Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Banjo Coverage and Minnesota's Switch Double Slants

Against Indiana in the Red Zone, Minnesota went to a switch release concept which paired a basic twins passing concept to take advantage of bracket coverage. I've long advocated utilizing switch releases from bunch/stacked formations because it often helps the QB better define the coverage and take advantage of defensive coverage tendencies. In this case, Minnesota knew they were going to get a banjo coverage (effectively, the outside defender will take the first defender to release outside or the second receiver to go inside, and the inside defender will take the first receiver inside or the second outside). Let's take a closer look.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Film Review: Michigan Iterating to Gain an Advantage in the Pass Game

The best concepts in football tend to build off of other known tendencies. In both the run game and the pass game (and the play action pass game), it is easiest to scheme success when telling the defense one thing, initially, and then turning it into something different. In this post, we're going to look at how Michigan has built off of established tendencies to force the defense to respect multiple things.

Kirthmon F Dozier, Detroit Free Press

Monday, October 15, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Michigan's Arc Belly Read

Against Wisconsin, Michigan expanded their QB run package by introducing a Belly Read Option with an arc block from the opposite H-back. In this post, we'll go over some of the advantages of this play and some of the intricacies that make it a successful run within Michigan's overall run scheme.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Film Review: OSU vs PSU - 4th and 5 to Stay Alive

Twitter is a mean place. It's a place full of hot takes. It's a place, where if you mess up or are wrong, you're going to get killed for it. And on Saturday night, James Franklin and Ricky Rohne were wrong. They went against convention and decided to run the football on 4th and 5, and got stopped for a loss. So not only did they break convention and not succeed, they tried their best and failed miserably; the lesson is never try.

But, here's the thing, it's not that there isn't logic to the PSU play call. There is. And, in fact, I find it odd that if there wasn't logic to it, if it was so stupid to in fact be beyond reason and rationale, that Greg Schiano and the Ohio State Buckees would just go happen to dial up the perfect defense to stop it. "Huh?" you say. Yes, the RPO play call was in fact so logical, that OSU dialed up a play almost specifically to stop it. Better put: Schiano drank a delicious Penn State Berkey Creamery Milkshake. And oh goodness, was it ever, ever so delicious.

Film Review: OSU vs PSU, 4th and 5 Inside Zone RPO

Whoa boy is there some people given Franklin thee ole business for his call to go with an Inside Zone - Bubble RPO on 4th and 5 on his final possession last Saturday. I mean, his own fans were calling him out on the way to the locker room and he was ready to have a nice, pleasant, parliamentary debate about the grievance. So what were Franklin and offensive coordinator thinking Ricky Rahne thinking with that call? Let's at least try to give them the benefit of the doubt and take a look.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Film Review: How Don Brown Adjusted Cover to Defend Slants

In the first half of the Michigan-Northwestern game, the Wildcats repeatedly dialed up crucial  gains on simple slant plays. From Michigan's Base Cover 1, this caused coverage problems, especially in the slot where a safety matched up on a WR. In this post, we're going to look at why the early problems existed and what Don Brown did to stop the success of slants while staying within his scheme.
Maize and Blue News

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Nebraska's Insert Iso - Bubble Slant RPO

Nebraska struggled to get much traction on either side of the ball against Michigan the past weekend, but it's not necessarily due to a lack of interesting scheme. On their first drive, they ran this interesting little wrinkle. While I liked it more before I dissected it further, it still is a nice scheme that could have likely resulted in a TD had it not been tipped by a DL. So let's take a closer look.

Inside the Playbook: Iowa TE-Wing Dig-Wheel Concept

Iowa wasn't able to pull out a win against Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean schematically they didn't do some interesting things. On their first long TD, they brought out a TE-Wing and ran a Dig-Wheel Concept. In this post, I want to show how this concept works within their offense and why the design was something worth looking closer at.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin Play Action Power O Wheel

Against Iowa, Wisconsin was finally able to get things going offensively when they returned to an old friend in the offense: the wheel route off of Power O. I knew I had seen it previously, and mistakenly noted it was a few years ago in a bowl game, but actually it was against Indiana last year. The basics of the play are a hard Power O play action out of a heavy formation. Rather than kicking out, the FB plants and runs upfield on the wheel route. What ensues is beautiful, beautiful FBs rumbling in wide open spaces. Let's take a look.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Michigan's Down G Run Play

Against Notre Dame, when attempting to attack the edge, Michigan attempted to utilize their traditional pin and pull run scheme. In this scheme, they are traditionally trying to "reach" with the TE to set the edge and pull around and up from there. But against Western Michigan, they adjusted their attack by running a "Down" scheme, rather than attempting to reach at the point of attack. This can be a different play call altogether, or it can be a scouted aspect of the offense and a line call. Either way, let's take a look at how it works.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Film Review: "Bad Play Calls" Aren't Really Bad; and You Should Feel Bad About It.

