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How big do you want your playbook to be?

If you spend time talking to coaches, attending clinics, or reading message boards you'll find that one basic philosophical issue that commonly arises is the size of a coaches, ahem.....playbook.

There are many reasons coaches carry a large playbook. Many coaches fear being stuck on the field without an answer and believe that having more plays to draw from will make it easier to find that answer. Other coaches believe a large playbook demonstrates their intelligence as a coach. And some coaches aren't able to effectively create a solid offensive system so they end up with a hodge podge of random fitting plays.

As a beginning coach my book was rather large. Then it grew bigger. It wasn't until I found the flexbone that I felt comfortable merging my strong belief in the importance of multiplicity with simplicity. In shrinking my playbook I convinced myself that we would always have an answer not by selecting another play, but by using tag words and formations to make adjustments. This allowed us to focus on six core run plays and seven core pass plays as opposed to twelve run plays and twenty plus passes.

By installing fewer plays we were able to increase practice tempo, have fewer assignment errors, make gameplanning more efficient, and get quicker game time adjustments. Because we focused so much on being a successful Triple Option team we knew we couldn't fall victim to the "Jack of all trades, master of none" label.

As an example of using formations and tags I've included 10 easy ways to run the Triple Option vs. a 50 defense.

Base: The Base version of Inside Veer is explained in more depth in the prior article "Triple Option 101". Keep in mind that while running the Triple Option there are many tags you can use as well for adjustments. You can find more information on examples of tags in the article "Using the Option Count to Tag Inside Veer".

Unbalanced: I really love going unbalanced vs. 50 and 30 Stack looks because of the games you can play with Inside and Outside Veer. When teams don't prepare for the option all season they often give their players simple reads and responsibilities. In the case of the 50 front this often means the End is responsible for dive, OLB has QB and the Safety runs to pitch. There are games you can play within this defensive structure, but that is typically the base assignments. By mixing up Inside and Outside Veer you can give the OLB confusing reads. On Inside Veer he is the Pitch Key, but on Outside Veer he will be the Dive Key. Correctly using these two plays together creates uncertainty for the defense.

Twins: It's always a bit uncertain how a team will adjust to the Twins formation, but let's assume they roll the safety down. At the very least this gives the offense an extra blocker without the defense bringing an extra defender. Now there is a numbers advantage. If they bring a defender with then it's worth a look running back to the nub side of the formation as it's likely you can find the numbers advantage to that side.  By flexing the Twins receiver you can also create a dilemma for the OLB. He must determine how wide he will get vs. the formation. If he widens too much we have improved our timing for the QB to make a read. If he stays narrow we can get good blocking angles on him within our other run plays (think Rocket and Jet).

Bone: Aligning the backfield in a wishbone formation eliminates some opportunities for the offense, but can also help take away the motion tendency and reduce problems associated with poor motion timing. As athletes get comfortable with the offense you can also loosen the reigns and allow them to align in any position that would allow them to carry out their assignment. This allows the kids to have some ownership of the offense and makes it fun for them. We once had a slot who for some reason liked to line up stacked behind a Wide Receiver before motioning. Because he did this one game we caught the defense adjusting poorly and were able to run Midline that way with some success. We never would've found this had we not given our kids some freedom to improvise and this improvisation helped make us infinitely multiple.

Tight End: Using a Tight End also allows for the Inside/Outside Veer dilemma and still allows you to soundly run to the split side.

These 10 Veer plays are not by any means a complete gameplan vs the 50 front nor are they really exciting all alone. There are limitations and some things we'd leave out. But when you include  Midline, Belly, Counter, Rocket and/or Jet, and a passing game each with multiple formation options then you have a multiple and diverse gameplan. The main point regarding the use of many formations is that each of these different looks creates something different for the defense and teams scouting us while being the same simple concept to our players. Each look also allows us to manipulate the defense in a slightly different way. This is how we can appear multiple and take multiple adjustments into a gameplan without overloading our kids and keep our playbook from overflowing with too much information.

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Comments (4)
  • Week 4 Top Articles : Full Thr

    [...] Using Formations, Not Plays, For Multiplicity by Coach Minter [...]

  • Niumatololo on the Navy Offens

    [...] to take advantage of defenses who are making it difficult to run the Triple Option. Navy will use multiple formations to run their offense, but they are also able to run a majority of their plays from every formation [...]

  • Benefits of the Wing-T/Triple

    [...] using tag words and formations to adjust to given situations. I address this philosophy of using Formations, Not Plays, For Multiplicity in a prior article. In essence, I believe that if you have your base set (say sweep, trap, [...]

  • Midline Formation Adjustments

    [...] mentioned in Using Formations, Not Plays, For Multiplicity, I strongly believe in the use of formations and tag words to attack the defense as opposed to [...]

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