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By Chris Brown Xs and Os on tonight's BCS Championship from the proprietor of the essential Smart Football. Watching Auburn and Oregon toy with and occasionally fall far behind opponents this season, giving them glimmers of hope before inevitably overwhelming them in a barrage of plays and points, reminded me of Roger Ebert's description of the payoff in those Michael Douglas-WhoDone-It-And-How'd-They'd-Do-It movies. He referred to the plots as the "chessmatch approach" to resolving conflict: The protagonist (Jim Harbaugh, Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban, and so on), thinking he has the upper hand, appears confident that he's finally outsmarted the so-called geniuses Chip Kelly and Gus Malzahn , until a single scene or line of dialogue (some big play or a flurry of 21 points in a matter of minutes) makes it clear that they could not be more wrong. And then, in Ebert's words, "we get a big closeup of him realizing he's screwed." This is how the drama seemed to unfold on the field, too, as the Ducks and Tigers made habits of scoring quickly and in bunches, usually in he second half. As you watched, it seemed like each offense typically took a quarter or two to crack the opposing defense's code before coming to life, and there is some truth to that ± both teams have stormed back from multiple double-digit deficits, including three-touchdown holes against two of the best teams on their schedule, Stanford (which led 21-3 at Oregon in October) and Alabama (which opened up a 24-0 lead on Auburn on Nov. 27). But stats guys will tell you that when your team averages 49.3 and 42.7 points per game, respectively, while playing elite competition week in and week out, scoring 21 points in half a quarter is not a fluke: It's reversion to the mean. In other words, what those two teams do on offense is simply better than what everyone else is doing, and they either have better players (like Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, or Oregon running back LaMichael James) or their players are simply better utilized and better fits for their specialized offenses. In fact, on first glance ± and even after some closer inspection ± both teams seem to run the same offense: A no-huddle, run-first spread with a steady diet of misdirection and more than enough in the passing game to make defenses pay for overloading against the run. If ever there was a championship game that announced that there's a better mousetrap out there than the old two-back, smashmouth approach, this is it. Yet Chip Kelly's and Gus Malzahn's offenses do have differences, some simply in terms of emphasis, others in terms of roots, and these are worth understanding. Chip Kelly wants to do everything fast. Announcers like to remind you that he runs a nohuddle offense, but Kelly will tell you that's not true; he runs a no-huddle program. The foundation for his offense is less to be found in his playbook (though more on that shortly) than in his practice schedule. And though much has been made about the benefits of being up-tempo during games, the real benefit of being a no-huddle program is the number of repetitions the
players get at practicing football, rather than merely doing football-esque things like wind sprints, or spending 20 minutes of valuable practice time on calisthenics (the "stretch period"), or having 10 to 40 players idly standing by while one player gets instruction from his position coach. ³In the old days, you could pull aside a guy while they huddled up," Mike Bellotti, the former Oregon head coach who hired Kelly to overhaul the Ducks' offense in 2007, told the New York Times. ³You do that now and you would miss five plays." But don't ignore the plays. Belloti, who plucked Kelly form obscurity in New Hampshire after seeing his brilliance first-hand, calls Oregon's spread a "read offense." Another name for that is option football, though not in the the service academy, triple-option sense. By now, all football fans are familiar with the zone read, wherein the line blocks a normal zone running play to one side and, instead of trying to hold the backside defender through the threat of some John Elwaystyle bootleg, the quarterback merely reads him to decided whether to give the ball to the back or keep it himself. And, by now, we all know that just doing that alone thirty times a game is not enough. Defenses use a variety of tactics to combat this basic play, including the "scrape exchange," a tactic intended to muddy the read by sending the defensive end crashing for the quarterback while the linebacker "scrapes" to sit and wait for the quarterback:
Among Oregon's preferred responses to this is to simply kick the read over by one man: Instead of reading the defensive end, they read the defensive tackle, or the "three technique":
Note that what works against the normal zone read ± the scrape exchange with the linebacker flowing to the outside ± is precisely the wrong decision against the zone read off the three technique (also referred to as the "midline"). The defensive end who slants inside will get blocked while the linebacker will simply take himself out of the play. This tactic will take on increased importance against Auburn and its massive (and massively talented) defensive tackle, Nick Fairley, for the simple reason that it is easier to read a man than it is to block him ± the adage at the foundation of all read or option based offenses. Below are clips of Oregon using this tactic against Stanford ± there are no long runs in this clip, but when we're talking about the nation's No. 1 offense in yards and points in a game in which it hung 52 on a top-five outfit that didn't lose another game all season, we don't really have to go out of our way to establish the Ducks' bona fides here, do we? Of course Chip Kelly has answers to your answers. If you try to scrape inside for the midline (same concept as above, except the unblocked defensive tackle squeezes down on the inside handoff instead of the end, while the linebacker still scrapes for the quarterback), then Oregon switches it again, by using the outside zone with the midline read:
