Hendrix College’s (AR) entire offensive philosophy is to stretch the field laterally, not vertically, and it has done so using RB swing and stretch RPOs from 10/11 personnel groupings. Because of these concepts, Hendrix finished the 2016 season tops in Division 3 in total offense (600 ypg) and passing efficiency (182.6) scoring 48 points per game. In this exclusive clinic report, offensive coordinator Jordan Neal details his swing and stretch RPO off power read and counter read run actions. According to Coach Neal, both are concepts you can build an entire offense around regardless of your talent pool. Read the report...
By Jordan Neal
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach
Hendrix College (AR)
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Lateral space is the name of the game these days and we here at Hendrix have made it a huge focus as we have built this program to a playoff contender. Our RB stretch and the RB swing pass with a read-option while blocking power and GT counter have been staples of our horizontal attack. Here are some advantages of pairing the RB Stretch/Swing Pass with either Power/GT Counter run-action:
- Versatile concepts that can be run from multiple personnel groupings and formations. Can also implement fly-sweep motion.
- Simple to teach, simple to call, simple to execute, high percentage play, and can be run in a wide variation of downs/distances.
- Can build an entire offense around it, and is favorable for teams with inferior athletes/linemen—explosive for teams with superior athletes.
- Forces the defense to account for the entire width of the field.
- Easy to play-action pass or screen off of it.
Procedure & General Points:
Offensive Line – The first thing you must do as a coach when running these plays is identify what you can block up front most effectively. Our players at Hendrix are proficient with down-block schemes, so we tend to use more Power/Counter with the lateral backfield action more so than inside zone. The overall concept of the play creates false reads and misdirection for LB’s, as well as favorable angles for our offensive line to execute their blocks.
Running Back – Secondly, we get our fastest guy at RB. He either runs stretch or swing based on which side of the QB he is lined up. The RB does not concern himself with what run play has been called. Just go lateral!
Quarterback – Third, we teach the QB to identify his read key and make that player wrong. The QB only has to know what run play is called insomuch as when he does keep the ball, he knows what aiming point he is looking for (in many cases simply find the puller).
Receivers / Tight End – Fourth, we teach our WR’s and TE to ID the most dangerous players in the perimeter space and block them. WR’s and TE are not concerned with what run play is called. Simply get on your block and stay on your block.
Power w/ RB Swing and Stretch
The QB will always read the end man on the line of scrimmage. In this case, versus an even front, the QB reads the DE. If the DE cannot make the play on the RB, the QB swings it out. If the DE goes lateral right now to take the back, the QB keeps it on the power. The receivers identify the most dangerous threat and block leverage. The TE arc releases and works to circle the scraping play-side LB.
WR / TE Coaching Points:
In our offense, each of these play variations can be run from 11 personnel or 10 personnel. As coaches, we work hard to compartmentalize each position group’s responsibility, allowing them to focus on nothing more than their particular assignment and allowing us coaches to bother with the macro-level concerns, such as, personnel, down and distance, what run scheme fits best for our personnel or against a particular defense, and what is situationally appropriate during the course of the actual game.
With that said, our WR’s and TE (if he is in the game) have very basic responsibilities. Each man is responsible for checking off the following list:
- Block man-over.
- Block most dangerous.
- Block leverage.
Outside receivers have an easy assignment. They are responsible for blocking the CB’s in almost 99% of cases because he is typically the “man over” the WR. Slot receivers and TE’s have a little more complexity to deal with. If you are a slot receiver and you are uncovered with no “man-over” you, then simply work to determine who is the next defender who can make the play. Who is the most dangerous? Once this is determined, go block him! This is a judgment call that can only be sharpened through film-study.
Offensive Line Coaching Points:
Listen to your master (OL Coach) and execute a) power, c) GT counter—just like you would if we were in 22 personnel trying to punch it in from the 1 YL.
Coach Batson, our offensive line coach, does a phenomenal job coaching our big-men up front. He emphasizes to them the importance of not being concerned with what the skill players are doing, what personnel group we are in, or whether we are reading a player or not. They are strictly focused on blocking the 5 most dangerous players on their radar.
With all of the various ways you can run these concepts, ultimately, we are only talking about 2 different run blocking schemes—power and counter. And each of these schemes has a front-side element that includes the same exact down-blocking assignments. The only difference between the 2 plays is the fact that we are pulling 1 on power and pulling 2 on counter.
Continue to the full-length version of this report…
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- How the quarterback adjusts to field pressure situations.
- How the concept changes when being run to the boundary.
- What play complement Coach Neal uses when defenses start to trigger laterally to stop the swing and dump RPO.
- The pre-snap identification of the read key and how the quarterback is taught to react to post-snap movement.
- How Coach Neal teaches his running back to “get to his spot” as a viable option for the RPO.
- Plus game film on all these concepts.
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In conclusion, one of the most important things to realize and to keep in mind is the overall effectiveness of using the entire field as an offense and requiring the defense to account for a maximum amount of turf. If you can effectively threaten the field vertically through your down-field passing game and north/south running game (which uses an in-the-box numbers advantage strategy) and you can effectively force the defense to run laterally to chase you down in space, then you can keep the defense off-balance and prevent them from getting comfortable in their scheme.
The second thing, but arguably the most important, is to always simplify! Whatever way you choose to spread the field and force the defense into a more porous overall structure, you must do it in a simple, easy-to-execute way. At Hendrix, we are fortunate to have very smart, talented young men. Indeed, they could learn a more complex system if they had to. But by continuing to trim out unnecessary moving parts and continually “cheapening” the plays that we run, the more ROI (return on investment) we can gain. These concepts provide an easy way to do this very thing. These concepts are relatively simple to teach, very easy to call in a variety of down and distance situations, they present a high probability of success, and they allow you to take advantage of a limited number of superior athletes or even a less-than-average offensive line. If you are fortunate enough to have great players, we believe these concepts can draw out even more production from them than anything else.
Meet Coach Neal: Coach Neal has been serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Hendrix College since the program revived after a 53-year hiatus in 2013. At Hendrix, the Warrior Offense has led the SAA the past 4 years in several categories, including overall yards and points per game. This season, Hendrix led the nation in offensive yards per game with 600. Before coaching at Hendrix, Coach Neal was offensive line coach at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, TX and offensive coordinator at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, TX. He played Division III football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX.