power

Find Your Number 1!

“I fear not the man who knows 10,000 kicks.  I fear the man who has practiced 1 kick 10,000 times!” -Bruce Lee-

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Roy Jones Jr, Rocky Marciano, Joe “Brown Bomber” Lewis, and Floyd Mayweather. What do they all have in common?  Other than being phenomenal fighters, they all are known for the straight right hand.  you know its coming, its their best and most frequently used punch.  They throw it all the time, and they land it.  Why?  Lets look at wrestling and Olympian and NCAA champion Jon Smith.  The low single is coming, no doubles, no ankle picks, no throws.  Just the low single, and guess what? He is going to get it and take his opponent down.

These legendary athletes were never hard to scout.  Every fan in the stands or watching from home knows exactly what is coming.  The problem is, its coming from all types of angles.  All types of looks.  All types of different scenarios.  It must be defended at all times.  The opponent must be sound against it in all aspects of his game plan!

The point that I am trying to make here is that all of the greats find what they are good at, believe in it and rep it thousands of times!  How does this apply to football you might ask; well I as you this, HOW DOES IT NOT?!  I can tell you now, that when I am scouting a team that we will play, I never get nervous when I see a plethora of different blocking schemes.  More often than not they are mediocre at all of them and if you stop one, one time they illogically jump to another scheme. Want to know what makes me nervous?  When I scout a team and they run 2 or 3 plays, and they run them over, and over, and over.  They have PhD.’s in those plays. They come from all different formations, from multiple looks. What makes it worse is if their number 2 or number 3 plays look just like number 1!  That is a nightmare!

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I’m sure all of you can think of somebody you play that is like this. Some real life examples I can give are Bishop Moore in Orlando, FL and Gold Beach in Gold Beach, OR.  It is no secret the speed sweep is coming when you play Bishop Moore.  You are going to have to stop it.  Not once, twice or three times; but all night long.  You will have to stop it and be sound against it from multiple formations, looks and set ups.  Its coming, and its coming frequently.  In Gold Beach you better be ready for the veer!  Its coming, right at you.  You may stop it, but guess what?  It is coming again, and again, and again.  To quote the head coach for Gold Beach @kdawgswift “You better buckle up peckerwood, because we are gunna run it till you bleed to death!”  (still one of my favorite quotes of all time lol)

So, what constitutes a good number 1 play?  Your number 1 play should meet these criteria in order to be considered as your go to play:

  • Must be able to run it out of any formation
  • Must be able to run it out of any personnel group
  • Must stress the defense in multiple facets (assignments, techniques, alignment)
  • Must be gap sound against all defensive fronts
  • Must have a companion play that constraints the number 1 play while looking the same
  • Must run it religiously

Here are my top recommendations for number 1 plays in no particular order, beneath each play I provided example(s) of good companion plays:

  • Jet Sweep
    • belly, inside zone, GTO, trap
  • Wide Zone
    • dive, inside zone, GTO, keeper, load and speed option
  • Power O
    • jet sweep, power read, GTO
  • Trap
    • jet sweep, GTO
  • Veer
    • mid line, trap, GTO
  • Mid Line
    • veer, trap, GTO
  • Inside Zone
    • wide zone, keeper, GTO
  • Belly/BellyG
    • jet sweep, toss, buck sweep, GTO

DISCLAIMER: GTO is in there a lot.  Everyone should be able to run some counter…. BUT; counter is a set up play,  not a play you live and die by.  Many a teams have learned this the hard way…

CLOSING

This article follows along the lines of two of my previous articles “Whats Your System” and  “A Systemic Attack”.  KISS is my general coaching philosophy, and most teams that adopt this approach tend to experience success.  By doing this are you going to go win a state title???  Well, if you do please give me all the credit!  All joking aside, I can say this: If you simplify, results get better, period.  Subscribe to my email list to be notified when ever a new article is published and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

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The Lost Art of the 4 Minute Offense

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It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season.  I can guarantee most of you have as well.  You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team.  The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock.  The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game.  Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them.  Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.

