb.  The 3 step minimum takes care of any inside move by the DL.  If he has not made his inside move by his 3rd step he is not going to do so.  After the 3rd step he will climb to the 2nd level

The uncovered OL will see 3 possible scenarios: an inside move in which he will overtake, an outside move in which he will push (if he can, the DL make disappear outside) then climb, and a sit/read technique by the DL in which he will push, then climb.  The 2nd level climb is so the uncovered OL can block the linebacker that is flowing with the play. Coaching Points: Good linebackers always go underneath.  They are better athletes than your OL will ever be.  They will make him look like a fool in space.  The OL must take a path that forces the LB to bubble over the top.  Your uncovered OL will also never chase a linebacker over the top of the combo, rather he will turn back for the next LB. (see below)

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The reason for this rule is under the circumstances in which the uncovered OL is the climber the ball is going to cut back!  The LB that ran over the top of the combo has just run himself out of the play.  The ball carrier will hit this behind him.  If the LB plays disciplined and stays in his gap, the OL will block him on his track and make him bubble over the top. Remember that good LBs always go underneath the block and make a play.  Force that guy over top.  The track of the OL should reflect this.  Once the OL is in a climb phase he will slow down to 7/8 speed and take a 45 degree path while squaring his shoulders.  Once contact is made he will accelerate his feet and finish the block. We aim right between the numbers of the LB.  We do not want to give him the opportunity to slice under us and make a tackle by aiming at his outside shoulder.  By doing this we can ensure that the ball carrier will get an extra few yards even if the LB makes the tackle.  This happens because the LB had to lose ground in order to avoid us.  Of course, we would much rather make contact and block his ass.

Closing

As far as the individual lineman goes, this covers the techniques needed for the successful running of the Wide Zone.  If you would like more information about this scheme such as combination techniques, change ups, leveraging defenders and play action passes, you will need to go grab a copy of “Installing the Wide Zone“.  Make sure you sign up for my email list so you can be notified any time a new article posts and follow me on twitter at @thecoachvogt.

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10 Steps to be a Good Offensive Coordinator

Sometimes calling plays can be a daunting task.  Especially if you are new to holding the call sheet.  In order to gain confidence and be able to call plays effectively I have provided 10 steps that will help you become a good Offensive Coordinator.

  1. Coach Defense
    1. I started my coaching career on the defensive side of the ball. I would highly suggest that if you want to be an offensive coordinator that you spend time coaching defense.  Nothing will give you better insight as to what will cause problems for a defense than spending time trying to coach against those same concepts.  As an offensive coach you will also be able to think like a defensive coach, because you’ve been there.
  2. Coach the Offensive Line
    1. It is my belief that nobody should take an OC job until they have spent at least one season coaching the offensive line, even if it’s just as an assistant OL coach. It’s an entirely different world and you need to understand that world.  Nothing dictates what an offense can do like the offensive line, and nobody understands what the offense can do, more than the OL coach.
  3. Establish an Effective Ground Game
    1. Good football teams can and will run the ball. You need to have at least 1 play that your offense can run out of any formation and against any front, and always get yards.  Even if you’re an “air raid” team, you better be able to run the rock.  At some point you will have to, it is going to happen and you better be able to pound it in there.
  4. Run a Limited Amount of Plays
    1. If your playbook looks like a medical manuscript… you are doing it wrong. You want to have a small number of plays that your athletes can run to perfection, no matter what the defense throws at them.  When the lights come on and the bullets are live, your players will resort to instinct. You cant have them play with reflex speed if they are thinking about what they need to do, they need to just know what needs to be done.  Trim your play book down and your offense will instantly get better.  I get into detail on this concept in this article here (What’s Your System)
  5. Learn to Place Defenders Into Conflicts
    1. As much as you want your players, playing with reflex speed… you want the opposite for defenders. You want them hesitating, thinking and NOT, playing fast.  You can place defenders in conflicts many ways.
      1. Having plays that look like other plays
      2. Using formations to force the secondary into run fits instead of just focusing on pass responsibilities(love doing this). Reading defenders in options and RPOs
      3. Using motions , fakes and mis-directions
  1. Learn to ID and Use Personnel
    1. Scout who to attack and who to avoid. Spend time developing ways to get your best players matched up on their worst players.  Find ways to get DB’s taking on lead blocks or formationing them into playing on the LOS.  Use formations and motions to get LBs matched up on RBs and WRs.  And always find multiple ways, to get your play makers the football.
  2. Take Advantage of Numbers and Angles
    1. Wing-T guys all know the advantages angles can give you. If you can get the defense outflanked with a formation, a simple toss can be flat stealing yards (or bubble if your spread).  Numbers should be a no brainer.  If you have more bodies than the defense does your in good shape.  In this article I break down in detail how to use numbers to your advantage, and its quite simple. Check it out here (A Systemic Attack)
  3. Manufacture “Shots”
    1. You need to have at least 1 or 2 plays each week that will take a shot at the end zone. You can set it up how you see fit, but it needs to be used in a situation that will exploit a defender in conflict.  One of my favorite ways is to force DBs to play in the run game, then have a specific play action route that targets that defender’s area of the field.  Often times it’s just a 1 man route.  But it can a double move, a trick play, or anything that will pick on that guy you have place into a conflict situation.
  4. Have the Ability to Get in 21 Personnel
    1. Nothing is more disappointing than watching a team that has the game won, but they can’t seal the win because they don’t have the ability to play nasty ball. 4 minute offense is just as important as hurry up.  Blistering tempo is all fine and dandy, but you need to understand when it’s time to slow down and put the game away.  Even the patriots understand this.  They are almost exclusively air raid with Tom Brady, but when it’s time the put the game away, they are without a doubt the best 21 personnel team I have ever seen.
  5. Develop Trust
    1. Maybe the most important one here. You need to trust you’re your system. Trust your coaching staff and trust your players.  If your coaches are repeatedly telling you something is there… guess what, it probably is!  Listen to them!  Same goes for your players. I can’t even tell you how many times big hitting plays were called by one of the players themselves.