Of course, everyone knows Oregon wants to run the ball; the Ducks averaged over 300 yards per game on the ground this season, and Auburn knows better than anyone how foundational the run game is to everything Oregon does. And yet, Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin knew it, too. Kiffin, you may recall, is usually credited as the innovator behind the vaunted "Tampa Two" (a normal two-deep defense where the middle linebacker retreats to be the centerfielder), and, in his one season on his son's staff at Tennessee, did an excellent job against Florida's prolific spread attack, led by Tim Tebow, by going to some "bear" fronts. Kiffin's charges at USC didn't fare so well against Kelly, though, as the Trojan defense yielded 599 total yards and 53 points in October. LaMichael James racked up over 200 yards rushing in that game, but it was also one of Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas's best efforts, with over 280 yards passing and four touchdowns in the Duck win. One of the cat-and-mouse games Kiffin and Kelly played was with the backside safety. Kelly would line up in trips ± that is, with three receivers to one side ± and look to run the ball, with the constant threat of the quarterback pulling the ball out to run to the backside. This combined threat of both inside and outside runs, with the overload of three receivers to the right, forced Kiffin to overload his defense to the trips side and keep a safety deep. To help against the run, however, he often dropped his backside safety near the line to help in run support. Kelly's response was simple: Run four verticals straight up the field, letting the innermost receiver to the three-receiver side work across the field to the backside. If the now-single deep safety played to the trips side, the reciver who crossed was wide open; if he ran with him, the other slot receiver was open:
From this set, James had a number of big runs, and Jeff Maehl, Oregon's leading receiver, had a career night as the outside receiver, running straight up the field. And, of course, there was this: When James and Thomas have established themselves in the zone-read game, big plays off playaction are like shooting fish in a barrel.
described the Delaware Wing-T in ways any coach could understand and install. Malzahn's offense truly came together for the college level (it was already an incredibly effective high school attack) once he meshed with co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand at Tulsa. Last season I described Malzahn's "Truck Sweep. This season.Gus Malzahn. angles and fakes. unusual formations and pace. But. when he was promoted from defensive coordinator (!) to the head spot at Hughes High School in Arkansas in the early nineties. Time is the scarcest resource in football." ± nothing more than the Wing-T's "buck sweep" in new-age wrapping ± which Ben Tate rode to over 1. That the offense was under center and used two true running backs and a halfback rather than the multiple formations. so he learned by watching high school coaches. gives Auburn its unique approach with Cam Newton. Malzahn had between 200 and 300 plays. But we try to use window dressing. a lesson he learned early on: Malzahn had no coaching tree pedigree." How basic is Auburn's offense today? Malzahn said it has only about four base run concepts and six base pass concepts. shotgun and multiple receivers Malzahn would come to favor is detail. Malzahn began using more reads and zone plays. leverage. get them to where the players could run them perfectly. The offense is built around misdirection. and it was the perfect training for modern football. As a third-year coach at Hughes High School. When you have a talent as great as the Heisman Trophy winner at the center of your system. or c) Make the defense think Newton is going to run it while giving it to someone else.e. ludicrous speed": Malzahnliterally wrote the book on making the up-tempo. "After that I went back to basic football. As Malzahnrecently explained to Sports Illustrated. "That's some of the best advice I've ever got. As I've previously explained in this space. came to his current school preaching "speed-speed-speed. particularly Arkansas legend Barry Lunney Sr. when combined with the no-huddle and the modern spread. no-huddle the core of an offense's "philosophy. Even though today everybody thinks we have a lot of plays. Malzahn chooses one of three goals for each run playcall: a) Let Newton run it. not primary substance. like Kelly. b) Let Cam Newton read it. especially your linemen. a veteran of Rich Rodriguez's offenses at West Virginia.300 yards rushing in 2009." Malzahn said. like Chip Kelly. But how can you run for . Malzahn prefers to keep it simple. Malzahn knows that college kids can only master so many things ± so let them master something and he'll deal with the defensive coordinators. and like Kelly's frenetic practices. with wrinkles off each one. either he runs it or someone else does. he bought The Delaware Wing-T: An Order of Football and "went by it word-for-word. i. but the core of his offense remained wedded to the idea of combining his Wing-T roots with a more modern spread design. but we all know who Auburn's number one weapon is in 2010: Cam Newton. and then add another play in year four. a coaching classic." The book. depending on what Newton sees from the defense." But it's another book that. That play is still in the arsenal and a key tool. Lunney advised him to pick three or four. the temptation is to install too many plays and overload your players. and is designed to both spread the ball around and utilize players in ways that maximize their talents. we really don't have that many. designed to get maximum repetitions.
the running back runs wide and. the "Power O" play. opening a crease for the runner. the fullback or some other blocker "kicks out" the defensive end.nearly 300 yards a game with only four run plays? Cam Newton might be your first answer.) Malzahn installs it just this way: But then. Once installed. he doesn't stop. The veer is a type of option designed to read the playside of a defense. with one runner inside him and another outside of him. in the same way a pro team would. the quarterback sprints inside: . the running back goes inside and. in fact: The inverted veer." getting a cascade of double-teams and crushing the linebackers to the middle and weak sides of the formation. the quarterback steps around. From a spread set you read the defensive end. Auburn's pass/run play is the same one you see across college football and in the NFL. the backside guard pulls and leads the way into the alley. if the defensive end crashes down for him. that simple "Power O" play can become an entirely different play ± Auburn's best play this year. but then with a simple call. and the running back cuts off the guard's block. It's a very simple play: The playside of the line "blocks down. all while keeping the blocking ± the most crucial part ± the same. Normally. Malzahn uses the power from spread sets. if the defensive end widens. he can give his offense a variety of wrinkles off this play. (See here for how NFL teams use this play from traditional I-formation and two-back sets. On the inverted veer. For example. but the second one is that Malzahn knows which plays are expensive.
en route to shredding the notion of the SEC as a defense-only conference: Against Oregon. You know. though they might take turns delivering their barrages. which is more likely to run into trouble against the Tigers' stout defensive line than to repeatedly burn the Auburn secondary. these power and read plays will be of increased importance because the Ducks' defense is known more for its speed than size: The goal will be to get them flowing one way with reads and misdirection before overpowering them at the point of attack. the spread ± even a very simple one ± officially took the mantle from the old guard and ushered in an era where the notion of "spreading the field to run" was no longer reserved for the underdog. as Newton racked up many of his greatest plays this season on this simple read play. . but Auburn will weather the storm. There. and Cam Newton will do what he's done all season. no one knows how the national championship game will play out. The ramifications of this game will linger. Oregon 35. I expect the second half to live up to the hype. off blocking installed at Auburn on day one. But don't worry: There's always reversion to the mean. based on the fact that I think Auburn's defense matches up relatively well with the Ducks' offense. Of course. If the dawn of the spread offense in the 1990s and early 2000s was like the rise of the personal computer. exactly. while the pundits at halftime try to explain why the two best offenses in the country don't look like themselves.I previously described Cam Newton's success on this play in this space back in September. Oregon will come out with lots of lateral runs and passes. not unlike the 2006 Rose Bowl between Southern Cal and Texas. and IBM had led the way (sometimes unintentionally and to some extent by just being there at the right time). as it is an epochal game for offensive football. the the old Wing-T philosophy. then Chip Kelly and Gus Malzahn ± two coaches who five years ago were coaching at the University of New Hampshire and Springdale High in Arkansas. when it was a new wrinkle installed to take advantage of Newton's athleticisim. and. Apple. and maybe a few fake screen-pump-and-go type passes. I wouldn't be shocked if both teams don't look a bit sloppy in the first half. where Microsoft. But its novelty has hardly impeded its effectiveness. My prediction is Auburn 38.
schematic changes are over. and now it is time to take the spread's lessons of combing reads and fakes with the modern passing game and to look for advantages elsewhere. If the defense is in zone (the support player just sitting in the flat). more singleminded and even more ambitious than their ideological predecessors. more driven. physical wide receiver (Y) cracks first backer in the box. like he does in power and counter. The H-back can be replaced by a tight end with no change (reach block) in assignment. And the lesson these new offensive gurus can teach. The H-back blocks the same as power option. and looks to log the DE. And for anyone who doesn't evolve. With Hand Sweep. like he does in power and counter. whether it's in Oregon's practice schedule and topto-bottom no-huddle philosophy. For the Hand Sweep. Playside Guard ± will pull to block the support defender. Playside Tackle maintains his power B-gap track Backside Tackle will hinge. If the defense is in man coverage (the Y receiver¶s defender chases him inside). the guard will look to log the first backer to clear. looking to kickout the DE if he takes an outside-upfield path. or in Auburn's old-school Wing-T in hip spread clothing. both for the college game and (hopefully) for the pros ± and definitely for high schools ± is that the broad. get ready for your closeup: You just got screwed. Auburn Gap Runs: Hand Sweep Malzahn_Hand sweep @ Yahoo! Video The "Hand Sweep" is nothing more than the old Wing-T ³bucksweep´. the H-back is more man-conscious. the guard will kick the defender . well.respectively ± appear to be playing the Google and Facebook roles: Smarter. Split End ± who is the bigger. but used to hold the backside defender with fake reverse action. motion is optional. Center blocks back.
The only thing that changes with counter is the backside guard and H-back. Since the guard is kicking out the end. Malzahn running counter) Once you¶ve taught the power. To accommodate for this front. rather than the 90 degree open-hip technique used on power option. the last clip is Springdale vs Jenks 2004. Run Game Auburn Gap Runs: Counter Malzahn_Counter @ Yahoo! Video (as a bonus. If this backer tries to run-through the open playside A-gap. you¶ve also taught the counter (to the playside). the H-back will exchange roles (with . as the playside tackle would have a terrible angle to account for an A-gap defender. This communicates that he is staying ³in´ (not pulling) and adhering to his A-gap track. PST works a B-gap track. Center works backside. He will exit on a 45 degree angle. with the exception that the backside guard will now be pulling for playside defensive support player. This now reverts back to how power is blocked.outside. If the backside backer shoots the backside B gap. Backside Guard . making it difficult to get enough blockers at point of attack.the backside guard will skip pull to pick up the backside linebacker scraping over the top. Reactions: Posted by brophy15 commentsLinks to this post Labels: Auburn. and BST hinges. The guard will change his pulling footwork to accommodate the trap technique on the end. PSG works an A-gap track. All the rules remain the same. Herb Hand. the guard will not pull and just pickup the linebacker. the playside guard will make an ³IN´ call. Gus Malzahn. One of the better methods of defending Wing-T is by matching numbers with a reduction (Under) front. the guard will pick him up.
If the ball carrier is stacked (pistol). is that with this system. the slot (in motion) will continue on an (power) reverse track to the counter action. such as ³Twins Right´ will be called (³Twins Right. Another wrinkle can be added to run the exact same play out of 1-back. QB Counter. the slot (#2) running orbit motion will adhere to a simple set of rules. Since QB counter is usually run out of 1-back. By introducing the reverse path. Run Game Auburn Gap Runs: Power . Reactions: Posted by brophy0 commentsLinks to this post Labels: Auburn. To help with this horizontal stretch. 91 Counter´). the guard can log. If the DE wrong-arms the kickout. A basic formation. After a heavy diet of power (overload of numbers at the point of attack). One interesting thing to note regarding Malzahn¶s approach to offense. they don¶t tell the backs where to line up. If the ball carrier is aligned in split backs (away from where the orbit motion is coming from). counter = split-backs). Gus Malzahn.power) and seal the first backer inside the box. This simple rule helps stress defenses who will game plan against counter/power. Nothing changes for guys upfront. leaving the H-back to loop outside and bounce the run. the play-fake speed sweep helps open the run. Herb Hand. The same principles used with power apply with counter.e. the playside safety is widened. but the H-back and Fullback will align based on the play (i. the motion man will reverse out and run an option course with the quarterback. the homerun threat of counter action can stretch defenses to a breaking point. by spinning a safety down with the motion. creating a larger seam for the ball carrier to run through. The backs will align based on the play called (not the formation).
McCalebb. Herb Hand. for one). Balanced attack 3. fire alarms. This series is nothing more than Wing-T from the gun. Heavy misdirection in the run and passing game 4. What is interesting about this "spread" is how much nothing has really changed over the years. While joining forces with Rich Rodriguez protege. and you'll find more and more spread teams complimenting their zone runs with these concepts (La Tech.Malzahn¶s offense is premised on a 2-back run and play-action team that will keep constant pressure on a defense and defensive coaches by. the appreciation of the 2-back power run game was realized and . Dyer. speed option. Hand Sweep). it is the run game utilizing Newton. Running the offense at a 2 minute pace the entire game (physically and mentally wear them down) 2. and Fannin that remains at the forefront. Gus Malzahn gained notoriety as a high school coach in Arkansas throwing the ball and attacking through tempo and extreme spread sets (see ninja). 1. it may be time to cover Auburn's gap run schemes (Power. Plan to go into each game with 7-8 trick plays 6.Counter. Throw the book at defenses with specials. Stretch the field vertically and horizontally 5. and various personnel packages. After covering the zone-read with bubble last year and with the Cam Newton destroying defensive fronts this season. power g option) While the 2010 Auburn offense appears to be achieving success through this aggressive ethos. Present the option in 3 different ways (zone read.
If it is an (base) odd front. If confronted with a 3 technique playside (defensive linemen in B gap). Malzahn will often bring a slot receiver or tight end into the formation late with motion. he will work to the MLB. and the backside guard. ball carriers.perfected. The play is rather simple and for the offensive line. He obviously wants to leverage this player quickly by striking the chest and pin the inside shoulder of the defender. By reducing the workload and specifity for the offensive line. The vital elements of this off-tackle play revolve around the playside tackle. it allows them to operate efficiently at a high-tempo. This method allows the tackle to have a better angle attacking the backside linebacker. the tackle will work toward the backside inside linebacker. One of the first plays Malzahn installs is Power. the footwork and technique can remain consistent with their zone skill sets. who he will kick/dig out of the C gap. washing him into the playside guard¶s track (thereby creating a double-team). the tackle will look to make this DT an A gap player. they want to appear multiple by changing formations. The H-back looks to make his first step to the midline of the defensive end (or EMOL). in its many forms. we'll take a look at how Auburn's inside/outside zone is complimented by gap blocking via "Power". If it is a stacked front. . and backfield action. In this post. while keeping scheme and technique simple for the offensive line. He is looking to work his track to the 2nd inside linebacker in the box. This player doesn¶t always align in the backfield. the H-back. POWER G Malzahn_Power @ Yahoo! Video The tenets of Auburn¶s run game are simple. The playside tackle will step down hard inside and follow a B-gap track.
he will hug the double team. so this will be a short path. with his inside foot on the outside foot of the playside guard. the PST has the ability to make a "MOMO" call. An effective way for defenses to combat power-heavy offenses (as I write about here in 2005) is to overload their overload. and likewise.The backside guard on power will skip (or shuffle) pull by first taking a quick retreat step with his backside foot. As mentioned. bringing strong side pressure into C gap ala a "MARS" stunt or "NCAA (fire zone) blitz". After meshing with the quarterback. That alert helps the Hback recognize that the end will not be on the edge once the ball is snapped. . The center will delay his backside block on the shade. and look to just get a hand on the shoulder of the backside end. so they can pickup the exchanges. The slot receiver (or #2) will orbit (³Utah´) motion and get even with tailback. then horizontally extend his playside foot (some would even teach the skip pull by placing the backside foot behind the playside foot for a quicker release). The running back will align 7 yards deep (just like he would in zone). On the snap. The guard is looking to pull through B-gap (right off the hip of the playside guard). the PST will delay his track release. and won't be the defender needing to be kicked out. anticipating the playside defensive tackle to cross his face. by stepping hard inside to prevent backside B-gap penetration. This usually has an end long-sticking into B-gap and a linebacker blitzing into C-gap (or visa versa). When anticipating outside pressure or a end crashing inside. right off the hip of the playside guard. With a "MOMO" call. the playside guard will step down and work an A-gap track and wash any shade head-up to shade of the center. QB POWER Malzahn_QB Power @ Yahoo! Video When you have an exceptional runner at quarterback (like Cam Newton) Power can be run with him as the ball carrier and/or a running back can be substituted as the µquarterback¶ (ala Wildcat). which essentially means. wash him on his gaptrack. This alerts the entire offensive line to slow down on their releases and allow the line to stunt. The center will always block back on a nose / backside shade / backside 3 tech. retreat. The backside tackle will hinge. this orbit motion will be extended across the formation to control the backside safety. "(I have a) Man On and a Man Outside". waiting on the end to crash into B-gap (where he will wash him inside). and work to the first linebacker inside the box. attacking B-gap. he will reverse field and establish a pitch relationship with QB. The QB power is usually complimented with perimeter stressors like speed sweep / reverse. aiming high to ensure the defender does not cross his face. Often times. it will alert everyone to be man-concious on their blocks. allowing him to keep his shoulders square to the LOS and prevent him from opening his hips away.
Auburn Run Game . It is becomes the fail safe answer to fundamentally sound defenses that look to spill the load block (H-back) with the wrong-arm. Because the H-back will not be kicking out the end. The only nuance of Power Option for the line (everything remains exactly the same). Opening the hips of the guard for this extended pull track (outside C gap) helps neutralize any penetration and gets the linemen to the destination faster. Once again.POWER OPTION Malzahn_Power Option @ Yahoo! Video While great anywhere on the field. Malzahn will have the guard use the µold-school¶ shoulder throw with playside foot pivot as the first step. The H-back will log the end and the backside guard will work around the log and pick up the scraping MLB (first backer in the box). the Power Option is Auburn¶s go-to play in the red zone.Counter The third play I'll be looking at in Auburn's run game is their counter. the guard will have a longer path to work to the backers. To account for this. as most defenses will be in some sort of man coverage. is the technique used by the backside guard. The split end will attack the slot receiver¶s (who is becoming the pitch man) cover defender and the pitch key will be the flat defender. Since it becomes near impossible to kick out a C-gap defender who is cutting inside a blocker. The counter for Auburn is less of a stand-alone play and more of a scheme that Malzahn has found numerous uses for. with Power Option this defender will be logged (pinned inside) and the area of attack will be moved to the perimeter. I'll reiterate the fact that for the most part everything Malzahn does is very simple scheme . This is a fantastic play inside the 10 yard line.
