Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Part II Handling the back to back defense with a 4i

In the first part of this article on handling the back to back defense and the 4i (fig. 1), we discussed the quarterback mechanics and reading his way out. But what happens if the quarterback struggles in the game with this stunt? Speed of the defense versus speed in practice can make even the most adapt quarterback struggle in a given situation. Or, what happens if even though your quarterback is reading well, your best athlete is never touching the ball? Do you go a whole game being sound strategically and executing the triple well while the defense dictates the player who has the ball in his hand?
In our system we would never allow these two situations to happen. First and foremost, we are never going to continually put the quarterback in a situation where he has been struggling. In the same realm, you can say that we have supplemental plays to offset this stunt. However, I have always believed that if you are a triple team – you are a triple team! If one stunt can get you out of running the basis of your offense then your offense isn’t the soundest. Along with this, how do you know when the defense is going to call the stunt? Are you going to make play calling a guessing game?
Secondly, we are never going to allow the defense to dictate to us. That means play wise or personnel wise. How do we accomplish this? Simple! All our plays are actual packages. Every package for the triple has a different pre-practiced answer to the defense shown in fig.1. (For quarterback recognition we refer to this as a “fifty.” That means #3 outside and a playside linebacker inside the handoff key) In the first article we referred to our 41-49 package (all our triple packages are 40’s) where we read ourselves out. In this article, we will refer to 44-46 our “load” package and 42-28 our “arc” package that have different answers built into them to handle this fifty look / stunt. In each of these we will block one aspect of he defense and change / simplify the quarterback read while keeping at least two of the three options alive. Additionally, we will explore some tags we run in order to enhance and dictate what we want!
44-46 (fig.2)
In our load option vs. a 50, we are going to block #2 with our tackle (he will drop step and aim outside hip. Do not position – this is a physical log) The halfback will lateral step, wait for the tackle to pass then load the backer. (If #2 is coming down he will go outside the tackle’s hook to seal the wide scrape linebacker.) The quarterback will read #1 (the handoff key) and sprint around the load option support. If the load widens he will tuck. If, as he looks to tuck, the safety fills inside with the halfback he will leverage pitch.

This scheme has essentially eliminated the back to back reads for the quarterback. He now knows he has time to come off the mesh and get to his pitch key.

Although essentially a quarterback fullback play, this keeps all three of the options alive while taking the back to back away from the quarterback.

(I know this resembles the midline tuck play to many people but there are a couple of differences. First the proximity of the FB mesh allows the handoff key to get to the FB and the play to continue to the perimeter. The midline tends to be a give because of the distance to the key. Secondly, we are trying to log #2 – not make it a tuck play. Finally, being a gap wider a physical nose cannot push the center into the mesh.)

42-48 (fig.3)
Fig. 3

In our arc scheme instruct our tackle to make a call vs. any 4i that tells the quarterback and fullback the give aspect of the option is dead. The fullback will now aim wider and wrap for the scraping backer. (In essence, he and the tackle will exchange assignments.) The quarterback will skip out and pitch off #2 (we have him skip because it puts him on the top of a crash pitch key – keeping the ball from being batted down; and it allows him to clear the fullbacks path.)
We have now taken the back to back out of the read and made it a quarterback / halfback play

Keeping the fullback in the game
Many defensive coaches will tell you that once they play a 4i the fullback is dead. They also teach this concept to the defense, letting them run to the other options. A good option coach will not allow that to happen (unless, of course, you don’t want your fullback to carry the ball!) We accomplish this with two tags that become automatic gives.
Check Donate (fig.4)

(When you donate – you GIVE)

Used with 42-48, whenever we add “check donate” to the call, the tackle will change his call vs. a 4i (everything else stays the same except the tackle will only split 2’ regardless.) On the tackles call the quarterback will give the ball off with the fullback bending around the tackle’s block and making a “soft shoulder cut” under a scraping linebacker.
Used sporadically (4-8 times per game vs. a 4i defense) this can create a number of long runs as we are not an outside veer team but have slipped it in without the HB sealing down as a key.

Check Kebbler (Fig. 5)

Fig. 5

(The Kebbler Elves made chocolate chip cookies – we are chipping the handoff key with our guard!)

Used with 41-49, whenever we add a “check kebbler” to the call, the tackle will call “kebbler” vs. a 4i. This tells the fullback and the quarterback it is a give and the fullback should square up as soon as getting the ball. The tackle will loop as called but go right to the near / middle safety. The guard will step lateral so as to gain width and catch the slant with his near shoulder, blunting his move as he continues to the safety. The blunting action should stunt the 4i enough to allow the FB to pass. (Note: we do not cut down our split in Kebbler)

Run Midline triple vs. the defense (fig. 6)
The midline triple is, in essence, the same play as 41-49 (see first article) except for the fullback mesh is further removed from the read. This does two things. First, there is a greater chance that the fullback may get the ball. (The path of the defensive tackle must change for the two meshes!) Secondly, the back to back is easier to read due to the time it takes to reach the quarterback.

An additional element of this play is the position of the force player relative to the pitch. To be successful with back to back reads you must get force to the pitch immediately, otherwise the halfback has a great advantage in the footrace to the perimeter. The use of twirl and no motion will put the secondary in a softer position vs. the pitch.

Some additional notes on the 4i and the back to back reads:

  • Reading a 4i consistently will add wear and tear to your fullback. The proximity of the 4i and the force he comes down with, unimpeded due to a loop scheme, will take its toll. One thing I didn’t like when I use to visit Army was this aspect of their offense. It seemed like every week another fullback was out with a nick or a concussion. By keeping the fullback alive they were killing him.
  • Putting in these calls for a specific game may be okay but having them always in your repertoire is better. You will perform them better. There will be less doubt in the team about them (especially the quarterback) And you’ll have answers when the defense tries to surprise you!
  • If your quarterback is constantly getting battered by a crash pitch key or not recognizing the back to back, the first thing you need to do is look at your teaching methodolgy. This includes your teaching progression, system for recognition, mechanic taught, practice methods, and vocabulary used. Secondly ask him what he is seeing. It will give you great insight into why you are having this problem. Too often we blame the kid and his ability. Triple option is a coach's offense and as a result a teacher's offense.

You can see that my philosophy is to not let the defense dictate to you, whether that be
In what play you run, In the quarterback read mechanism, or in who handles the ball.

The second partof that philosophy is to be a quarterback friendly offense. We tell him we will never ask him to do something he can't do or doesn't understand and we will never ask him to take a beating for the team! He's gotta know you have his back!!!

I hope you find this article useful. Any questions can be addressed to 3backoption@gmail.com

I hope to get 2 or 3 articles up during the holidays

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

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