strategy

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.

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Utilizing the Rocket Toss

For some Wing-T teams (as well as some Spread-T teams), when it comes to attacking the edge the Rocket Toss is going to a better option than the Speed Sweep or the Buck Sweep.  Rocket will be better for teams that are undersized up front, play against defensive ends that are of a high caliber and for teams that will never get into any type of zone blocking.  Why is this so?  Well, in the Buck Sweep, the ball carrier is going to get the ball after a short high motion, after the QB has faked to the fullback.  He then will stretch the edge and must rely on the down block of a wing back on a defensive end.  As far as plays go for the Wing-T, it is rather slow hitting.  Not to mention all the moving parts like having two pulling guards on linebackers in space.  For Speed Sweep, the ball carrier is going to receive the football directly behind the center, and be on the edge in a few steps.  This is great for creating a stretch of the defense and opening up creases to cut up inside of.  With the Rocket Toss, the ball carrier is going to get the ball in full stride behind the play side wing back, that means there is no need to block any down lineman inside of your offensive tackle! When the ball carrier gets the ball, he is already on the edge, the only other play in football that can rival the way Rocket stretches the entire field is going to be the bubble pass.  The defense must defend the entire width of the field with rocket toss.  Best of all, the rocket motion matches up with belly, trap, counter, sally, the option series and all the play action passes!

Here is a look at some examples of the Rocket Toss in action:

While you can run the Speed Sweep and the Rocket in the same offense, it will be more beneficial to choose just one, and marry it.  So, that said, why would we choose to base the offense off the Rocket Toss in place of Speed Sweep or Buck Sweep?

  1. Undersized Offensive Line – The nature of the play means we can eliminate the need for blocking any down lineman inside of the tackle. In fact, offensive tackles will not have to block a five tech in the traditional sense either.  He will be racing the defensive lineman to the sideline and looking to turn up inside (we will detail this later). This means that we do not need to control bigger and more athletic defensive lineman, and we can use our smaller size to our advantage. It also takes the most common defensive technique (squeeze and scrape) and turns it into something that will hurt the defense!
  2. The Defense has to Cheat – you will find that in order for the defense to protect the flank, somebody is going to have to cheat. A DL will have to fly out on the snap, a linebacker will have to vacate the box or a safety will need to come flying down field.  All of these things open up other aspects of the offense allowing you to call the appropriate response.
  3. Stretches the Entire Field – there is only one other play that can stretch the entire field like the Rocket Toss does. This makes it extremely easy to identify which defenders are responsible for run support and contain.
  4. Extremely Easy to Teach – For the most part, the entire offense has just one rule, “Rip and Run”. This is a very easy technique to teach and only requires desire by the blockers.  They are going to “race” the defender to the sideline and rip up field once they get their hat on the play side number.

Rules for Rocket Toss

X: The wide receivers to the play side are going to be responsible for blocking the corner backs.  They will close the distance between themselves and the corner as quickly as possible.  Just before reaching the corner they will break down and “chatter” their feet so they can engage the corner without losing him in space.  This does not have to be a devastating block.  The blocker just needs to get on the corner and take him where he wants to go.  Once the defender picks a side, the receiver will drive his feet, forcing him on his path. If the wide receiver is on the backside of the play he will take a path to crack the safety, which will set up a downfield block for any possible cutbacks made by the ball carrier.

Y: Your Tight End will have the same rules and techniques as the wide receiver if he is split out.  If your Y is on the line, then he will use the same techniques as the play side tackle, or the backside offensive linemen, in accordance with the direction of the play call in relation to his alignment.

Blocking Wing:  The blocking wing is the wingback on the play side of the formation.  He is responsible for getting his head outside of the first man outside of him.  He does not worry about anything inside of him.  If there is no defender outside of him, he will take a path to the safety.  If the play side linebacker crosses his trajectory while on his path, he will take him. (never pass up color)

Rocket Wing: The rocket wing is going to be your ball carrier.  On the “set” in the QB’s cadence, the wing will start his motion.  He will open and step directly at the fullbacks heels.  By the time the wing gets to the fullback he needs to be running at full speed.  The wing back CANNOT get any deeper than the fullbacks heels.  Once at his heels he needs to flatten his path out to be parallel with the line of scrimmage and running full speed. He should receive the ball when he is behind the play side wingback.  Once he has the football he will be racing to the edge and looking at the block of the wide receiver.  If the wide receiver turns the DB out, he will cut up the field and north.  If the DB is being pushed inside by the wide receiver, he will then get to the sideline outside of the defense.