If you've followed me elsewhere besides just my blog, you probably have an inkling that one of my biggest peeves is fans selecting specific play calls to complain about postmortem. It takes a conclusion - that a play was not successful - and applies no additional logic to apply a critique. Certainly, like wins, all that matters in the end is that you got one or you didn't; in the end it doesn't matter if it was close or it shoulda or coulda or woulda. But if you want to honestly evaluate anything, you need to dig deeper than that. You need to understand your own teams strengths and weaknesses and those of your opponent. You need to understand tendencies, again, both your own and your opponents. What have you practiced (and the success of what you practiced) and what haven't you. There are a lot of unknowns we can't glean, but if we take some time, we can better understand inputs and give a much more thoughtful, thorough, and accurate critique of "play calling" or some such vague thing. The internet went mad this weekend because "Michigan's play calling was awful". Sure, the offensive tackles performed terribly, but it isn't hard to scheme around that, is the thought. I've called plays on Madden, is the idea. I watched the game and it didn't work and therefore this thing that I have a vague notion about must be the culprit, is the conclusion. Meh. Let's take a look, I guess.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Michigan Defending Flat-Back Alignment and OSU/PSU Response

One of my favorite types of articles is discussing what one team does, and does well, and then seeing how other teams adjust to take advantage of that thing. I did it previously in the chess match between Wisconsin and Iowa that we saw in one game. In the future, I want to touch on Wisconsin's offensive gameplan against Iowa to see it from a scouting perspective. But this post is about the Michigan defense and how they tend to play a flat-back formation, and then the different responses we saw from it from OSU and Penn State.

I love Don Brown. I want to run through a brick wall for Don Brown.

Ok, let's talk some football.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan and the Use of False Blocks

As a defender, you are tasked with reading your keys in order to properly diagnose the play and fulfill your assignment. Gap responsibility and run fits and execution all start with properly seeing what is happening in front of you, and based on what the offensive line does, will change your path to success. But offenses know this. To a degree, and offense does what it does because that's the easiest and most efficient way of finding success. Other times, they find success with mind games, by showing something and doing another. This post is going to look at "False Blocks", the art of pass setting on runs and false pulls.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Let's Speak Technique - Blocking the Draw Play

The Draw play is one of the most effective run plays in any playbook. It's versatile. It works just as well on 1st and 10 as it does on 3rd and long. It presents a false read to the defense which sows seeds of doubt for the remainder of the game by looking initially like a pass play and then firing out and knocking some guys around. But it also allows an offensive line to get by without tons of movement. Sure, it's great when a DL gets into a pass rush and then you shotput him out of existence, but just as often you only need to utilize good footwork to position yourself between the ball carrier and the defender. In this post, I'm going to discuss the techniques employed on draw plays in a little more detail.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Written in Chalk - RPOs from Pro Personnel - Utilizing FBs/TEs in a Spread World

A lot of talk surrounding Michigan's supposed lean on more RPO schemes has had to do with what is at the base of Jim Harbaugh's scheme: lots of heavy personnel sets and a complex number of run concepts. Some have wondered how the two ideas can converge, despite the fact that Harbaugh himself had previously incorporated RPOs into his offense (albeit with a different type of QB). I've already discussed how Harbaugh can utilize many of his run concepts within an RPO framework, but the question still remains, how do you do that and utilize the bevy of TEs and FBs that are currently on the roster. This post is going to explore utilizing 12 and 21 personnel (pro personnel for short) within an RPO scheme.

