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Installing the Shotgun Wild Bunch Attack
An Offensive Playbook and Installation Guide By Ted Seay
FIRST EDITION April 15, 2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. THE TAO OF DECEPTION CHOOSING PERSONNEL SYSTEM BASICS FORGING THE LINE THE SKILL SET - X, Y, Z, H & F QUARTERBACK BASICS THE PLAYS INSTALLATION
3 4 8 10 15 26 28 41 74
To Dr. John Ward, for his unflagging devotion to Single Wing football and everything it stands for.
Copyright 2008 Edmond E. Seay III
From the earliest days of the Wild Bunch offense, coaches have been calling for a shotgun version that would combine the power of the Fly Sweep series with the Bunch Attack and Run & Shoot passing packages that define the offense. In the last few years, that call has become a clamor as the spread has increased in popularity every year. However, until fairly recently I was not impressed with the run games that most spread shotgun offenses featured, as I have noted repeatedly in previous versions of my under-center Wild Bunch playbook. That changed when I learned about Dr. John Ward’s creation, the Half-Spin Counter (HSC) series. His semi-spread Single Wing attack has benefited hugely from his combination of the old Washington Redskins Counter Gap play in one direction and a sweep play in the other direction, where the ball is hidden from the defense long enough to cause confusion about the path of the ball -- is it heading off-tackle one way, or around end the other? I’ve blended the HSC backfield action, with its simple step-and-twist by the player receiving the direct snap, and the Fly Sweep series I have been using for years from under center in the Wild Bunch, into something I think is simple, powerful, and a much better basis for a shotgun spread ground game than the normal Option, Dart, Draw & Zone (ODDZ) attack that so many spread teams rely on these days. The HSC-Fly attack is simpler to teach, involves no reads by any of your backs, and is far more deceptive than the ODDZ system. In particular, it adds much better deception to the shotgun Fly series than is possible from a spread offense where the Fly hand-off takes place forward, in full view of the defense. The two running play series -- 10 and 20 -- feature speed, power and deception on the ground, as well as well-disguised play action passing. The three passing series -- 50, 60 and 70 -- provide a full complement of modern pass-route packages for attacking any defensive system and coverage. All of this can be accomplished in as few as 10 plays, although I recommend 18 for the average high school installation of the gun Wild Bunch -- coaches at other levels will want to adjust the size of their “toolbox” accordingly. See Chapter 7 for the plays broken down by series. I hope coaches will find this approach useful; please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, or criticisms.
CHAPTER 1: THE TAO OF DECEPTION
Warfare is the Way (Tao) of deception. Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu, Warrior-Philosopher Before discussing the half-spin counter series, I want to talk a little bit about the nature of deception and its crucial importance to offensive football. The first thing a new coach must grasp is the concept of limits. His resources are all limited: staff, budget, facilities, players, equipment, energy, and above all, time. This argues for simplicity as the only logical basis for planning a football program, and I believe this is a sound impulse. I also believe, however, that simplicity on its own can lead straight to failure on the football field. Simplicity makes your job easier, but it can also make your opponents’ easier. As I have explained in the under-center version of my Wild Bunch playbook, I sought to harness strategic thought as a coaching force multiplier. What I ended up with was the crucial importance of deception, especially given limited resources. Whether it is ambiguity designed to baffle an opponent by presenting him with multiple-choice clues to your true intentions, or misdirection which seeks to trick the defense into chasing a player who isn’t carrying the ball (or to cover with inside leverage a receiver who is about to
break outside), the power of deception is critical to leveling the playing field against even the strongest opponent. The application of this concept to the Wild Bunch is straightforward: as with many offenses, running plays will be grouped into series where every play bears a strong resemblance to the core running play. The concept has been extended in the Wild Bunch to the passing game, however. Most of the key core pass route packages can be altered with a simple tag that tells one or more receivers to vary their actions, thus increasing complexity for the defense while costing you little extra time or effort in teaching the offense. Deception is a powerful tool for coaches with limited resources, as Homer Smith notes:
“The best approach for inferior talent is the deception which any player can learn but which superior talent neglects.”
Yet I will state right now my belief that any offense which bases itself solely on its ability to deceive is doomed to ultimate failure. Sooner or later, you must be able to execute what you do best -- even when the other team expects it. My theory is that simplicity and deception complement each other perfectly, giving underdog teams a fighting chance for success while not overwhelming limited resources with endless variations on misdirection maneuvers. To state things as plainly as possible, my philosophy for the Wild Bunch is this:
SIMPLICITY x DECEPTION = SUCCESS
This is not an additive formula, you will note -- I believe that deception, intelligently designed into the heart of an offense and practiced diligently, multiplies the value of all the time saved through simplicity; while simplicity multiplies the power of deceptive offensive design by focusing practice time on doing a relatively few things perfectly. The Half-Spin Counter (HSC) series created by Dr. John Ward in 2002-2003 is the single best running-series action from shotgun that I have yet encountered. Its movements are simple, yet the ball is immediately hidden from the defense after the snap, and up to three different points of attack (POA’s) can be threatened at the same time. I have chosen the Ward HSC series as the foundation for the shotgun Wild Bunch ground game, because in my opinion nothing else fits together as well with the Fly Sweep series in the shotgun.
Spread shotgun teams that feature the Fly/Jet sweep at present almost all do so by handing the ball forward to the sweeping back. While this has proven successful for many teams, it does not hide the ball from the defense, which I believe is essential to successful offensive football. If you can’t keep ‘em guessing, sooner or later they will shut you down. Dr. Ward’s HSC action is the answer, in my opinion. It allows the Fly sweep to be run just as quickly from shotgun, yet it makes the ball disappear right after the snap, and when it reappears, it could be heading in any of several directions, and with several possible modes of transit -- speed sweep, power running, pure misdirection, or bootleg or dropback passing. It is also simple -- here is Dr. Ward’s description of the footwork involved for the back who takes the snap on the Counter play to the right:
(The “funnel player” is the pulling lineman who is leading through the hole at the POA. The runner follows him into the hole and cuts off of his block.) In Dr. Ward’s system, the other back involved in the play lines up a yard apart from the snap-taker and slightly closer to or further from the LOS. He dropsteps at the snap, then either fakes reaching out and taking the ball from the snap-taker, or else he takes it and runs a sweep opposite the off-tackle Counter path of the snap-taker. In the gun Wild Bunch version, where the HSC is married to the Fly, the snaptaker will signal for the ball when the man in Fly motion is a step deeper than he is and behind the Tackle on the side where the motion started. Now the plays develop in a similar way to Dr. Ward’s system -- if the snap-taker is keeping the ball, he will tuck it safely away on his hip so that the sweeper can’t cause a fumble with his “Reach-Take Fake” action. If he is handing off, on the other hand, the ball is held out so that it can be reached for and taken cleanly by the motion back. The important point is that both plays appear identical to the defense, because the ball and the exchange (if any) are hidden from sight. It is also possible to snap the ball directly to another back, for either a Trap play (if it’s snapped to the F back) or a dropback pass (if to the QB). Either way, the HSC action which is taking place will command the full attention of the defense, making for even better deception.
As with the under-center version of my Wild Bunch offense, I suggest using one basic formation with a few minor variations, and flopping it both ways so that the players always stay in the same relationship to each other in both Right and Left formation. It is much easier to teach the Bunch Tackle to block a play in both directions than it is to teach him two different assignments for the same play, one on the playside and one on the backside. Hopefully my emphasis on simplicity and deception will provide useful insights as coaches read the chapters which follow.
CHAPTER 2: CHOOSING PERSONNEL
Fu Zi Bo (“Football”) The Wild Bunch is not a highly personnel-intensive attack, in my opinion. It does require certain qualities at some positions, but I believe teams can succeed with this offense with quite a wide range of personnel types. The qualities I am looking for are detailed below by position. X end: This is the primary receiver in an offense that features a lot of throwing. He must have great hands and "football speed" -- blazing speed is welcome, of course, but what matters is the ability to separate from defenders. We ask X to do a fair bit of blocking on the edge, but as often as not this involves releasing for a pass to soften the corner for a wide running play, then breaking down and screening the defender from the ball when he reacts to the run. Z back: Speed kills. This should be the fastest man on your team who can catch a football. We believe we can teach fast people how to run the Fly Sweep well, but we can't teach good runners speed. Like X, Z must be able to block downfield. H back: Ideally, we want a halfback type who can catch the ball as well as Z, run even better with it, and who combines the qualities of speed,
quickness, and toughness. The H back must be versatile enough to run, catch and block under a variety of circumstances. A Roger Craig would fill the bill perfectly. F back: We want to fill this position with a real tank -- a prototypical fullback. Blocking is first, inside running is a close second, and limited pass receiving is a fairly distant third. If you have a spare Guard who can carry the ball with great forward lean, you just might have yourself an F back. Obviously, these expectations have to be tempered by the need for basic ball-handling skills. If your tank can’t manage the HSC-Fly series ballhandling requirements, you will have to find someone who can. Y end: This is a fairly offense-specific position, and ideally calls for a combination TE/SE -- someone with a bit of height who can catch, block downfield, and when necessary pass block an edge rusher. Great speed is not essential, but toughness and quickness are. The Y end runs more than his share of crossing routes, and will crack block on LB's on a regular basis. Both a classic TE and a larger SE can be worked into this position, even alternating. QB: I am a great believer in putting smart kids at QB, especially in this offense. Not an Einstein, but someone who picks up new concepts quickly - I need a QB who "gets it.” Arm strength and foot speed may vary, but his mind must be sharp. Leadership is a big plus at this situation, although in my experience a lot of kids grow into that role as they come to understand that they control the success or failure of this offense through their actions. That doesn't mean we need a Unitas or a Montana under center; but it does mean we are looking for a sharp, decisive mind and a lot of resilience to go with it. Offensive line: I save the best for last. At the high school level, if I get one superior lineman at the beginning of the year, I will put him at Center. Why? Because he may be called upon to pass block a nose man by himself, and I want someone who will keep the pocket from collapsing when he's one-on-one with a stud DL. I put speed and agility at the Guard positions, since they do a lot of pulling and trapping. If I have size at both Tackle spots, I'm happy. If they can redirect edge rushers away from our QB's launching point, and run their tracks to the second level on the Fly Sweep, I'm very happy. If you have a big, immobile kid, try him at Bunch Tackle -- I think he will get more opportunities to grow by learning there, and there will be fewer opportunities for plays to fail just because he's not a better athlete. At the college or semi-pro level, I would be tempted to play one great lineman at Spread Tackle to keep speed rushers off the QB's back while he's throwing the Bunch (70 series) routes.
CHAPTER 3: SYSTEM BASICS - FORMATION, NUMBERING AND MORE
THE FORMATION AND ITS VARIANTS I believe in using one formation, but over time we have developed some situational variations. They are discussed below.
