There are many times when running the triple we wished we had an extra blocker to help us inside the "box" in a seven man front. Needing the Halfback to arc on #3 places a strain on the interior blockers to handle the middle man in any defense. (Middle linebacker or Nose guard in fig. 1 and fig. 2.) Both defenses have a simple method of getting the 6th man to the side of the triple. Sure there are answers with other schemes or other plays but to run the triple places the blockers on those two people in an uphill situation.
(I realize you can go to a loop schemes vs. the even or tackle's over vs. the odd but, for this article's sake, we're talking about keeping the triple to a non-tightend as a base play. I also realize the Georgia tech faithful will talk about cutting back behind the nose but, again, for this conversation we'll keep it as a total mismatch that makes that seem impossible.)
When I first started running this offense about 17 years ago, I asked many people the same questions. Besides using a tightend or tackle over to add an extra interior blocker or allowing us to veer a 50 the answer was always another play or scheme or checking it to the opposite side in the case of the 4-3. That was except for Tony DeMeo and the Army staff. Both of them also found an answer by using their "Ends over" formation in a unique way.
Rather than use the extra receiver in the traditional way and our base rule (fig. 3) in order to handle the free safety in the alley, they used the receiver as a perimeter blocker on the force player by call. (Fig. 4 and fig.5) By eliminating a defender from the perimeter without using the core structure of your offensive scheme you have, in essence, made the rest of the defense a reduced front. (the "pseudo" #3 (free safety) is inside the tackle.) So what does that give you? It allows you to use the halfback as an interior blocker.
Let's take a look at the problems again that we mentioned previously and the affect this scheme has on them.
First, vs. the 50, now that the halfback is no longer needed on the perimeter to arc on #3, (fig. 4) we can now veer block allowing the guard to double / combo off the nose to the backside linebacker. We still get 2 blockers working on the inside linebacker – one inside and one outside the handoff key. Problem solved. (fig. 4)
Vs. the 4-3, the schemes allows us to keep the middle in the box by sealing him with the Halfback and keeping the double / combo on the three technique. (fig. 5 above)
I know some people, even at the college level, don't like to stalk a rolled up run support players and over the years certain alignments have given us problems. However as we evolved we found this problems opened up a wealth of gains by incorporating a simple check system. We also found out that what you put into it – you get back. Fundamentals practiced over and over again as well as never putting the middle receiver in an advantageous position have made this a great addition.
In checking the "force" blocking the quarterback will keep the middle receiver away from blocking an extreme disadvantage – rolled up closer than 6 yards. Simply stated for the quarterback if #3 is closer then 6 yards from the line of scrimmage go the other way. Normal 6 man side checks apply.
There are three situations that highlight this point.
Answer: the free safety over makes this a six man side by rule and we will go opposite. By going opposite now you are running to a nub flank that hits much quicker. The #3 defender (deep halfback) is in a bind and cannot play the arc and the deep pass as he has no help from the free who has remove himself by alignment.
Answer: Make the inside receiver eligible by stepping him off and stepping one of the halfbacks on the line or pick the ball up and throw a one-step quick screen to the wide receiver with the inside receiver blocking. This has been huge in that circumstance. (Fig. 6) If we are keeping the inside receiver ineligible we will usually tag the play with this possible check.
The defense makes a radical adjustment by either sliding the front / lbers or flipping over an outside linebacker in order to outnumber the offense.
Answer: go the other way which has become reduced and allows us the same seal / veer scheme. You can't have 7 people one way and not be reduced backside.
- Always break down halfway from the defender. If he's at 6 you go to 3. This allows us to react to the angle of support and be more physical when the defender approaches
- Vs the inside defender, step lateral and stay square rather then turning to block like a crack. This allows the blocker to react to the defenders movement either up (crack) or over the top (stalk)
- Do not position. Get body on body to be physical.
- This is a physical stalk. Once you make contact – latch on and run defender. Do not sit and recoil.
There are certainly many sound ways to overcome the stated problems. Over the years, we have found "force blocking to be a valuable addition to our system.
In part II we will delve into other advantages of force blocking that allow us to use plays we would normally rule out vs. certain defenses and therefore reduces the number of actual plays we have.