Fullback:  The fullback will align with his heels at four yards behind the ball.  On the snap, we will block the backside defensive end.  It’s not that the backside end has a chance at the play, but rather it will set up the sally draw, the play action drop back and the keeper after the toss fake.  Also, due to the fact that you will be running belly a lot, teams may key the fullback, the fullback going backside may hold some of the pursuit on the toss.

QB: The quarterback will snap the ball when the rocket wing is directly behind the fullback.  If he snaps it too early, the wing back will not get the ball far enough out on the edge, so make sure the QB is patient and doesn’t snap the ball until the appropriate time.  Once the ball is snapped, he will take a half step back with his play side foot and then pivot hard to reverse out for the toss.  After he reverses out, he will step with his pivot foot directly at the wing back receiving the toss.  It is imperative that he QB keeps his arms strait and the hands never come higher than the waist.  If his elbows bend or his hands go higher than his waist the ball will go over the wing backs head, so keep on him about this and keep him disciplined.

Playside Tackle: The Play side tackle is going to do everything he can to get outside of the defensive end.  This is a “race” to the outside.his first step is going to be a lateral step that will open his shoulders and gain considerable ground.  Once the tackle has taken his third step he is going to try and rip up field with his inside arm.  This is a violent rip, he is trying to turn his shoulders back up field so he can block any scraping linebackers.  If the tackle cannot clear the defense end, he is going to lean into his rip and continue to race him outside.  If the tackle clears the defensive end, he is going to turn up field with his shoulders while still sprinting and looking inside with his eyes for scraping linebackers.

Playside Guard: You have two options that you can use for your play side guard.  First, you could give him the same rule as the play side tackle.  This could be better for a guard that cannot run that well.  If your guard can run, even just a little, I highly recommend pulling him to get an extra body at the point of attack.  The guard’s first step will open and gain ground and depth.  He will then be on a full sprint to get outside of the tackle.  Even though the tackle is “racing” to the sideline as well, you will find that the guard has little problem getting outside.  Once outside the guard will turn and sprint up field with his eyes inside looking for any defender in pursuit that is unblocked.

Center and Backside OL: The center and the backside offensive linemen have one rule, “Scoop”.  Scoop means that they will try and cut off any backside DL.  If there is a DL in the gap to the play side the OL will take a flat step down line and rip across the face of the defender.  The OL must lower his level to do this.  The OL’s entire body will have to turn to accomplish this.  The second step will also be gaining lateral ground but can also gain up field ground as well.  If the OL rips through clean, we will climb all the way up to the safety! If the rip is “dirty” meaning the DL is engaging him he will fight to rip clean and go to safety.  If the play side gap is empty, the backside lineman can go straight to the safety!  Take a path to cut off the safety. Coaching Point: Get to the safety by running full speed, but slow down once you get there, he is a DB, you’re an OL, don’t let him shake you in space.  Use the phrase, “8, 8ths to 7, 8ths” to illustrate the throttling down.

Rocket vs Odd and Even Fronts

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Against both the even and the odd fronts, the outside linebackers are going to be the key blocks.  If they are flying outside you should be able to cut up inside of him as the wing back washes him out.  If he is problematic for you, you can slow him down by getting into a nasty set, and cracking him.  We will cover this in the next section on change ups!

Change Ups

There are to very easy change ups to the rocket toss that are simple and effective in their implementation. For one the wide receiver will crack the safety, and the other, the wide receiver will crack the outside linebacker.

(Crack)

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Crack is the first change up.  The WR cracks the safety and the wing kicks the corner. All other players remain the same for the play.  This is a great play against aggressive safeties.

