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By Mike Kuchar, Lead Research Manager, X&O Labs


We found these responses were similar to the alignments that coaches use in the Power concept. The majority of coaches that use the Counter concept choose to use a vertical alignment of one yard behind the quarterback. Read more here...

 



By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar

 

Introduction

This research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Spread Gap Schemes,” which can be accessed in full by clicking below.

Preferable A Back Alignments:

We found these responses were similar to the alignments that coaches use in the Power concept. The majority of coaches that use the Counter concept choose to use a vertical alignment of one yard behind the quarterback (See Graph Below).

graph17

The horizontal alignment of choice has the ball carrier aligned with his inside foot on the outside foot of the back side guard (See Graph Below). We did find evidence of some coaches who will run the same side Counter concept, Mark Holcomb is one of them, but the majority of coaches will set that back (if he is offset) away from the play side.

graph18

QB/RB Mesh Points; Offset Alignments; Three-Step Footwork:

Jeff Conaway, Shiloh Christian High School (AR): “We use alignment options 1, 2, 3, or 1.5 (this was explained in case one). He slides, meshes, and press front side A gap, downhill, with attitude. This is done with a three-step footwork, pushing off the third step. His key is the play side defensive end and reads the H-Back pull on play side linebacker.”

Inside Zone Footwork:

LJ Spinnato, Choate Rosemary Hall (CT): “To us, it’s the same as Power if the A back is aligned play side. If he is aligned backside, it’s Inside Zone footwork if aligned QB Jumps to 45-degree angle and presents the ball. Tailback tempos his zone step from 2x1 alignment, can Counter step, but we usually don’t. We have done it both ways in the past. QB, 6-inch lateral steps play side, then clear backside leg to 45-degree angle.”

Alignment Numbering System:

Lance Parker, at Bryant High School (AR) uses the following A back alignments which he will give in the form of a number chart from the sideline:

  1. Pistol
  2. To the right of the halfback
  3. To the left of the halfback
  4. Wing right
  5. Wing left

Even is to the right and odd is left. The back will alters his feet based on the play concept. He may backup if it’s a downhill play or be even with a fast flow play. “It may be tipping,” said Coach Parker, “but they can’t get that communicated in three days in high school football.”

5/7 O’clock Footwork:

Mark Holcomb, North Davidson High School (NC): “The QB will catch the snap and immediately open up to either 5 or 7 o’clock depending on the side we run the play to. To the right, he will open up to 7 and vice versa. We can also run same side isolation and he can have the running back line up to play side and can reverse his steps depending on teams who are slanting away from the back.”

Other Reader Responses on Mesh Points:

Shane Zimmerman, Gunnison High School (CO): “For us, we come off a Jet Sweep look so the running back has to take a Counter step. The QB will fake the Jet then flip his hips to give to the back.”

Tony Nicolino, Maple Shade High School (NJ): “We run Counter with this scheme. Mostly the back is to the play side. Once the back hits the midline, he plants and goes back. We run a ton of zone, so this is our misdirection to it.”

Will Rikard, Harding Academy (TN): “The RB is flat across QB’s face to sell stretch, then he puts his foot in the ground under kick out.”

Tom Grippa, Mount St. Joseph University (OH): “The running back is aligned on the same side of the play. It is a true Counter/misdirection run play. The QB sticks the ball out like in Zone schemes and the running back takes the ball and immediately puts his foot in the ground and follows the pulling tackle.”

Mark Raetz, Northview High School (IN): “The running back takes three quick crossover steps, then cuts back. He looks to follow H/Y on the pull. QB does a play-action pass fake off it.”

Pistol Alignments:

The Snatch technique that was described in case two seems to be prevalent for coaches that use the Counter out of the Pistol alignment. For the most part, the footwork and mesh would be similar to Power, but the advantage of being in the Pistol gets the ball carrier downhill quicker and doesn’t give the defense a beat on the play side like the off-set back does. We did research what other Pistol coaches are using as their mesh points.

3/9 O’clock Footwork:

Greg Lauri, Nassau Community College (NY): “The QB will step at either 3 or 9 o’clock and pivot to a 45 degree angle, this puts him in the perfect position to either read the defensive end, back side linebacker or the backside safety and allows the RB to cut across his face and insert off the trap block. The back takes a six-inch stretch step opposite the quarterback and then bends in front of him. The RB is coached, that he is responsible for the mesh, because the QB’s eyes are up looking at his read. It gives us an advantage because teams can’t tell where the play is going and it allows us to play as fast as possible.”

