Okay - so let's take a look at how we blocked the rocket in order to get downhill blocks. In this article we'll talk about the perimeter (WR and HB) In part IV we'll talk about the interior blockers and show it against many of the traditional defenses flexbone teams face. In Part V we'll deal with formational and blocking variations. (I know that this is a little change from my original schedule but when I did part III it was a little longer then expected and I was forced to cut it up.)
Three concepts to understand with our blocking:
We are a man scheme that applies some zone principles on the run. By assigning a man and then applying zone principles (they only have the defender on one side - the outside) we can be more aggressive with and quicker to our blocks. We also don't have to spend a lot of time reading the "daisy chain" to the sideline of the run and reach concept. Additionally, the blocks are made with the shoulders up field allowing us to be more physical.
In a fifty or 4-3 defense (assuming the secondary is balanced) we will have three defenders outside the tackle for our two blockers (HB and wide receiver) so somebody will be unblocked. (see fig.1 and #2) With this in mind, we will allow the non-support player to go free. I know people hate to let people go but in this case there are a number of reasons the play works so well this way:
- We are letting the player go who has the deep pass. We will throw the pitch pass on him if he gets nosey.
- In many cases these are small corners who don't want to / can't make the tackle. In today's football world many of these are picked for their pass covering ability first.
- Unlike when you do this in a traditional toss sweep or option (we do this to crack an alley running safety in the option game but with less success.) the play does not have to get to the edge - it's there now. When you run the option and set the non-support free, the defender has time as the ball comes down the line, it is pitched back and the halfback has to get his shoulders up field. Often the corner will make the tackle within 4-6 yards of the line of scrimmage with, because of pursuit, the back's shoulders not square restricting the cuts the the defender has to honor. The rocket however gets out there immediately and, because of the fact we try to create a pivot point on the defense (see below #4) with a leverage block, the back can turn up and square his shoulders almost immediately making the defender cover a large area and defending a two way go from depth.
- We always try to create leverage with some sort of a downblock / crack. (see concept #3) This allows the back to to turn upfield in space (I guess this comes with the wing-t background)
We will always create a pivot point around the defense with a crack or leverage block where available. We do not want to outrun the defense to the side. We are already outside the defense - we want to get upfield and get yards.
To a wide receiver flank we must have somebody make a 2 or a 3 call to tell the blockers and the quarterback if we are going to leave somebody free. It also tells the halfback if the crack affects his blocking and alerts the quarterback if he may have to check opposite. We use code words and let the quarterback make the call using his option count system. However, I've seen coaches let their halfbacks make the count call
Base Rule:Playside Halfback: I block # 2 (option count) Aim 3-4 yards outside and attack. I do not have any hard inside moves. If I get a 2 count call and the wide receiver says he can crack I will exchange assignments
Wide Receiver: I have the support player. If he is not blockable - signal in and block non-support. (Yes that is the corner in 2 deep and he has to read leverage as to who supports but it will happen very quickly.)
Quarterback: With a 3 count and the wide receiver signaling he can't block the support player - check opposite.
First: Wide Receiver signals if he can block support and quarterback give count
2 count - wide receiver's signal affects halfback and means nothing to the quarterback
3 count - wide receiver signal affects quarterback as far as flank is concerned
Okay, lets take a look at a couple of examples. (Then we'll talk about the halfback's technique)
1. 4-3 level coverage - a 3 count. The HB has number 2 and the wide receiver will block force. We will leave the corner go (fig.3)
2. The same is true vs. a 5-2 with level coverage. Again a 3 count. we will let the corner go. (fig.4)
3. In a 4-4 or reduced front the count is now 2. If the WR can crack #2 the halfback will arc on #3 (Note: This is not a traditional drop step arc but should get up field as fast as possible off the hip of the Wide Receiver as the halfback is turning up also. (Fig.5)
4. The same 4-4 and the WR can't crack the halfback and wide receiver will block their man by rule (fig.6)
5. Let's look at a 5-2 with 3 deep. If the strong safety could be cracked we will let the halfback go (we can also check away from numbers by a tag but we want to control where we run and we like the wide side.) (Fig.7)
6. In the same scenario as 5 but the strong safety is too tight to crack. Now with the 3 count and the "I can't crack" signal the qb knows to check "opposite" (When there is a 3 count you will and you cannot crack you will always have a reduced front backside. With the SS that tight they cannot rotate back out of it in time. (Fig. 8)
(In Part IV I'll also deal with 2 deep)
Halfback's technique on #2.
When are halfback is assigned #2 we do not want him turning his shoulders and going lateral to the line of scrimmage. Instead we borrowed something from my jet sweep days. We tell him to attack a spot 2-3 yards outside #2, keeping his shoulders as square as possible to the line of scrimmage. As the defender moves he keeps on a course for 2 yards outside of #2. By doing this we feel we have three advantages over the lateral run and reach technique. We also tell the halfback that he doesn't have any hard inside move. We let that go as we don't have to block anything C-gap or in. Basically he is beating the defender to a spot.
- We can be physical and not get knocked back. Blocking is always easier going north south and with the ability to let the c-gap move go we can be extra aggressive.
- We get on the block quicker. With the ball already outside the block you only need to tie up the defender for an instant. Many times the halfback will just get headup on a running defender but with the ball outside already that is enough to give us a great advantage.
- By having a man assignment there is a sureness in his execution and by giving him zone concepts of not having the inside move he can work levels and has a better chance of cutting off the alley runners (Linebacker and free safety.) If you break down your film you'll see these usually make the tackle on a stretched out rocket.
(Note: If I was able to cut I'd still do it the same way as you must get your shoulders square when cutting. It's easier and more jolting to cut going forward with your shoulders square. Additionally, as I mentioned above - if you only got the back leg of this technique but got it quick enough and, going upfield, forceful enough - with where the pitch is caught you already have speed in space.)
As added safety catch, anytime the defender is on the line and too far for the halfback to reach - he will make a "HOT" call. This usually happens in a eight man front. The quarterback knows that any hot calls are automatic checks to our midline double lead. (He will first look to check opposite if that's any better.) With #2 on the line and wide there is no way for the defense to outnumber the midline. You have a hat for a hat. (Figure 9) This is a call the halfback can make on any of our plays where he arc's or leverages #2 and the quarterback's checks are consistent.
PART IV will focus on 2 deep (including the inside corners that are commonly displayed nowadays.) and the guard and tackle assignment and techniques.