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The Unbalanced T Formation

Next fall we will have four varsity quality running backs three of whom fall more into a fullback rather than tailback mode. In an effort to maximize their talents and abilities we will incorporate some T Formation into the offense.

The T-Right Formation will put the line into an unbalanced right formation. The Fullback (#3) will line up behind the QB with his hand at 4.5 yards off the ball. The Right Halfback (RHB) will align at a similar depth, also in a 3 point stance directly behind the IOT. The LHB will similarly align directly behind the TE.

From this formation we can run the following aspects of our base offense effectively:

1. Ranger (Freeze/Midline) Option 2. Ranger (Freeze) Option at the 4/5 hole 3. Dive Option-Veer Series 4. Blast and Blast Option Series

It is important for us to

(1) keep the base offense and therefore blocking assignments and play paths for the majority of the team the same in the T Formation as in other formations, and

(2) keep the number of people who must adjust to a minimum.

In doing this we feel that we can keep our chance for success at high levels and our chance for error at a minimum. In addition, the timing of certain blocks at the POA is perhaps in certain circumstances better from this Unbalanced T (U-T) Formation. And when you consider that we have a fullback making the block, we think that the chances for success are further improved.

We shall discuss here the deviations from the rules that the U-T will require of the backfield personnel. If their assignment is the same but they are just aligned differently, we will not go into any discussion of their assignment. For example, on Ranger, backs not carrying the ball have either LBer or Pitchback as their responsibility. They can execute these responsibilities out of the backfield (as in the power formation) or from their position in a Doubles set. In fact, we know we will have a better QB-pitchback relationship out of the U-T.

There are no appreciable differences in running Ranger Options. Everyone's assignment do not change. The only difference is the positioning of the backs. Instead of having a Wingback, he is replaced with a HB who aligns in the backfield. But his assignments on these plays are still the same.

The first big difference is on the dive option sequence. When in the U-T the 1st back will be the dive back, the second back will be the lead blocker and the 3rd back will be the pitch back. On URight, therefore, the call would be Dive 24 (the LHB is #4). The RHB will carry the ball straight ahead (just as the FB would in Dive 34 on our base play). The FB will crossover, plant and arc block on the defender responsible for forcing the play. The LHB will run a pitch route around the SE.

For us this is a different rendering of the base play. The number one thing that we are missing on this play is the block of the WB on the DE. When the DE becomes a factor in stopping Dive 24, what we will do is to "read it" and turn the play into Veer 24. Veer 24 for the QB is the same as Veer 34. If the DE bites on the dive, QB pulls the ball and moves to the option point and reads the next defender (who cold be quite a distance downfield due to the block of the FB on the force defender). The FB is to arc to a point that lies just outside the option point, i.e., the force area. (The option point is 1 yard outside and 1 yard deeper than the SE plays at the snap.) The FB is to execute a 'running shoulder block' on the defender who shows in this area. A running shoulder block is where the blocker will take his inside shoulder and strike the outside number of the defender, get his hips around, and seal that defender to the inside. The QB is then free to run off the outside hip of the FB with the LHB trailing for pitch.

On this play it is the job of the QB to run the crease in the outside running lane., If everything goes correctly the QB will accelerate and score. A common error is the QB who thinks he can 'out run' the defender(s) who have an angle on him. This QB runs too much toward the sideline and not enough down field (many refer to this as downhill). The QB's job is to run the lane here until a defender shows from the inside (the guy has an angle). Ideally this is the SS coming over off the block of the SE. The QB attacks the inside shoulder of the SS forcing him to make a play on him. The QB, seeing the SS step to him, then should squat, pitch the ball to the LHB, and fall backward to absorb the force of the SS's attempted tackle.

It is the job of the LHB to carry the ball on the outside. He is to accelerate after receiving the pitch. While trailing the QB awaiting the pitch, the LHB must be under control. When he gets that ball in his hands, he is to accelerate on the outside and sprint to the end zone. The best I have ever seen do this was Tony Dorsett when he played for Pitt. When he got the pitch, he kicked into a gear that no one else on the field had. It was amazing.

Another blocking scheme will also take care of the DE who jumps the dive, i.e., the loaded call. The loaded call directs the FB to block the DE, in. What we would have here then is a "Dive Option 48 Loaded." The QB would fake a Dive 24 to freeze the defense, bubble around the block of the FB on the DE, move to the option point and option off the defender that shows in the force area.

We feel that the Dive should be run to the strong side of the formation. It probably (depending upon defensive alignment) is not a good weakside play. The thing is, however, by aligning in the U-T Formation we have the ability to run these plays to either side of the defense without making any adjustments, shifts, or motions. This forces the defense to adopt a "balanced" alignment of sorts. One thing we have found is that with the base Right Formation tailored with motion, we get a 'gang' of people aligned on the strong side. The U-T will force the defense to be more honest.