Wild Bunch Right (no formation call -- just "Right")
Wild Bunch Left (no formation call -- just "Left") This is how we normally deploy. "Right" and "Left" are always determined by the location of the Bunch side of the formation. The linemen on the Bunch side are referred to as Bunch Guard (BG) and Bunch Tackle (BT); those on the Spread side of the formation, as Spread Guard (SG) and Spread Tackle (ST). Variations: Y and Z will always be in a 1 yard x 1 yard relationship with each other. What can change in the formation is the spread between Y and Bunch Tackle. If you set your standard formation with a 6-yard flex, then your adjustments will be based on that. You can install a SNUG formation that cuts the flex down to 3 yards, and a SWING formation (which is basically a shotgun Wing-T Red/Blue formation) where the flex is down to 1 yard. Then you can put in a SPREAD variation where the flex is 14 yards.
NUMBERING AND PLAY-CALLING The diagrams above show how we number our holes for running plays. The important thing to remember is that the holes flop along with the players as they shift from Right to Left formation and back again. The 3 hole, for example, is always over the Bunch Tackle. In the original Wild Bunch playbook, I used the numbering system I have used for many years -- runs were two digits (back number followed by hole number), while passes were designated by three digits -- blocking scheme, motion (if any) and pass route package number. I have since gone with an even older numbering scheme, that of play series. Now all my plays are designated by a two-digit number -- the first digit indicates basic information about the core or base play of the series (10 and 20 Series are Fly Sweep; 50 is No Motion passing; 60 is Z Motion to Spread; and 70 is H Motion to Bunch), while the second digit is usually either the hole number for running plays or the pass route package number for our passes. Play-action passes have been fitted into the 10-20 series, and pass-action runs and screens into the 50-70 series, however, pretty much wherever there were spare numbers available. This means the new system is somewhat less informative than the old numbering scheme, and requires slightly more memorization. However, since I recommend 11 core plays as a standard Wild Bunch offense, and a full installation of 18 plays, that really isn't much to ask by way of memorization. In addition, it also simplifies the task of audibles greatly -- we just use play numbers as part of the audible (p. 13). THE HUDDLE Our huddle is functional. It allows for the team to form together quickly to hear a play call from the QB. The Center lines up five yards from the ball with his back to it. The Spread Guard and Tackle line up to the right of the Center, with the Bunch Guard and Tackle on the left. They stand, relaxed but attentive, facing their own goal line. The front row stands right in front of the line with their hands on their knees but their heads up, also facing straight ahead. No one except the QB speaks in the huddle unless given specific permission by the coaching staff. The huddle is diagramed below.
Wild Bunch Huddle The quarterback will call the formation, play and snap count, repeating the call twice, before breaking the huddle with a loud, crisp "BREAK" and handclap by the team. (Example: "Right, 70 Mesh on second GO; Right, 70 Mesh on second GO. Ready, BREAK!!" [CLAP!]) The line will turn and assume their positions over the ball based on the formation call -- Right or Left. We have used both a two-point pre-stance for our line and a normal three-point, depending on whether we want to be able to snap the ball and only throw passes on "SET" (see cadence section below), or whether we want to be able to run a full complement of plays on a quick count. Other years, we just forgo the whole question and have the line set in three-point stances as soon as they reach the LOS. NO-HUDDLE We can also run without a huddle. The easiest way to do this is through the use of wrist coaches that contain a matrix of our play numbers along with vertical and horizontal coordinates. You can either write or signal the coordinates in from the sideline -- if you are worried about getting signals stolen, either write multiple numbers on the whiteboard (making sure your players know which one is "live" at any given time), or have multiple people signal in the numbers. If the cost of wrist coaches is prohibitive, you can just use the whiteboard or wig-wag methods to send in the actual play number. I find the easiest way to indicate formation and snap count is by game plan -- i.e., we will always set the Spread side of the formation to the field this week, and all passing plays that involve motion will be on second "GO", for example. Running no huddle gives two advantages in games. It allows for true "warp speed" offense, where many more plays can be run in the same amount of clock time. It also permits the exact opposite -- that is, to slow things down by burning off all but 5 seconds on the play clock while in position at
the LOS, which tends to make defenses very impatient -- and thus more mistake-prone. No-huddle practice also has two advantages -- many more reps in the same amount of practice time, and a better-conditioned team without wasting time running sprints. CADENCE I believe in using a non-rhythmic snap count, especially since we need to be able to coordinate the timing of the snap and the location of a man in motion. The snap count I have always used is "SET...READY...GO...GO...GO." The ball can be snapped on "SET" without motion (i.e., quick count). The motion starts on the word "READY", which the QB can stretch out to coordinate the timing of the motion and the play. Finally, we can snap the ball on first, second, or third "GO". The team will come up to the line of scrimmage and set itself for a full second before the QB starts the cadence. The QB scans the defense from right to left, looking at the front, then from left to right, locating and pre-identifying the coverage. He then calls a series of numbers, which allows us to run audibles. AUDIBLES We use a very basic audible system at the line of scrimmage. The QB will call out a color, followed by a two-digit number (which is a play number), once to each side of our formation; he will then pause for a second before starting our cadence. (Example: "Red-Sixteen! Red-Sixteen! (Pause) SET! REA-DY! GO!!") The only time an audible is "live" and will replace the play called in the huddle or from the sideline is when the color is the one we have designated as "live" for that game (or even, in some cases, that half). All audibles are always run on first Go. We start teaching automatics from the very first day of practice. There is no requirement that we use our actual play numbers as automatic numbers, by the way -- but it is one more way to make learning a bit easier. MOTION The Wild Bunch allows multiple levels of deception. One of the most useful is to simulate passing by sending a receiver in motion, then snapping the ball and handing to the F back up the middle. Plays which take advantage of the defensive misperception that motioning to Trips or Bunch means that you’re passing are 66 Ice (p. 68) and 72 Down (p. 72).
SHIFTS The only shift I sometimes use is the “Scatter” concept. I can call “Scatter to Spread Left” in the huddle, and X, Y, Z and H will line up in any legal formation they feel like (the line only needs to remember to align in Left formation). On a command from the QB, the backs and ends will then shift to the formation called in the huddle. This is an easy way to confuse defenses with, again, no extra teaching involved for the offense.
CHAPTER 4: FORGING THE LINE
We try to make playing offensive line in the Wild Bunch as simple as possible. Our running plays use one of two different blocking schemes: Track or Trap. Once we teach the basics of these philosophies, we believe our linemen can adapt them to game conditions with very little extra teaching. There are always exceptions, of course -- defensive coordinators are nothing if not endlessly inventive. For this reason, we also use runblocking line calls, detailed on page 17. Finally, as noted previously, we have three kinds of pass protection, which we call SLIDE (dropback), SPRINT (roll-out and semi-roll), and FAKE (play-action) passes, as well as three pass-blocking calls. In other words, if you can count to three, you can play offensive line for me. Stances are balanced in the Wild Bunch, since we ask our O-line to move in any direction with equal facility -- forward to fire out, back to pass protect, and sideways to pull, zone or cut off. We allow a slight stagger between the feet, but we want them no wider than shoulder width and able to move to either side with equal ease -- if they can't do that, their stagger is too great. Our line splits are twelve inches/one foot, which can always be measured with an actual foot (most linemen have big feet, so this tends to work in almost every case). These tight splits make pass protection easier and enhance our outside running game by bunching the defense in tight. While it might seem that they should hurt our inside running game, we will not run inside unless and until the defense has spread out to combat our wide attack. One final note: The diagrams in this playbook may not always indicate it, but our Guards and Tackles line up with their helmets even with the waist
of the Center -- that is, as far off the ball as the rules permit. We find this helps both our zone run blocking and our pass protection by giving our linemen more time to lock onto their targets. RUN BLOCKING Track: This blocking scheme is unique to the “speed sweep” concept (i.e., Green Light Fly Sweeps) because it does not require blocking the first level of the defense anywhere behind the crucial point (the first LOS defender outside the B gap). The offensive lineman at the crucial point will execute a standard Reach block on the first LOS defender on or outside him, or if there is none he will block the most dangerous linebacker. Every defensive lineman to the backside of the crucial point, on the other hand, can be safely ignored. If a defender just inside the crucial point slants violently outside at the snap, he will most often get blocked by the OL just inside the crucial point, who is under orders not to let that defender cross his face. Apart from that, however, offensive linemen to the backside of the crucial point should release to block the second or third levels of defense and cut off downfield pursuit. Trap: The quick trap to the F back is periodically written off by defensive theorists as obsolete. Indeed, there are defensive fronts that are extremely difficult to trap in the traditional manner. If a defense ever combines such a front with coverage schemes that can consistently shut down the Wild Bunch outside running and passing games, I will bow to the inevitable and drop the play from my repertoire. Fortunately, that hasn't happened yet. When facing Double Eagle and other fronts that make trapping harder, we will concentrate on other targets of opportunity. If we are successful and they stay in their front, we won't need to trap. If, on the other hand, their DC switches out of their compressed fronts to deal with those other threats, we have a great play waiting to hit them with right up the gut. The basic rules for the quick trap hold up pretty well:
Center: G.O.D.: Backside Gap, man On, Down block (man over backside Guard). Playside Guard: Gap/Down -- DL or LB in A gap, then man over Center. Backside Guard: Pull and trap first wrong color past Center - run right through Center’s hips. Playside Tackle: PG covered, block on or out; otherwise, 1st LB inside. Backside Tackle: Man on, 1st man playside (On/Up).
One key to running the play successfully is that, when facing a Miami or Slide 4-3 front (and all other things being equal), you want to trap the 3 technique tackle rather than the 1 technique -- the blocking angles are far superior. Facing the Wild Bunch, however, there is some doubt about which way Miami 4-3 teams will line up their fronts. Will they align the 3 technique to the Bunch side (in an Over front), even when the Y end is flexed out 6 yards, or will they set him to the Spread side (in an Under front) because of the location of the H back? This is why I believe 25 Trap (p. 52) should be taught in both directions, with either the Bunch Guard or the Spread Guard pulling. This can either be called in the huddle (“25 Trap Right,” or “25 Trap Left”), or else communicated at the line by having the QB call an indicator that starts with the letter "B" (for Bunch) or "S" (for Spread) to tell which Guard to pull before he starts his normal cadence. A related play, the 16/24 Counter (pp. 47, 53) is obviously the Washington Redskins' immortal Counter Gap play, with Trap blocking principles used against all fronts we face. Line calls: We can call “Up”, “Down”, and “Pinch”. Up has the whole line reaching playside, while Down does just the opposite. (This means that we will have the whole line block in one direction whether the play is to be run inside or outside, although clearly it is more applicable to outside running play and pass blocking schemes. For this reason, we won't make any line calls for 15 or 25 Trap.) Pinch brings everyone in toward the POA, and is also used to pick up inside blitzers (if called on a dropback pass, the line call should be "PINCH!" followed by the hole number where an inside blitz is expected -- "PINCH 4! PINCH 4!"). It is also an effective "point wedge" scheme when facing an unusual front with a running play called. The "Up" call can be particularly useful in half-roll (Sprint) protection, when the normal reach/hinge rule may not provide the best protection against a gap front. The Line blocks frontside gap, while the F back takes the playside EMLOS rusher. I have had different linemen make the line calls at different times in my coaching career. I usually end up having the Center make the calls, although other linemen can direct the Center's attention to a potential problem -- by calling, for example, "Bear" (if they see a 46 look) or "Joker" (if they notice an edge rusher creeping up that the Center might not see) as the line sets, for example. The Center could follow up by calling “Up”, “Down” or “Pinch 3”, for example, against a 46 front, or "Joker Left" to warn the QB and F back of an impending edge blitz. PASS PROTECTION First off, some thoughts in general about pass blocking. After initial work on stance and getting off on the snap, we try to emphasize three things in
pass blocking: keeping the shoulders square for as long as possible; setting up to block relative to the QB’s position; and communicating. There comes a time when a lineman may have to turn his shoulders perpendicular to the LOS (to lock out a DE charging straight upfield and ride him deep, for example); but generally, the longer your guys keep their shoulders square, the better they will do. Your linemen need to know their plays, so they understand where the QB is likely to be when he throws the ball. This will allow them to maintain what Coach Jerry Campbell calls the “half-man advantage” over the pass rushers they face. They want to skew their position half a man in the direction of the pocket to keep themselves between the pass rusher and the QB at all times. Leverage and positioning are more than half the battle when pass blocking. Finally, communication. It is better for both the DL and OL to know who is planning to block whom than it is for neither group to know. We have line calls (p. 17), and they are very effective, but there may come a time when your kids just have to point at a defender and yell “I GOTTEM!” To give credit where it is due, I have taken (that is, shamelessly stolen) my modified half-slide protection from Chris Brown's excellent "No-Huddle Spread Offense" website: http://www.nohuddle.freeservers.com /passprotection.html SLIDE Protection: All of our pass plays have a front side (the side of the play that the F back checks first for blocking responsibilities). Our pass protection starts on that front side with linemen blocking the man over them (from outside shoulder to inside gap) until we reach the first bubble -the first lineman with no DL over him. From that point, the line slides to the backside to block the first DL back from them. The F back, meanwhile, will read from the LB in the bubble to the first LB outside the frontside tackle, if any. This may mean he has a double read, and must pick up the most dangerous and immediate threat; if so, the QB will be responsible for the unblocked defender. To quote the redoubtable Mr. Brown:
"When sliding, the #1 rule is 'don't block air.' What this means is don't be in such a hurry to slide to your point that you expose a new gap or put your teammate in a bad position. We look at the slide as a flow, but the bottom line is we are still picking up defenders, not just flying to our respective A or B gaps. Again, the parallel shoulders are huge in sliding.
SLIDE (Drop Back) Pass Protection
“And finally, don't be afraid to be aggressive. In pass blocking you can't be too aggressive or you will get beat, but it does not mean you have to receive all the punishment. This is one reason we like the slide, is it seems like our line can do more punching and aggressive maneuvers and not be afraid of their man beating them. Particularly on 3-step, the OL should get their fists in the defender's chests/stomachs. "For us the biggest weakness of the protection is the bane of most one-back protections: 4-weak. Also, second, are inside dog blitzes. You will also need to identify hot. The hot more than likely needs to come from the slide side, but obviously the man side can be overloaded as well. We always build the hot routes in."
The following series of illustrations is intended to demonstrate how Slide protection works in the real world. You are facing a 3-3 Stack front, and from Left formation (with the Spread side to the right), you call 50 Seam. The Spread Tackle, following his Slide rules, is responsible for the man on him (from his outside shoulder to his inside gap). There is a bubble over Spread Guard, though, so he starts the Slide by moving, with his shoulders parallel to the LOS, toward the Center to block the first DL inside him.
If a defender tries to blitz the gap inside him, the sliding Spread Guard will pick him up.
What about the first DL to his inside, whom we would normally expect Spread Guard to pick up in a Slide scheme? If he slants backside at the snap, the Center will pick him up (previous diagram), while if he loops playside, the F back should catch him when he checks the bubble for a blitz.
If the F back releases before the looping DL appears in the bubble, the QB still has a Q receiver -- the F back's Swing route -- to throw to and avoid the sack. In other words, either the protection holds up, or the QB has somewhere to go with the ball right away if it breaks down.
FAN Call: One other situation needs to be covered in SLIDE. If there is a defender outside the playside Tackle whom the Tackle believes is a rush threat, he can make a “Fan” call that will bring him and the playside Guard out on the first DL defenders to their outside (and here I include LB’s and DB’s walked up to blitz positions on or near the LOS). This can happen quite easily versus a good old-fashioned 5-2 front (see diagram below).
FAN Call The playside Tackle (on the right) sees the overhanging defender and calls “Fan”. This alerts the playside Guard to fan outside with his shoulders square to the LOS to pick up the first defender on the LOS to his outside; it keeps the Center home to block the 0 technique Nose player; it tells the F back that he has an area read from the playside to the backside Guard, looking for the most dangerous rusher or helping the Center with the Nose man if needed; and finally, it tells the backside Guard that he will Slide as usual, but to listen for a “Fire” call from the F back, indicating that both ILB’s are coming. If this happens, he will stay home and pick up his ILB while the F back takes the playside ILB. If there is no “Fire” call, the backside Guard is free to drop outside and pick up the backside EMLOS rusher if the backside ILB does not blitz. The QB is responsible for getting the ball away quickly to his Q receiver if he hears the “Fire” call, because it means the outside rusher to the backside of the play is unblocked. The same thing can happen on the playside if the defense sends a fourth (or even fifth) rusher to the outside of the playside Tackle’s block. There is no call for this situation, but the QB is responsible for getting the ball away quickly to his Q receiver if this happens. This call points out the importance of having more than one type of protection for dropback passing situations. As much as I believe in the 6man (half-)Slide protection scheme, I understand that I need not only a “Fan” call, but also to drill my QB’s on finding their Q receivers quickly, AND I need 7- and even 8-man protection schemes to deal with specific situations. From the Swing formation variant (p. 10), the 7-man protection
is simply a matter of keeping Y in to block as part of an extended SLIDE scheme. The beauty of this approach is that, if the defender outside Y does not rush, he is free to check-release. From SLIDE we can simply call “Stay”, which tells Y to Slide protect.
STAY call from SLIDE SPRINT Protection: This is our mechanism for (deliberately) shifting the launch point for the football.
Backside Tackle: Hinge Backside Guard: Hinge Center: Even: Hinge; Odd: Reach (this includes a 1 tech shaded to playside) FG: Reach FT: Reach
Two important points: First, "Hinge" means the OL takes an immediate step to protect his inside gap -- not flat to the LOS, but back at a slight angle to give him a faster jump on gaining depth when he pivots and drop-steps on his second step, looking for the first rusher to his outside. The backside Tackle will drop further and faster than the backside Guard (and Center, against Even fronts). The second point is that "Reach" means that, if you cannot gain outside leverage on the DL you are trying to reach-block, you should lock him out and push him to the sideline. If you have a Reach assignment and are uncovered, step playside looking for stunting DL's or blitzing LB's; if none show, gain depth and help out backside. Protect your QB's back at all costs. In SPRINT, the F back takes two steps toward the frontside sideline while reading the outside rush. If the EMLOS rusher takes an inside charge, the F
back seals him inside and rides him past the QB. If he runs deep to contain, the F back locks out and takes him deep. If he attacks the F back hard and head on, the F back attacks the outside hip with his inside shoulder. If no one rushes, the F back checks middle and backside, then releases.
SPRINT (Roll-Out) Pass Protection MAX protection: Finally, we have a plan for blocking 8 rushers called MAX. It is designed to be run from Swap, and involves blocking the F back one way and the motioning H the other. We use pure BOB blocking in MAX. In the diagram below, the F back would double read the two ILB's, and call out "FIRE! FIRE!" if both blitzed.
MAX Pass Protection
An important point about MAX protection is that all three receivers who are blocking can check-release as soon as they are sure no rushers are free. The Y end and H and F backs can all release into delayed patterns as soon as it is safe to do so. We obviously see a lot of stunts, blitzes and games from defenses, especially when we are in a passing situation. We try to handle line stunts by area or zone blocking. When zoning a stunt, linemen must communicate. The diagram below shows the man over our Bunch Tackle rushing inside. BT goes with him, keeping him on the LOS. BG sees his man disappear behind BT and calls out "Loop". BG shuffles toward BT, bumping hips with him and contacting the inside rusher with his near hand. Both BG and BT call "Switch". BG now has the inside rusher, while BT squares up to meet the outside loop charge. We drill against this and other common line stunts every day.
Zoning a Defensive Line Stunt So -- how do we handle the 4-weak pass rush mentioned by Chris Brown on page 19? I believe we must be prepared to do several things: One is for the QB to locate the Q receiver quickly in the pass route package, if any; another is to be so aware of defensive tendencies that we know when and where a particular opponent is most likely to go to their blitzes; a corollary is to practice against the 4-weak and other blitz looks in those precise situations; and finally, we need to be willing to call plays that give us a chance to defeat the blitz. As long as we do not become predictable in our response to the blitz, we should maintain the upper hand.
CHAPTER 5: THE SKILL SET - X, Y, Z, H & F
I will quickly outline the positioning of our potential pass receivers and running backs in the Wild Bunch. The X end aligns 17 yards from the Spread Tackle, but never closer than 6 yards from the sideline (i.e., a yard from the bottom of the field numbers). He is in a two-point stance with his outside foot back and his hands up and ready to help him evade a press corner. If he is being jammed, he will use his escape techniques to evade the coverage. The H back normally aligns a yard outside and a yard behind the Spread Tackle. He is in a three-point stance with his inside foot back so he can easily start in motion toward the QB. The QB aligns with his heels 5 yards from the LOS, directly behind the Center. The F back aligns with his heels even with the toes of the QB, and with his feet splitting the outside foot of the Bunch Guard.
The Y end aligns between 1-6 yards from the Bunch Tackle (although a “Spread” formation call will place his 14 yards from BT). He is usually in a three-point stance, but we do not insist he have his inside foot up. The Z back aligns a yard outside and a yard behind the Y end. He can align in the same three-point stance as H or in a two-point, in either case with his inside foot back so he can easily go in motion toward the QB. Both H and Z will go in motion on the count of "READY" by the QB, who also employs a heel flick to signal the motion man. The first move from a stance into motion should be smooth but deliberate -- that is, don't explode into motion, or we may be penalized for "simulating action at the snap." The back should be at 75% of his top speed after his second motion step, however. For H when running 11 Green Light Sweep (p. 44), this means he must accelerate very quickly before he reaches the spot (behind Spread Tackle’s outside foot, and just deeper than the QB) where the ball will be snapped. Motion on passing plays will normally continue across the formation, until H has formed the Bunch, or Z has formed Run and Shootstyle Trips on the Spread side of the formation. All of our receivers must learn to run precise pass routes -- they should be run to within a few inches of the same spot every time, unless they are being jammed at the line of scrimmage. Even then, our receivers must learn to fight their way back into the "normal" path of their pass route as fast as possible. The Wild Bunch offense makes H and Z into running/receiving hybrids, and demands a great deal out of both positions in the way of versatility. As previously noted, H must run, block and catch with great facility, and Z must be nearly as versatile.
CHAPTER 6: QUARTERBACK BASICS
I want a smart kid playing QB for me in the Wild Bunch. Quick thinking is an absolute necessity in this offense. His other characteristics can be fairly normal -- but he must be a quick study, and he must be willing to lead. We can coach him to grow in the latter capacity. Coach Jeff Tedford of the University of California at Berkeley has a very precise checklist of characteristics in mind when he is seeking quarterbacks:
"One, mental and physical toughness. Two, intelligence. Three, competitiveness. Four, athletic or escape dimension, and five would be some type of arm strength or throwing motion. The escape and the arm strength, you can see on tape. The mental and physical toughness, you can see if you go to the game. Watch how they get up. Sometimes, you find out more after they throw: how they get up, how they respond to teammates, how they respond to adversity. When they throw three interceptions, how do they bounce back?"
Coach Al Black characteristics:
"The first thing we look for is a young man with a live arm. Every school has one. This is the most important criterion to becoming a good quarterback. And if this young man also has speed, size, and intelligence, we consider that a bonus."
Coach Black goes on to add that, whatever his blend of talents, the QB must be willing to work hard:
"To rise above the crowd anyone seeking excellence must pay the price of extra effort. A passer must begin to throw in the off season and throw regularly all year in order to be a finished product when the season starts."
One of the keys to becoming a "finished product" is highlighted by Coach June Jones of the University of Hawaii:
"One of the things I found when I was coaching young quarterbacks was that all the good ones had great accuracy. They had different types of arms and strengths, but they were all extremely accurate. The single best thing they had was eye concentration on the target...I want to know whether their eyes are following the football's flight when they throw it or whether they are looking at the receiver until he catches the ball. If you can get them to watch the receiver until he catches the ball, their accuracy will improve tremendously."
Coach Jones quarterbacks:
"Your brain will tell your hand exactly what you have to do to get the ball from point A to point B."
The first thing for your QB to master is getting in position to receive a snap right away. This forces the defense to be ready immediately for the ball to be snapped -- it also forces their hand quickly if they have any funny business planned. The QB stance should stand comfortably with his feet shoulder width apart. He has some important footwork to master, between pivoting and faking in the Fly and Rocket series, and dropping back or rolling out in the passing game. The QB must take countless direct snaps from both the Center and his principal back-up -- we don't want to be making adjustments in the middle of an important game if our starting Center goes down with an injury. If your QB's ever find themselves with free time during practice, have them take shotgun snaps from a back-up Center. The QB has four basic pass drops he must master: one-step (the equivalent from under center of three-step), three-step (the equivalent of five-step from under center), sprint, and boot. In all cases, it is important that he get his eyes on his read, whether a defender or a receiver, as soon as he brings the shotgun snap under control in his hands. In half-roll or roll-out passes, the QB drops with the ball rocking across his chest in both hands, ready to bring it up to firing position very quickly. He wants to move outside quickly flat to the LOS or slightly backward for his first four steps, then make a pass-or-run decision by his fifth step. This is for the full roll-out pass. On a half-roll, he will take two lateral steps, then set to pass. One of the advantages of the shotgun Wild Bunch comes in play-action passing. With the HSC-Fly backfield action taking place, the QB can concentrate on taking a normal three-step drop from shotgun while other backs carry out the play fakes.
Pass reads are needlessly complex in many systems, and I have tried to follow a few basic concepts when choosing or designing plays for the Wild Bunch. Coach Homer Smith (www.homersmith.net) is a great authority on all aspects of offensive football, and I highly recommend his site and his outstanding 17-volume football manual series to all students of the game. The following points are borrowed from his Homer Smith on Coaching Offensive Football: Organizing Pass Patterns (Manual 7 of 17), and underpin the Wild Bunch passing game:
• Passers get snapshots of the defense, not video clips -- their eyes stop and start, fixing on receivers, defenders, or areas/gaps between defenders; • With rhythmic fixes, a passer can see the whole field in the time that decent pass protection will provide him -- say, 2.5 seconds. • A passer can sense danger based on past conditioning (i.e., interceptions), and his reflexes can stop him from throwing the ball into danger; • Learning to check his throws (pump-fake) and look off defenders is more important than "quick release", passer height, high ball release, etc.; • Passers should look at an area only for a fraction of a second to prevent giving defenders easy reads; • Therefore, pass routes must be packaged together in a way that allows the passer to sequentially read the defense in quick fixes.
That last point is important to play design -- it means not asking your QB to read the right CB, and then suddenly switch his read to the left OLB. Whenever possible, reads should flow in one direction -- right to left, or deep to shallow, for example. READING COVERAGES The first thing I want to explain is what I expect of my coaching staff and of my quarterbacks when it comes to recognizing and reading defensive coverage schemes. When it comes to recognizing coverages, that is a job for me and/or my coaching staff. We want to take as much off of our QBs’ shoulders as possible. We ask of them only two things:
1) PRE-SNAP: To be able to determine whether a safety is present in the middle of the field (Middle of Field Closed/MOFC: Cover 1/Cover 3) or not (Middle of Field Open/MOFO: Cover 0, Cover 2 family, Cover 4); and 2) POST-SNAP: To be able to read a defender and throw to one of two receivers based on his actions (against zone coverages) OR to track a receiver and throw him the ball if and when he is open (against man coverage).
That’s it. All the responsibility for determining whether the defense is dropping from its Cover 2 shell into C2, C4, C5 (C2/Man Under), C2-Robber
or C2-Tampa is on my shoulders and those of my offensive staff. That means if the play calling is sub-optimal, it isn’t the QB’s fault, and we do not depend on him to rescue us from such situations on a regular basis. This does not absolve our QB’s from learning about defensive recognition, of course -- the following pages contain copies of the coverage diagrams with which we drill our QB’s -- but the responsibility for recognition and playcalling before the snap lies with the coaching staff. Our players must only recognize MOFC/MOFO before the snap and execute their assignments as best they can after it. A quick note on coverage disguise: It is not impossible to disguise coverages against the Wild Bunch, and to change from a MOFO look to a MOFC after the snap (or vice versa), but the motion we use on most passing plays greatly complicates the defense’s ability to deceive. If the motion man or the QB sees the defense shifting with motion, they will call out “Oscar! Oscar!” if the defense is shifting from MOFC to MOFO, or “Chuck! Chuck!” if they shift from MOFO to MOFC. They can also yell out “Man! Man!” if a single defender follows them across the formation. The diagrams which follow describe roughly 95% of all coverages we see in an average season. They form an excellent primer for quarterbacks to study defensive intentions.
COVER 0 -- Blitz/Man (MOFO) The lack of a deep safety man should scream “BLITZ!” to your QB. This suggests that we as coaches should be looking at pass route packages designed to hit quickly and/or exploit the hole in the deep middle, and that the QB must be prepared to throw the ball right away when pressure comes. Some good candidates for attacking C0, all of which offer quick targets to the QB, are: 10 Y Stick 61 Short 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space
Cover 1 -- Man/Free Safety (MOFC) It can be difficult to determine whether a defense is playing man (Cover 1) or zone (Cover 3) coverage based solely on the presence of a safety in the deep middle of the field -- this is why we as coaches keep the responsibility for understanding our opponents’ coverage tendencies, and ask only a few simple reads of our quarterbacks. A play like 70 Mesh/Under (p. 70) can help sort out the coverage in a big hurry, and provides answers whether the defense is playing C1 or C3. Other good C1 choices: 51 Dig 52 Smash 61 Short 71 Y Space
COVER 2 - 2 Deep Zone (MOFO) The deep middle hole is an inviting target, but beware of lurking robbers (p. 35) and dropping LB’s (p. 36) who are trying to bait you into throwing the Post. In attacking Cover 2 we look at the Post, of course, but also at the deep outside zones near the edge of the field, at bracketing the playside flat defender with a horizontal stretch, and also at attacking the heart of the defense -- run the ball! 50 Seam 52 Smash 60 Go 61 Short 70 Mesh/Under Y Post 66 Ice 72 Down (NOTE: Cover 5 is simply Cover 2 deep, with man-to-man defense by the five underneath pass defenders on the five potential pass receivers. Treat it as you would Cover 1, with crossing routes and rubs to free up receivers from tight man coverage -- and with only four defenders playing run first, RUN THE BALL!!!)
C2 Robber - Danger -- Delayed MOFC! Designed to get greedy OC’s throwing the deep Post every time. It suffers from the same defects as most hybrid coverages -- it works great if the offense falls into the trap of trying for the deep middle, but it leaves the deep outside thirds of the field undefended. The strong Curl/Flat zones are under-populated, too, with two receivers available to bracket one defender. Some good choices against defenses that try to rob from a C2 shell: 10 Y Stick 51 X Dig/Z Corner 52 Smash 60 Go 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space
C2 Tampa - Another MOFC Disguise See the description above. If you have a Mike backer who can make that deep drop quickly and effectively, great -- but you’d better have a replacement ready for him in the second half to give him a breather. On offense, we treat this as Cover 3 with no short middle defender -- crossing routes are a great choice against this look: 51 Dig (any tag) 60 Go 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space
Cover 3 - 3 Deep Zone (MOFC) The standard coverage for most 8-man front defenses. It can be attacked deep with 4 verticals, or underneath by finding the seams between the four underneath zone defenders. Floods and crosses are both good, as are routes that stretch the coverage horizontally by attacking the edge of the field. 60 Go (p. 66) is a classic anti-C3 weapon which isolates and brackets the strong flat defender with two receivers. Some other good choices: 10 Y Stick 50 Seam 52 Smash 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space
Cover 4 - Match-Up Zone from C2 Shell (MOFO) Cover 4, or Quarters coverage, gives extra help deep at the expense of underneath coverage. It can be recognized fairly easily by the relatively close alignment the safeties take to the LOS and by their flat-footed stance as they read run first. Good play action will usually catch one or both safeties out of position coming up to stop the “run”. Some good ways to attack C4: 10 Y Stick 20 Counter Boot 61 Short 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space From the same look, defenders can also play strict four-deep zone, each Corner and Safety taking a deep 1/4 of the field; or they can rotate to 1/41/4-1/2 coverage, with two deep-quarter defenders over the three-receiver side of a 3x1 formation and the deep-half player over the top of the single receiver side. Pure four-deep zone shares the same deficiencies as Matchup Quarters coverage (too few short zone defenders), while a QuarterQuarter-Half zone can be treated as a three-deep coverage.
THE QB IN THE RUNNING GAME: The Wild Bunch makes few special demands on the QB when it comes to executing the running game, although he must drill his timing on the Fly Sweep series until he can literally run the plays with his eyes closed. While Coach Mark Speckman has noted that the Fly series is very forgiving, the QB and the F back must be ready to adjust if the sweeper is too close or too far from them at the snap to make a smooth hand-off on the Sweep. We use skeleton backfield drills to teach the timing of all our running plays, but especially to perfect the timing of the Fly Sweep series. Using some kind of template for the offensive line, so the backs can run these drills while the linemen are also getting useful practice, saves a great deal of practice time (this is the old "fire-hose drill", with the spacing between linemen drawn on a piece of flat canvas or plastic, which the backs can use to space and time their plays). The backfield skeleton can practice all running plays, pass drops, draws, screens and play action fakes on a rotating basis -- run briskly enough, this is both great conditioning work and an excellent way to get in hundreds of play reps in short order. Here are some of the best QB/backfield drills for installing the Wild Bunch running game: 1) Fly Sweep Series Timing Drills (QB, F, Z, H) • • • • • (Set up cones for where QB, F, Z, H start; 10 yards downfield for Z and H Sweep paths; and 9 yards deep in backfield for QB Boot path) QB/F watches motion man, times hand-off. QB/F waiting for motion man = too soon QB/F straining to hand to motion man = too late Motion man aims for spot 1 yard behind QB, gathering speed as he goes
This is about getting the cadence down for the Fly Sweep hand-offs. Don't over-coach -- if the QB/F can get the ball to the motion man in either direction, he's getting the job done. Make sure the Reach-Take and ReachTake Fake mechanics are practiced perfectly, working from step-by-step walkthroughs to full speed drills over time. • • Then -- Add 3 tech to sweep side -- tries to tag motion man on sweep (unblocked) Motion man should be in 4th gear when he gets ball, then shift into 5th after slide step.
Mesh Drill (All backs & ends -- QB, X, Y, Z, H & F) • • • • • • Add in cones for Trap and Counter paths Coach stands in as playside ILB to see if he can spot where the ball goes All backs must fake 100% to try and fool coach Work hard on fakes -- clamp down on far elbow, "rock the baby,” etc. Run plays as fast as you can -- work up to full speed Build up to entire 10 and 20 series
The Mesh Drill is the best single drill you can do to work on the Fly series and get maximum reps for all the plays. The backs have practiced their paths for the different plays, and the QB and F have worked out the timing of hand-offs and fakes, so put it all together and drill, drill, drill the plays. A very important coaching point for your QB and F on Fly Sweeps -- when (not if) they miss a Sweep hand-off, there is only one mistake they can make -- to freeze in place and do nothing. QB can boot away from the Sweep; he or F can follow H/Z on their Sweep path (in case either decides to follow H or Z, he should yell “GO!” so they know to block for him). Of course, if he does bootleg, he must run the ball -- since we haven’t called the Boot play, there will be blockers downfield. The best advice I can give you about coaching your quarterbacks (and other backs and receivers, and to a lesser extent linemen) to master the Wild Bunch is to invest in some of the videos from coaches who are primary sources for my offense. All of the following are available from Coaches Choice (http://www.coacheschoice.com): Andrew Coverdale and Dan Robinson: The Bunch Attack: Using Compressed Formations in the Passing Game The Quick Passing Game: Basic Routes The Quick Passing Game: Advanced Routes I realize that, at $40 each, these videos are not cheap. They are, however, absolutely indispensable in teaching the skills needed to run an effective Wild Bunch offense. More correctly stated, they teach HOW to teach these skills, with both chalkboard X and O theory and videotaped on-the-field practice layouts. I highly recommend them all, but the Bunch Attack DVD is the most important one for getting a Wild Bunch offense off the ground. Be sure to check Amazon.com for sale prices on these videos, as well. (I’ve been told that the Wild Bunch is the most expensive “free” offense on the Internet.)
CHAPTER 7: THE PLAYS
Our offense is divided into five series. Two are based on running plays, and three on passes. However, each series includes play action and misdirection plays as well. The half-spin counter (HSC) action that I learned from Dr. John Ward is the key to the shotgun Wild Bunch, because it ties together both running play series (10 and 20). Unlike the under-center version of the Wild Bunch, the motion that creates the Bunch (70 series) or Run & Shoot Trips (60 series) is not at any point identical to the Fly Sweep motion used in the 10 and 20 series; however, the offense still includes multiple misdirection cues in both the running and passing series. Frankly, Dr. Ward’s HSC action is so much better -- simpler to teach yet far more deceptive - than anything else in use in current spread shotgun running attacks, that nothing else mattered to me in designing this version of the offense. The 10 series features H in Fly motion and half-spin action by the F back. Additional misdirection is provided by the QB, who fakes a dropback pass on every play in the series that he isn’t actually throwing one. The 20 series sends Z in motion to run or fake the Fly Sweep, and has the QB half-spinning, with the F back diving forward to run trap plays or fill for pulling linemen. If you are not confident in your QB’s ability to run off-tackle consistently, you can feature the 20 Counter Boot from this series and forgo the 24 Counter play itself. The 50 series is dropback passing with no motion. Many pass route packages are possible from this series, but I will concentrate on two or three. The 60 series features Z in motion, but this time horizontally across the formation right behind the LOS to form Run & Shoot Trips with H and X. The Go series is represented here by the base 60 Go pass and the Ice play; however, numerous variations are possible off of Go action, including a backside Flow Screen to the F back. Finally, the 70 series sends H across the formation to form the Bunch; the latest version of the classic Coverdale/Robinson Bunch Mesh route package, Mesh/Under, accordingly represents all the possibilities. (The plays in this chapter form what I consider a minimum gun Wild Bunch installation at the high school level; coaches at different levels should adjust their play repertoires accordingly. High school coaches will want to install more passes, screens and draws, but these are all easy to add once the base plays are in.)
SERIES/PLAY 10: FB HALF-SPIN, H FLY MOTION 11 Green Light Sweep 12 Red Light Sweep 15 Trap 16 Counter Gap/Ace/Deuce 10 Y Stick 20: QB HALF-SPIN, Z FLY MOTION 29 Green Light Sweep 27 Red Light Sweep 25 Trap 24 Counter Gap/Ace/Deuce/Trey 20 Counter Boot 21 Truck 50: NO MOTION 50 Seam 51 Dig 52 Smash 60: Z RUN & SHOOT MOTION 60 Go 61 Short 66 Ice 70: H BUNCH ATTACK MOTION 70 Mesh/Under 71 Y Space 72 Down 73 Crunch
PAGE 44 45 46 47 48 50 51 52 53 54 55 57 59 64 66 67 68 70 71 72 73
THE 10 SERIES: H Fly Motion, F Half-Spin There is no substitute for total effort in faking, especially in the Fly Sweep series. Coach Mark Speckman could not be clearer on this point -- ANYONE can be a great faker, all it takes is hard work, repetition, and commitment. If anyone questions the reason for working so hard on good faking, just tell them that a perfect fake is worth AT LEAST two perfect blocks. Isn't it easier to get defenders to take themselves out of the play from time to time than to have to physically drive them out of the play, down after down? Homer Smith has a very good perspective on the usefulness of faking: "The best approach for inferior talent is the deception which any player can learn but which superior talent neglects." In other words, LSU or USC may not have to fake on offense, but we sure do! If you happen to be coaching the equivalent of LSU or USC talent at your level, then just tell your kids, "Do it this way because I want to make you perfect." The keys to a successful Fly Sweep are few, but crucial. The backs must practice the timing and execution of their steps and fakes until they can practically run the play blindfolded. Setting up a "fire-hose" drill, or otherwise marking the proper path and steps for each back, is a great teaching aid for backfield drills and cuts down on learning time. Make your backs take pride in the quality of their faking, and your Fly will really take off. Marrying the Fly series to Half-Spin Counter action means the backfield provides no clues to the defense about the eventual destination of the ball. It also means, however, that all the plays in the series must be repped to perfection. Not only the Green Light and Red Light Sweeps by H (11 and 12, respectively), but the quick Trap (15) and Counter play (16) by the F back require exact timing and execution. The play-action passes by the QB (10 Y Stick is an example of what is possible) are less exacting in their timing, but H and F should always carry out their Fly fakes on every 10 series play where they are not carrying the ball themselves. In addition, H should make a point of accelerating into every fake he carries out in this series, since defenders are hard-wired to respond to acceleration.
11 GREEN LIGHT SWEEP The key to a successful Fly Sweep is to block defenders, on or off the LOS, from over the Tackle to outside. Inside the Tackle, linemen should either release for the second or third levels, or else (as shown above with the Bunch Guard) pull and kick out the force defender out wide to give the sweeper a block off of which he can cut. This will happen in cases where there are four defenders outside the playside Tackle. Y and Z are responsible for two of the widest defenders -- in the case above, for numbers 2 and 3 counting in from the sideline, while the Bunch Guard handles #1. Because the closest defender to his outside - #4 - is on the LOS, the Bunch Tackle must Reach that man just long enough for the sweeper to get outside -- roughly one second. The F back takes the snap while stepping forward with his Bunch-side foot just over the midline, simultaneously pivoting on his back foot and turning his shoulders toward the approaching sweeper while keeping his eyes fixed on the Spread Tackle’s butt. (If any defender comes screaming off the Spread Tackle’s backside, we will attack him with the F back after the hand-off.) The F back holds the ball out so H can Reach and Take it cleanly. H goes in Fly motion and will be behind Spread Tackle’s outside leg, and just deeper than the QB, when the ball is snapped. He will Reach and Take the ball from the F back, then head for the hashmarks, numbers, and sideline. This is not a cutback play -- he should not think about cutting back unless the designated blocker (Bunch Guard, in the case above) completely whiffs on his block on the cornerback. F back follows through with his fake of 16 Counter.
