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126. One of the debates we have going on with a couple of the coaches is formations vs plays. My question to you is, what, in your philosophy is more important? Being able to run many plays out of a few formations, or being able to run a few plays out of many formations? I am not trying to create staff disunity, in fact the head coach and I have the same philosophy. We were just curious as to how you, knowing the offense the way you do, deal with this. This was our first year for the offense and we are not ready to do a lot of plays with a lot of formations.

My simple answer would be to keep them both relatively few and simple. If my kids are good enough at every position, I am going to go as far as I can with one formation and a relatively small number of plays. However, that's rarely the case with any of us.

I don't normally like to add plays so much as I like to start out looking at a lot of plays and then begin to whittle them down to the ones that this particular team seems to execute best. I like to get down to a manageable number that we can practice and use in a game. Few things are more aggravating than to look back and find you've spent practice time on something you didn't even get around to running in a game.

As for formations, or sets, most of the time when I have run from a variety of them, it has been dictated by our personnel - either we were just not strong enough in the first place to stay balanced and do the things that we'd like to do, or an injury at some point put us in that position where we had to compensate. One example of this is the Stack-I formation, which I started to run only because I was down - literally - to one decent wingback, and if you stay in the Double-Wing when you can only run in one direction it's not the same offense. Occasionally we might want to do something to take advantage ot the unique skills of one player (or hide a kid who needs to be hidden). An example of that would be running from "Over" or "Under" to spread out a gifted receiver.

I do like to be able to get into unbalanced at any time, and I would add another formation if I thought it might enable us to take advantage of a perceived weak spot in a particular opponent's defense. But I still want to be able to run the bulk of our base plays out of it. I am not a great believer in spending a whole lot of time on an exotic formation from which you only run one surprise play. You won't get that much use out of it, because anybody who scouts you will be ready for it the next time. And I don't like to get too far from the concept of the balanced formation, which I know defenses hate.

I am certainly not a big fan of adding too many plays, because I feel that it detracts from my sense that we already have an answer for everything a defense can throw at us, and because it will cost us reps that would have been better employed on our basic stuff. Even at my age, I still find myself spending practice time on something I dreamed up; more often than I used to, though, I find myself coming to my senses suddenly, and asking myself, "what does this give us that we don't already have?" I will rarely add more than one new play per game, or run in a game something that we haven't repped successfully in practice for at least two weeks.

I think a major key to running an offense successfully is discovering mistakes as quickly as possible.

I think the greatest virtue of staying close to home base by running relatively few plays from one formation is that it reduces the varibles that you have to analyze in trying to determine why a play didn't succeed. I want to break the failure down in simplest terms to whether it's because of (1) something the defense has done that we need to counter, or (2) some place where we've just failed to execute.

I think it's been by repetition of the same play under the most similar conditions possible that I've been able to spot certain problems that kept recurring. Recurrent problems that reflect the way you've been teaching something, and as a result of some of those discoveries, I've had to change some of my teaching. I believe that the more variables we introduce - the more we make a play different from the way we ran it last time - the less chance we have of discovering recurrent mistakes. And if we can't discover mistakes, we can't correct them.

I think that with maybe 12 running plays - max - which we can run right and left and, if necessary, from over/under, spread, rocket/lazer motion, etc., and maybe a total of 6 pass plays which we know we can execute without having to read coverages, we can handle anything they can throw at us.

I hope that helps. I guess the short answer is that I would add formations(sets) before I'd add plays, because as long as we limit ourselves to unbalanced sets, we're not really having to teach anything new.

127. TIP: I have a question. We run our 3 trap 2 out of the Super Power action. You list an alternate handoff in your playbook with the power or buck sweep action. How do you call the two plays to note the change in action?

Although I prefer to run the trap as one more look-alike part of the Super-Power series (run with motion), I also like to have a trap as part of the "Buck" (29-38) series, which we normally run without motion.

The decision to do one or the other is either part of the game plan, or a halftime adjustment, or sometimes just a matter of telling the QB, "fake 38". My last QB knew that when we called for the trap with no motion - "NO MO 3 Trap at 2 on GO" - he was to fake 38 G-O REACH.


128. What are some suggestions for increasing turnout - getting more kids out for football?

This, of course, is a major issue for many school administrators, who equate the success of any program solely with the number of kids in uniform. It is often the first area where they begin to apply pressure on a coach who isn't winning, either because they are cleverly asking him to do something they know he can't do, or because it is one criticism that they can substantiate with numbers, or because they don't understand the game of football and what it requires from a kid.

The problem, it seems to me, is that usually the reason that otherwise-qualified kids don't want to play is that the team is losing, or that the coach has standards that they just don't want to adhere to, or both.

