BYU'S APPROACH TO OFFENSE

LaVELL EDWARDS
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
hanks, I'm so happy to be here. I want to talk a little about our approach to football. I've been a high school coach. I've coached the single wing. I was a defensive assistant coach at BYU and became the head coach there 23 years ago. We started to throw the football and the rest is history. I'm not here to try to get any converts to what we are doing. I just want to share some ideas with you about our approach to the game and what we try to do with it. At every level there are the "Haves and the Have Nots . " If you happen to be at one of those "Have Nots," you have to come up with a creative approach as to what you are going to do. That is what BYU was. In 1962 BYU hired a guy named Hal Mitchell. He wanted to run the single wing. The only major college school in the nation that was running the single wing then was Princeton. Since I was the only Mormon alive that was coaching the single wing, I got into college football coaching. It didn't work and he was gone in a couple of years. I got to stay on. A new guy came in and started throwing the ball a little. We had a kid by the name of Virgil Carter in 1964 we won the first league championship in the history of the school. When Virgil left we stopped throwing the ball and went back to what everyone else was doing. In 1972 I was appointed the head football coach. I didn't realize it at the time but I had been coaching 18 years and had been associated with only 4 winning seasons. I got the head job. That shows you how really bad that head job was. Even with my record it was better than what they had been having. They had gone 47 .years of football with a little better than 3 victories a year. In fact there were times there, they talked about doing away

T

with football. I had a staff of 6 assistant coaches. We had a stadium that held ten thousand people. The only time we came closed to filling it was when we played our rival, Utah. If we ever had a opening game on the first day of deer hunting season, we probably had only 25 women and children there. I decided we had to do some things. There wasn't a whole lot we could do about some of the things. The first thing we had to do was change the perception we had of ourselves. We knew we had to do something different with what we had. That is when we started throwing the ball. We knew absolutely nothing about it. I had been a single wing center when I played. The only time I handled the ball was between my legs. I had been a defensive coach, so I went out and hired somebody to get us started. Ironically that first year we had a kid lead the nation in rushing. After that we went to throwing the ball as a way of life. That first season we won 7 games and the next year we won 5 games. After that things took off for us. Over the years we have come up with this attack that we use. We have had our share of good players. It was fun to watch Steve Young in the Super Bowl. He came to us an option quarterback out of high school who onlv threw the ball 2 or 3 times a game. When he came to our place, we were thinking of making a defensive back out of him. The only thing he wanted was a chance to play quarterback before we made the change. Of course you know the story from there. The approach to what we are doing is quite basic and simple. We have 4 basic patterns that we started with years ago. With the evolution of defenses today we have to make some adjustments to these patterns, but they are the same ones we ran 23 years ago. I think that execu-

-

tion is the bottom line to what ever you do. We play people that change blocking schemes from game to game. It is no wonder they don't every get good at doing one thing. They change offenses anddefenses. After the third change the school is looking for a new coach. Football coaching is a tough business. I've been a head coach for 2 3 years and some of these schools are working on their 9th head coach. As a coach you have to latch onto what you believe in and stick to it and make it work. Execution is the whole key. In practice I don't have to say much. I ' ve got good coaches who have been with me for pretty much all my 2 3 years as head coach. We are on the same wave length. We have all different kinds of coaches on our staff. However, the bottom line is they like to teach and work on technique. Because of the offense we run, selecting the quarterback is extremely important. We have a lot of strong armed guys in our program that have never played for us. The first thing we look at in selecting the quarterback is his consistency. We look next at his performance. We have to look at his decision making and judgment abilities. After those things we look at arm strength, foot movement and other athletic things he brings to the quarterback's role. We have had quarterbacks who have done well for us but have not done well in the NFL. That is a different game. When we set up our offense, the whole k e y , is pass protection. We spend an enormous amount of time on pass protection. We spend more time working on the running attack, then people perceive we do. Over the years in the hay days of Jim McMahon, Steve Young, and the others, we have never had a year that we have thrown the ball more then we have run it. Because we have had success with the pass rather than the run, we get that reputation. I have 5 or 6 points that are basic premises that we like to begin with. 1 ) Basically speaking, if the defense is an odd man front we will man protect. 2 ) On the even man front we zone protect. 3 ) We want to block big on big and we have a call to that effect. We want down

