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n behalf of Virginia Military Institute and Head Coach Cal McCombs, I would like to thank Scott Boone and the AFCA Summer Manual Committee for the opportunity to contribute this article. It is a privilege to represent our offensive staff: Will McCombs (offensive line), Jack Baker (runningbacks), and Latrell Scott (wide receivers). They believe in our offense and do a tremendous job in teaching it to our players. I would also like to recognize a mentor to many of us in the coaching profession, Coach Red Faught, who introduced me to this package. Red is a true innovator of our game and has forgotten more than I will ever know. Thanks, Red! Balance is an important element of any offense. In today’s football, it is extremely difficult to line up and be exclusive in any phase of the game. In this article we hope to present a simple package that is designed to complement any offense, especially the spread. Having flexibility built into the system enables you to address the situation at hand and increase productivity. Going “unbalanced” gives us balance. Philosophy The thinking behind our unbalanced package at VMI is centered around our base offense. We spend the majority of our time in variations of double slot (Diagram 1).
Diagram 2: Eagle “Unbalanced”
(Diagram 2). By doing so, we create a set with several strengths: 1. Power running game to the strong side. 2. A short corner on the weak side. 3. Maximum protection in the passing game. Defense Defenses react in several different ways to this unconventional set. They first have to identify the strength and determine whether to defend the formation or the field. Other adjustments usually include a combination of four solutions depending on their base: 1. Rock down a safety to the strong side. 2. Take a linebacker over. 3. Slide the front strong. 4. Walk a linebacker up. Regardless of what adjustments are made, we have already given the defense something new to prepare for each week. As a result, opponents have to be ready to defend it, thus using up their valuable practice time. Play Selection While in our Eagle set, we want to run plays that attack the interior, off tackle and flank of the defense. Option plays are attractive as a result of defensive adjustments that may have redefined option responsibilities. Power plays to the strong side have merit. Zone plays that capture the short corner are usually good. Playaction passes and the trips passing game are a natural fit with this menu. The Package If the defense has used an adjustment to defend the formation, we will try to attack the short corner with our inside and outside zone. These plays are set up by Y coming in full-speed motion through the heels of the S. The quarterback is responsible for timing up the cadence and getting the ball to Y. The tight end, W, S, and offensive line are in a full-zone scheme to the left. We want to run wide on this play, the more field the better. Speed is the key (Diagram 3). Now that we have given the defense a contain issue, we will start the rim motion again
Diagram 1: Double Slot
This look has proven productive in the running and passing game while in the open field. However, our base package is limited when confronted with short yardage, red zone and backed-up situations. Our Eagle Package addresses these situations without completely abandoning our base package. A true tight end at the IAA level is a commodity. An athletic big guy who can run, usually ends up on the defensive side of the ball. By using the tackle over feature, we can create a tight end effect with our base personnel. This look is created by taking our left tackle to the right side (offensive tackle), bringing the wide receiver (X) inside and backing the slot (W) to four yards
Diagram 3: Rim
and secures the handoff to W who presses the hip of the pulling guard and runs to daylight (Diagram 6).
amount of man coverage we see in our unbalanced set. Additional Benefits With our base offense being somewhat finesse-oriented, our balanced package keeps our lineman and backs “salty” and also helps keep our own defense prepared for tight end sets and power teams. This helps balance us out. We have also sold our players on the fact that this package gives us a chance in the event of poor weather and field conditions. Here at the Virginia Military Institute, practice time on the field is held as a premium. We get our players for a total of 17 hours a week. The unbalanced package provides us with the framework to practice situational football in a very efficient manner. Closing By going to an unbalanced look we are able to complement our base package with a variety of plays that address shortyardage and coming out situations. We can also play-action pass and provide maximum protection in our passing game. Defenses have to make predictable adjustments or get “vanilla.” By us using the unbalanced set, we can maximize reps and minimize assignments, thus increasing our percentage for success. At VMI our Eagle Package is truly an auxiliary offense that gives our players a chance to be successful in the face of adversity. Go reckless, stay loose, and score! Thanks to the AFCA for the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas. The AFCA Summer Manual is a staple in our staff room. It has helped tremendously on many occasions. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.
Diagram 6: Power
and hand the ball off to the S using the same action with an inside-zone scheme (Diagram 4).
Diagram 4: Lead Zone
The next package series of plays in the Eagle Package is the option. You can run the true triple option, double option or speed option in both directions depending on the count that the defense gives you. This past season, the midline proved most productive for us. In our count system, we would read No. 2 on the dive and pitch off No. 3 (Diagram 7).
Once we make the rim and belly plays go, we have a play-action pass that takes advantage of the defense overplaying the motion. We use slide protection up front and fake the rim. The play action gets the defense moving laterally and provides us with a seven-, eight- or nine-man protection depending on the route combination that has been called. The Y will run his rim track and end up on a swing route. The tight end will drag underneath, climbing to seven yards. The Z will run a dig. Ideally, we get the secondary rotating with the motion and get a big play. The W replaces the tight end, and the S takes the first thing that shows outside of the W (Diagram 5).
Diagram 7: Count System
Diagram 5: Play-Action Pass
Up front, we would employ a veer scheme, while leaving No. 2 and No. 3 for the quarterback reads. The inside tackle (IT) and outside tackle (OT) would loop check the second level and work to the free safety. The Y starts in rim motion to the left and then arcs for No. 4. The W maintains pitch relationship. The quarterback steps off the midline and executes an option read on No. 2 and then a pitch read on No. 3. The S backs run straight ahead for a mesh read with the quarterback. If S is given the ball, he will work back outside allowing the linemen to execute their blocks (Diagram 8). The
Diagram 8: Midline
We like putting the formation into the boundary and running the power play to the strong side. We use a standard track blocking up front and pull the backside guard. The W will shift back into the “I” or jump motion into position. The Y will turn out on the strong safety. We will motion him across the formation if it will remove a defender. The quarterback reverses out
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option gives us big play potential and forces assignment football. This limits the
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