(Nasty)

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If you need to slow down some outside linebackers, getting into a formation with a nasty tag is a great way to do that.  The formation above is “Open Nasty”.  Any time you have toss called in a nasty set, the wide receiver knows that it is an automatic crack on the first linebacker inside of him.  This will set an edge and also make pursuit difficult for anybody inside of the crack block.

CLOSING

You should use the Rocket Toss in same manner as you would the Speed Sweep.  Stress the edge until the inside run game opens up.  Rocket pairs up nicely with all the base Wing-T and Flexbone plays!  Its biggest advantage may be the ease at which it can be installed. If you would like to know more about the Rocket Toss and other aspects of the Wing-T, then follow this link to “The Speed-T Offense: Vol 2” to learn everything that you need to know to run it effectively.  Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you can be updated anytime a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt.

Offensive Line Technique for Wide Zone

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

Covered Footwork and Technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uncovered Footwork and Technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing

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

The Speed-T: A Sneak Peak

The traditional Wing-T offense was developed in the early 1950’s by Coach Tubby Raymond at the University of Delaware.  Since then, the Wing-T concepts have permeated every single offense in the country from youth to the NFL. The principals of this offense are visible in zone based offenses, gap based offenses and even spread offenses.

The Wing-T is much more than a style of play, it is systematic way of attacking a defense. The very nature of the offense means that if the defense takes away one play, they are leaving themselves open for its companion play.

The Speed-T offense takes these concepts one step further.  The traditional Wing-T bases everything off of series, the Buck Sweep series, the Belly series and the Lead series.  The Speed-T takes these principles and simplifies them into basing the offense off of one singular play that will place considerable stress on the defense.  That Play is the Speed Sweep.

As I stated in my previous book “Installing the Wide Zone”, I am not here to give you a bunch of fluff.  I don’t want to tell you stories or waste your time with anecdotes and jokes.  My goal here is to provide a no frills, gimmick free, easy to read, and easy to apply system that you can install right now and start running the offense.  Everything will be straight forward, detailed in an efficient manner, and discernable for practical application.

There are a lot of offenses one can choose to run these days, and even more plays to choose from to be a part of that offense.  I a firm believer in “less is more” especially when it comes to football.  I believe every team from the peewees to the NFL can benefit from a condensed playbook.  Choose only one or two plays to base your offense from and have a companion play for each of those to bring to a total of NO MORE than four plays.  The Speed-T offense will base itself off of the Speed Sweep, let’s find out why by taking a look at Chapter One of “The Speed-T Offense”.

Part 1: Why the Speed-T

Why someone would choose the Speed-T offense for their team are many.  Utilizing the Speed sweep as a base play will take the advantages of the traditional Wing-T and amplify them.  Here is a look at how it accomplishes this feat:

