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4 Keys to Running a Balanced Offense

6 Dec

by Joe Daniel

Most coaches want to have balance in their offense. In order to have balance though, a coach needs to define what balance is for his offense.

Balance is not a 50-50 split of runs and passes. Most coaches think of that when they think of a balanced offense. In fact, balance is when the opponent has the threat of you running or passing in any given situation.

To bring balance to your offense, you only need to follow these guidelines:

1. Self Scouting: Each week you need to take film to see what your opponent will see. You may think you’re pretty sneaky, but chances are you have some pretty strong tendencies if you are not self scouting.

Hopefully you have video analysis software like Hudl and this will not take long. Tag last week’s game, then run a report on the last two or three games to see your tendencies in every situation.

Pay attention to down & distance, field position and hash placement when you are self scouting your offensive playcalling. If you have strong tendencies anywhere, plan to break them this week.

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Pre-Snap Movement: An Aid to Offenses; A Curse to Defenses

20 Sep

The thing we don’t see a lot of in youth football at the Senior-level is pre-snap movement which is too bad considering the advantages it creates for offenses.  Maybe coaches feel it’s too much for a 12-14 year old to remember but we disagree.  We think its two things: fun and lethal.

On offense, we want to create the illusion that we’re very complex when in fact we’re very simple. We work our magic by running a few plays from a variety of looks that we create through various pre-snap movements.

We believe that we will be difficult to defend and, at the same time, we won’t overload our offensive linemen or our Quarterback with too much to remember as the teaching remains the same each week.

For us the benefits of pre-snap movements are as follows:

1. Simplifies the defense – It causes defenses to make multiple checks prior to the snap which can force them to play mostly base defense. This helps our O-line.

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Chalk Talk: Power Sweep

17 Sep

In this series of 3 videos, the great Vince Lombardi breaksdown the Power Sweep and its complementary plays.  Good stuff if you’re looking to run outside:



Route Progression vs. Read Progression

9 Sep

By Mike Wyatt, Head Coach, Oklahoma Panhandle State University

Young coaches that don’t understand the passing game have a fear of it.  Although with the recent explosion of spread offenses, a lot more coaches have become familiar with the passing game and are experts at it. It really is not as hard as some might think.

There are two types of progressions in reading a defense. These are:

  • Route Progression
  • Read Progression

With route progression, a Quarterback will have a primary, secondary and third route to throw to and will go through those reads in that progression: 1st,
2nd, 3rd.

However, with read progression, the Quarterback will focus in on a segment of the coverage and by reading that segment, he will determine which receiver is
primary and which is secondary.

Any well designed passing game will have routes that will feature both types of reads. However, some will have more of one than the other.

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Video: Power Play

8 Sep

Here’s some video on what is probably football’s oldest play:


Terminology: Shovel Pass

19 Aug

It’s “shovel” pass.  Not shuffle or shuttle, but shovel!

“Cactus” Jack Curtice is credited with developing the nifty little pass play that has so many coaches and fans alike confused as to what to actually call it.

Because of the pass play’s unique throwing motion — a kind of hybrid overhanded, pitch forward — the term “shovel” pass was the first name assigned the technique some decades ago.  It was later twisted into the erroneous nom de guerres presently associated with the play because some people either can’t spell or pronounce the word, “shovel”.


Now there’s some disagreement as to who first developed the pass play.   Some say Walter “Bug” Bujkowski and others point to “Cactus Jack Curtice as the play’s principal architect. We’ll let you decide who deserves the credit.

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Sprint Pass – Flood Route (Video)

13 Jul

Here’s a video analysis of a flood concept from an empty set.  A little daring maybe for 12-14 year olds, but a solid concept nonetheless.  We share it because it shows you how to create and attack a void using layered routes and how to create a mismatch between a LB and a speedier receiver.  Good stuff.

Why Run the Sprint-Out Pass

12 Jul

You won’t see it on Sundays because no coach in the NFL wants to see his million-dollar QB get blown up.  So why run it on Saturdays with your middle schoolers?

The reason is simple really.   The sprint-out pass can do a lot of good things for an offense while doing a lot of bad things to a defense.

Sprint-Out Pass

For starters, it can protect your QB by varying the launch point (where he releases the ball).  Defenses cannot pin their ears back and rush him since he’s no longer sitting in the pocket, surveying the field.

And then — and this is a biggie! — once he breaks contain, the QB poses an immediate threat to the perimeter defenders.

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Old School: The “A” Formation

15 Feb

Hashmarks were closer to the sidelines in the 20s and 30s than they are today, so offenses favored running to the wide side of the field.  As a result, formations were routinely unbalanced to that side which created a pronounced strongside.

This was particularly true in the fledgling NFL, where power running was the principal method of moving the chains and, when it came to power, the Single Wing ruled.  So did the Notre Dame Box.

(Single Wing)

(Notre Dame Box)

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Zone Block or Not?

15 Feb

So you just watched some college or pro team run crazy through an opponent using a Zone scheme and you’re thinking you want to do that.  Why not, it sure looks simple with everybody stepping to the playside.  But before you do, consider this: it isn’t simple!

Zone Blocking is sophisticated.  It requires two things that are scarce at the youth level: time and skill.  Time to teach it and rep it and the kind of skill that comes from experience with and hopefully mastery of basic blocking technique.

If a kid can’t Drive Block, he can’t Zone either.

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