Counter Off Stretch Action:

Jacob Knight, Waverly High School (OH): “We run Counter as a non-read Counter. We run it off of our stretch action. We tell our RB to take a crossover step away from the play side, we have him crossover because we want him coming back to play side on is second step, this also turns his shoulders to really sell as if we are running stretch. Once the RB puts his second foot in the ground, he will cut off his outside foot, and turn back to play side. The QB will show the ball on his first step like it is stretch, on the second step he will turn and hand the ball off behind him. The RB is responsible for making the mesh.”

TJ Gillen-Hall, Kilgore High School (TX): “The QB clears his hip for a backside handoff out of the Pistol. The RB takes a negative step and runs thru near hip of QB. We try to make it look like the same mesh as our Zone Read.”

Other Reader Responses From Pistol Alignments:

Karl Asbury, Mark Twain High School (MO): “The QB opens to his read. The RB steps away from play then cross in front of QB.”

Cory Snyder, Westminster Christian Academy (MO): “The QB step backside with ball extended then clear midline for back.”

Spread Personnel Grouping:

Single and Double Pull Gap Runs

 

“We needed something different.”

-         Steve Addazio

The vision is thought to have originated in Gainesville, Florida during the Tim Tebow era. It was then, when University of Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio, found himself trying to concoct ways to separate dominant SEC front sevens without using the traditional Zone concepts that Spread offenses were employing. 

"I remember thinking that we didn't have the size up front to go toe-to-toe with some of the defensive units we faced in the SEC that season," Addazio recalled. "We couldn't just hang our hat on the Inside Zone play. We needed something different." 

The "difference" lied in utilizing down, down, kick schemes at the point of attack which provided for front side gap double team blocks (rather than Zone Combination blocks). This change, in turn, produced vertical displacement of down defenders. Problem was those schemes were tied more into two-back structures and Addazio and head coach Urban Meyer didn't want to sacrifice taking the Gators lightening fast speed off the field by changing personnel groupings. 

So the Gators began to creating angles and misdirection up front by utilizing ageless Gap schemes like Power and Counter from one-back (10, 11 and 12 personnel) groupings). 

Two national championships, and nearly a decade later, another viable run option continues to infiltrate itself into the playbooks of Spread coaches who previously hung their hat on the Inside and Outside Zone schemes. 

Now, programs like Auburn University, Urban Meyer's Ohio State University, Clemson University and the University of Mississippi (to name a few) have integrated these same Gap schemes, with the inclusion of another timeless classic the Buck Sweep, into their offensive arsenal. 

With these new trends, my team and I set out to research the single and double gap runs in spread offenses. 

We segmented our research into the following run concepts.

  • Single pull Power concept
  • Single pull Power Read concept
  • Single pull QB Power concept
  • Double pull Counter concept
  • Double bull Counter Read concept
  • Double pull Buck Sweep concept 

But we only wanted to study programs that were using these concepts from the following personnel groupings:

  • 10 personnel (one back, no tight end) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 11 personnel (one back, one tight end or sniffer) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends or sniffers) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 00 personnel (no backs with or without sniffer) Gun formations. 

Some of the programs we studied included, but were not limited to:

  • Shiloh Christian High School (AR): Several staffers worked/played under Auburn University head coach Gus Malzahn, they've averaged 7.5 yards per carry on their single pull power concept and 7.2 yards on Counter concept.
  • Bryant High School (AR): Averaged nearly 9 yards per carry on its Counter concept.
  • Ohio Northern University: Averaged over 5 yards per carry on its Buck Sweep concept.
  • Ocean City High School (VA): Averaged over 12 yards per carry on its Counter concept and over 8 yards per carry on its Buck Sweep concept.
  • Nassau Community College (NY): Averaged over 5 yards per carry on its Power Read concept, finishing with a 9-2 record.
  • North Davidson High School (NC): Averaged 5.4 yards per carry on its Counter concept. 