BONUS-Learn to Self Scout! Scout your own tendencies and then break them to keep the defense off balance.

CLOSING

I feel this guide can really help both new and old offensive coordinators increase their production.  Comment and add ideas! What are some things that are on your list??  Subscribe to my email list for weekly updates, and if you’re not following me on twitter your missing out!  Check out my page here @thecoachvogt and hit the follow button.

A LEGEND OF THE FALL

Tubby Raymond and the Wing-T

There is probably no other coach in history that has had as much of an impact on this game than Tubby Raymond.   In the Early 1950s Tubby and his staff developed the offense that would eventually permeate every single offense in the country in some form or another if not directly copied.  That offense was the Delaware Wing-T.  More than just a style of play, it is a systematic method of attacking a defense, allowing smaller less athletic players to be successful using angles and numbers on the edge.  My personal exposure to the Wing-T came as early as I can remember.  My father was a head football coach since before I was born, early mornings for me consisted of buck sweeps, bellyG’s and down options.  At that point the offense was over 30 years old, now in 2017 it is still prevalent everywhere you look from peewees to pros.

Numbers and Angles

wingT

The numbers advantage of the Wing-T is very apparent on the edge.  The wings are on the line of scrimmage creating extra run gaps for the defense to account for.  This forces the defense to incorporate the secondary into the run fits, opening up deadly play action passing opportunities.  Coupled with unbalanced you can place a lot of stresses on the defense.  The numbers advantage also extends into the back field as it can be a true 4 back offense, allowing the skill players to share the load.  The versatility of the Wing-T is on display today as several major Division One football programs have incorporated the Wing-T into the spread offense. Auburn and Clemson are the obvious examples here.

Probably the greatest advantage of the Wing-T is the use of angles for the offensive linemen to complete blocking assignments.  Typically on the front side the blockers will “gap” block.  Meaning they will come down on an angle on the first man inside of him to the nose of the adjacent blocker, if there is nobody there or the man disappears he will climb to next level.  It is all quick pin blocking to allow the ball carrier to quickly get to the crease.  This makes it possible for small, undersized, out muscled linemen to still be successful.

