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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.

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THE MOST VERSATILE DEFENSE: Part 2-Coaching the Front Seven

The Multiple 3-4 Defense can easily claim the title of the most versatile defense.  By basing out of a 3-4 under front you can have one call defensively and show a 50 front one snap and it will convert to a 4-2-5 look on another depending on the offensive formation.  This is done with out changing any base rules for the players or the manner in which they set the strength.  If you haven’t read part one of this series, please follow this link here “The Most Versatile Defense” and it will cover the basics of the defense.  This article will concern coaching and personneling the font seven defenders.

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DEFENSIVE LINE

We align the three down linemen in a shade, and a 5 to the front side and a 3 tech or a 4i backside depending on the player.  You want flat backs and most of the weight on their hands.  I like the gap hand down, so it is easier to get hands on the offensive lineman.  The first step is a 6 inch “power step” the second step should place the foot equal too or only half a step in front of the first step.  With the second step you want a violent punch on the shade half of the offensive lineman. Only take on half the man and emphasize using hands to get separation. “No Hands; Join the Band”.

When aligning in head up for an okie front, I prefer to have the DL on the move with slants, pinches and stunts.  The 1st step for a slant/movement is a 45 degree power step, and still punch the gap half.  If the DL has gotten leverage on the slant transition to a long arm technique to create space and pursue the ball.  If the DL is fighting for leverage, use a shuck to gain leverage and penetrate the gaps.  They can finish a shuck with a swim or rip.  If done correctly the shuck is usually plenty effective against run or pass block.  When you know it’s a pass you obviously have an advantage.  When this happens, I like my DL to be thinking long arm technique, statistically speaking it produces more stats than any other pass rush move. Verified by several NFL and NCAA defensive line studies. The picture below depicts a long arm in action:

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NOSE GUARD

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For the nose guard I look for a guy with a quick first step and lots of attitude over shear size.  I want a havoc causer here.  By playing him in a shade on the center or a head up 0, you ensure the center is occupied.  We want him concerned about the nose and not the snap.  A quick nose guard can cause a lot of errant snaps, especially against shot gun teams because the ball must travel through space. It is simple physics, the longer the path of a projectile, the smaller the variable needed to effect its path.  If your nose can command a double team, then you have the right guy there.   If hes a real war daddy then you can two gap him… but true two gap noses are hard to come by, even in the NFL.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Again I like quick explosive guys over size here.  Speed off the ball can be a real head ache for some of the lumbering offensive linemen out there.  For an example, one time in my career I had a defensive end start in a 4A state championship game and lead the team in sacks and he was only 167 pounds.  The next year he started for us at corner back and received a D1 scholarship.  Its about attitude and will.  Speed kills.  If the ends are playing in a shade they need to squeeze any down block. “Down is Dive” no dive then spill.  Other than that all the rules of the defensive line still apply.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

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If you like to flip flop your inside backers, then put the more physical guy to the same side as the shade and the 5 tech. Put your quicker guy that can run to the same side as the B gap DL, this covers up your linebacker and protects him, so he can run.  For simplicity reasons, I like to not move them when I can.  The LBs reads are “through the guard”.  What this means is guard key is first then the eyes flow through to the backfield action.   This takes practice, but the players pick it up quick and will rarely misread the play once they understand it.  High hats on snap is pass, draw key is when the OL turn out on the DL.  Initial flow of the hats will be first read, then as stated though the guard to the backfield.

The first steps for the LBs must be what I call “read steps”.   These are 2-3 short rapid fire, choppy steps no more than 3 inches, in the same direction as initial flow.  These steps are crucial in allowing the LBs to make the proper reads and react to play direction.  The read steps allow the LBs to redirect on counters, draws and play actions by preventing over selling with steps that are too big.   The LBs are responsible for filling open windows from inside out.  The players on the line of scrimmage will force everything to spill out. Ideally the inside LBs will make the tackle in D gap for no gain if the players on the line have not previously made the play.

OUTSIDE LINE BACKERS

These are the guys that will make your defensive mediocre or elite.  You want guys that have attitude and can run.  Long rangy builds tend to have a little more success here if playing on TEs a lot.  When playing on the line of scrimmage over a TE or a wing the rules are similar to a defensive lineman.  1st step is a power step and we punch violently to control one half of the blocker.  The OLBs best weapon is the punch and shuck when man blocked.  When facing a kick out block, we will spill.   The technique is commonly called “wrong arming” take the outside arm and rip through the kick blockers inside arm.  Once spilled penetrate and make the ball carrier bubble out so the LBs can scrape and rally.  If he doesn’t bubble, make the tackle.  You want to be sure to avoid spilling to shallow, about 1 to 2 feet into the backfield is perfect.

CONCLUSION

This is a base description for coaching the techniques for the front seven in the multiple 3-4 defense.  It is a system that is adaptable and puts speed on the field. In general, you want to turn everything into a toss sweep and make it go sideways. The sideline has never missed a tackle.  Part 3 will cover the role of the secondary in the defense. Please feel free to comment and share.  Give me a follow on twitter at @thecoachvogt

What’s Your System?

What’s Your System?

During the first, six years of my coaching career I was on the defensive side of the football.  Still to this day as an Offensive Coordinator I develop my offense with a defensive frame of mind.  What I mean by that is my offense is viewed as a system, and not a collection of plays as I feel so many coaches do these days.   Imagine if a defense called plays like most offenses do.  A different front every snap, different stunt or blitz every snap.  Sometimes a different defensive base from week to week.  There is a term used for this kind of defense, “Dial-A-D”, it is not a complimentary term.

You see this from time to time on the defensive side and usually the defensive coordinator is looking for work in the spring.  But on the offensive side it seams this is a regular occurrence.   Teams will bounce around from scheme to scheme within a series and its acceptable, but more often than not, it is not effective.  The offense relies on big plays that are inconsistent and they can not drive the field and score.  I personally find this type of offensive play calling the result of a general lack of knowledge and copy cat syndrome.  What I propose is installing your offense like a defense does.  Install it as system that has an answer for whatever the defense is doing.

STEP 1: SYSTEM SELECTION

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It can be any offense. Zone based, Gap based, WingT, Spread, Option, Multiple I, or any combination.  The idea is to avoid scheme hopping and attack the defense with a systematic approach.  Have an answer for everything the defense does no matter what the play call is.  I suggest selecting what you know and sticking with your guns.  Run it till the coaches and players know it in their sleep. Once you have established your offense then you can trim which I feel may be the most important step.

STEP 2: TRIMMING

Whatever you choose as your offensive route be it spread tempo or the receiver-less single wing set, every offense benefits from trimming the playbook.  Almost universally, when the offense trims the playbook you see an increase in offensive production.  Why does this happen? Your players have to remember less, you get more reps against more fronts due to more time being spent on fewer plays, players become confident in knowing what to do because of more reps.  When players know what to do they play faster, that is a well proven fact.

Ill use my team as an example, we have 4 plays.  We will throw some change ups in sometimes if we want to show something new and shiny on film, but we base out of 4, that’s it.  Sometimes I feel this is too much and think about going to 2 or 3 plays.  My number one play is the widezone, I have my reasons for this but for purpose of the article I’ll avoid getting into that. I mention it to bring up the point that every play needs to have a companion play that places the defense in a bind, if they overplay widezone we hit them with powerO.  My number 2 play is the blast (a modified toss) the companion for this one is bellyG.  The plays you select are up to you, just make sure you have a companion for each.  Sometimes, like I said, 4 can be a little much.  Lots of teams in NCAA and NFL football use 1 and 2!  A team out of Orlando, FL has routinely pummeled everyone they play with only these 3: jet sweep, bellyG and counterGT.  All 3 companion off each other!  A great system. The point is by running a limited number of plays to perfection, the offense can incorporate all 11 players to handle the defense no matter how they line up.

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STEP 3: ESTABLISHING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

What are you trying to do to the defense? This question needs to have a clear answer before you take the field Friday night.  Are you going to tempo them to keep them on their heels? Are you going to formation them?  What are you going to do with your formations?  Having lots of formations is pointless unless you have a system or purpose for them.  Are you getting in spread to run the ball in the middle?  Just because you line up in 4 wide doesn’t mean the defense will empty the box.  Your system better have an answer for this.  While I’m not a huge fan of the spread, the guys you run it have come with lots of ingenious ways to combine base play and companion play into one package.  One example is inside zone and bubble screen.

As I said previously we have over 100 formations.  The purpose is to outflank the defense.  Get more numbers than they have where we can get easy yards. The secondary purpose is to place the secondary in to assignment binds by forcing them to play run gaps.  Now they have to worry about fitting on run and covering for pass.  If the defense can manage to line up to our formations our system can still handle the front because our players know exactly what to do.

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Becoming too scheme heavy.
    • This makes you fundamentally unsound
  • Illogical progressions
    • Switching from scheme to scheme cuts down on practice time
    • Having too many concepts causes linemen to become tentative
      • They start thinking
      • Doubting their assignment (paralysis by analysis)

WHAT TO ESTABLISH

  • A “base”
    • Use a base offense each week
  • Tempo
    • Control the tempo of the game
    • Can go fast or go slow. I suggest what I call strategic tempo
      • Only tempo when you know you have the defense on heels or in a misalignment
      • Going fast for the sake of fast leads to 3-N-Out in 7 seconds
      • Most importantly keep the other offense off the field
    • Expand & Contract
      • Compress and spread the defense with tight, open and unbalanced sets to cause misalignments
      • Place stress on the defense with shifts, motions and trades
    • Adjustments
      • Adjust with formations, tempo or window dressings, not countless new schemes and plays

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A LEGEND OF THE FALL

Tubby Raymond and the Wing-T

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

Numbers and Angles

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

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

Conflicts and Misdirection

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

Permeation and Evolution

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

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

Closing and Resources

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