While the Dive may not be a good weakside play, Blast Option 35 looks to be a very good weakside play.

One play that we are known for and have executed successfully is the FB Blast off tackle. It is one of our most successful plays. The U-T allows us to line up and be able to run FB Blast to either side of the formation. The defense is forced to defend both sides of the ball and must respect the possibility of FB blast to either side, thus giving us the advantage.

The major difference in running this play from the U-T is the block of the lead back. From the UT the lead back must block the DE out on blast to the weakside. On the option play, the lead back is to block the DE in. This block will be greatly facilitated with the ride fake to the FB to the inside. This blocking scheme applies to blast to the weakside from the U-T formation. When running blast from our power formation, original blocking schemes are kept in place. This fake to the FB at the 5 hole will not only freeze the defense, it will get as many as 6 defenders to step to the 5 hole to tackle the FB including the DE. Remember, we believe that a good fake is worth 3 blocks; in this case it is worth twice that many.

The well executed fake to the FB and the in-block of the leadback effectively isolates the CB. he is on an island out there on the perimeter of the defense. The QB bubbles around the block on the DE and gets into the outside running lane. He has both hands on the football and runs directly at the inside number of the CB.

The CB is usually responsible for pitch. If the CB moves to pitch, the lane will be open for the QB to tuck the ball away, accelerate and score. if for some reason the CB steps to take the QB, he will squat and pitch to the pitchback who will then run on the outside, accelerate and score.

From this U-T formation and running the different option with varying blocking assignments we have the ability to read and/or option off every defender on the LOS. In the Ranger 30/31 we are going to read the DTs; the DEs will be either read or optioned off the Veer; and we have the ability to block any of the secondary defenders depending upon their coverage call. We can isolate any secondary player and make him the 'option man,' and given a QB that can make good decisions, no matter what he decides to do it will be rendered wrong with the play of the QB.

There are other complementary plays that offer a high probability of success which stem off the core action of our U-T attack. The comp play that we will first work into the offense after the core plays is the hand back trap to the LHB. This play is very similar to the Twin Veer Counter Dive play.

Everyone in the backfield simulates a Dive 24 on their first steps. The RHB takes a fake into the B Gap, rolls his inside shoulder and blocks first color. The FB leads, crosses over as he would on the dive-option but cuts his path off and blocks the backside #3/4 rusher protecting the QB's back as well as the handoff.

The QB open steps to the RHB and 'shows' him the ball. There is not enough time for a full ball fake. After the show, the QB steps deeper into the backfield and hands the ball off to the LHB. The LHB leads, crosses over and then plants. he receives the handoff from the QB and runs directly through the LOS. After he clears the trap block of the SG, he should veer to the corner to get into the running lane.

It is important to set this play up with previously successful Dive 24s or Dive options. Doing so will get the defense to step to the Dive 24 fake making blocks easier and having a larger hole to attack.

The other complementary play is the crossbuck which also uses a trap block by the SG. This play stems off the FB Blast action. The major coaching point on this play is that the ball carrier must first step to the LOS with his outside foot and then come off that as a plant foot, cut behind the FB, and take the handoff. This establishes proper timing and execution.

A note on who to trap. We use the basic line rules on trapping that most other people use except when we get alignments in the A gaps. To make things easier, protect the handoff, and increase our chances we will trap the DT in the C gap instead of the NG in the A Gap on traps. The center makes the call and actually declares the A gap defender as an 'Odd' defender. What that does is that we will then block the play 'as if' the defense had a NG aligned head on. The C and the SG will combo block to the backside LBer, the IOT will block LBer to his side. The OOT will block out. the WG will pull and trap the first lineman past the center. The TE will cutoff the other DT.

Another factor that we like about this U-T attack are the different blocking combinations that we employ. For example, on Blast 34 we want everyone on the LOS to block the first man to their inside on or off the ball as a starting point. On the Ranger 34, however, whose backfield action looks the same, the IOT and the OOT are to block the first man to their outside on or off the ball. Now generally we are not going to run Blast 34 without some motion to seal off the area just outside the OOT. But the D-line generally is not clued into that fact. What they know is that on one play they are being blocked down and in and on another play they are being blocked out. The out or fan block is not used much by O-lines these days and often catches the D-Line off guard.

We are not 'inventing' anything new here. The T formation has been around a long time. These are basic T Formation plays that I ran in school back in the 50s and 60s. Those of you who have been around a long time will recognize them. Incorporating these plays into our base offense gives these U-T plays new life. It fits with our philosophy of running a different type of attack that makes the opposition's preparation difficult. Who runs the dead T anymore? This attack is so old, it's new again.

The Unbalanced T Formation offers us an offensive attack that allows us to run our basic option offense with minimal changes in blocking assignments, it complements the backfield talent we currently have on the team and perhaps most of all forces the defense to defend the entire LOS.