but the counter scheme is also extremely versatile and Malzahn has numerous variations.wise. and includes a diagram and video clips of the play. the tailback #5 Dyer starts out of the backfield and will motion in. Brophy already has a great post explaining the blocking scheme for counter. Let's go to an actual example. but will log if the end comes down hard. it's his ability to "dress up" his simple schemes with formations. and tempo that makes his offense so explosive. The H is looking to lead through the hole for the tailback. Similar to their inverted veer play (which I'm going to refer to as "Dash" from now on because it's a much better name and easier to type) the frontside of the line blocks down. Base Counter Below is a diagram for how Auburn's base counter play looks. all of which he employs pretty consistantly. The tailback aligns opposite of the play and is usually two yards deeper than the QB in order to become a downhill threat. and idea behind the play. Therefor my post will be geared more towards the base play and it's variations and the numerous formations and motions employed to make this scheme so effective. . Like on many plays. but will adjust his course as well if the end crashes. The backside guard is looking to kick out the defensive end. motion. so head there for a great explanation of the blocking rules. technique. The counter scheme is no different than the buck sweep and inverted veer in the sense that Malzahn relies heavily on numerous formations and motions to disguise the play.
The pulling guard is set up well to open the hole for the Hback and tailback to go through.Once Dyer gets into the backfield we see the actual depth of his alignment. On the snap of the football we will see the right guard pull. I've highlighted the targeted defensive end. Here we see how well the left side of the offensive line does at securing their down blocks and beginning to build a wall of bodies. along with the H-back lead while the tailback sets up to attack downhill. . Auburn's backs align very deep on their counter and power plays and attack downhill now.
. even though the pulling guard isn't able to sustain his block. Dyer is able to make a player in the secondary miss and this play goes for about 30 yards Example 2 Here is another example.The guard engages his block as the H-back is heading to block the play side linebacker. Notice the use of another running back to help pick up the outside linebacker. from a different formation set. And finally we see the hole that's been created.
The pulling guard adjusts his path and now logs the end. causing Dyer the tailback to adjust his path as well. .The defensive end squeezes with a down block read.
Counter II One of the variations that Auburn runs is to flip the side of the tailback. . which gives defenses another thing to prepare for with almost no teaching. but overall an interesting adjustment by using a second running back and a good example of a defensive end crashing and the pulling guard logging.Dyer ends up dancing too much and pursuit is able to track him down. they counter the counter. Essentially.
.Here we see a base alignment for Auburn. After taking the hand off he slightly plants on his inside foot and angles back towards the off tackle hole. The tailback takes a downhill course. except as I stated the tailback aligned opposite of the H-back. We see the pulling guard and H-back executing the same techniques as the base counter. and attacks the line of scrimmage almost in a straight line.
but are simply outnumbered at the point of attack. . It's a quick screen to the two receiver side with the exact same run action. Counter Screen Here is an interesting wrinkle Auburn showed later that game off of the same action from above.Auburn executes well.
I think there's a big possibility it could be either give to Dyer or throw the screen. or a choice for Newton to make. Easy completion. . I'm still not completely sure.I was unsure if this was a called screen. They do it in a couple of different ways as well. QB Counter Auburn also makes extensive use of their QB run game off of their counter scheme as well. No matter what it is. and a nice 5-6 yard gain. Dyer's fake is pretty good.
On this play. It also seems to be the preferred choice for Malzahn. The play starts off almost exactly like "Dash" until the pulling guard actually engages the unblocked DE and the QB disengages from the mesh and follows the H-back through the hole. after disengaging from the mesh the QB will then become the counter back and follow the H-back. They will have their QB mesh with the tailback and ride him. QB Counter II The second kind of QB counter that Auburn runs is actually very similar to "Dash" in a way and compliments "Dash" well. The play starts out very similar to "Dash" in this sense. . the QB rides the tailback once again. except this time the tailback will be running his sweep path to the side that the play is hitting. along with that the DE to the play side is left unblocked as well.The first QB counter is a very traditional one that most shotgun teams employing any kind of counter scheme may make use of.
dash.Once again. The only difference now being the kick out block on the defensive end and not the reading of him. . Notice the drastic change in depth of the tailback on this play in order to execute his job. the backfield action is pretty much the same as it is on the "dash" play. the tailback (McCalebb in this instance) starts aligned in the slot and will motion into the backfield. Here's a diagram as to what is about to happen. and buck sweep plays. This depth is used on the QB counter.
Also note the highlighted player. .As the play starts we see the mesh between Newton and McCalebb and the blocking up front start to unfold. but Auburn's offensive line this year was very experienced and very good. and it definitely shows on almost every play. It's hard not to stress this enough. Since South Carolina is in a 3-4 front on this play the pulling guard is actually looking to kick out an outside linebacker and not a defensive end with his hand on the ground.
Finally. Example 2 . This is powerful football at it's best.The outside linebacker screams down towards McCalebb who is running his sweep path creating a chasm in the defense. Newton takes care of the rest.
Here's another example out of a much different set (pardon my drawing. Since they do show so much unbalanced this formation is very similar to the one they run jet sweep out of so much. The flanker to the left would usually be the jet man and the H-back and tailback make for perfect lead blockers on a jet sweep play to the right. . this play is run exactly the same. Just like the first example.) Auburn aligns in an end-over set with both tight end and split end on the same side. An even better view. I went a little nuts on this one.
I originally thought Newton may be reading the over hang defenders for give or keep. This sets up Smith the H-back for a nice lead through and Newton with a great opportunity to attack downhill into a decent size hole. At first it was hard to decide whether this play was a read or not. . while two unblocked defenders are over pursuing on Fannin. The pulling guard is trying to uproot the defensive end. The blocking scheme develops as it appears the defensive end is crashing down hard.The mesh between Newton and Fannin. but it just doesn't seem likely as I haven't seen him give to a tailback on the sweep path when the play is run with the counter blocking scheme.
The play would've been almost perfect had Smith led through the hole. They also do the standard motions by their . 2x2 with a TE. maybe the crashing defensive end muddied his read? Anyways. 3) Motion. 2) Speaking of big plays. 1) Malzahn uses lots of formations. notice the absolute wall that has been constructed on the right side of the screen? A few things to note since this is the third run scheme I've broken down on Auburn. Malzahn loves to turn up the tempo and use his gadget plays after getting a big first down. along with almost any compliment to the play you can think of. 3x1. Newton is left 1-on-1 with a defensive back who is much smaller than him and again he takes care of business. They run their fair share of jet sweep as well. As I've documented Malzahn uses a lot of motion by his tailbacks to get into the backfield. Auburn is extremely multiple in this sense. 4x1 And unbalanced versions of almost everything. 2x1. and a decent amount of it. 3x1 with a TE. While during many games Malzahn does get into a rhythm with certain formations he usually does a good job of opening up drives with a new look.Smith the H-back actually completely misses the hole and goes for a log block. or throwing a new look after a big play. 2x2.
Newton made a living on this play this year. Finally. This play however is not anything new to the college football landscape. but especially those big boys up front on one of their many screens. counter. either into the formation or across the formation. or on the backside of inside zone. run game Monday. Remember.receivers. They throw just enough drop back passes to keep the secondary honest. If the defensive end sits for the QB. Smart footballs description of the play: "But TCU ran a variant. the runner should be able to hit the corner. If the defensive end takes him. 2011 Auburn Run Game . Each play is a different experience. Gus Malzahn. Auburn's schemes are not revolutionary. Not to mention they can still throw the football." . it's the combinations of all the smoke &mirrors listed above that really has transformed the Auburn offense into one of the most notable ones in all of football. They just ³inverted´ the runningback and quarterback: The runningback runs a sweep or outside zone action laterally. And it also doesn't hurt to have a manchild of a Heisman winning quarterback either! Posted by Ten % at 8:17 AM5 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Google Buzz Labels: Auburn. It really is amazing to see all the things they can do to keep defenses on their toes. and their QB Andy Dalton had a field day. the inverted veer (and it's off shoots) are one of the key reasons for Auburn's running game to be so dominant this year and is probably the sole reason Cam Newton won the Heisman trophy. with an H-back or a pulling guard. Oh. I would hate to be a defensive end playing against this team. Documented at smart football TCU busted out this play against Clemson last season. They'll log you or crack you as well with numerous different players. and especially so when you want to ³reach´ him to seal the corner.The Inverted Veer While the buck sweep plays a major part in the Auburn run game. January 3. 4) It is all of these things above (combined with experienced personnel at almost all positions) that allows the Auburn offensive schemes to remain relatively simple and yet appear to be a complicated piece of art. the defensive end is often the hardest guy to block. And they keep everyone running laterally across the field. Needless to say. In their arsenal are play-action passes that have the QB setting up in the pocket and also have him moving the pocket. Sometimes they'll leave you unblocked too. then the quarterback shoots up inside the defensive end. one I¶ve seen other teams use. This means you could be on the front side of the play like in Dash or veer. Auburn will kick you out. Defensive end's have a hell of a task and it takes one hell of an effort to not be out of position at any moment in time.
Malzahn disguises them well using formations and motions. Once again. Here is a diagram showing the basic set up for the inverted veer play. Like the other plays in this offense. Auburn aligns in an empty formation with the tailback aligned as the #3 to the left. . He will motion into the backfield.For more information on this you can also check out this thread from Coach Huey on the inverted veer (referred to as "Dash") and a few other plays that may be of interest. and meshes well with Auburn's other gap-running schemes perfectly. I will also look at some alterations and variations they use. the front side of the offensive line collapses down on the defensive line. Along with talking about the different looks Auburn deployed to run the inverted veer. but numerous other teams also employed it with less athletic QB's. of course having Newton really helped this play explode for Auburn. this time leaving the the defensive end unblocked and waiting to be read by the QB. It's a pretty simple concept. Much like the rest of their gap run schemes. Here's an example.
The DE clearly commits to taking the sweep being run by McCalebb and Newton correctly reads this and keeps it. However. I've highlighted the DE that Newton will read. During the mesh between Newton and McCalebb. We also see the right offensive tackle releasing to block the sole LB in the box. the tailback. we now clearly see the unblocked defensive end who has made his way up the field. at this point in time an interior defensive lineman has slipped off his .Here's the alignment on the snap of the ball.
I can only assume because the added pulling guard requires no new teaching and gets another body at the POA. . to the basic inverted veer. Malzahn seems to prefer this scheme. Diagram below. Inverted Veer "Power" Auburn will also use a power-like variation by adding a pulling guard to the mix to lead for the QB should he keep the ball. This is what leads me to believe that Malzahn prefers leading with a pulling guard (which I discuss later) to be able to pick up a defender who has defeated a block or backside pursuit.block and will make a shoe string tackle and pursuit from the backside is coming as well. their offensive guards are pulling on almost every run play (obviously beside the zone plays). Here is an example of the inverted veer with the added pulling guard element that Malzahn seems to prefer. And as I document more of what Auburn does offensively.
They start the play in a true empty set. On the snap of the ball we see the back side guard pulling and leading and the mesh between Newton and McCalebb the TB. and the pulling guard leading the way to block.. Along with that the pre-snap alignment of the defensive tackle to the play side forces the offensive tackle drive him out. . so this is not inverted veer off of the jet sweep. I've highlighted the DE who Newton will be reading. This places the DE in a position that makes Newton's read pretty clear with two defenders outside now. we see absolutely no one immediately at the second level for LSU on defense. Notice the effect that the empty set places on LSU's defensive structure. Much like on the buck sweepMalzahn uses lots of motion into the backfield by the tailback. Finally. McCalebbk (TB) will stop before the play starts. ready to defend the sweep hand off to McCalebb. with the tailback aligned in the slot.well... Below we clearly see both the defensive tackle and defensive end are now in no position to make a play on Newton's keep..no one in sight.
. Auburn once again aligns in an empty set with the tailback aligned in the slot to start the play.And finally Newton with some running room and a lead blocker who is still looking for someone to block. he will once again motion into the backfield. Inverted Veer "Power" Give Here is an example of Newton giving to the sweep after making his read.
. After the hand off has been made we now clearly see the highlighted DE was attacking Newton and now that Newton has made the correct read McCalebb now has the ball on the edge. Much like under center veer teams if the hand off key comes down hard the QB is supposed to pull and attack the edge. Since this is the inverted veer and the QB is now the dive portion if the hand off key charges the mesh point then the tailback should now receive the hand off and attack the edge on his sweep path.During the mesh we see the highlighted DE charging the mesh point.
. Auburn aligns in an empty formation once again. Like the other different versions of option football. with the tailback in the slot to the right. McCalebb will motion into the backfield like all the previous examples. we see McCalebb now one on one with a member of the LSU secondary. This time it's a little different as it is more of a trey look to the left.Finally. Example Two Here is another example from a different formation against Arkansas. when executed correctly it is deadly.
On the snap of the ball we'll see the same thing we've seen on the other versions. . and also tried to show the arc block course that the tight end will take. so much so he will collision the pulling guard. During the mesh we see the DE who is the hand off key come down hard on the mesh. I've highlighted the DE. Along with that we see the great angle that the tight end now has on the linebacker inside.
Inverted Veer "Power" Diagrams .Newton makes the correct read and hands off to McCalebb who can now continue on his sweep path. It's unfortunate that McCaleb cuts back into the pursuit and doesn't try to stay outside.
While the spread sets they love to deploy to run the play. Auburn also does operate out of tighter sets as well. .Here Auburn aligns in one of their more traditional two-back sets to run the inverted veer "power" play. As I come upon more variations I'll post them as well. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what Auburn has done this year using their inverted veer and inverted veer "power" play.
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