In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock.  What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do.  Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast.  What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!

WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE

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At some point it is going to happen.  There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not.  YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:

  • The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs.  First downs turn to touch downs.
  • The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
  • For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense

I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:

  • It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
  • It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
  • It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
  • It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
  • Easy to get into unbalanced formations

FINDING PERSONNEL

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I know, I know…. I hear some of you already.  “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.”  Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next.  That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out.  Everybody has those guys.  Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots.  The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches.  Period.  You have them I promise.  We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids.  We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last).  Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:

  • Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
  • Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
  • Bigger bodied wide outs
  • Back up offensive linemen
  • Bigger bodied running backs

WHAT PLAYS TO RUN

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The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations.  You can call the same plays.  The rules for your offensive lineman will not change.  You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock.   Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.

Inside Zone:

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Power O:

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Wide Zone:

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Counter GT:

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Isolation:

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CLOSING

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The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art.  The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts.  In the end, only one average matters.  The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel.  Regardless of your base offensive scheme.  The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots.  They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time.  However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen.  They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

 

FOOTBALL & THE ART OF WAR

 

There are many great books available on coaching, leadership and strategy.  I often get asked; what are good books to use as resources for football?  There are several that come to mind, such as: The Assembly Line by Milt Tenopir, Complete Offensive Line Play by Rick Trickett and all of Tony Dungy’s books.  There is however, one book that was written centuries ago that stands out to me.  It is one of the best reads available on the art of leadership and strategy.  The book is The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  The book clearly is about warfare, but almost all of its principles can be applied to football and leadership.  I will go through The Art of War and demonstrate how these concepts play a role in our game and roles as leaders.  This review will cover first 8 chapters, as they are dealing with leadership and tactics.  The remaining chapters are concerning the movement of troops and using terrain to house the troops.  I do encourage you to read the book in its entirety, especially the chapters dealing with Spies and Fire, good stuff there even if it’s not relatable to football.

CHAPTER 1 – LAYING PLANS

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  1. Sun Tzu – The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road to safety or to ruin.
    1. While football and coaching may not have the finalities of what Sun Tzu says about war, it’s easy to see the correlation. Football is often vitally important to the school (state).  The moral and economic boost that football provides are undeniable.  Football also provides an avenue for student athletes to be successful.  In its most literal sense, football can be the difference between a life of ruin, or a life of success for our players, we have all seen this in some facet or another.
  2. Sun Tzu – The art of war is governed by 5 constant factors: Moral Law, Heaven, Earth, The Commander and Method and Discipline.
    1. Sun Tzu goes into detail about what each factor means for warfare, but for football the connection is apparent
      1. Moral Law – the standards of behavior and accountability set by your program
      2. Heaven – the passing attack or defense
      3. Earth – the rushing attack or defense
      4. The Commander – the Head Coach who stands for virtue, wisdom, courage and strictness
      5. Method and Discipline – Marshaling the team into its proper position areas for coaching, providing rank among staff and players, maintenance of equipment and control of expenditure both physical and financial.
  1. Sun Tzu – The 5 factors should be familiar to every general and he who knows them shall be victorious; he who knows them not, shall fail.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is saying here is you have to be able to establish all of these factors into your team (army) in order to be successful. I feel this is 100 percent true.  It is displayed on a yearly basis for us to see.  We have all seen the team loaded with athletes but no discipline.  They get off the bus and you think you’re in trouble, then you beat them by 30 points.  Or the team that gets off the bus and you think you will handle them no problem, then they proceed to throttle the opponent.
  2. Sun Tzu – when making your deliberations, when seeking to determine conditions let them be made on these 7 considerations for you can forecast victory or defeat before the battle has begun. 1-Which army is imbued with the Moral Law? 2-Which of the two generals has the most ability? 3-With whom lies the advantages of heaven and earth? 4-On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? 5-Which army is stronger? 6-On which side are officers and men more highly trained? 7-In which army is there greater constancy both in reward and punishment?
    1. Let’s break this down for football!
      1. Which team is most in accord with the program?
      2. Which Coach is most knowledgeable in the game and able to motivate players?
      3. Who has the better passing/ground attack/defense?
      4. Which team is more disciplined?
      5. Which team is more talented?
      6. Which team is better prepared?
      7. Which team has consistency in accountability?
  1. Sun Tzu – One should modify ones plans in accordance to which of the 7 circumstances are in your favor.
    1. Pretty obvious here, game plan to your strengths so you can exploit the opposing teams weakness.
  2. Sun Tzu – All warfare is based on deception. When able to attack, appear unable. When using our forces, appear inactive. When close, appear far. When far, appear near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy, and crush him. Attack him where he is unprepared and where you are not expected.
    1. Wow! I know all the wing-T guys out there are nodding in firm agreement for sure. Offensively clearly this applies to counters, misdirection, fakes, all option reads and play actions.  Defensively this applies to stemming and moving fronts, disguising blitzes, rolling to coverages not previously aligned in, etc…   this is one of my favorite points made by Sun Tzu
  3. Sun Tzu – If the enemy is stronger than you, avoid him.
    1. If your opponent has a power 5 commit at defensive end, probably not a good idea to go that direction lol.
  4. Sun Tzu – the general who makes many calculations before the battle is fought is the general who wins.
    1. As coaches we need to scout, game plan and prepare for all possible scenarios so our players have the highest chance possible for success.