linemen on down linemen. We want backs on linebackers. 4 ) We want to block the weak side with 4 people in the balanced 4 - 4 defense. We make a call to get that done. 5) We block away from the double receiver side. 6 ) Our backs block on linebackers and particular the ones that are least likely to blitz. That is based on scouting. If the outside linebacker is likely to come we use some kind of slide protection to keep the back off of him. If the inside linebacker is likely to come we use a base call. ( 7 ) We double read with our guards and fullbacks. We have one of the great teachers of pass protection blocking. This guys name is Roger French. He is one of the greatest teachers that has every been around. There is never a day where we don't have a session on individual protection techniques. He follows that with a blitz pick up period. We interchange our quarterback so all of them get the work. While one is throwing in the skeleton drills, the other is working in blitz pick up. We do it every day whether we are in pads or shorts. When he starts to teach, 1 ) the first thing he does is teach the blocker to read the pass rush moves of the pass rusher. Roger spends hours working on getting the favorite move used by a particular defensive linemen. He charts them and then teaches them to the offensive line. 2 ) The worst thing an offensive linemen can to is get over anxious. We want him to anticipate but not strike out. To be a good pass protector, they can't try to hit a guy hard. 3 ) Never get beat to the inside. If there is one thing I've heard him say over and over this is it. Always honor inside fakes and ignore outside fakes. 4 ) Keep the defensive linemen's hands off the offensive blocker. If the defense can turn the offensive linemen's shoulders he has him whipped. They have to grab the offense lineman to do it. 5 ) The offensive linemen wants to keep his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage. The defense has started to use quick speed rusher coming from a wide position. These "Big Jack Rabbits," 6 - 4 and 2 4 0

lb., get wide, explode off the ball, and try to beat the offensive linemen to the outside. The mistake the offensive linemen makes is trying to step out and front the defense. If he doesn't keep his shoulders square to the line, the defensive end will duck inside him so fast it will make his head swim. The offensive linemen gives ground, gets one hand on the defensive end, keeps his shoulders square to the line, and waits for the inside move. If the defensive linemen starts to go by the offensive linemen to the outside at the last minute, he turns, gets both hands on him and rides him past the quarterback. 6) In the initial charge the offensive linemen wants to get his hands up and keep his knees bent. The first move it to pop up, not out. When he comes out rather than up, he is lugging and off balance. He keeps his hands up and arms in tight. 7 ) The offensive linemen want to deliver a blow, get separation, recoil, and hit again. 8) They want to keep their feet moving and never cross them. Before we get into the blocking scheme, let me say something about coaching the quarterback. It has been my experience that there are only 3 or 4 things you want to do with a quarterback. When we get them we don't try to change their deliver of the ball or try to do things differently with them. We just hope their coach in high school got them started right. The first thing we try to coach is 1) keep the elbow above the shoulder. 2) Make sure when he releases the ball his thumb is down. 3) The best way to coach the next point is to tell the quarterback when throwing the ball to expose their numbers to the target. This gives good hip and shoulder rotation. Another way to say it is the ball never crosses the face. 4 ) Proper foot work is important in setting to throw the ball. Don't over stride in throwing the ball. 5 ) They have to relax before they throw. If the quarterback holds on to the ball too long, he locks his front knee and throws the ball into the ground. He has to relax, keep his feet moving and his knees flexed. The next thing I want to show you

is on our protection. We see an awful lot of-"~ickel Coverages." We run a lot of different formations and do the same thing from them. We series our passes. Our 60 Series is a five step drop back pass for us. The 50 Series is our quick passing game. Our 70 Series is a weak side attack. The 80 and 90 Series are roll out passes. We want to block big on big as our primary rule. Since we are looking at an even man front in this example we will be in, a zone protection scheme. The center makes a call because we have 4 potential rushers on the weak side of the set. The running back and center have to block weak side on the linebacker and Nickel back. The center and weak side guard combination block on the down man and linebacker for any stunt they may run. The running back is going to take the Nickel back if he comes and release if he doesn't come. The fullback is going to do the same thing with the inside linebacker to the strong side. On some plays we give the fullback a free release. That means he is going to run a pattern even if his linebacker comes. In that case we adjust the line blocking to block the blitzing linebacker or read him and hot release the ball to the fullback.