  • Speed to the Edge
    • The Speed Sweep has the innate ability to get to the edge of the formation with great speed. By the time the ball is snapped the speed back is running full speed and gets the ball in stride.  Within 2 two to three steps he is on the edge, forcing the defense to react immediately or risk being out flanked.  There is no time for the defense to be cute and try and disguise what they are doing.  They most do it now.  Often they will do it pre-snap, showing their hand and exposing weakness based off your motion.
  • Numbers on the Flank
    • The formations of the Speed-T offense allow for extra run gaps to be created while still posing a vertical passing threat. This creates a natural conundrum for the defense. They can load the box and expose themselves to the Play Action game, they can defend the edges and give up the quick hitting inside game, or they can try and run down the speed sweep while defending inside gaps.  Most defenses will try the latter option as a game plan, which will allow you to chew them up four and five yards at a time, even with slow backs.  I don’t know about you, but I would do that all season.
  • Angles
    • The use of angles may be the single biggest advantage of this offense! Your blockers, OL or Skills, will never have to drive a defender backwards, they will always have an angle to their blocks. This allows you to use smaller or less athletic linemen and still be successful.  The entire system is based on taking what the defense is not defending, and getting there with as much speed and simplicity as possible.
  • Defensive Backs in Conflict
    • The extra run gaps created by the formations in the Speed-T offense will force the secondary players into run fits. You want to force the DB’s to make tackles.  When they start to play the run first, instead of the pass, now you can call the play action for a go ahead and score.
  • Companion Plays
    • Companion Plays are plays that are designed to look like the base play, but in reality are going to a different ball carrier or hitting a different spot. The companion plays to the Speed Sweep will infuriate Defensive Coordinators as they are quick hitting C gap to A gap runs that get fast easy yards into the heart of the defense.  The defense CAN NOT defend both.  They must make a choice.  The good DC’s will keep you guessing, but this can be mitigated with a check system we will talk about later.
  • Easy Rule System
    • Your Offensive Linemen will only have three possible rules in the run game. Yes, that is correct, just three.  They will have Reach, Gap, or Pull.  This allows them to play fast because they know the rule system in and out.  The rule system is also designed to place the blockers in positions that set them up for success so they gain confidence in the offense and their role.
  • 3 Ball Carriers
    • You have three possible ball carriers on any given play that the defense has to defend. If you incorporate the QB as a runner then the defense has to account for four ball carriers.  This forces the defense to spread itself thin by allocating defenders for each possible ball carrier.  Add in the fact that backs not getting the ball will be carrying out fakes, and you have a nightmare situation for the defense.
  • Sustained Success
    • History is on the side of the T based offenses. Most other offense produce “flash in the pan” success.  They will be good for a year, two years, and then back to obscurity.  While the teams that run a T based offense are consistently good, regardless of talent levels.  I don’t need to convince you of this, simply think of the successful teams in your state, or district.  Good chance the ones with sustained success are ones basing out of T concepts
  • Win with Lack of Talent
    • This goes back to the sustained success. Why does this happen?  It is in the way that the system works.  Blockers have numbers and angles.  The ball carries all carry out fakes taking defenders with them.  Companion plays work off each other to keep each play viable.
  • Easy to Call Plays
    • The Speed-T is an extremely easy system to call plays in. Implementing count systems and identifying who makes the tackle tells you what play to call.  It is an If/Then offense.  If the defense does this, then I do that.  It is very simple and keeps the defense from focusing on one portion of your attack.
  • It’s New Again
    • As a Speed-T guy, you will be the new kid on the block. You will be different.  People will not know how to line up one you or be sure how to defend you.  Your offense will be different than any other team, and those teams will be used to lining up on spread, four wide receiver sets all year long.  They will only have three days to prepare for you the week that they play you.

The Speed-T offense will allow you to take advantage of several factors.  You will be able to stress the defense with an edge attack that rapidly stretches the defense out.  You can use the edge attack to set up a punishing and quick hitting inside run game.  Then you can attack the defense with a complete passing series to take advantage of the defense when it sells out on the run game.  All of these things work together to make a complete offensive system.

CLOSING

Keep an eye out for the release, it will be happening very soon!  Give me a follow on twitter here @thecoachvogt and subscribe to my email list to be updated any time I release a new article!

The Big 100 Formation System

Probably the most cost effective way to stress a defense is with multiple formations.  This is often forgotten in the world the spread offense and hurry up mentality.  Using multiple formations can keep a defense practicing lining up all week instead of practicing your plays.  Having multiple formations is a lot easier to accomplish than most coaches think it will be.  Just like anything else we do in this game, it is better when it is done as a system.

The Big 100 formation system allows you to use tag words to get into over 100 different formations.  The best part of this system is it can be taught to your players and installed in just one day!  Paired with a simplified play book you can now focus on running your base plays with the confidence of know that the defense is going to have to spend the majority of their time lining up correctly instead of repping your plays.  It is my opinion that you should pair this system with no more than four run plays.  I myself only use three.  You can learn all about my number one play HERE.

We start learning this system by learning the Tag Words and who they talk to.  We will then start going through the formations based on how many backs are in the backfield.  For the sake of brevity, all plays will be drawn up to the right, and the count will cover right and left alignments.

TAGS

Z – wing, double, strong, R, L, H, Plus all one back formation alignments.

T – G, double, plus all one back formation alignments.

F – King, Queen, Empty

Y – Over, Open

X – Over

Tackles – Extra, Over (both tell the offensive tackle to move over to one side)

3 Back Sets

Three back sets look like the traditional Power-I sets of yesteryear.  The side in which the z back will align is determined by the play call, so each strength call could have the z to the TE side or the quick side.  This causes the DC to draw up an extra card, and counts in the formation count.

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The above formation is representative of  Rt and Lt, and with the z back on either side for both strengths.

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2 Back Sets

Two back sets consist of 21 personnel pro sets.  The F can also be tagged in Queen, which puts him in a sniffer behind the left B gap or a King which puts him in a sniffer behind the right B gap.  So in reality you could add 2 more formations to each of these sets, we will not add them to the count for this article however.

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Wing-T Sets

The Double tag puts the T in a wing to the left side.  The F has the option to queen/king himself depending on the play call.  We will not add that to the count however.

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1 Back Sets

Using extras and overs you can get very creative with your formations in one back!  These multiple look one back sets make it very easy to find formations that will out number the defense.

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Shot Gun Sets

The shot gun sets never need to be called “gun”. The players know it is gun because there is no wing, and only one tight end or no tight ends.  The alignment of the full back is determined by the play call, so for each formation (Lt, Rt) the full back can be on the left side or the right side.  Just like in 3 back, with the z, this causes more formations to be drawn up by the opposing DC.  You can also tag empty here to add two more formations to each set.  we wont count them or draw them up here, but with an empty tag, the fullback will always go to the weak side in a slot.

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CLOSING

While this may at first seem like a lot, upon a closer look you will see that it is in fact, quite simple.  Will you use all these formations in a game? Of course not!  But it will allow you to use multiple looks until you find the formation that gives you what you want to see and the advantage to your offense.  I have gone games where we have only used 4 formations!  I have also shown over 30!  COACHING POINT: the secret weapon of this system is the multiple ways to get into unbalanced!

If you are looking for the perfect play to use in conjunction with the Big 100, then check out “Installing the Wide Zone“. No other play is as versatile or consistently productive, and it matches perfectly with a multiple formation system like the Big 100.  If you need a sneak peak at “Installing the Wide Zone” then take a look at “Why Go Wide“.  Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt. Stay tuned for a future article covering trades, shifts and motions!

10 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Head Football Coach!

On March 15, 2018 I walked onto the campus of Freedom High School for my first official day as a Head Football Coach.  That was roughly 6 weeks before the writing of this article.  Both excited and nervous, I still felt I was prepared for the task at hand, as I still do.  As I am sure all of you Head Coaches out there know, as ready as you think you are, there are things that occur that nobody can tell you about.  Even as I write this article, it will be different for new Head Coaches in other places.  So here are 10 things nobody tells you about becoming Head Coach from my perspective.

  1. Hiring a Staff, is not simply hiring a staff
    1. The administration may tell you that you can hire coaches, but there is a lot more to it than that. The red tape is by no means the fault of the admin, but nonetheless it must be dealt with in order to get coaches on staff.  You have county vetting they need to pass.  There needs to be teaching spots that are open or verified as going to be open.  Your prospective staff must be hired as teachers first.  This will be a lot easier if you verify that your coaches are also good teachers.  Finding PE spots is a lot like snipe hunting these days, but find a coach that can teach math or science, and your gold!  My administration might be one of the best, as they have done everything to make sure I am going to able to hire coaches.
  2. The hold overs from the previous staff can be a huge asset
    1. A lot of times a new coach will come in and clean house, or in some cases the house will clean itself out. However, the hold overs from the previous staff that show interest in staying, should be given serious consideration.  They want to stay for a reason, most likely it is because they have a vested interest in the program and its success.  They have already put time, blood, sweat and tears into the kids and the school.  I currently have 2 hold overs from the previous staff.  They have both been tremendous assets.  They know the kids, in one case since these players were 6 years old.  They know the administration, they can tell you how they work and give insight into how to most effectively communicate with them.
  3. The things you say and do become Gospel
    1. As coaches we always try and show good character, honesty and integrity. I was still shocked at the speed of which things I established, said or incorporated got around.  Example: I enacted a weekly grade report program, I announced that this would be happening to the players during our first meeting.  Before I left campus, a dean walked up to me and told me how much he liked the idea of weekly grade checks.  Now if something positive can get around that quickly, imagine if you say or do something that can be seen in a bad light.  You better be sure you are a pillar of character and truth at all times.
  4. The life of your cell phone battery drops tremendously
    1. You will be inundated with phone calls, texts, and emails. Once you put on that whistle you become the contact point for teachers, parents, community members, deans, administration, school staff members, former players, college recruiters, and the list goes on.  Always have an answer for those that contact you, or at the least tell them you will have an answer for them as soon as possible.
  5. You may feel like a politician
    1. Reference 3 and 4. You are now held to a whole new level of accountability.  Everything you do will be scrutinized.  Stand tall and always do what you can to have an answer for people.  You now have to manage a staff, players, and even faculty and admin at times.  The days of saying “that’s a question for the head coach” are gone.  Now, you are the man with all the answers.
  6. Your family becomes more involved than ever before
    1. Family support is always a part of being a coach. As Head Coach however; the amount of support asked of them is immeasurable.  They will be at practices, they will wait up at night, so they can see you.  If your kids are young they will be in your coaches meetings just because they want that extra time with dad.  Becoming Head Coach will be huge adjustment for them.  Take that into consideration as they persevere through a unique transition period.  make sure you create time to spend with them whenever you can, time is something you can never get back and never forget your wife, I wouldn’t be where I am with mine, and I’m sure it is the same for most of us.
  7. Your significant other becomes an nonsalaried secretary
    1. In my short time as Head Coach, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my wife to take care of a task for me. Can you print this? Can you check on this? Can you call this person back for me while I do this? Do we have a file for this? What is on the agenda this week.  And this goes back to family support. Is it possible to do this job with out the support of family? Perhaps… but I know I never want to find out.  Maybe my situation is unique. All I know is this, without Karly, my life and job get a whole lot more difficult.  I will always try my best to show appreciation and do the same for her.
  8. The players will buy in immediately
    1. Your new players will be eager and ready to work. I was half expecting some stand off or resistance to the me, the new guy coming in. I could not have been more wrong.  They all immediately began to work hard.  From weight room to classroom to field, they have all been improving.  Maybe my message resonated with them, maybe I did a good job reaching them and motivating, or maybe it’s something simpler. Kids are kids.  They want to do good, they want to feel wanted and they want to play football!  If you come in and show that you care about them, and that you want them to be successful, then they will buy in!
  9. You become an administrator
    1. You will be handling much of the same things that administrators handle on a daily basis. You will: check grades, handle behavior issues, correspond with parents, track inventory, set budgets, track eligibility, develop schedules, maintain facilities, and become an authority figure for the all students in the school.
  10. You have eyes and ears everywhere
    1. I recommend everyone do this! I have developed a network of spies to help me keep tabs on the players.  A lot of the time if a player is doing something, I know about it before he is finished doing it.  This isn’t always bad, the good things the players do get reported too, so they can be acknowledge and rewarded!  Step one: get access to a walkie-talkie from the administration.  This gives you immediate communication and Intel in live time across the campus.  Step two: enlist the help of the front office personnel.  I now know every single time a player is late to school.  Step three: send out a faculty wide email list of your current players on the roster so teachers can report to you as well.  Step four: enlist the janitorial staff.  They are the unsung heroes of the school, and they see absolutely everything that goes on with the students, staff, faculty and admin.

CLOSING

Hopefully this gives you some insight into some things that happen when you become a Head Football Coach.  I wouldn’t say any of the items on the list are a negative thing.  Just things to be aware of, utilize and make sure you don’t take for granted. Id like to say a special thank you to Karly Marie Vogt.  I can’t imagine life without you or where I’d be.  I know my time and focus seems to always be on football, but I promise you, that you and our children are always in my heart!

Subscribe to the email list to be updated whenever I post an article, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.

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.