CHAPTER 2 – WAGING WAR

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  1. Sun Tzu – When you engage in actual battle, if victory is long in coming, the mens weapons will dull and their ardor will be damped. You will exhaust your strength. The resources of the state will not be able to equal the strain. Then no man, no matter how wise can avert the consequences. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
    1. Here, Sun Tzu is clearly waring of the dangers of a prolonged battle or war. This applies to football in the sense that one will significantly increase odds for victory if you put the other team away early. Get the mercy clock running and take away all chance for the opponent to come back, shorten the game by controlling clock once you have established significant lead.  The longer a team is able to hang around the less likely you are to seal victory.  A back and forth game ultimately results in a longer game and both teams odds of winning begins to equalize.  Those games with scores of 58-62 come to mind here or 14-10 on the opposite end. The point is, you need to put the other team away early to avoid exhausting your players and giving the other team a chance to fight back.
  2. Sun Tzu – In order to kill the enemy, our men must be aroused to anger.
    1. To me what Sun Tzu is saying here is that it is up to coaches to mentally, and emotionally prepare our players for the game. We want and need them to on edge, stimulated and excited for what is going to happen in the coming moments.  The “hype” before the game starts so to speak.
  3. Sun Tzu – In defeating the enemy, there must be rewards. Reward the soldiers who take an enemy chariot. Reward the soldier who eliminates large numbers of the opposing force. Reward the soldiers who sacrifice own glory for the victory of the army.
    1. Turn over chains come to mind here lol. But it also stresses the importance of acknowledging individual and group performances.  As well as rewarding those who put team before themselves so the game can be won week in and week out.
  4. Sun Tzu – May it be known that the leader of armies is the arbiter of the peoples fate. The man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or peril. The man who the responsibility of defeat fall upon, yet he must give out responsibility for victory to his men.
    1. Here Sun Tzu is refereeing to where the public eye is going to be. That is clearly on the Head Coach.  In defeat all blame is falls on his shoulders and he must take it and overcome it.  In victory the credit must be given to the assistants and to the players.  That is the burden of being the man in charge.