There are 2 or 3 things to consider when you set up your passing attack. Against a zone defense, make sure you have a stretch in the defense. We want a horizontal as well as a vertical stretch. The hardest thing to teach a wide receiver is to get depth. If your pattern is a 12-14 yard curl or come back, you will have more 8-10 yard patterns than anything else. Don't let your receivers run those short patterns. The defense is trying to bump and knock them off their patterns. They have to fight through those things and get the depth to get the stretch in the

defense. If the defense is a man to man defense, we want crossing patterns or option routes. We have a ton of option routes, which I will talk about later. When we set up the patterns that we want to run, there will be zone patterns, man to man patterns, and patterns which will go against man or zone defenses . The first pattern I want to show you is a good pattern for us from the pro set. The split end runs a take off. The tight end runs an inside release pattern with a break at 7 yards going across the field to a depth of 15-17 yards. The flanker back runs a 16-20 yard post cross pattern. The backs are running their flare control on the linebackers. We call this pattern "69." The 60 tells us it is a five step drop. His progression of sight is split end, tight end, and back. The quarterback is keying the strong safety for his zone-man read. If he reads a zone coverage from the strong safety he is going to the take-off, first, the tight end, second, and the running back, third. The problem we have with the play is the quarterbacks. They don't like to dump the ball off to the backs. That is the magic of the play. That is what the 49'ers do so well. They have the patience. They take what the defense gives them. The 49'ers have thrown more touchdowns off the quick slant than any team I 've seen. Every year our tight ends and backs lead our team in receptions.

tight end is taking the strong safety across the field. That leaves the flanker wide open but he has to get his depth.

From this pattern we have started to run the "H-Option" play. This came from the "69-Delay" route. The tailback keys the outside linebacker. If he came, he would block him for two counts and release either inside or outside. If the linebacker did not come, he would set up to block, delayed for two counts, and then trickled out in a pattern. People began to lock up on our backs to stop this pattern. We went to the "H-Option Series." We adjustedthe protection to give a free release to the running back (H-Back). The running back as he comes off is reading the coverage. If he reads zone, he runs his patterns at 6 yards and hooks up between the linebackers. The quarterback reads zone and hits the running back just as he turns off his five step drop. Once the running back makes his turn he sits down and doesn't move. That way the quarterback can find him. If the linebackers start jumping the running back, the quarterback hits the tight end running his 15 yard cross right behind him.

If the quarterback reads man coverage from the defense. The strong safety jumps on the tight end. Automatically the quarterback goes to the backside post-cross or post-corner. Very few corners can cover the flanker in the post-cross cut and there is no one underneath to help. The fullback is taking the inside linebacker to flat. The

If the quarterback and running back read man coverage, they adjust. The running back pushes the defender up field, pressures him, and breaks out. If the linebacker over plays to the outside on the running back, he press him and breaks inside. This is the same

pattern as the 69 pass except we added the H-Option to it. One of the best zone routes we have is this one. We reduce the split of the split end and tackle on the weak side. The split end runs through the weak safety's area to his side. If the weak safety doesn't respect that move, the split end is open down the middle. We do this from scouting reports. For the week we key the weak safety first. If the weak safety hangs back, we go to the flanker or tight end. We run the flanker on the post cross or post corner because it is hard for the corner to handle those patterns by himself.

If the tight end reads man coverage, he runs 8 yards to the spot, hooks, and breaks outside running hard. He will be covered by the Mike Backer or the strong safety. He fakes the hook and runs the out cut. The flanker reads the man coverage. He runs his post cross and continues to run across the field as hard as he can. The quarterback sees the man coverage and looks for the tight end or flanker to break open.

Off that pattern we went to the "Y-Choice." The tight end takes an inside release, comes up the field 8 yards and sits in the hole between the linebackers over the ball. The split end runs through the weak safety. The flanker runs his 18 yard post cross. The running back and fullback run the check downs on the linebackers and release to the flats if no one is blitzing. The quarterback keys the strong side linebacker, we call him the Mike Backer. If,it is an even front the Mike Backer is the middle linebacker. If the Mike Backer drops strong we go to the tight end right now. If the Mike Backer drops straight back, we go to the flanker on the post cross. Once the flanker sees there is a zone cover he finds the hole created by the Mike Backer dropping straight back and settles down. He doesn't continue to run the Cross across the field.

This next play we use on the goal line a lot. We also use it in the middle of the field on those crucial third down plays. We can use motion by the flanker if we want or line him up in his position. We get a free release for the fullback. We like to run this play into the side line. We like to use the motion with the flanker to get the early tip of what the coverage is. On the snap of the ball the fullback releases on a pattern 5 yards outside the tight end and 5 yards deep. He is keying the outside linebacker. The tight end takes an inside release and works hard up field. He is keying the inside linebacker. If the inside linebacker blitzes his gap hard, he knows the ball is coming to him right now. The quarterback keys the same thing. If Mike comes, he dumps the ball right now to the tight end. If Mike doesn't come, the quarterback checks quickly the outside linebacker for a blitz. If he is coming, he hits the fullback right now. Those are the hot routes for the quarterback. If the defense drops and plays zone, the fullback hooks up at five yards outside the tight end and 5 yards deep. The tight end runs up the field 6 yards, reads the linebacker and hooks in or out depending on his drop. The flanker comes in motion to a spot splitting the difference between the split

and tackle. On the snap of the ball he comes hard inside and hooks up between the linebackers.

to block him. The fullback takes a lateral step to the inside and waits. The quarterback comes back, drops down his hand, and gives the ball to the fullback. The backside tackle comes down for the cut off and up to the linebacker if the center is handling that job. The tight end cuts off anything inside of him. If the man lined up on him is wide and not a threat to the play, he gets down field.

If there is man coverage, the fullback continues to run up the side line. It now is a race between him and the linebacker. The tight end releases inside to 6 yards, give a good inside fake and runs an out. The quarterback takes the fullback first, then the tight end, and finally the flanker over the middle.

If we are facing an odd front the onside guard and center are combo blocking for the nose guard and backside linebacker. The tackle takes his inside step and comes for the inside linebacker. The on side guard pulls and traps first man past the guard. The backside tackle and tight end cut off inside. The running back free releases and blocks the outside linebacker.

One of the best running plays we've had over the years is what we call the "Draw Trap. " I ' 11 show you this play from the even front first. We want our running back to release like he has a free release for a pass. We want to make this look like a pass. Even if the guard and tackle are both covered they still take their inside step to cut off the inside just like they would on a pass play. They take the inside step and then come off on their blocks. The guard and tackle combination block the man covering the guard and the middle linebacker. The center blocks back for the pulling guard. The off guard pulls and traps the first man outside the guard. Hopefully the step and set of the tackle has made the defensive end jump outside and up field to pass rush. The running back releases on the outside linebacker and blocks him. The linebacker shouldn't know whether the running back is running a route or trying

I want to try to cover one more idea with you. When we talk about man coverage, we talk about crossing patterns for our receivers. This is an automatic. We do this from a lot of different looks. Basically what it is, is the X and Y receivers Cross. The X receiver is the split end and the Y receiver is the tight end. If we see man coverage we automatically go to this raute. The tight end takes an inside release and goes from 5 to 7 yards deep on a crossing route. The split end comes inside and goes from 2 to 5 yards on a crossing route. The flanker runs the quick

post route and continues down the middle. The backs set up to block and then check to the outside if nothing is coming. As the quarterback comes back he is looking for the mesh of the crossing receivers. The mesh is the X created by the patterns as they cross. The tight end is always on top with the split end underneath. We are not trying to run a pick play. We want both receivers to be alive in their patterns. What we are trying to do is hit the underneath receiver. But what happens sometimes is a collision happens between the defensive backs or split end and the tight end comes out free. Once the receiver make the cross they don't continue to run across the field. They start to look for the open areas to settle into. If we get fooled and run this pattern and the defense is zone it is not very good. However we try to settle into the holes after the Cross and make a successful route.

You can make up routes to get these patterns run. They are very effective against all man coverages. We run all different kinds of Cross Routes but they basically come off the "62-Cross." We run these routes and a couple of other routes that are basic routes. We have about 5 or 6 running plays that we are going to work on week in and week out. Execution is the answer, not the number of plays you run. I know there are some activities going on this evening and I'll be around if you have any questions. Good luck to you.

We have all kinds of Crosses. We have the X and Y Crosses, H and Y Cross, Z and Y Cross and anything we want to dream up. We run Crosses with motion. Here is an example. With our flanker outside our split end, we bring him back in motion. As we snap the ball, the split end runs an In Cut with the flanker reversing back across his path. It gives us a X and Z Cross. The H Back can run his Cross with the Y End. This also gives us a H-Y Cross.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful