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By Dan Ellis
X&O Labs Columnist
Editor’s Note: Coach Dan Ellis is one of X&O Labs’ most popular monthly columnist. His columns focus on offensive schemes that just flat out move the ball. His previous post have been some of the most read and commented articles in X&O Labs’ history. Ellis is the former record-setting quarterback at Virginia and currently serves as the Head Football Coach at West Chester East High School (PA). And one of the best things about Coach Ellis is that he takes the time to answer any and all questions asked. So, if you have any questions after reading his column, just post it in the comments section below this report and Coach will respond shortly.
A play that we use, primarily as a QB counter, is tackle wrap. We view this play not as a finesse play, but as a downhill power/iso type of play that can be used as a 1 back run play and a QB counter. We try to get our guards help with the center at the point of attack to stop penetration. As our offensive line coach, Cody Loeffler, is famous for saying to our offensive line, "Our offense is like a mullet, business up front and party in the back." Looks like a lot going on, but up front its basically downhill running game. Spoken like a true offensive line coach!
Wrap vs. Even Front
Essentially against an even front defense, we will combo the A gap defender and pull for the PSLB. Again, for us this is a downhill play. We’re leading just as if it was an isolation, but we are using our tackle instead of a fullback.
We prefer to run this play to the A gap defender and we will often combo the play. If we are running it with the RB, the QB will read the backside C gap defender. If the QB is running the ball, the RB will account for the C gap defender by carrying out his fake and blocking him.
See the diagrams below vs. a 4-4 look (Diagram 1).
The only adjustment against a 4-3 look would be if the BSLB is completely out of the box where our slot receiver can block him. By game plan in those situations, we would tell the play side combo to combo to the MLB and ALSO the BST pulling for the same player. If the backside outside linebacker gets too close, we just combo to him. We also run this play out of trips to the split side and it looks very similar to a 4-4 look (with a 4-2 box).
Rules for Odd Front
Against a true odd front, we adjust this play to more like our power concept for simplicity. We love our single back power. The simple change is to pull our BSG instead of the BST. The BST tackle is now cutting off or sifting the B gap. This allows us to get the guard quickly around the combo to the PSLB. This way it happens very quickly and we’re downhill.
See the diagrams below vs. a 3-4 look (Diagram 3).
Rules vs. and Odd Stack
Against the stack, we combo the PSG and C up to the MLB and the BST is now sifting the B gap looking for the stacked OLB to blitz B gap or the defensive end to spike the B gap. The QB (on RB wrap) would be reading the C gap defender.
The only odd front we like to run this against is a true 50 defense. Teams that will run a 4I and 9 tech we will run it either into the 4I and fan the PST and PSG or we can run it back to the bubble with the nose and the 5 tech. Running it into the 4I can be difficult on the C and BSG combo to the BSILB. Running it to the bubble can make the read for the QB difficult with a 4I and another defender outside. Because of those difficulties, we usually will run the QB wrap to the 5 tech side (Diagram 5) and the RB wrap to the 4I (Diagram 6.)
What you’re missing…
X&O Labs Insiders members will gain full access to Coach Ellis’ full length clinic report on including:
Specific coaching points used to attack both odd and even fronts.
Additional diagrams that show how Coach Ellis attacks different front and box looks.
Multiple variations of the Wrap Concept including the increasingly popular Pistol 2 back option.
Plus video on all of these concepts.
The Dart play is a great downhill play that we have found to be very effective in terms of having a downhill scheme that we could combine with much of the variations that are out there now in wide use. There is no reason you can’t be downhill from a spread set.