CHAPTER 3 – ATTACK BY STRATAGEM

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  1. Sun Tzu – In the art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy whole and intact. To shatter and destroy is not as good. It is better to capture the army than to destroy it.  Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.  The highest form of generalship is to prevent the deployment of the enemies forces, next is to attack the enemy in the field, and worst is to attack a walled city.
    1. Sun Tzu’s words here reflect the high regard he has for defeating an enemy without fighting. I feel this applies to the “new” head coach coming into a program.  you want to win the battle of bringing all coaches into your new direction.  To dismantle the staff and have to find and hire a new one is difficult and often can cause discord among players, and remaining staff members.  It is better to keep the current staff if possible. As long as they will fit in with the new direction of the program, or are willing to learn to fit, it is better to absorb them than to cut them out.
  2. Sun Tzu – There are 3 ways in which a general can bring misfortune upon his army: 1-By commanding an attack or retreat when the army cannot take action to obey. 2-By governing an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom and being ignorant of the conditions of his soldiers. 3-By employing officers of his army without discrimination.
    1. Three was a Head Coach can bring discord into his program
      1. By forcing the team to do things they are not able to do. Whether in training, offensively or defensively. For example, no reason to run spread if you have 5’10 wide receivers that all run over 5 second 40’s.
      2. By governing the players in the same manner as his assistant coaches. The players will be emboldened and lack respect and the assistants will lack motivation and desire to lead.
      3. By choosing assistants without lots of thought and deliberation before giving them access to his players
  1. Sun Tzu – There are 5 essentials for victory. 1-Know when to fight and when not to fight. 2-know how to handle superior and inferior forces. 3-Animate your army with the same spirit through all their ranks. 4-Be prepared and take the enemy when he is not. 5-Have a military that is not interfered with by the sovereign.
    1. The 5 essentials for a successful program
      1. Knowing when and where to attack the opponent. Knowing what fights are worth having and which ones are best let go.
      2. Knowing how to handle a team that has athletes and one that does not. This should be applied to both the coaching of them, and against them.
      3. The spirit of the team should be the same through all players and coaches. Do your best to attain this.
      4. Prepare yourself, your team and your assistants in all possibilities and strike the opponent in places they are not prepared.
      5. A successful program is one that is not hindered by the administration of the school.
  1. Sun Tzu – If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not your enemy, you will suffer a defeat for every victory gained. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
    1. Scout the opponent to know them like you know yourself. Watch so much film that you know what they will do before they do it.  Hold your assistants to the same standards.  If you don’t know the enemy like yourself they will catch you unprepared.  If you don’t know yourself you should not be a Head Coach.

CHAPTER 4 – TACTICAL DISPOSITIONS

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  1. Sun Tzu – to secure oneself against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity for defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. Thus a good fighter is able to secure himself against defeat but cannot make certain of defeating the enemy.
    1. Here Sun Tzu touches on the importance of being defensively sound, but this does not ensure victory. Only that you are securing yourself from being beaten, while waiting for the opportunity to strike.
  2. Sun Tzu – Standing defensive, shows insufficient strength, but open attacking shows a super abundance of strength. The general skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth, but the general skilled in attack strikes from the topmost heights of heaven but does so exposing himself to possible defeat.
    1. I believe what Sun Tzu is trying to imply here is that you need to be effective both offensively and defensively to ensure a total victory. You must play sound defensive football and be able to score points.
  3. Sun Tzu – To lift an autumn hair is no sign of strength, to see the moon is no sign of keen sight, to hear thunder is no sign of sharp hearing. What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom nor credit for courage. He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes certain victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated. Hence a skillful fighter puts himself in a place where he cannot be defeated and does not miss the opportunity to defeat the enemy when the moment arrives.
    1. This reminds me of a quote- “Beware the old man in a profession in which most die young.” This applies to the Head Coach being able to put his team in situations that are favorable to victory.  Having a disciplined team that won’t make mistakes, and knowing exactly when to attack the enemy to seal victory.  He knows how to play sound on defense and how to strike explosively on offense.
  4. Sun Tzu – In war, the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won. The consummate leader cultivates moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.
    1. This again goes back to being prepared for you opponent. As coaches we should know the opponent where they are strong, where they are weak.  Where you should defend and where you should strike. The coaches that have the strength of a high team moral, and have players that are disciplined can have much greater control over the outcome of a game than ones that do not.