Football Fundamentals - RPO Run Concepts

If you've been following along, we've offered up a lot of pass concepts that can be paired with a run play to make an "RPO". We looked at passes behind the LOS, quick passes, and even downfield reads. We've also looked at pass first RPOs, known here as PRO. And if you've been really paying attention, you'll have noticed that those RPOs were attached to pretty much every kind of run scheme. Here we are going to summarize those run schemes and discuss briefly the types of routes to look for given the type of run.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Football Fundamentals - Pass First RPOs - PRO and PPO

We are now going to turn our attention to something similar to an RPO, but instead of the first option being run (i.e. there is always a mesh point in the backfield), the first option is to pass. This is going to not only include plays where both a run and pass option exist, but also plays where there are separate pass options in a single play, that we've labeled Pass-Pass Options.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Football Fundamentals - RPO Pass Concepts - 3rd Level Read

We've now touched on the basics of a "read offense", route concepts behind the LOS, and then the quick routes that are often attached to the RPO schemes. Now let's take it a little bit deeper and look at third level RPOs. We already looked at a few of these that are attached to quick pass concepts like the pop pass. In this post, we will look at a handful of concepts that attack third level reads.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Football Fundamentals: RPO Pass Concepts - Quick Hitters

Now that we've covered the "read" offense and concepts that occur behind the LOS, let's now turn our focus down field a bit. This is where the RPO scheme is currently most dangerous, both at the lower levels, as well as at the college and NFL level. This is the quick passing concepts that are tied to the run threat. Let's take a look.

Football Fundamentals: RPO Pass Concepts Behind the LOS

I previously set the foundation for "read" offenses. In this post, I want to build on that foundation to give a feel for the pass concepts that can be tagged onto various run schemes. There are a few different ways to break up this post to make it manageable, and the way I decided was to first look at the pass options that result in throws behind the LOS. In this case, illegal man down field doesn't come into play at the college level, so getting more than 3 yards down field isn't a concern.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Football Fundamentals: The Offensive "Read" Concepts

Alright, fine, let's talk the concept du jour. What's the concept du jour? It's the play of the day.

But really it's about RPO - Run-Pass Option. Ever since the 2018 Super Bowl football has been all about the RPO. I've talked about it a little bit in the past, first with Illinois, and then tagged onto an OSU post recently. But I want to provide a little more depth because there still seems to be some confusion and misconceptions. And to do that, I want to first lay the ground work for the basics. This first post is going to try to set a foundation with explaining "the read game".

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin's Inside Double Post

Double Post is one of the go-to concepts in modern football. Like slants, for the QB, this concept provides a relatively clear and concise movement key: the concept side safety. Concept side safety works over top of the first post, you throw the second post. Concept side safety stays home, throw the first post. It's more popular cousin - Mills - made famous by Steve Spurrier, is similar in many ways, but double post keeps the attack vertical.

Wisconsin took the double post concept and merged it with an All Verts or Seattle concept, and moved the double post inside. While All Verts can end up looking very similar, knowing that you have double posts can simplify life for your QB. It can also allow you to modify the timing of other routes to work within the double post scheme. In this post, we will look a little closer at how Wisconsin utilized this concept and why.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Ohio State's Book and Run Scheme and Arrow/Slide RPO

Everybody knows the basic zone read scheme. Block inside zone (or one of many types of zone) while leaving the backside DE unblocked for the QB to read. If the DE crashes the mesh point, the QB pulls and runs off the backside. If the DE stays home, the QB gives to the RB who runs basic inside zone.

But as defenses get more athletic and more nuanced in their defense of zone read, making this "read" becomes more challenging for the QB. You now have games like scrape exchange, where the DE crashes and the LB fills behind. You have more athletic edge players that can force a give but get back into the play from the backside. One option is to change the read defender, another option is to utilize additional backs to modify the blocking scheme. In this post, I'll talk about an option that utilizes a little of both which dates back to Meyer's time at Florida, in the Book and Rifle schemes.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin's Flood Play

The last rollout play we are going to look at from Wisconsin (for now) is a basic sail concept. I’ve previously discussed how they’ve utilized swap boot (in two parts), in which TEs are primary attacking the flat and underneath off of delayed routes. With the sail route, they now have an opportunity to work vertical to threaten the deep outside of the field.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin Swap Boot Part II

Previously, we touched on Wisconsin’s use of the Swap Boot in their 2-TE personnel package. In this post, we are going to look at the same concept, but instead of utilizing a TE in the flat, the RB is going to be incorporated into the pass concept. What we’ll see is a way of utilizing receiver’s in different spots on the field while keeping the reads and timing consistent for the QB.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Iowa's Outside Zone Gap Counter