12 RED LIGHT SWEEP When playside defenders, especially numbers 2 and 3, start flying outside and upfield when they see Fly motion, it’s time to call this off-tackle variation of the Fly Sweep, 12 Red Light Sweep. Bunch Tackle and Y block their inside gaps, and Bunch Guard kicks out the first wrong color he sees off Y’s butt. Center blocks Man On/Man Away; if he blocks Man Away, the Spread Guard will Fold around him looking for the most dangerous defender to the backside of the play, probably either a LB or Safety. Spread Tackle should chip the EMLOS defender if there is one immediately outside him on the LOS, then cut off pursuit from the second or third level. Z releases downfield to continue the illusion that we’re running 11 Green Light Sweep, then looks for the first backer to his inside -- an FBI block. QB fakes a dropback pass, and F fakes 16 Counter, just as he does on 11 Green Light Sweep. H Takes the ball from F, continues wide for three steps, then cuts sharply into the hole. If the EMLOS defender wrong-shoulders Bunch Guard’s kick-out block, be ready to bounce outside.
15 TRAP F fakes the 11/12 Fly Sweep hand-off, then keeps the ball behind the trap block of Spread Guard. In the situation shown above, he should run as tight to the doubleteam side of the hole as he can, since there may be good cut-back possibilities to that side. Against the 4-3 Over front shown, the play can be Deuce-blocked as in the diagram, or Bunch Guard can come down for the first LB inside, Bunch Tackle can block out on the DE, and the trap can be sprung one hole tighter. This is why it’s important for F to acquire Spread Guard visually and run in behind his block. Y and Z will block the nearest defender if he crosses their face to the inside -otherwise, they should release for the most dangerous second- or third-level defender to the inside. H really needs to accelerate into his Fly Sweep fake and carry it out until the whistle.
16 COUNTER GAP/ACE/DEUCE Once defenders start flowing with the Fly Sweep, we can counter back against the grain with the classic Washington Redskins Counter play. Here the F back will take his HSC steps, but keep the ball pinned tightly to his back hip as H performs a Reach-Take Fake and accelerates into his Fly Sweep fake. F, meanwhile, pushes off with his back foot and follows Bunch Tackle into the hole. Line blocking will vary depending on the front we’re facing, but there are four different ways to block it. “Counter Gap” means everyone from Spread Tackle to the Center is blocking down at a “severe angle”; that is, at 30 degrees to the line of scrimmage. Bunch Guard pulls and kicks out the first wrong color that shows outside of Spread Tackle, while Bunch Tackle “runs the funnel,” looking for the first wrong color inside or deeper than Spread Tackle. “Counter Trey” calls for a double team by the TE and Tackle; but since there is no TE on the Spread side of the formation, this call can only be used with 24 Counter (p. 53). “Counter Deuce,” illustrated above, involves a double team by the Spread Tackle and Spread Guard; finally, “Counter Ace” involves a double team by the Spread Guard and Center. If “Counter Ace” is called, the Spread Tackle will severe-angle block for the first wrong color that shows over the top of the double team. Y and Z help seal off the backside of the play; if you call this at the right time, the defenders closest to them will be out wide chasing H’s Fly Sweep fake anyway.
10 Y STICK Play action off of the HSC/Fly backfield action, but this time the QB gets the direct snap and drops to pass. X runs Choice routes (see URL on p. 75 for more information on Choice passing). Also known as "Turn", Y Stick attacks the void in underneath coverage in the Hook/Curl zone. H turns his Fly fake into a Swing route, looking for the ball as soon as he breaks outside; Y runs a Stick, breaking outside at +6, while Z runs a landmark Fade (actually more like a 45 degree Slant Out route) that puts him about 16 yards wide of Bunch Tackle and at about +10-12 when the ball is thrown. From a quick 3-step drop, QB's read is the first underneath defender inside the playside Cornerback. QB is thinking Stick -- the Swing pattern becomes a reaction if the defender takes the Stick away. Alternately, experienced QB’s can look the “read” defender into the Swing route and come back to the Stick, much like Y Space (p. 71). VERSUS ZONE: The Bunch-side flat defender is QB's read. If he hangs and takes away Y's Stick, throw the Swing immediately to give H space to run to. If he jumps the Swing, Y will have lots of space to make the catch. Hit his downfield number with the ball to let him spin and head straight downfield in the same motion. VERSUS MAN: H's play fake complicates his man's job enormously -- there are too many bodies to run through to cover the Swing with any reliability. Switching won't work, either -- notice all three patterns are breaking outside, leaving an inside switcher with nothing but air to cover. Bumping coverage is probably the best solution, but we probably have a speed mismatch somewhere, most likely Z's Fade -- if QB can hold the ball and wait, we can hit a big play.
THE 20 SERIES: Z Fly Motion, QB Half-Spin In addition to the Green and Red Light Fly Sweeps, the Trap, and the Counter play, the 20 series version of the Fly Sweep series adds two more threats. The Counter Boot by the QB, and the Truck counter sweep by H with both guards pulling and sweeping, similar to the Lombardi Sweep made famous by the 1960’s Green Bay Packers, but with a strong element of misdirection to get linebackers flowing the wrong way for the first few steps, are two powerful weapons of mass deception. The basic mechanics of the 20 series are similar to the 10 series, but this time it is Z coming in Fly motion and QB doing the half-spin footwork. As noted earlier, if your QB is not the Tim Tebow type, you don’t need to make him run the Counter play offtackle to succeed with this series -- but a good Counter Boot from time to time will keep backside defenders honest. F, meanwhile, is now free to fake a plunge into the line on every 20 series play; on 25 Trap, he makes good on that threat, in a play which is faster-hitting than its 10 series counterpart.
29 GREEN LIGHT SWEEP The Spread Tackle must Reach the man on his outside; if he is too wide, we will either find a different way to block him or else run a different play. The rest of the line blocks on tracks through to the second and third levels. Step through the playside gap and find the most dangerous shirt of the wrong color to block downfield. Cut off enough pursuit, and the 6-8 yard Fly Sweep will turn into a big play. X and H have similar assignments, releasing deep to keep the secondary in doubt about whether the play is a run or pass, then stalk-blocking the first defender to cross their face. Y takes an Outside Vertical release and tries to take a defender or two with him. F passes in front of the QB at the snap and provides additional deception -is he carrying the ball on an inside Trap? He makes it harder for the defense to see the Fly exchange as well. QB takes the snap while stepping forward with his Spread-side foot just over the midline, simultaneously pivoting on his back foot and turning his shoulders toward the approaching sweeper while keeping his eyes fixed on the Bunch Tackle’s butt. If any defender comes screaming off Bunch Tackle’s backside, we will ask the QB to slow him down, either by blocking him or by faking Counter Boot away from the sweep. Z goes in Fly motion and will be behind Bunch Tackle’s outside leg, and just deeper than the QB, when the ball is snapped. He will Reach and Take the ball from the QB, then head for the hashmarks, numbers, and sideline. This is not a cutback play -- he should not think about cutting back unless X completely whiffs on his block on the cornerback.
27 RED LIGHT SWEEP Whereas the 10-series Red Light Sweep resembles the Wing-T Down play with its G blocking scheme, the 20 series version is more of an Iso play with F leading Z through the hole as he cuts. Spread Tackle blocks first man to his outside; H helps by chipping that man on his way to the second or third level. Spread Guard blocks the first threat over him or to his inside. Center and Bunch Guard are responsible for their backside gaps; against the 4-3 Over front shown, the Fold scheme is the best bet. Bunch Tackle chips the backside EMLOS defender on his way to the second or third level to block. QB takes the snap, stepping past 12 o’clock with his front foot and pivoting on his back foot to hold the ball out for Z to Reach and Take. F leads the play through the hole, looking for the first backer to show up. Z takes two steps past the hand-off, then cuts vertically downfield, where he will read F’s block and cut off of it. X and Y release deep.
25 TRAP This can be run more like a quick trap than the 10 series version, since F doesn’t have to twist and fake the Fly Sweep with Z. See page 16 for the Trap blocking rules. Bunch Guard can be used to influence-pull to set up the 3 technique for the blindside trap block by Spread Guard, as shown above, or he can use the rule as it appears. Both Z and QB should carry out their Fly fakes at full speed, since even a fraction of a second’s hesitation by the Mike backer could turn this play into a big gainer. Also useful as a Draw in passing situations.
24 COUNTER GAP/ACE/DEUCE/TREY Y and Z need to be close enough to the Bunch Tackle for Y to execute his down block if Counter Trey is called; if another blocking scheme is being used (see page 47), that’s not an issue. “SWING 24 Counter Trey” would be the huddle call. Not only is there a fourth way to block the play in the 20 series, but the backside blocking also changes. Spread Guard pulls and kicks out the first wrong color past Bunch Tackle’s butt (or Y’s in Counter Trey), but now the “funnel player” is H. Spread Tackle blocks as though he were Hinging on the backside of a sprint pass -- he steps to protect his inside gap first, then pivots backside, drops and forces defenders to go the long way around if they want to get to the ball. When double teams are used, they remain conditional in this sense -- if a defender shoots hard for the gap inside the double team, the inside (post) blocker must protect that gap and block down on the stunting defender. If that happens, the outside (power) blocker will come down on the other defender by himself, and the blocking will adjust to Counter Gap on-the-fly. Once again, both Z and F need to carry out their fakes with enthusiasm -- if Z accelerates into his Fly Sweep fake, he can take three defenders out of the play without laying a finger on anyone. That’s the power of good faking.
20 COUNTER BOOT This is a valuable addition to (or substitute for) the Counter play for your QB. It offers a play-action passing threat, and if he has any speed at all he can make some yards outside of containment (rather than off-tackle as with 24 Counter, where you may not want to risk your QB on a regular basis). Spread Guard will pull and try to log the EMLOS defender to the Bunch side. QB will give a good Fly Sweep fake to Z, who must really accelerate out of the fake to give this play credibility. The F back fills for the pulling Guard. Y releases as cleanly as possible, inside or outside a tight defender, then vertical to about 10 yards, and cuts to the Corner from there. H runs a Shallow Cross route, while X has a Post on the backside. QB looks for Y, then H, then runs for the first down marker. We will only look for X on this play by pre-determined decision. In that case, he can be given a Post-Corner route for a “transcontinental” throwback play.
21 TRUCK A very good counter play that works very well as a sweep in its own right (so you can call it more than once or twice a game), Truck is best to call when the defensive secondary is rotating toward Fly motion. Bunch Guard pulls looking for the force defender on his side, who may be anywhere from on the LOS to rotating to the deep middle with motion and flow. Note: If the Bunch-side EMLOS defender blitzes at the snap, Bunch Guard will kick him out and H will react accordingly. This play can hit anywhere from off-tackle to the sideline.) Spread Guard pulls slightly deeper and looks for the first wrong-colored jersey past Y’s original position. QB gets the snap and steps-and-pivots, but this time the back Reaching and Taking the ball will be coming from behind him. To compensate for this, Z will arrive a step deeper than normal to give H room to take the ball. Z should accelerate into his Fly Sweep fake as always to slow down backside pursuit of H -- if he can create indecision in a backside blitzer for even half a second, we win. F fills for Spread Guard. H Reaches and Takes the ball from the QB’s hands, then looks for Spread Guard and follows his block. If Bunch Guard kicks out the EMLOS man on his side, Spread Guard will cut up into the hole inside him, and H should follow closely on his heels. QB should take a Counter Boot path on this play after he hands to H, so he stays out of the way of the pulling guards.