CHAPTER 5 – ENERGY

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  1. Sun Tzu – The control of a large force is the same principal as the control of a few men; it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers. Fighting with a large force is the same as fighting with a small force; it is merely a question of instituting signs and signals.
    1. This statement is referring to delegation and communication, both are essential to the success of a program. The responsibilities of the coaching staff should be delegated appropriately.  Effective communication and transparency will make the program run smoothly and keep everybody on the same page.
  2. Sun Tzu – In battle, the direct method may be used for joining, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.
    1. Starting the game is direct, the nuances of play calling and knowing when to deceive, strike and defend are the indirect methods of battle.
  3. Sun Tzu – Energy may be likened to the bending of a bow, and the release of the arrow likened to making a decision.
    1. I feel Sun Tzu is referring to the tension before a battle, or in the coaching world before a game, or big play call after a time out. Once the decision has been made and the ball is snapped that energy is released.
  4. Sun Tzu – The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize their energy.  Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet high.
    1. Sun Tzu is obviously talking about how to pick out your leaders! They will be identified by their high levels of energy and not having the need to be motivated by others.  They are the motivators themselves.  They can use their energy to infect their teammates and you can ride that momentum to victory. The leaders of your team should be identified early so they be put in place to utilize their natural gift of imbuing energy onto others.

CHAPTER 6 – WEAK POINTS AND STRONG POINTS

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  1. Sun Tzu – Whoever is first to the field of battle and awaits the enemy will be fresh, whoever arrives second will be exhausted from travel.
    1. Home field advantage! And if you are traveling, make sure you leave early enough to let your players recover from the bus ride.  I am a big believer in arriving as early as possible to allow this for your players.
  2. Sun Tzu – Make the enemy approach of his own accord, then inflict damage to keep him from drawing near.
    1. I can’t help but think of the offense when I read that. Draw the enemy in with your run game, then inflict damage with a quick strike play action pass for big yards or a touch down to back them back off.  The same can be said of the spread offenses bubble pass attack and deep strikes that are set up because of them.
  3. Sun Tzu – You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks, only if you attack places which are undefended. You can be sure of defending your position only if you hold a position that cannot be attacked. A general skillful in attack keeps the enemy from knowing where to defend; a general skillful in defense keeps the enemy from knowing where to attack.
    1. This is the numbers game at its most basic point. Attack the defense in areas they are not defending.  Wing-T guys have perfected this.  I believe this concept is also what led to the spread attack.  Spread the defense out and find the spot they leave open and attack.  On the defensive side, this goes into game planning to make sure you defend what the offense does best. To have it broken down even more, defend what they do where and when they do it.
  4. Sun Tzu – Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength comes from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.
    1. Again I think of offense here. Force the enemy to prepare for multiple things.  I choose to use formations.  I want the defense lining up to formations all weak instead of practicing defending my plays.
  5. Sun Tzu – Carefully compare the enemy with yourself, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.
    1. Scouting and game planning. You should know exactly who/where to attack and avoid.  The more you study your opponent the more you will understand and come to know them.
  6. Sun Tzu – He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.
    1. What is your ability to adjust on the fly? All great coaches have the ability to do this. You must be able to identify what the other team is doing and adjust to give your team the best opportunities you can give them for success on the field.

We are going to skip chapter 7 as it has to do with moving armies through country side.