Iowa has long been known for its use of the stretch zone run scheme, and they love to use a FB within this scheme for a variety of reasons. In fact, one of their favorite runs is the lead outside zone play. Because it is such a staple of the offense, opponents have stressed the importance of defending this play whenever they face Iowa, to the point that Iowa has established a number of "counters" to take advantage of those defensive strategies. The most common strategy that Iowa utilizes is a pin and pull scheme, but they also incorporate other variations. In this post, we will look briefly at how defenses defend Iowa's stretch scheme, and how Iowa deployed a "gap counter" to effectively counter those strategies.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Football Fundamentals: Belly, Tight, Inside, Middle, Outside, Wide Zone Runs

You see it everywhere. You see it on this blog. People talk zone running and they inherently talk "Inside Zone" and "Outside Zone". Then you hear some football minds talking, and you might hear "Tight Zone" and "Wide Zone". In many cases, those will be fully synonymous with the former. But they aren't always, and in fact, there can be a small distinction. And what if I told you ('30 for 30' voice) there was something called "Middle Zone", or "Mid Zone" (not to be confused with midline). These are all concepts that exist at certain levels of football. Many coaches will combine these schemes and utilize pre- and post- snap adjustments to bridge the gap. Some will teach only some of them to get really good at those few concepts without having to worry their players about subtle nuance. But some really dedicated coaches will teach all of these concepts. I'm going to give a primer on each of these concepts in this article.

(H/T this post was inspired by a tweet and back-and-forth with Chris Brown of Smart Football)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin Swap Boot Scheme

I’ve previously discussed how Wisconsin utilizes Dos, TightBunch, and Wings in formation to run a lot of Power O, Lead, and Counter plays. Similarly, they utilize the width of the formation to successfully run a lot of zone schemes, including both Inside Zone and Outside Zone. In this post, we will look at the swap boot concept, and then in the next post, we will look at similar concepts with small tweaks to the setup.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Written in Chalk: Releasing through the OL

I love receivers releasing inside of the offensive EMOL. This can be done from the RB position after receiving a play fake. It can come from the FB or blocking back (sniffer), where it looks like he is executing a lead block. Or even from a TE aligned inside another TE. In this post, I'm going to explain why this fairly basic design (and not all together new design, but one that is coming back to light), is so effective.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Indiana Cross-Wheel

Indiana Wheel Route
Everyone knows about the Post-Wheel route concept. According to 2016 Twitter and beyond, it has been and continues to be undefeated. The legitimacy of this claim can be argued, as much as anything can legitimately be argued on Twitter. Admittedly, it’s a great concept that can be run effectively with a variety of personnel and from various formations. What I want to show today is a slight variation of it, that has tons of eye-candy on top of it to really maximize the effectiveness. This comes from Indiana OC Mike DeBord (as much as Michigan fans don’t want to believe it). It is the Cross-Wheel combo.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin Lead Power O, Power O, and Counter with F/H Part II

In this post, we'll continue to look at how Wisconsin utilizes the Wing to run Power O. Wisconsin will utilize 12 personnel most often, but will also sprinkle in 11 personnel or even 13 personnel to run this play. And while they can still run a traditional, I-Form Power O, I want to focus specifically on what they do with a TE off the LOS, and how they utilize that as well as anyone in college football to add a blocker from the backside, and insert him at the point of attack.

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin Lead Power O, Power O, and Counter with F/H Part I

In this post, we are going to look at how Wisconsin utilizes the Wing to run Power O. Wisconsin will utilize 12 personnel most often, but will also sprinkle in 11 personnel or even 13 personnel to run this play. And while they can still run a traditional, I-Form Power O, I want to focus specifically on what they do with a TE off the LOS, and how they utilize that as well as anyone in college football to add a blocker from the backside, and insert him at the point of attack.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Inside the Playbook: Wisconsin's use of Dos, Tight Bunch, and Wings in Formation

As we cover Wisconsin over the next few pieces, we are predominately going to focus on three formations: Dos (Tight Double Wing), Tight Bunch, and I-Form. Wisconsin finds ways to use FBs and H-Backs within the offense, to lead block, to run rubs, or to even to cross flow.
In this post we will first cover the high level benefits of these formations for Wisconsin. In the next posts, we will go into depth into specific plays, predominately run out of these formations.