The New Look Gator Offense: A Power Run Game
By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
For perhaps the first time in recent history at the Swamp, the Gators offense is centered around a downhill running game, thanks in part to the creative ways in which new offensive coordinator Brent Pease is using formations to unflank the defense. Pease, a Chris Petersen disciple (Pease was the offensive coordinator at Boise State last season) has implemented some of the same heavy, unbalanced formations that he used at Boise to gash defenses, the Gators rushed for 174 yards last Saturday, on a nationally ranked LSU defense, that was only surrendering 86 yards on the ground per game. Sure it, may be a striking change in offensive philosophy from the Tim Tebow days, they may not be hanging 30 points a game, but no one could doubt it’s working and people are taking notice.
The methodology behind Pease’s system is to use “heavy” or unbalanced formations, sometimes he’ll play with up to seven offensive linemen at one time, just to see how defenses respond. An unbalanced formation is when the offense overloads one side of the center, while leaving no player on the line of scrimmage to the other side. Scrimmage rules permit to have only seven players on the line of scrimmage at one time and Pease has found various ways to line these players up.
Reasons for using unbalanced formations:
- It gets an extra blocker on the perimeter. This helps with the perimeter run game – you’ll see the Gators give defenses fits with the toss play.
- It creates an extra gap in the run game that defenses have to account for. Pease will create an extra gap by using up to six lineman on the line of scrimmage and attack the voided gap by using gap run schemes like the Power O.
- Changes personnel groupings: When King Tebow held court at the Swamp, Urban Meyer mainly operated his offense out of 10 personnel (one running back and no tight ends) and 11 personnel (one back, one tight end). Pease has the new Gator offense running various personnel groupings including the aforementioned seven lineman structure as well as a pure 21 personnel grouping (two backs, one tight end) and 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends) the personnel of choice while he was at Boise.
- It “creates a different picture” for the defense, one that they may not have seen in film. There were points late in the game on Saturday, when the Gators were undressing the Tiger defense, reeling off eight yards a clip in the run game. In fact, they ran the ball 19, yes 19 times in a row at the Tiger defense until they could adjust. They never did.
Below are some looks at the formations that Pease used on Saturday, and the reasoning behind why he did it.
Unbalanced Wing (21 personnel, 7 offensive lineman)
- An unbalanced wing formation creates up to 9 gaps on the line of scrimmage (from tackle to wing) that a defense has to defend.
- Seven offensive lineman in the game creates a much larger blocking surface. The only way to counter is to have up to the same amount of offensive lineman in the game. A pure four man front defense will get gashed, it doesn’t have the man power to defend it.
Unbalanced Twins (21 personnel)
- Twin formations force the defense to “expand” in order to account for the two wide receiving threats, which in turn, provides for open areas inside to run the ball.
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Unbalanced Diamond (30 personnel)
- This is a three-back formation that could present problems for the defense because it is a balanced set. With three backs in the backfield, there is no strength to the formation, and on the snap of the ball, all three backs can be displaced to either side of the formation without tipping off the defense.
- Many times both backs can be used as additional blockers, which can create three additional gaps on the line of scrimmage in any direction.
Tackle Over Formation (7 lineman formation)
- Seven offensive lineman create a massive blocking surface along with eight gaps on the line of scrimmage.
- Having two bookend tackles on the line of scrimmage, allows offenses to run power schemes to either side of the formation.
Unbalanced Trips Formation
- Trips receivers to one side of the formation forces defenses to expand to cover three receivers, all three are eligible to go out for a pass.
- This formation presents problems for defenses both inside and outside the tackle box. Three receivers outside can handle three defenders, while a tight end gives offense the three man surfaces needed to run the power game.
For more research on unbalanced formations from X&O Labs, click on the following links:
Questions or Comments? Post your questions below and Mike Kuchar will respond shortly.