Thursday, February 24, 2011

A couple of unique ways to handle the free in the eight man front

As we continue with the series on handling the eight man front, a couple of ideas we "toyed" with from time to time came to mind.

There are really only 5 concepts to handle the safety and still run the triple and basically everything we've written so far (or will write as we finish up this article) will fit into one of these modes:

  1. Use a blocker to block the free and leave a different person unaccounted for (already discussed)
  2. Add a blocker by formation to account for the numbers (future blog)
  3. Tempo the free safety so as to make him account for everything (already discussed)
  4. Block one of the option responsibilities while leaving two defenders free to play one of the others (already discussed and future blog)
  5. Use one offensive player to become two options allowing for an extra blocker to be added to the perimeter in order to match numbers. (today's blog)

Remember, we are talking about finding our answers within the triple for this concept. Yes, there are other plays and answers that match this defense. However, those are best left for another discussion as the vastness of possibilities would exceed our grasp.

Allowing one offensive player to be two options and then adding a player to the perimeter

When we discuss this we must remember we are talking about a set way to play the triple – a repetitious pattern.

The following two calls have been in our playbook for years. They have been used sporadically with good if not great success. Where they originated I really have forgotten over time. However, the guard pull scheme has been utilized by Air Force against Utah, TCU, and others this past year. (At least I'm assuming it was this scheme. Although the scheme may look the same assignment wise, you really can't tell the quarterback thought process or what "concept" was initiated by a film.)

Using the quarterback as the first two options.

By using the quarterback as the first two options you have freed the fullback to be an added blocker to the scheme.

The guard pull scheme: (see fig.1)

This is the main scheme that I saw Air Force employ this year (to my surprise) It must be run to the three technique.


Playside tackle: Gap, read, down (Use good down block technique on the tackle)

Playside guard: pull around handoff key (#1) for the backer. (See previous article on the fifty for technique) key is to be aware of the tight scrape.

Center back: reach

Playside halfback: easiest release to the free safety (you are blocking for the quarterback and pitch only. See safe call for technique.)

Fullback: triple path, fake. (full-ride) if you don't get tackled block linebacker in hole to levels. (Be physical. You may take linebacker where he goes)

Quarterback: ride hip of fullback. (Do not put ball fully in the stomach) read handoff key. On give key tuck off inside hip of fullback, get north and south, make single gap cut off the fullback.

In essence the quarterback becomes the fullback vs. a give read. Another way to look at is that you have combined the quarterback tuck with the triple and get the best of both worlds. Remember**** you are doing this because you are getting / expecting a heavy dose of squeeze and scrape. This is an answer and not a staple of an offense.

If we get a give read it would look like the following: (fig 2)
A key coaching point is the quarterback must duck off the inside hip of the fullback. This does two things: a) it pulls the quarterback further away from the handoff key; not allowing him to fall back inside, and b) since you are expecting "squeeze and scrape" the cut off the linebacker would normally be through his inside shoulder.

As a variation of this we will add "special" blocking. "special" is a tag that can be used whenever #3 is the free safety and the halfback is assigned to him. (see fig.3) The halfback and wide-receiver will exchange assignments with the halfback arcing the widest corner. The wide=receiver will cut his split 3 yards and push (up to 5 yards) crack the free safety's upfield shoulder.
This is a great way to set up the wheel vs. an eight-man front because the halfback crossing #2's face is now the norm and places him in a bind. (see fig.4)


Again, this is an answer for a problem – not a catch all. It is a way to take a known defensive reaction and use it to your advantage. It also shows that if you take any of the five concepts above and work backwards you can come up with your own ways to defeat the free-safety in the alley. This is the problem solving approach I have used to any situation: List the problem (i.e. outnumbering us with the free), reverse the problem into offensive concepts (i.e. outnumber the defense again) then come up with concrete, rote answers. Of course answers on paper don't always translate into answers on the field due to time, distance, and speed factors.

We have also run a loop version of this (the second play using this concept.) to an A-gap player using the tackle as the wrap around blocker. (fig 5) However, that was earlier in my career when the 5-techniques were played much tighter. The rise of the rocket has widened these defensive players and this scheme became a version of the "quarterback follow." However, at times if used properly this can be a great companion to the rocket as the 5 technique becomes in a bind with the wide movement of the tackle. If he peeks inside the rocket is there. If he runs outside for the rocket, there is a huge tuck hole for the quarterback.


I feel I would be remiss if I didn't answer why this must be run to the 3-technique. (Air ran it to an A-gap lineman and I believe it cost them the Utah game in a crucial situation.)

If you run it to an A-gap linemen and still tight reach the center (Not including a 2i), the defensive tackle will "backdoor" the down-block due to the distance and make the play on the QB from behind (what happened to Air Force vs. Utah) (fig 6)
If you have the center wide reach and get at least his near shoulder on the 2i, essentially posting him for the down-block, then you can't block the backside linebacker and he becomes the player that outnumbers you. (fig 7)
These are not your normal answers to handling the safety but they could be very big if used correctly to match defensive numbers

Hope this helps

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1 comment:

Jerry said...

Is it possible to post a couple of cutups..I tried pulling the OG back about 10 years ago and he got fouled up. I tried to figure it out but gave youtube back then