Conflicts and Misdirection

Play calling in the Wing-T is all about creating conflicts.  You do this with play series and “companion” plays.  The example we will use is buck sweep and bellyG.  If the defender on the edge is playing to stop the buck sweep, then by nature he is leaving himself open for the bellyG. He cannot play both. When he starts to squeeze, so he can make a play on the bellyG you go back to buck sweep. Both of these plays place the secondary in conflict as well. This is due to the extra run gaps they are responsible for filling.  Once you identify that the secondary has begun playing run aggressively you can then go for a play action shot for the end zone. The misdirection comes into play because the QB has his back turned to the defense after the snap and a fake is carried out for each plays companion play, further placing the defensive into conflicts of assignments.

Permeation and Evolution

BuckSweepAuburn.0

Since it’s the development the Wing-T has permeated every level of football.  I used Auburn as an example of how the offense has been incorporated into the spread. But how about the NFL?  Lately we have been seeing some buck sweep and even bellyG in the NFL, but the Wing-T’s impact started much earlier.

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In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s Tubby Raymond and his staff began doing something that would eventually dominate NFL offenses.  They started running jet sweep and zone blocking with the offensive line.  The lateral movement of the offensive line and cut blocks on the backside would be the basis of the modern widezone. Naturally they also began faking the jet sweep and handing the zone play to the fullback, looking very much like the zone plays you see in almost every run play in the NFL today. Just like the buck sweep and bellyG the jet sweep and zone to the full back is about numbers and angles, instead of pinning inside, the zone series stretches the edge out, creating run lanes for the ball carrier.

Closing and Resources

As always please feel free to comment, share and follow with your email.  You can also give me a follow on twitter @thecoachvogt.com.  Also check out bucksweep.com it is an outstanding resource on the Wing-T offense.   And here is a video of Tubby explaining why he created the Wing-T with a quick description of the buck sweep and the BellyG.

The Most Versatile Defense

A look into the multiple 3-4

If you’re looking for a simple, effective and yet multiple look defense, look no further than the 3-4.  With simple, one word calls you can show and even front, a fifty front, a stack look and any look you would like without having to change personnel.  I am firm believer that the more looks you can show an offensive line the better, but you don’t want to sacrifice fundamentals to do this.  The multiple 3-4 allows you to do exactly this, without having to change the base rules for your defense.  Multiple stunts and blitzes are easily attainable whether you call in each play, or have the players auto call to formations.  I find it most effective when alignments are auto called and blitzes are sent in as desired.

PHILOSOPHY

We will stop the run first and foremost!  We will not allow people to move the ball running the football and will adjust week to week to ensure this. The secondary will align in a base 2high shell that allows us to be sound against the run and the pass.  Every day as a team, we will tackle, we will drill run fits and we will run “block destruction” drills. We will penetrate with our defensive linemen and wreck/spill with our linebackers to our run support players.  We do this with our base front “shade” a 3-4 under alignment.

SHADE

This is where it starts for me.  The base look we give.  Shade, is a traditional 50 look or 3-4 under depending on how you call it.  You have a shaded nose, a 5 and a 9 to the call side.  You have a 4i and a 5 on the backside.  The interior linemen are down in traditional 3pt stances. The 9 and weak side 5 are in 2pt stances.   I do something a little different with how I call Shade.  I call to the passing strength.  I do this because with one call I can give the offense two different looks!  A 50 look and an Even Look.  Here are our rules of front alignments for shade

  • Alignment
    • Weak Tackle/End aligns 4i and steps hard inside eyes on guard
    • Strong Tackle/End aligns 5tech and plays squeeze
    • Nose aligns play side 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
    • Rush will be a loose 9 or tight 9 to heads on the TE or 5 tech depending on the call
    • Will aligns with inside foot in left B gap
    • Mike aligns with inside foot in right B gap
    • Secondary alignment is based on coverage call

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In the photos above, every call is a right call. As you can see, the base call of “shade” gives the offense two different looks by calling to the passing strength.  We can give them an under front or an over front.  The OLB gets a call that’s away and he has a TE he aligns head up, if call is too him and has a TE he is in a tight 9, a TE and a wing a loose 9 almost head up on the wing.

CHANGING THE FRONT

Changing the front with the 3-4 is incredibly simple.  Basing out of under and calling to the strength gives you two fronts automatically.  By calling or having players auto call to formations you can add several other looks.

This is “Tuff”

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Tuff puts the down 3 into head up alignments.  If you have some war daddies you can two gap these guys and cause a lot of problems for offenses, if not I recommend slanting based off your scout of the opponent

This is “even”

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Even puts the end and nose head up on the guards.  The tackle and the rush in 5s. The sting can be placed as tendencies of opponent dictate, such as to the field, QBs arm, best slot and so on.

This is “30”

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I like to show 30 against the hyperactive pass happy offenses we see these days.  In 30 somebody is always blitzing, I recommend twisting the DL and LB vs lining up and plugging a gap.  This is harder to pick up for the OL even if they practice it all week.  It is just difficult for them to see.  Twists with the LB and DL can cause a lot of issues for the opponents pass protections.

COVERAGES

I have two base coverages that I like to use.  First is “Blood” a 2high pattern match coverage.  The safeties and each corner will read 2 to 1 and match the patterns accordingly. I will get into pattern read coverages in a future article. The safeties are the extra run support players, when a tight end is present you have to constantly drill play action.  When safeties play run support they tend to get nosy and bite up, this is unacceptable and if a good staff is on the other side of the field they will exploit this when they see it. The safeties are execute read steps every snap regardless of run or pass. Against 3×1 we adjust in several ways with the secondary. Here is one example that I call “slide” right:

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The other coverage I call “Bones”.  This is a 1high look.  We have Bones (cover 3) and Bones lock (man free).  In Bones the Free goes to the middle of the field and the Drop, is our extra run defender. Where we put the drop depends on tendencies of the opponent.  Could be to the field, the strength, over the End to give a stack look, it depends week to week. I highly recommend that every defense have a 1high look in the plan.  You will eventually play a team that can run the rock.  When you play those teams you have to force them into situations where they are outnumbered and have to play behind the chains so you can get back in your pass coverages on 3rd and long.  If you stay in 2high against these teams you are asking for a slow death in the 1st half.  In the second half your DBs will wear out, no question, no debate, it will happen, nobody wants their secondary making all the tackles. Those 4 yard runs in the 1st half turn into 15 yard runs in the 2nd. Just save your self the headaches get in 1high and force them into long stick situations. Here is a look at basic “shade bones” with the Drop to the strength:

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PRESSURES

You can talk all day about different types of pressures.  That can be an entire article even two, but for sake of simplicity, for me there are three ways to effectively bring pressure.

  1. Be better than you opponent
  2. Bring more than they got
  3. Bring the blitz from where OL can’t see them.

One and two are pretty self-explanatory, you’re either better and can get off blocks or you bring more bodies than they can block.  Bringing pressure from where the OL can’t see it, I feel is the most cost effective as you do not have to take extra players out of coverage.  For example one of my favorites is the classic C stunt and it is highly effective.  The 5tech takes an outside rush and the OLB twists from outside the box to rush B gap.  The guard will be occupied with helping center on the nose and eyeballing the middle backer. He will almost never see the stunt coming if timed up and called at the right moment. Here is the C stunt:

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SPEED KILLS

When personnel grouping any defense I firmly believe that the most athletic kids on the team play defense.  Speed kills, I will make the trade any day for the fast guy that can make a mistake and then run the play down for a one yard gain over the big plugger that is rendered useless if the play gets outside.  Gain advantage over big offensive linemen with multiple looks and slants and quicker get off.  You can always sub in bigger bodies in short yardage situations if you must. On Defense you want guys that can run! If they can run they can swarm the football quickly, if they can swarm the football, good things happen for the defense.

CLOSING

When speaking about the multiplicity of a defense one has to also consider the ease at which that is accomplished.  K.I.S.S. should be the defining rule.  Make the simple look complex to the opponent.  The   3-4 is simply the easiest way to do that.  It is extremely versatile, you can line up on power running team one week and a tempo spread team the next and still be gap sound up front while having all pass zones accounted for.  You can show under fronts and over fronts with one base call.  Nobody has to flip sides when shifting into your different looks and their rules remain constant. If looking to find an adaptable effective defense then the multiple 3-4 should get your serious consideration.  Please feel free to comment below, and give me a follow @thecoachvogt.

Personnel Grouping the Offensive Line

 

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WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

You would be very hard pressed to go a season without several instances where the coaches on staff did not discuss personnel grouping. In fact I’ll go ahead and say that it never happens you will always discuss personnel amongst the staff and where to put individual players.

But what is rarely discussed is personnel grouping on the offensive line, and when you think about it, this should be the first one discussed. One of the great things about coaching OL is that they are left alone all practice and brought over during group or scrimmage and they just get it done.  Typically you have the best kids on the team attitude and personality wise, and they usually want to play so bad they are willing to do anything it takes.  It’s a great spot to coach.  However, it is also the most important and putting the right personnel in the right spots is paramount for the success of the unit.

ATTITUDE > ABILITY > SIZE

An offensive lineman’s success is mostly determined by his attitude. You want a guy who “wants” to get it done. Most OL coaches will agree with me, that we want guys with the right attitude and guys who not only can…but will run.  90% of blocking is getting in the right spot, and getting in the right spot is all about attitude.  Size can definitely help, but is not necessary, the past 3 seasons here at Palm Bay High we have never had a guard or center over 190 pounds, yet we annually lead the 18 team county in rushing.

WHERE TO START & WHAT TO IDENTIFY

I am a huge advocate of “everybody snaps” every offensive lineman takes snaps with the QB before practice and in scrimmage at some point. When you’re in a real game and god forbid your center goes down…you want a starter in there taking snaps! You do not want a wide eyed greenback snapping the ball. Move your vetted player to center and have the backup come in his spot.

From there identify who is interchangeable, meaning which guys can play multiple spots across the front. Obviously your offensive scheme can help or hurt this, but it’s important to know who can line up and play regardless of position.

Next you need to identify who is most suitable for each position. You do that with practice, quizzes on the fly while they are working through drills.  The offensive line needs to think on the fly.  I would suggest that every coach film their practices at least scrimmage to help ID which kids need to go in which spots.

Drills done at tempo are a great way to find out who can respond to pressure and being fatigued. Obviously the use of drills can help determine who is better suited for pass pro, gap/zone blocks and pulling for example.

 

 

IT ALL STARTS UP FRONT

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TACKLES

Tackles for us are best of the unit. We want these two to be our most dominant one on one blockers.  To be able to stretch the edge and pin the edge, usually they have to do this alone, especially in gap schemes.  They are also on an island in pass protections. The tackles set the edge for the offense and need to be personnelled accordingly. The tackle with the best feet will go to the QBs blind side for pass setting purposes.

 

 

CENTERS

Center is where I typically like to put my “smartest” player. The guy you can trust to make sure everyone is right, an extension of you on the field. This guy should be able to ID fronts in at least the aspect of odd or even.

He is the link between the left and right side of the unit and relays communications both directions, and as a bonus if he can reach a shade nose, you will have some good nights on game day.

GUARDS

Of your five starters up front, your guards can be your worst two players. They have help coming to them from either direction. The center or the tackle is usually available for help depending on play call.  Play calls can be made to make sure the guards get the needed help for zone schemes, gap schemes and pass protections.

If you pull your guards, drill pulling to a “spot”. They go to the spot where the defender is going to be, whether that’s a kick out block or a pin/wrap. Any defender worth his salt is going to be in that spot, or again, you will have a pretty good night going that direction.

 

 

TIGHT ENDS

I have heard many coaches make the statement “tight ends are a dying breed” or “tight ends are all but extinct” or something along these lines. These statements could not be further from the truth.  Tight Ends and fullbacks are in everybody’s program! It is up to us as coaches to ID them and get them in the right spots.  Just because everybody goes to the receivers group or the linebackers group on day one, does not mean we have to leave them there.

If you are truly in a position where you are struggling to find a tight end then here is where you can find them.

My favorite spot to get a tight end is to steal from the defense. Take that defensive end who can’t quite make the lineup and he will block his heart out for you for a chance to start. Another place is to look is in the linebackers unit for the same kind of kid. Lastly use a 6th offensive lineman, this works out to your benefit usually, because as an OL coach most of you will value blocking over pass catching ability.  TEs usually come wide open in the play action game, easy lob pass.  On passing downs, simply sub him out or keep him in for protection.

CLOSING

Often times the offensive linemen are forgotten until called upon. Usually the hardest working group on the practice field by any measure. The dictators of how a game will go.  The attention that is given to skills for personnel grouping should also be given to the offensive line, if not more so.  You can view a video that goes along with this article by following this link on my YouTube channel thecoachvogt.

Feel free to leave comments and give feedback. Also follow me on Twitter at @thecoachvogt