CHAPTER 8 – VARIATIONS IN TACTICS

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  1. Sun Tzu – In the wise leader’s plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together.
    1. I feel this refers to planning around your personnel. Know where your strengths and weakness lay. Know where the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses lay.  Then try and attack their weakness with your strength.
  2. Sun Tzu – In the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.
    1. This is stating that we need to always be ready to strike. To identify a weakness and take the opportunity. Even if the game is not going in our favor we must remain ready and vigilant.  How many times have you seen a game completely turn around because of one play? Think of the pick 6, or the strip 6.  Think of a long touchdown run or reception.  We must always be looking for these opportunities and we must train our players to attack them with relentless aggression when they arrive.
  3. Sun Tzu – Reduce the hostile chiefs by inflicting damage on them; make trouble for them and keep them constantly engaged. Hold out specious allurements and make them rush to any given point.
    1. I absolutely love this! We always plan to attack and scheme against players.  Sometimes the most effective thing to do is attack the opposing coach.  What I mean by that is make him constantly coach on the fly. Hold out baits, break your own keys and attack in areas that you have not shown on film, then go back to what you have shown.  If you can confuse and frustrate the coach on the other sideline, the team will descend into confusion with him as well.
  4. Sun Tzu – The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likely hood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our readiness to receive him. Not on the chance of his attacking, but rather that we have made our own position unassailable.
    1. I like to think of defense when I read this statement. When establishing a defensive game play, we must be prepared for all possible outcomes and ways the offense may choose to attack us.  It’s when the offense catches us in something we are unprepared for, that is when a route ensues.
  5. Sun Tzu – There are 5 besetting sins that will prove ruinous to a general. When an army is defeated and leader is slain, the cause will most surely be found among these 5 dangerous faults. 1-recklessness, which leads to destruction. 2-cowardice, which leads to capture. 3-a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insult. 4-a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame. 5-over solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.
    1. While I believe number 5 is not applicable to us as coaches, the first 4 definitely are! All 4 can very quickly lead a program into disarray and chaos.  A reckless coach will put his players in danger with unsafe practices and training protocols or take too many chances in his play calling. A cowardly coach can be too easily influence by assistance, administration, parents or even players.  A short temper has never worked out long term for any coach. (minus Saban lol) Finally, a coach that is over sensitive wont last long in this world.  You will be judged, criticized and harassed.  It goes with the job and title of coach/leader.  You are put there to make the decisions and deal with any and all consequences. That’s why they call you coach!

CLOSING

As you can see, Sun Tzu didn’t just know about war and fighting, he knew about leadership! The tactics used to overcome and enemy are easy to correlate to the game of football; but I feel the advice that he gives on leadership is invaluable. I enjoyed reading this whole book and I do recommend reading the whole book yourself! It can be found for download on various sights all over the internet.  The chapters on the use of fire and the chapter on spies are very interesting.  Subscribe to my email list to receive the weekly news letters and bonus football related content and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

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.

THE POWER of POWER O

Often referred to as “God’s Play”. Its physical, its downhill, brings bodies to the point of attack and can be downright punishing.  The edge defenders must be physical and mentally strong or risk being exposed. The Play I am referring to of course, is the Almighty, Power O.  The Power O is aptly named, and it is also one of the most versatile plays in the offensive world. Power O Can be run from any formation and personnel group, tagged with reads and assignment exchanges, and dressed up with formations, motions, fakes and trades.  All this done without changing rules for the offensive line, what’s not to love about that? There is only one other scheme that can replicate that kind of versatility, the zone play. This article will focus the basic blocking rules for the Power O against different fronts, the different variations, and how to dress the play up.

BASIC RULES

I love to run plays as a series, blame it on growing up with a Wing-T coach as father. I  pair the Power O with Widezone, because of this I want every player in the offense to make the first step of Power O look just like Widezone.  With that in mind, here are the general rules.

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QB-The QB will reverse out and sprint the ball back to the tailback. He will put the ball on the mid-line and keep his body clear for the back.  After the hand off the QB will carry out a 3-5 step burst opposite of the play for a boot fake. However, it is not just a fake, he is looking at the defensive edge player and checking him.  If that edge player is not checking the QB on boot, we will play action.

FB-The FB will take a path aiming at the inside leg of the tackle.  He is going to kick out the first man who shows on the tackles outside leg.  This rule accounts for any stunts and prevents the “I got my guy” quotes lol.  the FB will put his outside shoulder on the defensive players inside breast plate. We would love for him to destroy this player, but he really doesn’t have too.  Just getting a body on him quickly will suffice.

TB-The tailbacks first step will be as if he is running Widezone the opposite direction.  He will then go straight down the mid-line for the hand off.  The TB cannot come of the mid-line until his first step after the hand off.  He then takes a path to the C gap and is looking at the edge defender for a bounce or bang read.  He will bounce if the edge player spills and bang it in the C gap if he gets kicked.

PST & G-The play side offensive linemen will use the rule “gap to backer”.  They will step with their inside foot at any defender from their nose to the adjacent lineman’s nose.  The aim point for the gap defender is his near shoulder, placing the head in front to stop penetration. The blocker will try and wash the defender inside. If nobody is in his gap, his first step will be an inside step to clear any stunts into the gap and then he will go to the “BACKSIDE” linebacker and seal him off. This rule also applies to the tight end, with one caveat. If the C gap defender is shaded on the TE we will arc release him to the Sam or Safety. Here is an example:

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C-The center has to replace the pulling backside guard.  If there is an A gap defender he will gap block him with the same techniques as the play side linemen. If there is not a defender in his gap he will step flat down the line of scrimmage to wall off the 3tech, or 4i/4.  Penetration on the backside does not hurt this play, so he only needs to get his body on the defender to stop pursuit.

BSG-The backside guard is going to your puller.  I like an open pull because I want him to the point of attack as fast as possible. He will take a step that gains ground and opens his hips so he can run.  He is looking for the fullbacks block. If the fullback gets the kick, the guard will turn up and fit up on the play side linebacker. If the fullback gets spilled and pins the edge defender, the guard will bounce, then turn up and fit on the scraping play side linebacker.

BST and TE-The backside tackle and tight end have one have a rule called “pull check”.  On any defender shaded head up or inside they will step inside and then hinge to open hips and wall off the defender, again…backside penetration does not hurt the play, just get a body on him.  If the defender is in an outside shade, just base block him and wall him off.

DIFFERENT FRONTS & WHEN TO CALL POWER O

All of the base rules will never change, except for the TE’s. I will include here a quick description of when I like to call the play and what we do to a few different looks given by the defense.  I am a big Widezone guy, I also run a modified toss I call blast, as well as the bellyG.  All of these plays will eventually cause the defense to do one of two things, and often times both.

  • They will start overflowing with the play direction.
  • They will start slanting with the formation
    1. The thing about slanting is 9 times out of 10, you can dictate the slant by your formation. A film scout will tell you where they will go, as well as the first two series of the game. Then all you have to do is get them slanting the way you want.

Once the defense is slanting or flowing, preferably both, then it is time for Power O. Formation the defense in a manner that you know which way the slant is going. Call the Power O the opposite way of the slant/flow.  Power O is a gap scheme play, so your guys up front will just take them where they are going already! It makes for a very easy block, and you can wash them down across the formation most of the time, even with undersized lineman like I have. Here is an example vs a “Slant 50”

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You can see from the photo that the OL is just taking the DL for a ride.  The uncovered Guard will step down to check gap, then go wall off backside line backers. The ghost 9tech on the play side will be an easy kick for the fullback because he has been checking the QB all night on boot fakes (if he hasn’t…why aren’t you calling the keeper??)

