planning

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!

 

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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.

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

Using WingT “Same As” Plays in the Spread!

The WingT offense is known for its series method of running plays that all look the same.  Often called “Same As” plays or “Smoke and Mirrors” by WingT aficionados.  This can obviously cause a lot of problems for a defense.  By making two or three plays look exactly the same.  You know you are doing it right when you hear the fans yelling “RUN A DIFFERENT PLAY!” but you have run several different plays in row without a repeat call.  Hopefully the defense thinks its all the same too! What you are doing, is forcing the defense to play assignment football WITHOUT having to run option. This is what creates those second and third level cutbacks that the WingT is famous for.  I am a big proponent of the zone running scheme, especially the Wide Zone from sets using tight ends and multiple backs.  HOWEVER, my roots are WingT and I will always fall back to it in times of need.  Angles win… period.

As far as the Spread Offense goes… I have never really bought into it because I think you gotta have a DUDE at QB to be good at it. That being said, I have run Spread before and think that it has definitely changed the landscape of football forever!  No one can deny the impact the Spread has had on football.  (I think the perimeter screens are the major factor in this btw…)

Recently I have being doing a lot of research into the Spread Offense. Not into schemes or pass routes or formations… but into the ideologies of the Spread and what makes the Spread Guy tick.  I have been researching what philosophical approaches coaches are taking when running the Spread Offense.  What I found made me kinda sit back, but was not surprising when I thought about it in context. Just about EVERY SINGLE ideology of the Spread is an echo of the WingT.  Lets take a look at them:

  • Both want five on five in the tackle box
    • Both use formations to do this
    • Both have plays that will make the defense pay if they don’t do this
  • Both will attack the perimeter ruthlessly
  • Both want to put defenders into conflicts
  • Both want to create numbers advantages on the flanks
  • Both want to create leverage for blockers
  • Both use sequential “If/Then” concepts
  • Both use options as change ups to create big plays
    • Traditional or RPO
  • Both look to influence secondary defenders for “go ahead” scores
  • Both use misdirection frequently

The Spread is like the defiant son of the WingT.  The influence is clearly there, but enough difference to allow him to say “I AM NOT THE SAME”.  But in reality, the two are not that different.  There is however ONE thing that spread seams to be missing.  And that is, the “Smoke and Mirrors”.   The same as plays!  What this article will focus on is incorporating a “Same As” series in a Spread attack.

THE BUCK SERIES

The Spread stuff is coming, I promise!  Before we get into that we need to look at the WingT for a second to show where the concepts come from.  When you here the phrase “Same As” or “Smoke and Mirrors” most coaches familiar with the WingT think about the Buck series first.  This series consists of the Buck Sweep, Trap, and Waggle.  All of which look the same.  For this article we will not cover all the little nuances of Bucky but instead will briefly go over Bucky and Trap to give some perspective.

Bucky

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For the Buck Sweep the whole front side from tackle to wing, will be gap blocking.  That means the blockers are going to take the first man inside of them.  If no man is inside of them, they will go to backer.  This is where the rule “gap down backer” comes from.  The play side guard will “bell pull” to clear any garbage and kick out the first man outside the wing back (TE if no wing). The center will reach play side.  The backside guard will “bell pull” to clear any garbage and then wrap around the wing backs block to pick up the play side linebacker.  The backside tackle will release down field to get the play side third level defender. The backside wing is the ball carrier and goes into high motion and replaces the fullbacks heels to get the ball.

Now here is where the smoke and mirrors happens.  The full back will fake the Trap and run through backside A gap replacing the centers back leg and run down the field like he has the ball.  As soon as the defense is not checking the fullback, now you can go to Trap!

Trap

img_1047

The Trap, or Influence Trap as some call it is designed to make the defense pay for over playing the Buck Sweep. This works because both guards are pulling still, and the wing now fakes the Buck Sweep!  Here are the differences.  Both Tackles now have nearest LB. the play side wing will have safety and the center will now block back to replace where the full back was going on Buck Sweep. The play side three tech that has been fighting across face all game now sees the guard pull as steps outside to fight the gap block, he thinks is coming and widens the lane for the ball carrier.

The key for both plays is that anyone not getting ball pretends with conviction that they do have it! This means on Bucky the fullback sells the fake and on Trap, the wing back does.  The QB will be faking waggle pass on both.

“SAME AS” IN THE SPREAD

For the spread variant of this, we will be focusing on Counter and Trap.  I have two reasons for choosing counter as the first play in the series:

  1. While if you are under center, I feel you cannot use the counter as a “hang your hat” play, I feel that it is different for the spread. Counter is one of the few plays that I feel hits faster from the gun, then it does from under center.
  2. Gap is Gap is Gap. Gap scheme is easier to teach, and angles make easier blocks.  You can run multiple Gap Schemes and Gap is still Gap.

Counter

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On the counter the front side blockers from Tackle to center have gap.  They will block the first man inside of them to backer if nobody is inside of them.  The caveat is that the center must gap all the way to B gap!  This is important in case there is a backside three tech.  The backside guard will pull down the line replacing the gapping front side blockers and kick out he first man on the line of scrimmage. The backside tackle will pull slightly deeper than the guard and wrap up inside of his kick out to pickup the play side linebacker.  He pulls on a deeper path just in case the guard gets wrong armed by the DE. This will allow him to wrap around the guard if he gets spilled.  The play side three tech is typically going to be gapped by the tackle.  But if he is a War Daddy, I would suggest doubling him to the backside backer.

Handling the backside defensive end can be done in several ways. You can read him, you can put the back on the opposite side and have the back block the end while the QB keeps it, you can base him with an H, or you can base him with the tackle and have an H be the wrapper. The good thing about basing the DE is, now you can tag in some RPOs if that’s your thing.

Obviously there are a million ways to dress up the counter!  You have motions and inverted reads.  You can block counter one way and run jet sweep the opposite way. Can pair it with quick screens and options.  As long as nothing changes for the OL… your good to go.

Trap

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Now for the “Same As”.  With the Trap you have a play that looks just like Counter, but will hit in the I gap instead of the B/C gap. For the trap the center will still block back to replace the puller.  the play side tackle will block the nearest linebacker and the play side guard will block the backside linebacker. Now, because the Trap does not hit near as fast from the gun as under center, you must account for the backside defensive end.  You can do this in the same manners as you do on counter, including reading the DE.

Tackle Trap

If you really want to sell the counter you can block the trap like this:

img_1049

The play side guard will by pass the three tech to the defensive end to influence him wide and the tackle will now be trapping the three tech!  You can also do the same thing with an H back.

CLOSING

Many offenses can benefit by using the ideologies of the WingT. The spread already uses so many.  By adding in some “Same As”, you can keep the defense guessing make them think you are running the same play over and over, when in fact… you are running different plays entirely! When you add in the reads and RPOs that go with the spread, you can really keep the defense on its heals, and your ball carriers in the end zone!  Make sure to subscribe to my emailer list so you can be updated anytime a new article posts! Follow me on twitter here: @TheCoachVogt and be sure to check out the NEW STORE for Books, Apparel and Merchandise!

 

 

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 

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!

2 Things Needed for Success in Coaching Football

Football is undoubtedly the greatest team sport on the planet! As we always preach to new coaches and to our players, it takes every single individual involved in the program to make it successful. From the equipment managers, parents, boosters to the starting QB and the Head Coach.  It takes everybody working together.  It is part of makes this such a great job.  The community that is built around a good football program is something that cannot be replicated in other sports or even other professions.  It is part of the reason we get into this profession. Along with the love of game and the desire to make a difference in the lives of young men.  However, if we want to have longevity in this profession, there several things that you need to be able to do, and traits that you should have.  This article will focus on two of them that I think are vitally important to a long career in this great field of work.  First, is the ability and desire to acquire new knowledge.  Second, is adaptability.

The Ability and Desire to Acquire New Knowledge

This is something that is a good quality to have with any venture in life. You must have the ability to go out and learn as much as possible, as often as possible.  But having the ability is not enough by itself.  You need to have the desire to as well.  Professional development is an ongoing thing.  It never ceases.  It would be highly beneficial for you to go out and learn as much as you can, about as many different systems as you can, both offensively and defensively. Become proficient in many different philosophies. This can help you understand your opponents as well as give you something to use when the time comes.

Remember, nobody has all the answers.  As soon as you get complacent. As soon as you think you know it all.  As soon as you think you’ve learned everything there is to know… that’s when you get beat.  THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEBODY SMARTER.  In one regard or another, there is going to be somebody that knows more than you about something eventually.  Don’t get beat because you got lazy in your own continued education of the sport.  Do your best to mitigate and minimize all chances of not having an answer by always striving to acquire and apply new information, which leads us right into our next trait.

Adaptability

You must have the ability to adapt.  What I mean by that is, you must be able to adapt the program to fit your talent levels. If you have a bunch of tall, lanky and thin bodies for your skill players, lining up and running the isolation 20 times a game might not be the best idea you’ve ever had…  but if that’s all you know, or worse, all you’ve cared to know, you won’t be able to adapt and experience success.  On the other side of that, if you have a bunch of undersized lineman, asking them to zone block and man block in a spread set where they have no edge help… that can be a disaster too.  So, you need to understand a wide range of systems so you can always put your kids in a situation to experience success and build confidence.  Same goes for the defensive side of the ball.  If you have a bunch of DB and LB type bodies on the field, forcing them into a 4 man front isn’t going to help you much.  Play to the strengths of your players.

Now, it is important that you understand that I AM NOT saying that you shouldn’t have a core set of principles that you believe in.  EVERYBODY should and in fact, needs to have that.  You need to have that one system that you believe in.  Having the ability to adapt within the system is even better.  But whatever the system, be it single wing or air raid or triple option, you need to have your “bread and butter”  I’ll use myself as an example.  It is my philosophy that I will always start off with basing out of the wingT.  My number one reason for this, the wingT’s naturally ability to adapt to all different talent levels.  From youth leagues to big leagues.  It uses angles and numbers to make blocking easier.  It gets your backs to the edge effectively regardless of talent level.  It uses 3 backs so you can use smoke and mirrors, ball fakes, and spread the ball around.  It provides success for teams that have little talent, but is great for teams that have a plethora of talent.  You see it in the NFL still, and clearly there is no lack of talent there.  So that is why I base my offense from those principles… but that doesn’t mean I will refuse to get into single back or shot gun to run zone and throw the ball if that’s what it will take to win.  I make it a point to understand as many systems as possible as many of you do as well.

Closing

Learning and Adaptability.  Is it the only two things you need? Of course not, but they can dang sure help you be a more successful coach!  Let me know in the comments or on twitter what are some things that you think are mandatory for long term success??? Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and please subscribe with your email so you can be notified anytime a new article drops!   Speaking of learning new things, here are some opportunities to do just that with some informational material written by yours truly.

The Speed-T Offense V2”  “Installing the Wide Zone”  and  “Practical Fitness

Till next time,

Coach Vogt.

Teaching the Reach Block

The Reach Block.  Out of any skill utilized by an offensive lineman, this one may have the biggest factor on the success of the run game.  If you can consistently capture the edge of a defensive front, you are in great position to control the game and create explosive plays in the run game.  However, in today’s era of wide open offenses whose run games consist of inside zone and power, is the reach block still relevant?  The answer is, of course it is!  After all, a zone block is a reach block modified to allow the back to make reads.  Capturing the edge of a defensive front will ALWAYS be a sound strategy for attacking a defense from peewee ball to the big leagues!

The Reach Block can be classified into three main categories.  The stretch block, the traditional reach block and the rip and run.  All three, allow an opportunity for the flank to be captured, with an emphasis on a desired location for the ball carrier to aim for as a primary attack point.  Let’s take a look at each one, and which offense can incorporate it into their general schemes.

STRETCH BLOCK

The Stretch Block is probably the most utilized variant of the reach in football today.  The prevalence of zone schemes in all levels of football show the versatility of the stretch block.  The general idea is for the offensive lineman to take a flat step towards the play side, while keeping his shoulders as square as possible. How square the offensive lineman can keep his shoulders will depend on the alignment and ability of the defensive lineman.  Like all reach blocks, you want the helmet of the offensive lineman to cross the face of the defensive lineman.  Where exactly you want the helmet to target will depend on the scheme you are running.

For the Wide Zone play, also commonly called Stretch or just outside zone… (never say that to the wide zone disciples though lol)  You will have the offensive lineman target the play side armpit/shoulder of the play side defender.  The offensive lineman should take an aggressive lateral step to accomplish this block.  The second step will typically split the crotch of the defender and will also be the step in which contact is made with the defensive lineman.  While keeping his shoulders square the blocker will fight to keep his head outside the defenders head and run him in a lateral direction.  The great thing about stretch blocks is often the blockers are working in tandem with another blocker, so if the defender goes inside, or is easily reached, the adjacent lineman can over take him.  This is a take what the defense gives reach.  Most defenders are taught not to get reached, so they will fight outside, allowing for creases to open in the defense.  You will find that stretch blocks work best against defenses that are well coached and do a good job of playing technique.

For Inside Zone, the initial step is still a lateral step, but the blocker will target the play side number of the play side defender.  Just as with the Wide Zone, the second step should split the defenders crotch and will be the step in which contact is made.  As the name of the play would suggest, the ball is going to hit inside the tackles unless the defense is on a stunt and gives away the flank.  Here the emphasis is more on forcing the play side defenders OUT, so the ball can hit in the interior of the defensive front.

Examples of Stretch Blocking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmAv9f19Tw

TRADITIONAL REACH

The tradition reach block is frequently used by teams running speed sweep, speed option or a traditional toss out of the backfield.  The goal of the offensive lineman here is to capture the outside shoulder of the defender so the ball carrier can get outside.  The first step will be a hard lateral step that gains ground both laterally and vertically.  The step should be between 20 and 45 degrees depending how wide the defender is.  The second step will try to step on the play side toes of the defender with the back hand attacking the play side number.  Once contact is made, the blocker will try and turn his shoulders to pin the defender inside.  Every play side offensive lineman will be taking the same first step, this allows for any slants or stunts to be picked up by uncovered lineman, so they can then, use the same techniques as the covered lineman.

Examples of Traditional Reaching:

RIP AND RUN

The Rip and Run is most commonly seen by teams using a true Outside Zone scheme.  It looks like a mad rush by the offense to get to the edge of the defense.  I feel that the rip and run is best utilized by teams that run the rocket toss and the quick bubble/smoke screens. (not the read/RPO variants) The Rip and Run is probably my favorite reach scheme when I am not specializing in the Wide Zone.  It has been my experience that in order to stop the Rip and Run scheme, somebody on the defense has to cheat, which will open up your inside run game nicely.

For the Rip and Run, the first step of the blocker will be a hard open step that gains a good chuck of grass. The second step will try to get outside of the defenders play side foot. The blocker will then rip with his back arm and run as hard as he can in order to get outside of the defender.  If the blocker can clear the defender, he will then climb up-field and look inside for linebackers chasing the play.  By this point, the ball should be outside of the down lineman.  If the blocker cannot clear the defender, he will lean into his rip and continue to run the defender on his path.  This should be a “Race” to the sideline for the offensive lineman, a term that I borrowed from Coach Nate Albaugh.  Simply using the word “race” will help your blockers understand what you want accomplished here.  It should almost look like the offensive lineman are pulling, in fact some teams will indeed pull any lineman that are uncovered for a Rip and Run scheme.

Examples of Rip and Run:

TEACHING THE REACH BLOCK

Stance and Starts

The most important aspect of the reach block will always be the first step.  This the step that will get the offensive lineman’s head across the face of the defender and allow for proper placement of the second step.  The best way to drive this step into muscle memory is with a drill I call Stance and Starts.  The players will all line up facing the OL coach and get into a stance.  The players will use this drill to repeatedly take the first step and get back into a stance.  This is a high tempo drill.  The step that you will use will reflect what your primary reach scheme is.  So, if you are a Wide Zone team, they will take a hard lateral step. The OL coach will use a cadence of “hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut, hand down, set hut”.  You want as many reps as possible in each direction.  Your players will get lazy at first and try to use bad technique and miss reps, stop immediately and correct this before continuing.  Once you are satisfied with the steps in each direction, you can incorporate two steps, and eventually firing off the ball to put it all together.

Reach Drill

Here is where you can work the skills and technique needed for the individual blocks.  Again, what you emphasize, will be dictated by the specific scheme that your offense is utilizing.  Focus on what your team does.  Organize your offensive lineman into two single file lines facing the coach.  Then take two players and have them turn around and face the lines.  The lines will be your blockers, the two guy you have turned around, will be your dummy defenders.   The dummy guy will align based on what you will see that week from your opponent. You can have the dummy guy hold bags if you desire.  The two lines will be reaching in opposite directions, one, then the other.  The OL coach will stand in the middle facing the blockers so he can watch the first step and then hand placement and pad level of the blockers.

The idea here is to make the drill harder than what it will be in the game, and to reinforce the need for them to run their feet.  To do this the tempo will need to be high, and the dummy guy must work outside on the “hut” to force the blocker to run his feet to get his head outside.

Combo Drill (zone)

The Combo drill is a great drill for zone scheme teams.  You will set this up exactly the same as the Reach Drill, except you will have two blockers going the same direction to simulate a covered/uncovered tandem.  The covered man will use the appropriate zone technique, and the uncovered will attempt an overtake.  You can have the dummy guy work inside or outside now.  As the technique and skill of your blockers improves, you can start adding linebackers into this drill to simulate in game scenarios.

CLOSING

Whatever variant of the Reach Block your offense is utilizing, it is an essential skill for your offensive lineman to be able to accomplish.  Outflanking your opponent will always be a sound game plan.  This holds true in almost any sport, and in combat as well.  Spend the time necessary to develop this skill and your offense will reap the benefits, after all… a defense that cannot keep contain, is no defense at all!  Follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt and be sure to subscribe to my email list to be updated any time a new article drops!