Thee are three types of tags in our system:
- system tags: these are built into our core concepts and are the way we execute the offense. It puts us in the perfect scheme for the concept we are going to run. It allows for "mixed rules" that would not hold up universally but allow the player to attack the right player with confidence due to the quarterback call. They are part of our core packages.
- universal tags: these are tags that can be run vs. everything and all things. They allow the quarterback a "safety net" or an "out" if confused. They also allow us to run the lesser part of our offense using schemes that are not universally sound but combine with these - we have an instant "out" if a problem exist. They are taught from the inception of the original concept that needs them. They usually place us back into a core play. For example: if we get walkups we will check certain structurally stressed schemes back into our double options or rocket based on the flank.
- Added or Special Tags: These are tags we add to plays to create a special look for an opponent. There are added to the base scheme and, therefore, substituted for a core or system tag vs. a certain look. (and only that look! the advantage of tag with practice time.)
Every offseason coaches get hundreds of ideas in their head. Multiple ways of attacking a defense. we all get the urge to add and add and add. Of all the programs I have consulted with, I would say that the biggest problem I see from these teams is the overuse of tags. They simply have too many and practice ones they are not using for that week. This gets away from the very idea of using tags to reduce your practice time while mutiplying and complicating your offense. REMEMBER: tags are taught by rote vs. one look therefore they can be implemented in a week (as long as there is carryover in techniques and recognition.)
What a tag should accomplish:
In order to add a tag, we feel it must accomplish one of the following:
- Take advantage of an extreme defensive structure, designed to stop a particular play or answer you already have. As an example is our tag for a spot pass to the wide receiver on the backside. If a team insist on folding or fast folding there lbers to motion even in a soft three shell we will run the spot pass added to our midline lead play. (We run it off our midline lead because you need to get a hat on the five tech so he doesn't bat it down.) If we come out and see that look the QB will abandon the play (without the others knowing) and pick up the ball and throw it out to our wide receiver. If it's not there we just run the lead play. (we wouldn't even practice it vs. 50 team)
- Allow us to run a play to a formation that would not make our base tags sound: We get very multiiple formationally at times. We want the defense to have to be option sound versus a large variety of options and still line up soundly vs. a great deal of formations, yet we want to be consistent with our quarterback recognition and our 3 back concepts taught. Sometimes, tags are necessary to keep all of these parameters sound. Let's look at if we expaned our #2 receiver to a twin set. We can run triple easily vs any 7 man front with no assignment changes. The detached receiver would still block #3. However, if he defense came out reduced we would now be in delemma as our qb would tell the inside receiver to seal backer to safety, something unsound from his alignment. We would simply tag it with a double option specifically set up for a reduced front where we would pitch off the 5 and the detached receiver would now block #2. (we also have a tag where we instruct the detached hb to return to his normal alignment if he is assigned to seal. We are now tagging a "shift.")
- Force the defense to align soundly on every receiver even if it is an ineligible receiver. If you run bubble and quick screens vs everything it takes work and time. Time that you don't have when running the triple. For us these only take for when we have 2 on 1 fast break football. Take the above example. If we are playing a reduced front team, we might tag our double options with a bubble tag. If #2 didn't widen we check and hrow a 2 on one bubble. In splitends over we may check it with the quick screen. Many teams ignore #2 because he is ineligible but you still have 2 on 1 with both split ends and a corner. We would add the tag of a quick screen to the widest with #2 blocking the corner. (taught this way these are two easy and simple exlosive plays. We spend no more then 5 min. on all of them.
- Change the structure of the defense to place the blockers where we want. This can be as simple as tagging the quarterback and receivers to count a player in the perimeter he may not normally count or telling the perimeter to block the defense in a manor to completely change the structure. In the former, picture a 3 deep 50 defense. The short side is a reduced look that we would normally veer and seal with the hb when running the triple. But if they are rerotating quickly the safety can outnumber you to the boundary. By tagging the play with an ALLEY call the quarterback knows to count the safety and tells the wr and hb to also by calling Alley. This places us back into a 50 loop scheme and accounts for the unwanted stranger (free safety) In the latter, if we want to seal the box with the HB (veer and still block a deep MLB) we might add the tag force blocking from ends over. If the requirements for force blocking exists (#3 softer the 4 yards) the quarterback will call force and treat the defense as a reduced front. (Due to the elimination of #3)
- Keep you best athlete in the game: As an example, look at a reduced front and you have a great HB. Well if they force the give over and over again your best player never gets the ball. Sure you could run rocket but that's a whole other play. So we'll add a package to our triples with a double option tag for ony reduced fronts where we pitch off the five. We are not going to let you dictate who carries the ball - we will!
- Change the defensive option assignments. We want the defense to think we will pitch (soundly) off anybody. We do not want them playing rote option responsibilities - we want them defending schemes where they are more liable to mental mistakes. Look at the reduced front. We just forced the 5 tech to play both fb and qb with the tackle veering. (we wrap the FB for the inside backer in our double option.) He has to decide who he has after the snap.
- Taking away defensive mismatches: Look at the above double option tag. Let's say the defense was giving us the dive - not because of taking away our good HB but because they were flat better then us inside (Iowa did this to Georgia tech a couple of years ago as did LSU - all despite Dwyer the FB being Tech's best player. We'll this tag let us get outside and took away the disadvantage.
- Take advantage of defensive repetition in defending the triple: Many times option teams get in trouble when defenses are allowed to get into a rythm against it. ("Dive, QB, Pitch....Dive, QB, Pitch...repeat until done.) This is why we vary formations and scheme so much. Another way we handle this is to use it to our advantage. Lets look at the reduced front that plays dive with the 5, LB scrape and SS on QB, and runs the Free to the pitch every time. (I've seen this from major colleges.) we might add a reduced front tag where we send the HB right to the safety and leverage pitch off the scrape lber knowing the outside lber is taking him. (thus the qb is "blocking" 2 people) Another might be a tag w use to a three tech where we single the three and put the tackle right up to the lber (4-3 and reduced) we could only do that if the defensive 5 tech was taking the fb every time. As soon as the qb saw a different look or maybe an echo stunt he would not check to the tag.
Parameters of Tagging:
In order to be successful with tags 11parameters must be filled.
- The recognition for the qb must stay as it is for your base offense. Whatever system you use the tags must fit in. This is the most important
- Tags must have a specific reason to be run. Not the flavor of the month.
- Tags must be able to be taught rote vs. one look PERIOD!
- Tags must use already practiced techniques
- Tags must not take more then 10-15% of your practice time
- Your playcallig system must be condusive to tags as must your cadence
- Your personnel must be able to execute the tag. What good is it to check into a double option that keeps your qb in the game if he runs a 5.4 40
- nly one tag per problem. If I gave you a test awith 5 questions and then gave you the five answers, how much better would you do if I gave you 6 answers. NONE!
- When putting in your tags - make them exciting as if yu have the answers to the test.
- Tags should be designed for Big plays - not for 3 or 4 yard gains. Your base offense will take care of that.
- Don't ever sacrifice yur base for tags because when your tags fail or they line up in something else - yur base keeps yuo going.