Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Football Fundamentals: The Tite Front Defense

The defense du jour against modern spread attacks is what is commonly known as the “Tite” front. Over the past couple years, you’ve seen Big 12 teams run it increasingly often, and SEC and other teams start to incorporate variants of the look more often as well as they begin to deal with an increasing number of spread formations. But what exactly is the “Tite” front? Like any front, say, a 4-3 Under, it isn’t necessarily any one thing. You can have single-high, two-high, or even three-high safeties. You can attach your overhangs differently. And with Tite, it may even mean different box numbers. And of course, there are multiple techniques that can be employed along the way. This post is a primer to the Tite front. At the end, I’ll link some of the better articles that get into greater depth for those interested, but for now, we need to understand the basics, so that we can understand how to attack it.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Football Fundamentals: I-Formation RB Draw Plays

This is a series post with lots of play diagrams. Where it lacks depth, it hopefully makes up for with breadth. The goal of this post is to demonstrate the many run game nuances that are at your disposal, outside the very basics that you can find almost anywhere. I will point out some key attributes for the plays, but for the most part the diagrams will stand alone outside a brief description. This post is limited (out of necessity) to strongside plays that are given directly to the RB. It does not include FB runs, or QB runs, or H-Back, Wing, TE, or WR runs. It also doesn't include option plays. Those are things for future posts.

Why did I select an I-formation, which is mostly going out of fashion, and how do I expect this information to be utilized? The I-Formation is a classic 2-back set that, by the time it was implemented, had the benefit of a lot of football history. It is also a highly adaptable run formation, along for offsets, for H-backs, and other aspects that allow essentially any run concept to be incorporated into its framework. And that's the important bit: you can look at an I-Formation run play and easily carry it forward to many modern formations. For instance, by altering footwork and possibly timing, any of these plays can be utilized in the following:

  • 2-Back Shotgun Runs (with the second back potentially being a FB, an H-Back, a Wing, or a Sniffer)
  • 1-Back Shotgun QB Runs (utilizing the RB as an added blocker)
  • 1-Back Shotgun Read Options (the read of a run-run option, run-pass option, or pass-run option take the place of the additional blocker).
Many of the best current offenses often circle back to old formations. In the NFL, along with the modern spread concepts, you see a lot of the best offenses utilizing Wing T concepts. This set of plays does the same where it can (though, again, recognize that the option packages and fake packages are not included in this post, so it is somewhat limited). Below, you will see each play blocked against the two fundamental Even Fronts (4-3 Over and Under).

In this final post, we will be looking at draw plays.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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 13, 2019

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.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

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.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

OT: 50th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon


No way! We landed on the moon!

50 years ago (July 21, 1969) was the first time man set foot on a celestial body outside our own. When they landed, they didn’t know if the lunar module would sink precariously into the dust, off axis or worse, and be unable to return the explorers that risked their lives to push the boundaries as we knew them. They didn’t know if pressure from the decent engine would build up and cause the engine itself to explode. There were many things they didn’t know, many more than we actually did. But one thing they did know was that this moment was as significant as any man had ever witnessed. From JFK: “But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.” They did this all with about as much computing power as your cell phone. And they accomplished that feat. They harnessed and controlled an explosion that thrust us to where no one had gone before.

*    *    *    *    *

Friday, June 28, 2019

Written in Chalk: Attacking the Tite Formation - Pre-snap

Now that I’ve touched on how the Tite formation works, I want to take a look from the other side of the ball and how it can be attacked. While the focus of this post is primarily on the run game (because the backend coverage can be largely modified), it is important to keep in mind the common pass responsibilities, as we will draw from that conflict. Before getting into specific plays, I first want to look holistically at the formation and how to put an offense in position to exploit it. Then we can get a bit deeper into some actual play calling.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Film Review: Justin Fields and OSU - Weaknesses and Conclusion

I previously addressed many of the good qualities that Justin Fields will bring to the Scarlet and Grey, but new Head Coach Ryan Day is getting far from a finished product. Instead, Day and new Passing Game Coordinator/QB Coach Mike Yurcich are going to have to get out their polish and work on a few areas where Fields can really improve as he likely steps into the starting lineup for the Buckeyes. Let's take a look.


Monday, February 25, 2019

Film Review: Justin Fields and OSU - Strengths

Justin Fields has been ruled immediately eligible to play for Ohio State in the 2019 season.  Previously spending his one collegiate year at Georgia backing up talented signal caller, Jake Fromm, he enters a Buckeyes depth chart without much in the way of competition. In his freshman year, he never was really able to muscle away consistent featured series, but he did feature quite a bit in a specialized role and in a number of blow out games. At the end of the year, his stats read 42 runs from 266 yards and 4 TDs on the ground and 27/39 passing for 8.4 YPA at a 4-0 TD/INT ratio. But stats alone don't often tell the whole tale, and as such, it is fundamental that we look a little bit deeper. Let's take a look.

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images