THE 50 SERIES: No Motion The basic dropback action from gun Wild Bunch is the 50 series. 50 Seam is a convertible 3-verticals/4-verticals package; 51 Dig is an excellent passing series all on its own, and is easy to install and run in game situations; and 52 Smash has been transformed from the prototypical Cover-2 killer into a package for all coverages.
50 SEAM This pass route package is adaptable to different coverages based on a simple pre-snap/post-snap read process. The package converts automatically from four verticals against Cover 3 or Cover 1 to three verticals against Cover 0, 2, 2-Man Under (Cover 5), or 4. See pp. 32-38 on QB reads. Pre-Snap Read: The QB will look to the middle of the field, as will X, H, Y and Z to see if there is a safety in the middle of the field or not (see page 30 for the MOFO/MOFC distinction). Routes are adjusted as follows: Middle of the Field Closed (MOFC - Cover 1 or 3): X: Outside Vertical route up the top of the numbers H: Outside Vertical route up the hashmarks Y: Inside Vertical release up the hashmarks Z: Outside Vertical release toward the tops of the numbers Middle of the Field Open (MOFO - Cover 0/2/4/5) X: Corner/Comeback route H: Outside Vertical release, breaking Out at +7 yards Y: Inside Vertical release, breaking to Post at +12 yards Z: Corner/Comeback route For the best description of the Corner/Comeback route I have seen, I turn yet again to Chris Brown and his superior Smart Football weblog (http://smartfootball.blogspot.com):
Beginning with the outside foot back, he will release vertical for 7 steps and should reach at least 10-12 yards. He will plant on his outside foot and break at a 45 degree angle to the Post for three steps, looking back at the QB on the second. On his third step he will plant his inside foot hard, open his hips and break for the corner at a hard 45 degree angle. If the cornerback stays inside he will break hard for the near pylon. If the corner stays outside or quickly is back over the top of him, he will drive his outside elbow and plant his outside foot flat to the LOS, and begin to come back for the football. If this happens he will catch it at 18-22 yards (this requires QBs without strong arms to have great timing).
The F back will, in all cases, check his blocking assignments and then release into a Swing route toward the Bunch side. He serves as a Q receiver in case of early pressure which requires a quick dump-off by the QB. With a pre-snap MOFC read, the QB will drop with an eye on the safety. If the safety remains in the middle of the field, the QB will eyeball one of his two inside receivers (H and Y) and then, if and when the safety breaks on him, throw to the other. With a MOFO read, he will look for the Bunch-side safety. If he is low or missing entirely (i.e., down at LB depth or even tighter to the LOS), it’s Cover 0 and H’s 7-yard Out is your best bet to beat the blitz (if Y is astute enough to spot the blitz potential, he may look for the ball quickly as well). If that safety drops toward his Cover 2 half-field responsibilities, look for Y’s Post to find the deep middle hole, and from there look to Z toward the deep Corner. Finally, if the Bunch-side safety drops down to the hole in the middle of the field, or takes off for the outside third, it is a disguised Cover 3 -- either C2-Robber or C2-Tampa. In that case, you want your best match-ups against their defenders -- I would look for X’s Corner/Cutback and then H’s Out.
51 DIG This package of plays comes from Tim Sparacino of Paris, Arkansas. A former head coach for 9 years, he is currently Assistant Superintendent for the Paris School District. My hat is off to him for this combination of the NCAA route and Air Raid Mesh package, which is easy to implement and easier to tag and adjust. It is the exception to the Wild Bunch rule in that there is no untagged base version of the package -- every Dig call has a tag. I like this package very much against MOFC looks (Cover 1 or 3), and against MOFO secondaries which are playing man or matching zone (Cover 5 or 4). Here is his description of the package, which he calls “Cross”:
Many of you are familiar with Norm Chow’s "62 Mesh" route package and his progression for the QB: 1- Peek to the Post 2- Watch the Mesh occur... The "Cross" route package that I've been toying with gives you a play that is as effective as the Mesh described above, is extremely multiple, and adds a Dig route that can pop open under the Post and above the Mesh (much like the NCAA route). Rules for the "Cross" are as follows: The called receiver runs the crossing pattern (10 yard Dig). The widest receiver opposite of him runs a Post. The other two receivers "Mesh" (right over left). By using these simple rules you can create a multitude of meshing type patterns with the same read for the QB. 1- Peek at the Post 2- Check the Dig 3- Watch the Mesh occur From a Balanced 2 X 2 Set with receivers identified as (X) wide left, (H) slot left, (Y) slot right, and (Z) wide right...
X would run the 10 yard Dig; Z is the widest receiver opposite so he would run the Post; Y and H would "Mesh" (always right over left to minimize confusion).
H would run the 10 yard Dig; Z is the widest receiver opposite so he would run the Post; Y and X would "Mesh" (right over left).
Y- Dig; X- Post; H and Z Mesh.
Z- Dig; X- Post; Y and H Mesh. As you can see, these simple rules allow you to have what looks to the defense as at least four different patterns. The read for the QB remains constant. Receivers simply need to know the rules, how to run a Post, a Dig, or Shallow Crossing route.
By tagging the Post receiver with other routes you can increase the strain on the defense. Example:
X Dig/Z Corner
X- 10 Yard Dig; H and Y- Mesh; Z- Corner. The QB can use a pre-snap read to determine whether or not the Corner is a viable option. If it is he progresses from Corner to Dig to Mesh. If not, Dig to Mesh. Add the "Pivot" tag to the underneath receivers and you've got more than the defense can prepare for!
X Dig/Double Pivot
X- 10 Yard Dig; Z- Post; H and Y- Pivot (sell the Mesh, stop and Pivot back to the outside). QB still peeks to the Post, checks the Dig, then has two Pivot routes underneath for outlet passes instead of the Mesh. Happy hunting!
52 SMASH I stole this package from Coach Huey, and you should, too: http://coachhuey.proboards42.com X: 7-yard “Low” route -- keep the flat defender low. Hitch at +7 yards and turn square to QB, locating flat defender with your peripheral vision. If he sits, you sit. If he drifts out, you drift out. If he crosses your face hard to the outside, cross his face hard to inside. (Note: If CB drops to deep outside 1/3 at snap, look inside for flat defender and apply the above rules to his actions.) H: Widen toward near hash, then run 12-yard Corner route; nod hard to Post against man coverage. Bunch Tackle: Block backside gap, but don’t block air -- double a neighbor’s man if no one attacks your gap. (See page 18 for SLIDE pass pro.) Bunch Guard: Same as Bunch Tackle. Center: Same as Bunch Tackle. Spread Guard: Block backside gap if uncovered, block man on or “overhang” if covered. Spread Tackle: Same as Spread Guard. Y: Dig route -- slant outside to +6 yards deep, stem vertical until +10, slant toward post and cut horizontal at +12 yards. Z: “Tube read” - Cross under Y and continue inside to +6, push it vertical to +10 yards inside hash -- MOFC, continue down seam; MOFO, break to Post. Fullback: Double read playside EMLOS and ILB -- take immediate threat, yell “Fire! Fire!” if both come. Quarterback: MOFO, read it Hitch/Corner/Post/Dig, front to back, unless by game plan you think you can take it deep (versus Cover 2, for example). MOFC, you have the Safety bracketed between Z and Y, with X as a checkdown.
THE 60 SERIES: Z Run & Shoot Motion The Run & Shoot pass route packages made famous by Mouse Davis and more recently June Jones work very well from the shotgun, as Jones has proved in recent years at Hawaii. Motioning Z across the formation to create Run & Shoot Trips (3x1) causes problems for many defensive coverage systems which are designed to defend 2x2 receiver formations. The pass route packages and complementary plays included in this series are designed to exploit those problems.
60 GO Go might be my single favorite play concept in football. Unless the defense does something drastic to counter, the strong flat defender will be bracketed quickly between two receivers, and will be wrong no matter what decision he makes. Z motions to a spot 5 yards past H and releases downfield on an Outside Vertical route. He should expect the ball as soon as he heads downfield, but may not get it until much later. X and Y both take Outside Vertical releases as well; if defenders are playing tight outside leverage on them, they should accelerate straight ahead, then bend their routes to the outside as soon as they are past that first defender. The idea is to put the maximum possible horizontal stretch on the defense. H releases into a quick Shoot route that will take him +1 yard deep, snapping his head and shoulders around to look for the ball as soon as he reaches that depth. He will be the QB’s “Q” (quick) receiver in case of early pressure. The QB rolls to his outside, looking for the strong flat defender and responding to his actions after the snap. Against Cover 2 (as shown above) or Cover 3 Cloud, the QB has the playside Cornerback bracketed between X and H. Against Cover 3 Sky, the flat defender will be the Strong Safety, and he will be bracketed between H and Z. Either way, if the flat defender moves to cover one of the receivers, throw right now to the other.
61 SHORT Z goes in motion until he's about 6 yards from X, then runs a Slant; H runs a Seam, and X runs a Short -- he ends up over the spot where Z was located at the snap, at a depth of +3 or so. Y runs an Outside Vertical. QB reads the first underneath defender inside X. If he drops back to cover the Slant route, hit the Short route; if he hangs in place or moves up to cover the Short route, throw the Slant behind him -- quickly. VERSUS ZONE: QB takes a quick two- or three-step drop, reading the underneath defender over Z (in C3, the strong safety). If he hangs in place or squats on X's Short route, drill the ball on your third step to Z as he breaks in. If the SS runs with Z, deliver a firm ball to X, allowing him to cut downfield after the catch (do not gun it -- X is running toward you). H's Seam keeps the next underneath defender inside from gaining too much width. As the C3 DBs drop, the Spread side should open up to give the QB a clear read. VERSUS MAN: Techniques for defeating man coverage differ for some routes. First, X will work hard to gain separation at the LOS with a quick "shake and bake" -- out-in-out steps in fast succession, followed by a hard cut inside once X's defender turns his hips out. X will continue to fight for separation, right past Z's position at the snap. Z and H run their patterns much the same as against zone, but they are looking for quick separation and a quick pass. QB should lead X with the ball if he decides to hit the Short route. This throw requires practice, but will pay big dividends.