Our research found using Gap run concept from these personnel groupings has several advantages:

  • It loosens the tackle box and provides for optimal angles at the point of attack.
  • It separates the defense by employing down, down, kick blocking concepts to the front side of the scheme.
  • Its constant use of double team blocking angles at the point of attack provide for vertical displacement of down defenders.
  • It eliminates defensive gap integrity by the constant moving and exchanging of gaps centered on down blocks and pulls. 
  • It provides for extra blockers at the point of attack by using single and double pullers.
  • Its malleability of using different pullers (either based on formation or defensive personnel) disrupts the continuity of defensive run fits.
  • It expands running lanes by employing crack blocks on the perimeter and seal blocks through the alley. 

Our research also found many new trends in using Gap schemes in the Spread. That is why we've have put all of our research into a brand-new special report... 

The Spread Gap Scheme Study

I'll show you how to access this exclusive research in just a second. But first, let's take a look a closer look at this powerful new study. 

We published The Spread Gap Scheme Study in four cases... 

Case 1: Teaching the Fundamental Block Concepts in Gap Schemes 

If you run all or just one of the Gap concepts mentioned above, you are going to need to teach your offensive line how create movement at the point of attack by producing devastating down blocks and double teams on the front side of the scheme. Regardless of the defensive scheme you are facing, you will need to make certain types of blocks to achieve maximum efficiency in these concepts. 

In case one of our special report, we studied only those programs who had a winning percentage of .500 or better and averaged more than 5 yards per play on these concepts and asked them the following:

  • How they teach the down block at the point of attack.
  • How they teach the back block of the center on a 3-technique.
  • An analysis and coaches perspective of the "flat step" methodology on the back block.
  • An analysis and coaches perspective of the "angle step" methodology on the back block.
  • Why some coaches are using more Zone blocking schemes in their gap runs.
  • The distinction between various aiming points on the back block including distinctions between the "V" of the neck aiming point or the near hip aiming point.
  • Research on the double team block, including why some coaches prefer not to use gap double teams at the point of attack in these schemes. 

Case 2: The Single Pull Power and Power Read Concept.

The single pull Power concept was the most utilized run concept out of Spread personnel groupings, with 89 percent of coaches using this scheme. What's more is that over half of the coaches that responded to our survey have averaged between 5 and 6 yards per play on this concept alone.  While the Power scheme may be one of the eldest run concepts in football, how these Spread coaches are formationing the scheme to reach maximum efficiency continues to be of interest. The Power concept is the truest form of a Gap scheme because it produces the "down, down, kick" component that these Gap concepts employ. 

Some of the research uncovered in this case includes:

  • How coaches are formationing the Power concept to generate positive run angles at the point of attack.
  • Analysis of the Stack and Slant formation, two of the most widely used formations to run the Power and Power Read concept and what benefits these produces in blocking angles.
  • The exact verbiage Spread coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer (Y or H off the ball) to achieve optimal blocking angles.
  • How coaches are teaching the kick out block of the sniffer, and what they are doing against "spill" teams who will gap exchange at the point of attack.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Power and Power Read concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to make the scheme more fluid.
  • Why not all coaches are teaching the Power as a pure A-gap concept.
  • How coaches are blocking problematic fronts including a backside B gap defender (3-techique in the even front or 4i-technique in the odd front).
  • How coaches are formationing the Power Read concept and using it to get +1 on the perimeter.
  • The Power Seal concept that coaches are using to handle C gap exchanges or roll down safeties to the read side of the concept.
  • The Power Crack option that coaches are using to alternate the blocking assignments of the sniffer and slot receiver.
  • The Power Arc concept, which is a pre-snap adjustment that coaches are using when a defensive presents four defenders to the read side. 

Case 3: The Double Pull Counter and Counter Read Concept. 

Chances are if you're an offensive coach that utilizes the Power concept, you also have the Counter concept on your menu. It makes sense, particularly if you are using sniffer formations. While some offensive coaches feel that the Counter concept is the stepbrother of the Outside Zone scheme, formationally it marries up with the Power scheme because of the positioning of the sniffer in one back offenses. In the Power scheme, that player is responsible for kicking out the C gap defender to the play side whereas in Counter schemes, this same player is assigned as the lead puller to the backside. We found that nearly 67 percent of coaches use the single pull counter concept in Spread personnel groupings. 

