Friday, December 19, 2014

Football Fundamentals: Multiple Read Option Attack with Two Backs

We’ve talked about the basics of zone running; we’ve talked about adding an additional back into the backfield; we’ve talked about the various ways you can utilize outside zone and inside zone and multiple reads to make like more maddening for the defense; now let’s mash it all together and look at a zone read option based approach with multiple backs. Having multiple backs allows us to utilize all the advantages we talked about in the multiple back piece, but the threat of the read and the option allows for some other creative means of attacking a defense. In this post, we will explore those options.

Multiple Backs from Shotgun
I want to start, as I have always started, by demonstrating how the inside zone and outside zone will work without the benefits of reads or options from this general look.

Of course, if the QB is a viable run threat in his own right, without the benefit of misdirection, even 11 personnel can be considered a multiple back backfield (similar to a Wildcat) and the RB can simply act as the blocker for the QB (used in multiple ways similar to the additional back in the backfield series).

Zone Read BOSS
For an Outside Zone approach, probably the most basic means of utilizing a FB or H-Back is to utilize them as a sort of lead blocker for the RB. This prevents teams that particularly like to use safeties as fast filling alley defenders, but can also be used to cut off defenders that the rest of the offense can’t reach in their blocking schemes, say, against fast flowing defenses or DE that are playing wide or dropping off at the snap. The back, in this case, simply adds another blocker to the point of attack, accounting for any games or any fast force the defense may be trying to show.

Zone Read Split
Likely the second most popular choice among backfield blocking from a multi-back set is the split zone look. This can be run from either an Outside Zone Read or an Inside Zone read. Note that in both images, the H-back is also reading the DE. If the DE crashes, the H-back can slip the block and arch block instead. If the DE stays home, the H-back can kick block him. This has a couple benefits: 1) It provides a buffer for QBs that struggle with the read in that, if the QB makes the wrong read, the H-back is a redundant component to prevent Loss of Mission; 2) For athletic QBs, it generally gives them either a lead blocker (if both make the correct read) or at least a kick block to allow them to get into the second level, because in this way the entire front is still blocked.
A great part about it is that regardless of the situation, the backside is still blocked, allowing for the RB to have all cuts theoretically available to him still.

Zone Read Lead
There are a few ways to run this, based on the abilities of your team. You can provide doubles at the point of attack (making it a very useful short yardage play) or you can allow the Lead block from the FB to have your TE block into the third level, thus preventing the safety from making a play down on the ball and giving the RB one less unblocked defender.

Zone Read Aside
These blocking types can also be utilized with the midline or wham aspect of the zone read.

Lead Read BOSS
Now we’ll shift our attention to doubling down on the front side of the play. This is likely the most popular form of this set when attacking the front side. This allows the QB to option off the DE, but also allows the TE to immediately get to the second level to seal the play inside. The BOSS aspect of it prevents any games from being run on the playside, including a scrape exchange from the SAM and DE, but nominally to prevent the SS from filling the alley and preventing the RB give to get outside.

Kick Read Lead
One thing I like about this set up is that you can give a lot of looks to the defense, which sets up a lot of play action threats as well. For the Kick Read Lead, the same exact defenders are blocked, but this time the FB handles the SAM and the TE gets to the third level to block the alley defender. This is often times a better run to set up the QB run. While it still can prevent a scrape exchange situation, it is a bit harder for the blockers to recognize it. However, by having the TE release outside, you often times have the DE widen out (to prevent from being scooped in a zone situation), and then by flaring the FB inside of them, you typically keep him outside while providing a lead block for the FB. In this way, both blocks essentially kick the DE out (in less they don’t, at which point a give is a great option) and set up the QB with very nice second level blocks (and a first level double team at the point of attack).

Lead Read Kick
This is a method to give you a similar advantage as the Zone Read Split gives, in that you have a redundant block from the H-back. Unfortunately, it’s a bit harder to run it in that same way, as the read for the H-back in this case is much more difficult to make than the standard zone read defender is. So, most likely, you’ll have your H-back kick the DE unless it is obvious he’s crashing inside (such as on a front side scrape exchange). Still, along with the outside release by the TE into the third level, this really helps kick the DE outside. If your RB is athletic enough to beat him to the edge without a block (because he doesn’t widen out, at which point he would have a TE not focused on him but between him and the ball carrier, so essentially wash) this can be a great play. It reads fast flowing LBs, it kicks the DE and threatens him with a block from this look. In theory, it can also provide you with another lead blocker for the RB.

Switch Zone Read BOSS
I show this to show that the advantages of this scheme can cross over to a Switch set up Here, we are simply running a Switch Zone Read, however, we are allowing the FB to block the third level defender and thus preventing him from filling the alley in the event that the DE crashes and the QB is forced to give to the RB.

The wham block can still be utilized in this scheme as well. You can utilize it to make the RB run a bit easier (similar to a trap block) or to help in the event the QB keeps. The first one we’ll look at is the Lead Read Wham. This has the read and the Wham block on the same side. The outside zone look and flow from the RB will in theory make the SAM read easier. If the DT flows with the RB, the QB has the benefit of a Wham block and two OL in the second level. Often times teams will even utilize this without the benefit of the read, and instead simply as a QB run play.

The next play we’ll look at is the IZ BOB Read Wham. This is set up to give the RB a bit more help in the run game, but giving him the Wham block and the blockers into the second level LBs. Of course, if the backside WILL crashes on the RB, the QB can keep. Depending on how the OT plays the DE (the rules of which have been discussed previously), the QB should be able to get into the second level.

You can also wham block and read the backside of the play. This, again, gives the QB the Wham blocker, but punches the backside WILL LB if he over pursues the RB. The Wham block in this case also provides backfield flow in the opposite direction as the RB.

Speed Option
The extra blocker can also be utilized in the speed option game. The easiest means is to have a BOSS block to prevent the alley fill, therefore not leaving the defense with enough defender to account for the keep or the pitch.

But again, if you have an athletic QB, you may want to block the DE and read the SS. This simply leaves you with a spare lead blocker to block the first off color inside of him (which also helps seal the DE at the first level if your TE is having difficulty reaching him). If you’re having trouble blocking an athletic safety in space, this provides a very good alternative for blocking the front and simply optioning off the safety.

Shovel Pass
Many teams prefer to utilize Power O blocking for the shovel pass, but it can still be run utilizing the Zone blocking scheme. The first person being optioned off is the DE. If he stays home or starts to drift, the shovel pass is open to attack the defense. It is essential here that the LBs are sealed inside or washed completely outside if they are over aggressive on the speed option look. If the DE diagnosis the play and fights inside to stop the shovel pass, the QB can keep and run the triple option on the edge, optioning off the alley fill defender.

Triple Option
The triple option starts with a basic Zone Read off of the DE. Most times, the threat of the second RB coming back in that direction will hold the DE and allow for a nice give option. If the DE does crash though, the QB has the option to keep then option off the alley filling defender. Many teams, particularly those that don’t rep the speed option a lot (particularly those that don’t read defenders off the LOS to do so) won’t really utilize the pitch option. Instead, the pitch player will act to first hold the DE, and if not him, then to at least occupy the FS or take him out of the middle of the field in the event that the initial give breaks through the second level.

Depending on the location of the WILL, he may be the 2nd read for the QB. It simply depends on if he chases the FB give threat or if he stays home and if the OT can get a good block on him.

Veer Option
And now we start getting a bit out of hand with this article, because now we show that we can begin implementing basically the entire Veer Option playbook into this offense. Here, we first option off the 3-Technique DT. If he crashes, the QB pulls; if he works up field, the QB gives and the FB has second level blockers. The second read is the DE as the QB carries out the option threat. This works as a great counter to the triple option previously described as the FB has a designed cut back run.

Veer Counter Option

We’ll leave it on this, as this is the second counter to the triple option. This time, we have the FB attack outside of the 3-Technique DT. If he holds and stays outside, the QB keeps (this is the most likely scenario), if the FB doesn’t buy the FB threat, the QB can give. The QB then reverse pivots out as the RB halts his looping run (which looks like the Veer Option) and turns around for the QB and RB to perform the speed option back in the other direction. This is a popular play in the Veer playbook, but also in the playbook such as the Flex Wing. And what you see is the possibilities of all the offenses now coming together.

I have previously discussed OSU's 2-RB offense here.

We've gone full circle with the zone running game. We looked at the Veer Running game, then at the basics of zone blocking. We implemented a second back, and then moved the QB back to gun to provide read option threats. Now we've re-implemented the second back and we are back to a point where we have multiple blocking threats and now multiple option threats. This is why many spread teams initially worked there way to the furthest they could spread only to start working their way back to some degree. The multiple attack of this run game is very difficult for defenders to handle, and it's pretty obvious why.

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