66 ICE A companion play to 60 Go and its variations, 66 Ice provides a great Draw substitute off of 60-series motion. The ball is snapped directly to F, who reads the block of Spread Guard for his initial decision on POA for the play -- it can hit from the backside B gap to the frontside D gap. The entire line blocks GOOP: (inside) Gap Outside Gap On Pursuit If a double team results, as shown above, both linemen will get their hands on the defensive lineman in the gap between them, then seek out the nearest linebacker so that one of them can peel off and block him at the right moment. H heads inside Spread Tackle at the snap and blocks the first linebacker he can find. QB should carry out his Go steps as though he has the ball; it may not seem like much of a fake, but it can make all the difference if the right defender hesitates when he sees QB rolling out behind 60 motion by Z.
THE 70 SERIES: H Bunch Attack Motion The Coverdale/Robinson Bunch Attack concept provided the foundation for the Wild Bunch offense, so it is only fitting that the most recent version of their most popular concept, the Bunch Mesh, finds a place in this playbook. 70 Mesh/Under combines the best features of the Bunch Mesh and Air Raid Mesh packages, and is great against any coverage. 71 Y Space is another very important pass rout package, and probably the easiest package to master that I know of. There are only a few “moving parts” - two of the receivers are stationary, and only show their numbers to the QB if they are open. I have also included two different pass-action runs off of 70 motion. 72 Down is a great 70-series Draw play in the same way that 66 Ice is for 60 motion. 73 Crunch, meanwhile, takes advantage of defenses who are convinced that the way to stop the Bunch is to “blow up” the #2 (middle) receiver. If your F back has any foot speed at all, you can make good yards off of Crunch.
70 MESH/UNDER The Under tag to the Coverdale/Robinson Bunch Mesh package is my preferred 5-step-drop pass package (or its equivalent from the gun). It is easier to install than the base Mesh package, and more useful against both straight man coverage and pattern-reading zones. H motions to form the Bunch as usual, but then things change from the base Mesh package. Rather than running a Whip Read route, Z continues across the formation as the high Shallow Crosser over X, who as the low Crosser wants to be no more than 5-6 yards deep when he passes by Y’s original position. Y runs the same Smash/Corner route he does in the base Mesh package, and H runs an identical Flat route at about +3-4 yards deep. The QB drops back three big steps and has a very easy set of reads, and some handy (and simple) adjustments available to him. His basic read is Y/X/H, deep to shallow, with H acting as the “Q” or quick receiver in case of early pressure -- the QB gets the ball out to H right away if he feels heat. Z’s high Cross is basically a decoy, although he can get the ball at any time if the coverage starts to ignore him. Against man coverage, you can modify the package further by tagging Y with a Post (70 Mesh/Under Y Post), then reading the play as follows -- the QB takes a quick peek at Y’s Post as he drops, then comes down to the two Shallow Crossers and hits the first of them to come open off the mesh. Against man, this will almost always be X, the low crosser (the high crosser “scrapes off” tight man coverage).
71 Y SPACE This play is a great alternative to the original Bunch Mesh package*, since it attacks the same underneath voids in Bunch-side coverage as Z’s Whip Read route does, but with stationary receivers who make easier targets. You can run this off a one-big-step drop, or off three quick steps. Z runs what amounts to a Slant/Stop route, widening slightly to increase the space between himself and Y, then Slanting in at about +4 yards and Curling back toward the QB at about + 7. Y runs a Sit route, replacing the near ILB at about +5 yards. Like Z on his Mini-Curl, Y will show his numbers to the QB if he is open. With H’s Shoot route at +2 yards, this gives the QB an easy distribution of three receivers separated by significant amounts of horizontal space, but not so deep that he has to hold the ball for long. (H will turn his route into a Wheel downfield if he doesn’t have the ball by the time he reaches the numbers.) X will run a conditional Slant route on the backside -- Slant if the defender is 5 or more yards off you at the decision point (your third step), otherwise Fade. The easiest way to read this is from X to Y to Z to H, backside to frontside. If you have an experienced QB, however, especially at the HS level or above, you can have him make Z his object receiver -- look to him first and throw if he’s open. Otherwise, if the Mini-Curl route is invaded from outside, look next to H’s Shoot; if the Mini-Curl is invaded from inside, go to Y’s Sit. Really savvy QB’s will look the flat defender onto H’s Shoot to open up the Mini-Curl, who will get the ball about 80% of the time. Either way, this package is extremely versatile, and especially good in situations where the defense is playing a loose zone or man coverage, trying to stop the deep pass. The yards-after-catch potential from Y Space is excellent.
See my under-center Wild Bunch playbook: http://www.scribd.com/doc/437710/WB4a-2007, p. 114.
72 DOWN This is an excellent companion play to the 70 series passes. By motioning H to form the Bunch, you create the impression among defensive coordinators that you are 100% likely to pass -- and that kind of misperception is what the Wild Bunch was designed to exploit. This must be run with Y close enough to Bunch Tackle that he can make the down block on a 5 technique defender. Bunch Tackle also blocks inside gap, and Bunch Guard pulls and kicks out the first wrong color that shows off of Y’s butt. Center blocks Man On/Man Away; if he blocks Man Away, Spread Guard will Fold behind him for the first linebacker to show. This is actually a very good way to take an aggressive Mike backer out of the play, since he should step up as soon as he sees the Fold action by the Center and Spread Guard. Spread Tackle, meanwhile, performs a perfect half-slide pass set, to help mislead the DE, OLB and FS to his side. X releases deep. At the snap, Y comes down hard for the 5 tech defender; Z slants inside to position himself for a block on the SS; and H slants outside for the CB. Notice that all three moves look just like Bunch pass releases, delaying defensive recognition for a crucial second. Even the EMLOS defender over Y won’t get a run read, since Y could just as easily be releasing on a Shallow Cross route. Once you get the defense conditioned to expect pass when you form the Bunch, they will see what they want to see on this play until it’s too late to react. The F back takes the snap and follows Bunch Guard’s block. If the EMLOS defender correctly reads the play and wrong-arms Bunch Guard, run to daylight -- there could easily be a hole as far back as the backside A gap, or there may be a chance to bounce outside.
73 CRUNCH A great play when defenders start trying to “blow up” Y as a way to combat Bunch passes. In Crunch, the ball is snapped when H reaches his Bunch position inside Y. F follows his lead blocker, H, and cuts off his block. Y blocks a man over him or else cracks the first defender to his inside, while Z looks for the first unblocked defender inside him, and H blocks the first wrong color that shows past Z. Apart from Spread Tackle, who pass sets, the line blocks Outside Zone, looking to "reach and run" on the defense. As with 11 Green Light Fly Sweep, the block on the playside EMLOS defender is crucial. Alternately, we can snap the ball a count later, crack H in on the EMLOS defender, and pull the tackle for the cornerback. This play can be used in many situations, of course. Among other things, it is a nice way to give your F back some carries to the outside if he has any foot speed. Primarily, though, we use it to sting defenses that have decided that impacting the middle receiver in the Bunch is the way to stop us from throwing our 70 series passes.
CHAPTER 8: INSTALLATION
I believe that every minute should be accounted for in a practice schedule. There should be evidence of precision in the entire schedule. Bill Peterson, Building From the Start If I leave you with only one idea from this chapter, let it be this: when installing an offense, Time is the real enemy. Your best friend, on the other hand, is Organization, as Coach Peterson alluded to in his excellent 1971 book on building a football program (Rice University) from the ground up. What follows is a layout for the first seven days of a notional 12-day pre-season practice schedule, where four hours a day are devoted to football practice, or a total pre-season of 48 working hours. Many of you will have more time than this to prepare for your next season -- a handful may have less. My intent is to demonstrate that the Wild Bunch can be installed quickly and efficiently IF, as Coach Peterson suggests, you account for every minute. Keep whistles and even air horns handy to move groups between practice segments. I should also add that I do not believe in doing any one thing for more than 15 minutes during football practice. I don't include scrimmaging in that statement, because scrimmaging is, by nature, doing more than one thing. Off the field, I try to hold to a 30-minute maximum for viewing film in groups or as a team -longer than that, and I believe you are inviting group naps. Again, however, wasting time is the cardinal sin.
This schedule is designed to install 18 plays in 12 days. The schedule calls for two full offensive and two full defensive platoons, but can be revised to fit any size squad. If you have more than 50 players, it is easy to add depth to the structure to accommodate more bodies. If you only have 15 players, you can break down the training into skeleton backfield and half-line drills. What matters is that you plan things down to the minute. I try never to install more than two plays a day. I am a firm believer in teaching, repping, polishing, reviewing, and repping and polishing some more. It becomes an integral part of the whole/part/whole teaching process to which I subscribe -- we show the plays on video as a whole; break down the mechanics of each play in small group and team drills; and finally re-construct the whole as an offense by repping and polishing the plays. The latter process occurs in the afternoons during the team installation periods. First the first offense runs our plays against the second/scout D, while at the same time our first D is installing against the second/scout O. Then the first teams come together to work our offensive and defensive schemes against each other. I try to teach similar plays and/or plays from the same series together whenever possible. With the gun Wild Bunch, this makes perfect sense since each series uses a different backfield action: Day 1: 11 Green Light Sweep; 16 Counter Day 2: 12 Red Light Sweep; 15 Trap Day 3: 10 Y Stick; 50 Seam Day 4: 51 Dig; 52 Smash Day 5: 29 Green Light Sweep; 24 Counter Day 6: 27 Red Light Sweep; 25 Trap Day 7: 20 Counter Boot; 21 Truck Day 8: 60 Go; 66 Ice Day 9: 70 Mesh/Under; 72 Down Day 10: 71 Y Space; 73 Crunch Day 11: 61 Short; Consolidation Day 12: Consolidation For further details on installation and situational practice and play-calling, please see the most recent version of my under-center Wild Bunch playbook: http://www.scribd.com/doc/437710/WB4a-2007 Once again, feel free to send me questions on anything in this playbook: email@example.com
Ted Seay started coaching football while still playing the game as a high school junior in 1974. From his original experience coaching Police Athletic League and girl's flag football (made possible through his discovery of the late Dr. Kenneth Keuffel's monumental Simplified Single Wing Football in San Francisco's main public library), he has gone on to coach high school, club and university teams in the U.S. and overseas. A failure at stand-up comedy, Seay joined the Foreign Service in 1985 and has since served in Mexico, Australia, Jamaica, Slovenia, Fiji and Austria, as well as several tours of duty at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. When not posted to a country where they play American football, he works to update his knowledge of the game, and to share ideas with other coaches on the Internet. His concepts are featured on http://forums.delphiforums.com/TedSeay Divorced, overweight and childless, Seay enjoys reading, especially military history, as well as hiking, snorkeling, and playing cricket, albeit very badly. Although his interview with the late Michael Manley was published in the Wisden Cricket Monthly in April 1995, Seay's claims to understand the LBW law are seldom heard and generally disbelieved.
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