If you are unsure about what direction the defense is slanting, get in a balanced formation and use the count system, which I take about here (LINK).  Just count the numbers and go where you have more than them. Simple math. Here is an example formation you could use:

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Occasionally you will get a gift for an alignment by the defense.  A 3tech and a 9tech to the strength.  Why anyone would do this, I will never understand, but when it happens from time to time. You can run the Power O as is or steal what they gave you, with a “solid” call.  If the tackle sees that the guard is covered and nobody is in the C gap he will call “Solid”.  This tells the FB he is on insert instead of kick, and tells the TE that he just needs to turn out on the 9tech. here is an example:

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Here it is vs a bear front:

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Blocking a play side 7tech can present some problems if he is a war daddy. I play with 7’s all the time, I like to keep them in a state of uncertainty. We will arc the TE to the Sam on Widezone away, cut block him with the TE on Widezone away, double team him, down block him, and on Power O to him, arc the TE to the Sam and kick him with the FB.  The 7tech, 9 times out of 10 will step with that TE and widen up, making an easy kick for the full back, here is a second look at it:

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VARIATIONS

One of the beautiful things about the Power O, is the ability to run it a multitude of different ways, and not change anything.  One of the most common variations of the play is the Power Read. Made popular by Auburn when they had Cam Newton, they made a living on this one variation.  Instead of kicking the defensive end with the fullback, the QB is now going to read the play side End. Either a guy in motion or the tail back will ride across the QB while the QB shuffles and reads towards the play side.  If the End squeezes he will simply give it to the speed back, and he will carry the ball to the perimeter on a jet sweep look.  If the End chases the speed back, the QB will keep and run ball behind the offensive line, which is running the Power O.  its simple, effective, and places the defense in a big bind.  Here are a few ways to run the play:

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With the prevalence of RPOs (run pass options) in today’s offensive world, it was only a matter of time before it was tagged alongside the Power O.  One of the easiest RPOs to pair with the play, is a slant by the slot.  If the LB plays run, the QB will pull and throw the slant.  If the LB sits, or drops, the QB will give.  Here is a look:

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One of my favorite variations, is also my go too variation when we have been hurting the defensive with Zone Lead.  The play is tagged with a “Kick” call. This simply tells the Guard and the FB to switch responsibilities.  The Guard will now kick out the edge defender and the FB will jab opposite to let the Guard clear, and then become the fit player. Here is the example:

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DRESSING IT UP

Power O can also be “dressed up” several different ways.  This is a term sometimes called “window dressings” as well.  It refers to making the play look different, but it’s actually the same.  Same but Different is an excellent way to conflict the defense.  One of the easiest ways to dress up the Power O, is with jet motion.  You can run the Power O with the jet fake or against the jet fake, depending on what you are trying to do to the defense. If you are trying to widen the edege defeder(s) then go with the motion. If you are trying to influence the Linebackers away from the play, then go against the motion.

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Shifting and jumping formations is very effective as well.  One of my favorites is to jump from unbalanced one way to unbalanced the other way.  The defense will be worried about lining up correctly and not stopping the play.  Here is a look at it:

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The TE will shift down to become the eligible tackle.  The Tackle, Z and X will all jump sides to set the unbalanced the opposite way. The key is to do it quickly and force the defense to scramble.  Eventually they will just start sliding the front, allowing you to attack weak personnel at your desire.

Down on the goalline you can dress it up out of a 3back, power-i look.  The 3back(z) will go outside to influence the edge defenders and become the alley blocker if the play happens to bounce.  Effective, and nothing changes for the rules of the play.

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CLOSING
the Power O is one of the most versatile and physical plays in football.  I firmly believe that every offense should run some facet of Power O, whether you are under center pro-i, wing-T or shot gun.  The fact that it can be run from all these different offenses clearly shows its merit.  It can give a physical component to any offense. It can be used as a counter to zone runs or it can be your staple play. The point is, the Power O has been here a long time, and I don’t see it every leaving the game of football.  Feel free to comment below. Please subscribe via email so you can get updated whenever I post a new article, and give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt.