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Slide Protection – A Simple Way to Cover the Gaps If You Want to Pass

16 Aug
OL - zone blocking (Amanda Rykoff)

Slide Protection

What a lot of teams like to do when it comes to pass protection is either slide the whole line to the right or slide left.  Done properly it — that is, keep the pad level and  hat down instead of high like in most pass pocket schemes — can even look like run blocking to the linebackers.

This type of protection can help your line pick up outside blitzes to one side but also help pick up a middle blitz that many teams will employ.  But, more importantly for youth coaches who want to air out  the ball, slide technique is much easier to teach and learn that drop-back passing. Less time too.

Action_OL pass pro (kyle tsui)

Pass Pocket Scheme

So if a team brings six rushers what needs to happen?  Well, if you’re filling on the backside of the slide with a running back, then you need to protect inside gap first and the QB is responsible for the sixth rusher to get rid of the ball.  Ideally you want that sixth rusher to be an outside rusher as he will have further to come and the QB can see him and even throw the ball to the area that has been vacated.

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A Quick Look at Spread Systems

20 Jul

Overhead_Spread (rustytanton)

The spread offense has become the dominant philosophy across most of football. For years the game was about moving big, powerful people around to create angles and advantages at the point of attack but specialization and skills development have led to the forward pass becoming the dominant aspect of the game.

It’s hard to have the strongest and most powerful team, especially if you’re a program at the high school or collegiate level that doesn’t have access to a wider talent pool. However, lots of teams can find a quick-thinking leader who can fling the ball around. Eventually the bigger programs in college football also realized that putting their speedsters in space only helped their cause and even helped their run games. As a result, now you only tend to see bigger, pro-style formations forming the basis of the offense for schools who’s talent pool consists primarily of big, powerful people.

Now that the spread has proliferated across multiple leagues there is a ton of variety to the systems you see on a given Saturday. This is going to be an attempt to try and categorize some of the main schools of spread offense that have developed and to describe their philosophies of how to use spread formations to score points.

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Pre-Snap Movement

3 Jul

The thing you will often see an offense use to confuse a defense is pre-snap movement — either a formation shift or a man in motion.  Coaches believe it is two things: fun and lethal.

160703 - Man in Motion

The thinking is that they will be difficult to defend and, at the same time, they won’t overload their offensive linemen or quarterback with too much to remember as the teaching remains the same each week.

For them, the benefits of pre-snap movements are as follows:

  1. Simplifies the defense – It causes defenses to make multiple checks prior to the snap which can force them to play mostly base defense. This helps the offensive line.
  1. Motion Causes Emotion – Movement makes defenses tentative because they’re not sure what will happen next. For most defenders, it forces them to think, and when they’re thinking, they’re not as aggressive.
  1. Prevents the defense from matching up their best defenders on our playmakers – By changing up where they line up their “go-to guys”, they prevent the defense from getting their best defenders on their biggest offensive threats.
  1. Creates opportunities for our playmaker – Moving their playmakers around can create touches for them in a variety of ways. This is a way of making sure that their playmakers touch the ball enough in order for them to be successful.
  1. Allows for Multiplicity – Movement will give them an opportunity to run their plays from a variety of formations and looks, which allow them to exploit a specific weakness in the defense.
  1. Gain leverage on defenses – They can get an extra player to the point of attack by motioning or shifting. They can also get to unbalanced formations to cause problems for defenses.

Manipulating a defense is the main goal of any pre-snap movement, be it a trade, a man in motion, or a shift.  The idea is to “change the picture for the defense” before the ball is snapped and get them thinking because, as coaches know from experience, when a defense is thinking, it’s stinking.

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Offensive Play: Bootleg

28 Mar

bootleg (combined).jpgA bootleg is schizophrenic or something.

For starters, it’s a misdirection play.  The Quarterback fakes a hand off in one direction then rolls out to the other.

It’s also a play-action pass in that it starts out looking like a running play.  The run fake does two things: it confuses the defense and it slows down any pass rush.

And, lastly, it’s an option play — sort of.  Depending upon how the defense’s backside reacts to the Quarterback’s sudden appearance with the ball, the Quarterback has the option to either run or pass.

The defense, in this case, is specifically the force defender.  He’s the lone wolf in a defense’s perimeter who’s entrusted with “forcing” a ballcarrier back into the pursuit.

When he sees the Quarterback with the ball to his side of the field, he has two choices: he can lay back and protect against the pass, in which case the Quarterback can run.  Or he can rush the Quarterback who will then throw to the open receiver.  When executed properly, a bootleg is basically a no-win situation for the defense.

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Offensive Tactic: Selling the Nine

22 Mar

action3 (wisconsinfansite.com)In a pass play, receivers run along specific, predesigned paths that attack the “open grass” — or soft spots — in a defense.  These paths are called “routes” and a carefully crafted mixture of them is called a “pass pattern” or “concept”.

The “9” is football’s most basic and most important pass route and, yet, it’s nothing more than a race to the end zone – or at least as far as the quarterback can throw.

Selling the nine is convincing a defensive back that he’s in that race every time a receiver releases from the line of scrimmage.

The nine — also called a “Go” or “Fly” route — is basically a straight line.  As such, it serves as the stem for many other pass routes a receiver can run.  By stem, we refer to another straight line, the one a receiver runs when he escapes the line of scrimmage and races to the breakpoint of his assigned route.

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