Some of the research included in this case includes:

  • Various blocking philosophies to the front side of the scheme, including Nassau Community College's (NY) "leave two" methodology and why Bryant High School (AR) chooses to use sprint out protection.
  • How coaches are formationing the concept to get numbers in the box, including analysis of formations from 11 personnel, 10 personnel and 12 personnel groupings.
  • Why Nassau Community College (NY) uses and "Even" formation as to not tip away ball carrier tendencies based on formation.
  • The backfield numbering system that Shiloh Christian High School (AR) uses so defenses won't get a beat on which type of scheme is being run.
  • The exact verbiage that coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer as it pertains to his blocking scheme.
  • How coaches are teaching the wall pull block of the sniffer, including "2 to 1" blocking concept that Bryant High School (AR) uses to identify "bluffing" second level defenders at the point of attack.
  • Analysis of the lead puller (guard or tackle) including research behind the skip pull fundamental, the square pull fundamental and the jab away fundamental.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Counter and Counter Read concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to make the scheme more fluid.
  • How some programs, like North Davidson High School (NC), are using same side alignments with the offset back and the footwork that goes along with it.
  • Research behind various ball carrier aiming points and how North Davidson High School (NC) is teaching the ball carrier to read the backside linebacker for cutback.
  • How coaches are blocking problematic fronts including a backside B gap defender (3-techique in the even front or 4i-technique in the odd front).
  • Contributions from various programs on Q Counter and Counter Read concepts, which can be used as both play side and backside read schemes. 

Case 4: The Double Pull Buck Sweep Concept

One of the more popular Double Pull run concepts that has been gaining traction among Spread coaches is the ageless Buck Sweep. It first originated in the days of Tubby Raymond and his University of Delaware units. What once was purely a two to three back run concept, has found itself into the menus of many Spread-based systems including Auburn University head coach Gus Malzahn who has been using the run since his days at Shiloh Christian High School in Arkansas. At its core, the Buck Sweep toes the line between a Gap and Man run schemes that combines crack and down blocking at the point of attack with the pulling of both guards. 

According to our research, we found that 41 percent of Spread coaches run the Buck Sweep as part of their run game. This concept continues to gain popularity due to the success of programs such as Auburn University, Clemson University and the University of Mississippi, each of which use this scheme frequently as part of their offensive arsenal. 

In case four, we present our research on the varying blocking assignments of the scheme, how coaches are formationing the concept to attain optimal results, the preferable QB/RB alignments and mesh points, the technique behind the crack and pull blocks as well as the Read concepts that coaches are using off the base run. 

Some of the research uncovered in this case includes:

  • How coaches are formationing the concept to get numbers in the box, including analysis of formations from 11 personnel, 10 personnel, 12 personnel and empty/compressed formation groupings.
  • The exact verbiage that coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer as it pertains to his blocking scheme.
  • Analysis of how coaches are teaching the crack block technique of the H/Y off including research on the flat step methodology, vertical burst methodology and why some coaches say it's not necessary to get a knockdown block. 
  • Analysis of how coaches are teaching the play side guard block including the various distinctions between whether or not it needs to be a kick out or log block.
  • How coaches are blocking what can be problematic fronts including an A-gap defender play side in the form of a shade nose or 2i-technique.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Buck Sweep concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to marry it with Outside Zone schemes.
  • Research behind various ball carrier aiming points and why coaches are now teaching their backs to "be patient" when running this concept.
  • The various read concepts coaches are using to the backside of the Buck Sweep concept, which influence the weak side linebacker. 

Video, Video and More Video

This brand-new special report, The Spread Gap Scheme Study, includes over 37 videos. That is over 2 hours of game film provided by the programs featured in this study. 

So now, you'll be able to read about the concepts, see the diagrams, and then watch the concepts in real-game situations. 

The Spread Gap Scheme Study is available right now in our exclusive membership-based website, Insiders. 

When you join the Insiders, in addition to The Spread Gap Scheme Study, you also get 100% of every special report, research report, clinic report, drill report, game film and interview we've ever published in our five year history. 

That's literally hundreds and hundreds of reports and videos on virtually every offensive, defensive and special teams topic trending in the last five years. 

Join X&O Labs' Insiders. Go Here.

 

 

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