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Run the Ball With Eight

(or Nine) in the Box

W hether it has been in a formal clinic
or on a napkin in a restaurant, I have
learned most of what I know about football
Diagram 2

from others. The exchange of ideas

between coaches is one of the traditions
that makes our profession so rewarding. I
want to thank those coaches who have so
generously shared their knowledge with
me, and I also want to thank John Lyons
and the AFCA Summer Manual committee
for the opportunity to share some game Frontside Tight End: Down block. With
plan thoughts with you. “solid” call double the 6I technique with the
At the Division III level, personnel often tackle.
dictates our offensive and defensive Frontside Tackle: Versus a 3 technique
philosophies. This past season, we had a double with the guard. Versus a 2I tech-
senior offensive line and an exceptional tal- nique make “solid” call and double with the
ent at tailback; therefore the run game tight end. In both cases, eyeball the
would be the key to our offensive success. frontside inside linebacker for the run
This was no secret to our opponents, through.
and we continually played against defen- Frontside Guard: Versus three tech-
sive schemes that were designed to take nique double with the tackle. Versus a 2I
our tailback out of the game. Left with few reach drive defensive tackle.
offensive weapons, we were forced to find Center: If the backside guard is cov-
ways to get him the ball. The strategy ered by a 2I technique, zone block with
proved successful as our team won a share the backside guard to the backside line-
of the league’s title, and our tailback won backer. If the backside guard is covered
the league’s offensive MVP honor and by a three technique, zone cut the back-
broke the team’s career and season rush- side linebacker.
Bob Ritter ing records. Backside Guard: Versus a 2I zone
The biggest challenge to our run game block with the center to the backside
Head Coach was the eight-man front, with the free safe- backer. Versus a three technique, zone cut
ty inverting at times to create a nine-man defensive tackle.
Middlebury College front. Backside Tackle: Pull. Look to get
Diagram 1 through to line of scrimmage outside the
Middlebury, Vt. tight end and block the frontside linebacker.
Backside Tight End: Zone cut man on.
H back: Block outside linebacker inside
Flanker: Stalk No. 1
Tailback: Counter step. Get in hip pock-
et of puller and read his block.
Quarterback: Reverse pivot. Hand off
to tailback. Fake bootleg.
We attacked this defense by using three There are some important coaching
base game plan components: 1. The run points. The tight end and tackle want to
play; 2. The formation; and 3. A scheme tighten their split shoe to shoe when they
designed to control the extra man (the free are double-teaming. The pulling tackle
safety). should keep his shoulders parallel to the
line of scrimmage and be ready to block
The Run Play the frontside linebacker. The linebacker
The run play we used was our power play often gets caught up in the wash and the
(42/48). We favored this play because of the tackle may be blocking a secondary player.
matchups, the blocking angles and a double- The frontside tackle must keep his shoul-
team at the point of attack. Our rules for the ders parallel to the line of scrimmage on his
play allowed us to run the play to both the out- double team to protect his inside gap from
side technique defensive tackle (three tech- the stunting linebacker.
nique) and the inside technique defensive
tackle (2I technique). We preferred to run this The Formation
play to the 2I technique. We start in our “Queen” set (Diagram 3).

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2001 •

Diagram 3 plays, our tailback will turn a few of them snap read he will look to the safety on the
into missed tackles and big plays for us. tight end and wing side for his read. We will
We do need to have an answer for the very try and stretch the half corner’s zone with
aggressive (or very good) free safety. the tight end and wing.

Diagram 9
Controlling the Free Safety
We have two mechanisms to help con-
trol the aggressive free safety. The first is to
have our flanker run what we call a “read
force block.” The flanker drives off the line
This formation is effective as a starting and pushes the corner deep while eye-
point for the following reasons: balling the free safety. If the free safety fills
1. It provides an eight-man blocking aggressively, the flanker will crack him. If
surface. the free safety stays deep, the flanker will
2. The H back is in better position to continue to stalk the corner. Usually, the We can also run the four verticals out of
take on an aggressive outside linebacker flanker can get a pre-snap read tipping off a wing trips set. We have found that once
than the fullback. how the free safety will play. we run the bootleg play it slows down the
3. There is no fullback to give the inside Diagram 6 aggressive free safety and softens the play
linebacker a flow key. The tailback’s of the outside linebacker.
counter steps freezes them for a moment. This is our starting point for our eight-
4. It gives us four eligible receivers on man front game plan. By adding counter
the line of scrimmage which helps stretch and inside trap away from trips motion we
the secondary with our boot game. create a complete package that allows us
5. We can create a wing trips formation to keep the tailback as the featured offen-
to either side. sive player.
If the 2I technique is to the side of the H I would like to pay special tribute to
back, we will run the play to that side. To Mickey Heinecken who retired from coach-
give us an extra blocker to that side, the Diagram 7 ing this year after almost 40 years. I
quarterback will bring the flanker in motion learned a great deal of football from him,
to create trips to that side. but he taught me even more about life.
Diagram 4
100 Percent
That’s what a coach asks of his
players and that’s what the
American Football Coaches
The second method used to control the Association is asking of football
free safety is our four vertical bootleg coaching staffs at all 700 plus insti-
game. If the quarterback gets a single safe-
tutions fielding college football
If the 2I technique is away from the ty pre-snap read he will look for the
wing, the quarterback will check the play frontside tight end first-anticipating the free teams throughout the country.
the other way and the H back will motion safety moving a little with the run fake. If
over to other side and run the play. the free safety covers the frontside tight
One hundred percent member-
Diagram 5 end, the quarterback will look to the back-
side tight end. If the corner covers the ship in the AFCA by coaching
frontside tight end, he will look to the staffs will result in a more effec-
tive voice in matters affecting the
Diagram 8 game and the coaching profes-
sion, from rules legislation to
coach of the year voting.

By creating these trips sets versus a Set the standard. Be sure every
balanced front, we can account for every-
member of the football staff at your
one except the free safety. We feel that our
tailback is better than the free safety. If we school is a member of the AFCA.
force the free safety to make ten or so If the quarterback gets a two-safety pre-

• AFCA Summer Manual — 2001 •