Bearkat Offense: Expand and Attack

Jim Ferguson Offensive Coordinator Sam Houston State University Huntsville, Texas

t is indeed an honor to submit this article to the AFCA Summer Manual . Throughout my career, I have been blessed throughout my career to work with some outstanding coaches. Ron Randleman’s present staff is no exception. We have a great chemistry on our staff and share ideas on a regular basis. The concepts discussed in this forum are an aggregation of shared strategies and techniques from various sources. I wish to thank everyone who has contributed to my development as a coach. Defensive coordinators present challenges from a multiple array of packages. Stemming the front; jinking linebackers and secondary up and back, in and out to create confusion; pressure from stunts, dogs, full blitzes to zone blitzes all attempt to disrupt the continuity and flow of offense. We see more pressure/attack styles of defense today than ever before. Even though we consider ourselves a passing offense, we realize that we would have to run the ball effectively to be a contender in the Southland Football League. As a one back team, to be able to run the ball against eight man fronts, we originally thought we needed to utilize either two tight ends or two back formations. Defenses adjusted accordingly, and we still had to run the ball in situations where we were outnumbered and outflanked. We decided to fight fire with fire. Our thought process was to expand the field with multiple formations to expand the defense to create running lanes and personnel mismatches. The first formation we presented was quads, our four wide receiver set. We were able to split out our tight end who is a unique individual. At, 6-6, 260 pounds, 4.72 40 yard dash, he possessed the skills to play in space. This luxury allowed us to move back and forth from traditional tight end sets to four-wide sets without tipping our hand prior to deployment. While eight-man front teams were unaffected, seven-man front teams had to decide to sub a nickel back or let a linebacker play in space against our tight end. The defense also has to decide how they want to place their safeties. Two Safety Coverages Since we throw the ball very effectively, most teams utilized a two-high safety configuration that allowed them to play three on two in coverage. However, they realized this weakened the front’s ability to play the run. They cannot effectively play three on


two and keep six in the box. Predictably, they tried to cheat the outside linebacker’s in towards the box and still be able to drop into coverage (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1

We present this as a weakness to be exploited by the quarterback. If the outside linebackers are not playing honest, he should attack immediately. We use several methods to achieve what we consider to be quick, easy yardage. The first method is to run the bubble screen to the inside receiver. We seldom make this a huddle call. We want the quarterback to check to this type of play when the opportunity presents itself. Depending on the huddle call, the play may be an audible in the traditional sense, or it may be a sight adjust between the receivers on that side with the quarterback using hand signals (Diagram 2).

Diagram 2

Coaching Points 1. The inside receiver must have favorable leverage on the outside linebacker. If he does not, this will not be an efficient play. (gain of four yards or more). 2. The inside receiver should run as fast as he can straight away from the quarterback. He should be looking over the inside shoulder. We do not want him to lose any ground and make this a lateral throw. We want him to get outside the numbers and up the sideline. We strive for the inside receiver to get 8-10 outside of his original alignment when he catches the ball. In order to do this he must be sprinting in an effort to maintain leverage. 3. The outside receiver must block the first threat. We place the burden of success for this play on the shoulders of the blocking receiver. He must have the complete

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2002 •

The movement of the safety will determine the side the quarterback will throw to. If the wide receiver cannot stack the defender then the throw must be over the outside shoulder or slightly behind and outside ( the under throw). The key is clear the underneath coverage as soon as possible. we utilize the inside zone scheme with a read concept by the of the receiver if the bubble is going to expand quickly. The quarterback will use his eyes to move the safety if he remains in the middle of the field. we realize the necessity to take our shots down field to loosen the defense. Obviously they would prefer to release inside. When faced with hard corner coverage the receiver should attempt to stack the defender. he must be a viable receiver for the quarterback. 1. The inside receivers should be dispersed two yards outside the hash marks. If the quarterback is in the shotgun formation. We can effectively control • AFCA Summer Manual — 2002 • . The read will remain the same or can start outside in for the quarterback (Diagram 4). He must eliminate the big hit on the play. If the receiver can get the defender on his back. In shotgun formation. outside zone. We never complain when the quarterback checks down to the back. 3. However. he allows the quarterback to throw over the outside shoulder. The teaching progression begins with the receivers running their appropriate landmarks.5 percent of our attempts down field with an average of 34. He should make a throw directly to the receiver. We maintain that a higher percentage throw will occur if he hits the outside receiver in the 35 to 40 yard range down field. 2. During the first two steps of his drop he will know if the runningback is engaged in protection or is releasing to his route. 4. We feel that we can get the ball off without interference from the defensive end because of the change in angle of the throw. we feel the need to extend the defense in a vertical manner. If the defense seeks to involve the cornerbacks help on the inside receiver. One of our primary weapons of choice is to attack the defense with the four vertical passing game. This frequently will place the inside receivers on different planes and creates an oblique stretch on the safety which strains the safety further. The quarterback must be aware of the linebacker and the runningback is responsible for in the protection scheme. it is usually because the quarterback is trying to get an easy play when the defense is playing honest with the inside receiver. This play enjoys a two year average of 6. The tackle is responsible for getting the hands of the defensive end down so we can make the throw. we may or may not alert the offensive linemen. this technique allows the receiver second in the release progression to rub or bounce his coverage off. On the third step of the five step drop. Last year we completed 45. In 33 attempts on the year. We stress that the ball be place in the receiver’s hands in the 18 to 22 yard range down field. We completed two passes to the back for gains of 15 and 28 yards. Variations When faced with a single high safety that has exceptional range. We do not consider ourselves a long ball team. we may twist release the receivers to one side.7 yards per catch. This stratagem is also effective against zone coverage where the cornerbacks are attempting to make plays on the inside receivers (Diagram 5). If his protection duties allows him to release. The quarterback should attempt to get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible. defender playing them. If the quarterback is under the center. We attempt to isolate the single safety with a high horizontal stretch with the inside receivers running down the seams of the three deep zones (Diagram 3). The quarterback’s aiming point is to the hands of the receiver at the height of his numbers. He must be prepared to make his throw when the inside receivers clear the underneath coverage. our run production increased from 3. When the play is not successful. We emphasize the outside receivers must give the quarterback a fiveyard margin of error to their outside. Single Safety Coverages When confronted with defenses utilizing a single safety. Do not attempt to lead the receiver. Diagram 5 Once we extended the defense.3 yds/rush. Throws over 25 yards usually results in a lower percentage pass. We call this the quarterback’s grass. speed and load options. throw to the hands or even slightly to his inside.5 yds/rush to 4. Our run game consists of the inside zone. The outlet throw is to the runningback Diagram 4 Another variation to combat man-toman coverage with an exceptional safety is to stop the outside receivers at 12 yards. We only rep this play in scrimmage situations. we completed 15 strikes with the four vertical game which resulted in seven touchdowns. The outside receivers should release to the outside and run to their landmarks which is two yards outside the bottom of the numbers.79 yards per catch with an 87 percent completion ratio. never to get open. This allows the inside receivers to widen their landmarks creating a larger stretch on the safety. We practice these throws from under center and in the shotgun every day during one of our special team periods. we want the offensive line to use an aggressive zone block to the playside (our three-step pass protection scheme). the quarterback directs his eyes to the single safety. They should enter the quarterback’s grass only to catch the football. 4. meaning they can release inside or outside of the Diagram 3 on an option route. draw. We give them a priority release. 5. then the throw should be to the outside receiver. Versus man-to-man coverage. This gives us the best chance of having an explosive play without the risks inherent with the option scheme.

Oregon. Central Florida Division I-AA: Atlantic 10 Conference. Delaware and West Virginia District 3 Division I-A: Atlantic Coast Conference Division I-AA: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Wisconsin. Oklahoma. Vermont. Hawaii. If the defensive end is taking a path to tackle the runningback. Gateway Conference Division II. Southwestern Athletic Conference. and District of Columbia District 4 Division I-A: Southeastern Conference Division I-AA: Ohio Valley Conference. the quarterback pulls the ball and races around the defensive end. Diagram 6 Coaching Points 1. Division III: Kentucky. The receivers to both sides are considered point of attack blockers. Idaho and Montana District 9 Division I-A: Pacific 10 Conference Division I-AA: Cal Poly-SLO. Maine. 5. Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. We are truly blessed to be able to participate in such a fantastic profession. Western Kentucky. St. Mid-American Conference Division I-AA: Southland Conference Division II. Hofstra Division II. Division III: Washington. Division III: Arkansas. Division III: Minnesota. Notre Dame Division I-AA: Pioneer Football League. Iowa and Nebraska District 7 Division I-A: Conference USA. South Carolina. Wyoming. Mary’s Division II. Division III: Colorado. allowing us to get a body on a body. Nevada. Kansas and Missouri District 8 Division I-A: Western Athletic Conference. Division III: New York. New Mexico. The quarterback must be alert for outside pressure from the secondary and the blocking leverage by inside receivers. Navy. Alaska • AFCA Summer Manual — 2002 • . I want to thank the AFCA for the opportunity to give a little back to the game of football. South Dakota. The defense no longer has a number advantage on the line of scrimmage without employing some form of blitz (Diagram 6). Southern Conference. New Jersey. Division II. The runningback is responsible for the mesh. North Dakota. Division III: Ohio. Illinois and Michigan District 6 Division I-A: Big 12 Conference Division I-AA: None Division II. Utah. Massachusetts. Liberty and Elon Division II. California. Mississippi. I hope this article will be of some benefit to you. Arizona. If the inside receivers have to make a difficult block due to poor leverage. 4.the defensive end. Alabama. District 2 Division I-A: Big East Conference. 3. North Carolina. then the Bubble should be a good play. Again. Division III: Pennsylvania. He must run over the toes of the quarterback while he reads the block of the playside defensive tackle. Connecticut Division I-AA: Patriot League. Texas. Georgia Louisiana and Florida District 5 Division I-A: Big Ten Conference. on behalf of the Sam Houston State University players and coaching staff. Indiana. Samford. Mountain West Conference Division I-AA: Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah Division II. Tennessee. Rhode Island and Connecticut. We utilize full zone blocking with our linemen. Ivy League. Charleston Southern. Division III: Maryland. 2. AFCA Districts District 1 Division I-A: Sun Belt Conference. New Hampshire. The quarterback catches the ball and executes a mesh with the runningback while reading the response of the offside defensive end. Virginia. Northeast Conference Division II. He should extend the ball and ride from back foot to front foot.

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