Wednesday, July 28, 2010

5 Wide... Not as cool as you think.

As a big fan of the "let if fly" passing game, you would think the more receivers the better would be my mantra... Well, it was... but I finally realized that every good machine must have the correct parts to make it run.

Can you run the 5 wide offense with any group of kids you happen upon? I don't think so... Let me explain why.

My first chance to call the shots on offense, I took the approach of 5 wide, chuck and duck and let it fly. The first problem we ran into was with extra receivers comes extra routes... this creates extra things for the QB to process. Although this is a small problem, it still is a problem.

Later in the season we started giving the QB primary and secondary reads and then told him to run if the second option was not open. We ended up winning our final game of the season and throwing for nearly 500 yards in our final two games. (the winning of the last game prevented a 30 game losing streak)

Here is a video of our second to last game.

In this video we did a few things different than we had done all year long. Thus giving us the element of surprise.

This team really did some things on defense that fit well with our game plan. Our receiver caught 13 passes in that game and our QB threw for right at 250 yards.

After that season I was named Head Coach at Terry Bradshaw's old high school and I felt I needed to pick up where I had left off the season before.

I arrived during the spring and had roughly 14 days before playing in a 3 team scrimmage.

I had one kid who had never really played football in high school, but had a great arm. I also had a super athlete who was a great runner, but really wasn't much of a passing threat.

Here is a video of those kids in our 5 wide offense in our spring scrimmage.

We ended up losing number 6 for the first 6 games of the season and our world fell apart. We now had a strong armed kid at QB, but he presented zero chance of running. We ended up having to bring a kid into the backfield to run the ball in order to keep defenses honest.

So now I came to realize problem #2 with the 5 wide offense. You cannot just insert any old QB into the 5 wide offense and expect to have success.

In order for this offense to work, your QB must present a run threat. Now, I'm not saying he has to be a threat to score on every play... but he must be able to take off and pick up yards when the defense dictates it.

Otto Zeman put out a video explaining his 5 Wide No Back Offense.
In his offense, the only running play used was the QB draw. His QB in the video was pretty good, and really made the defense pay when they failed to respect all running gaps.

As important as it is to present a run threat by a 5 wide QB, he also must be able to play the role of a true QB. If you were to place a great runner behind center that really was not that great of a passer, you invite the defense to tighten up and play with 8 in the box.

Thinking back over my 10 years of coaching high school football, I have only worked with 1 kid who I could say would make a great 5 wide QB. He was not the fastest kid Ive had, but was a very nifty runner and was very elusive. He also had a cannon for an arm and threw 30 tds as a sophomore. He is currently playing for Arkansas Pine Bluff.

There have been others in my career who were great runners and average passers... but none that I really feel could have given our team a great chance to win in an exclusively 5 Wide attack.
When I think back to all of the names that we all know as QB's in the NFL or NCAA... there are several that I would hand pick if I were building a roster to run a 5 wide offense..

Terrelle Pryor
Steve Young
Michael Vick

But most of them have probably never played in an exclusively empty offense.

So just what does one of these super talented QB's in a wide open 5 wide offense look like??

Maty Mauk is a name that all of us will soon hear every weekend during football season. He is the Jr to be QB of Kenton High School out of Kenton Ohio. His father is his coach and they operate nearly exclusively from an empty backfield.

Mauk threw for just over 4500 yards and ran for another 660. I think that more than qualifies him as a threat both as a passer and a runner.

Here is a highlight video of Mauk's sophomore season.

So in closing. As a 5 wide enthusiast, I really love the pure magic that this high octane offense can produce... but, I have finally come to realize just how limited this machine can become with the wrong parts in place.

So just a thought for anyone wanting to explore the option of running a true empty offense... make sure you can maintain a run threat with your QB... if not, you could be very easy to defend.

Coming soon... The Empty Wing-T Offense.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The pressure is on

When looking at defensive football from an offensive approach, you must first understand all the things that the defense must do. As a defense you must first be able to align correctly to any number for formations so that you are not allowing obvious advantages to the offense.

Secondly, you must make sure that you are both sound within your run gap/fit integrity as well as pass coverage.

This seems simple enough, but have you ever actually considered the numbers?

With a field width of 53 yards and a probable passing depth of 40 yards, you are asking 11 players to protect 2120 square yards on every play. Which breaks down to 193 square yards per player.

But of course you are stacking the numbers against the coverage guys when you take into consideration that the D-line is only expected to work within a rather small area.

Another largely advantagous aspect for the offense is action vs reaction. As a defense, a large part of what you do within a game is reactionary.

The thing about reaction is that as humans we must be taught to overcome our instinctive reactions in order to be productive.

Humans who work in dangerous environments must overcome their intial instinctive reactions to get the heck out in order to get a job done.

Same thing in defensive football.

As a teaching method, I will gather my qb's and receivers and conduct a simple experiment.

I will gather them around and take a tennis ball. While talking I lob the ball towards one of my players. As he catches the tennis ball I explain that he did not have to think about reaching out and catching the ball... that this was an instinctive reaction. This is what is the norm in terms of human behavior.

I then ask for the ball back and spit on the ball. I then lob it back towards the same player. This time the player will usually jump back and avoid the ball allowing it to land on the ground.

I then explain that this player has been taught that human spit is nasty, especially when it belongs to someone else. Thus, he overcame his intial instinctive reaction and a new knowledge based reaction has taken place.

This is the same thing in football.

If we are running a curl / flat concept we are attempting to pick on the curl / flat defender. In general teachings, this player is taught to cover the curl and tackle the flats. But, several high school age defenders are not taught (drilled) properly and if the threat of the flat presents itself they will cover the flat route, thus leaving the curl route open.

Those who have been taught (drilled) will show evidence by staying back and making you throw the flat route and then coming up and making a tackle.

That is bascially all defensive football is... aligning properly to the treat and reacting to any number of variables.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Complexly simple - a means to an end

121 - the number of hours we spent last season on offensive football.
166 - the number of points we scored last season via our offense.

Those numbers seem not to match up in terms of value.

During those 121 hours we threw and caught countless balls, blocked countless run plays vs counless fronts, and perfected countless routes. But how many of those hours did we concentrate on what offensive football REALLY is? Probably none.

Offensive football is not finishing a game with a 300 yard passer or a 100 yard rusher. Offensive football is not seeing how much you can out smart the defense. Offensive football is not about running the next big scheme.

Offensive football is about moving the football a linear distance of 10 yards within 4 plays over and over again until you cross your opponent's goalline thus scoring points. That is what offensive football is about. Some what simple huh? Then why do we continue to make it so complex?

As coaches, lets start working on the game 10 yards at a time.