Winning, of course, solves a lot of problems, because it attracts those less-than-hard-core kids who want to get on the bandwagon. Watch what happens when you start to turn things around. This is not a comdemnation of those kids. It's just the way people are, and it doesn't mean those kids won't be valuable team members.

But as to the issue of standards - one thing I would never do is compromise on the things I strongly believe in, in order to try to get more kids to turn out. First of all, it means that you will have a hard time living with yourself, because a major part of being a head coach is doing things your way. Second, who does it attract? Only the ones who held back because they didn't like your standards. And as soon as you cut back on standards - assuming that they are reasonable - you begin to reduce the benefits of football. In other words, you've GOT more kids, but they're getting less out of participating.

Here's one great idea, especially going into a new program: one coach I knew, who is now retired, would go into the homes of every potential freshman football player and spend an hour or so with the kids and their families, explaining his program in detail. He did this three or four evenings a week all spring. He had great turnouts.

I have been most successful with out-of-season programs, either as part of a weight-training class or as an after school activity. Following weights, the kids would play games, usually touch (where it was legal). It gave me a chance to see new kids play, it gave me a chance to get to know them, and it gave them a chance to begin fitting in. Australian rules football, adopted to an American field, is a great, competitive game that relates well to American football.

If you teach weight training, it is great to try to steer potential football players into your class, because you can observe how they work, how they accept correction, how they work with the other guys. And, of course, they get to find out whether they can work with you.

Naturally, I have also done the usual, such as grabbing kids in the hallways and in the lunch room and in classes. Some kids really do need to be asked.

I think a PR program that makes the football team seem like something special is a good idea. That would mean announcements over the PA, items on the reader board and in the school bulletin, pictures in a trophy case. I have put a TV in a trophy case window and run game tapes before and after school and during lunches.

I believe in making a decent a highlights film.

I know coaches who have done a great job of preparing a monthly newsletter that goes out to all players and their parents. There are always plenty left over, and he distributes them to other teachers, and leaves them lying around in strategic places.

I think it is important to let the faculty know that you will support them no matter what, and that you are concerened about how your football players behave and perform in their classes.

Just some ideas.

I have always thought that the best thing you can do is have good morale within your team - to make it the kind of organization that kids are proud of and proud to belong to, and that other kids that that matters to will want to become a part of it.

But beware the "get the numbers up" trap. Increased participation is one of the biggest things that school administrators care about, and my personal belief has always been that when you start hearing them talk about nothing but that, instead of what a good job you're doing with the kids you already have, they have begun to grease the skids.    

129. "I have an incoming freshman quarterback who is already pretty good-sized. He has a better arm than anyone in the high school, and he is a straight A student. He may be a special player. I am already getting pressure from some fans to install a spread offense, but that won't happen. However, I am intrigued with the possibilities of your customized passing game (in the playbook). How much have you run it in the past, and how successful were you? It seems that it wouldn't be too difficult for kids to pick up the terminology. We will have pretty good speed and several kids who can catch for the next several years, so it is a good idea to use the weapons. But I don't want to give up the identity that we have developed the past two years by pounding away at people on the ground. We weren't very successful last year with our passing (not bad either, but there is room for improvement), so that is an area I have been concentrating on this off-season. I just want to be able to make the opposition pay when they stack 9 or 10 in the box, but I also want to use my weapons to the best advantage for our team. Do you have any thoughts/insights/advice? Thanks, Coach. I look forward to hearing from you.

Coach, I have been reasonably successful with it - back before I found a running game.

My purpose in having it now is that once we know the terms, if we ever have to have to, we can make up a play even if we've never practiced it.

There are a lot more variables involved in a successful passing attack, and the QB - even after you spend all the time necessary to make it worth your while - is only a part of it.

There is still the matter of receivers - talent, toughness and brains - and pass blockers. There is the matter of knowing the passing game yourself and imparting that knowledge to your players. There is the matter of still having to have a good running game even though you have to devote most of your practice time to passing.

It would be best to live in a place where the weather is fairly decent and predictable, and where the state regulations allow you to spend a lot of time with the kids out of season.

And, of course, you'd better have a defense that will bail you out of those times when you throw three straight incompletions and, less than a minute later, you're punting.

I really wouldn't care how good a quarterback is - he couldn't possibly be good enough to make me stray off course. All he has to do is get hurt, transfer, get suspended, get sick, fail a class, decide he doesn't like the offense or the play called. Good QB's often come with dads who think they are the kid's agent.

A coach who succombs to "pressure from fans to spread it out" will soon find out that he can never satisfy them.

There is plenty of passing built into our offense to make people pay for keeping only one or two men back there. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

130. Coach: Just received and finished my initial reading and viewing of your Dynamics video and playbook. They both do an excellent job of explaining the DW. If you were introducing this for the first time in a youth or high school program what would you recommend as a core of plays to start with?

Coach: As a bare minimum, for a youth team, you should install: 88/99 super power... Red-Red... 47-C... 2 wedge

I believe that that would be enough for you to win with.

But I don't see any reason why you can't also run:

3 trap 2... 6-G... 58 Black (I would not pull the backside guard; I would keep the B-Back in and have him block out on the first rusher past the left tackle)... Criss-cross 47-C... 38 G-O Reach (It enables you to get outside people who pinch in tight)

Notice that only in the case of 88-99 do I say that you have to run the play both right and left. That is not only to reinforce the idea in the kids' minds that when you want to, you can run every play both ways, but also to give you one way to run the opposite direction when a team stacks up on one side.

131. I saw your recommendation for a basic offense for youth coaches. What would you recommend at the high school level? I want to be able to attack anywhere, but I want to avoid the temptation to do too much.

You are wise not to try to do too much. You only have so much practice time, and there are only so many plays in a game. If I had these plays in, I would consider myself fully armed:

88/99 Super Power (Maybe Super Power Reach)

38/29 G-O Reach

47/56 (Criss-cross preferably)

6g (Maybe 7g)

3 Trap at 2/4 (Maybe 2 Trap at 3/5)

2 Wedge

Red-Red (Maybe Blue-Blue)

Red-Red TE Screen Left (Maybe Blue-Blue Screen Rt)

Thunder Throwback

58 Black (including X, O, O-X)

58 Black Throwback

58 Black Throwback C Post

That's basically six running plays (11 if you count each play right and left) and six pass plays. I would want to be able to run most of them from at least one other formation. There are other plays that I would certainly expect to run at some point, and there are other sets and motions, but like you I don't want to overload. This, I think, would be enough.

132. I have been an assistant at the school where I teach and I was recently passed over for the head job. They said they wanted someone with head coaching experience, and went outside and hired an older coach. I was a little bit ticked. Now they are asking me to apply for a position on the new coach's staff. Do you think I am going to help myself professionally by doing so?

While you can help yourself profesionally any time you have a chance to learn from someone new, the bigger issue is whether you can improve your employability as a head coach, since that's what you seem to want.

I think you should apply only if (1) You believe that you can totally support the head coach in all matters; (2) You will be given some real responsibility; (3) It will move you into position to succeed the head coach if and when he hangs it up; (4) It will enhance your desirability should you decide to apply for another job someplace else.

It would seem to me that you would want certain assurances from the head coach, the athletic director, the principal and the superintendent, because even if you do a great job for this guy and he leaves after, say, three years, you still won't have had head coaching experience.

I think the best thing to do is to say to people, "I will be the most loyal assistant that Coach ------ has ever had. But I would like to know what I have to do to establish myself in your eyes as the next man in line should he ever decide to move on or hang it up."

And if you don't get any assurances from them, I think it is time to start looking elsewhere. They are telling you something.

133. Last year I did a one-year stint as offensive coordinator at my new school. The regular OC was on leave. We were running a spread option attack and getting killed. Half way through the year I asked the coach if he minded if I implemented some double wing stuff. He said go ahead and I kind of went with it. Running basically only super powers, counters, and wedges, we started gaining yards and became more competitive. Now the regular OC is back. He likes some of the double wing stuff that we did, but once again wants to run midline, inside veer, and outside veer. I am totally against this and do not believe it will work or that it is needed.

I don't want to be a guy who causes dissension on your staff, but I don't believe you can be a dedicated option team and a Double-Wing team, too.

Running the option entails a good deal of work and a good deal of risk. The only way to minimize the risk is to get a lot of successful reps - which means devoting a lot of your practice time to running the option.

As a veteran Texas coach said at one of my clincs, "If you're going to run option - run option." He meant, if you plan on being an option team, you have to get serious about it and dedicate yourself to it as your base offense.

Nothing wrong with that. There are lots of ways to be successful in football.

But I don't believe that you can expect to do what you must do to run the option well, and still expect to do a decent job of running the Double-Wing.

I like option football, and I can coach it. Same with the passing game. Same with the Double-Wing. But I can't do everything, and at some point I have to decide where I'm going to have to make my stand.

I once heard a coach say - it may have been Ara Parseghian - that there were three basic ways of running the ball - power, misdirection and option - and you couldn't do a good job at more than two of them. Over the years, I have never seen anything to prove him wrong. (I suspect it was Coach Parseghian, by the way, because his Notre Dame teams ran power and misdirection, but I am not aware of his running a whole lot of option.)

I am not telling anyone not to run an option play. It is a nice thing to have in your repertoire, and it certainly gives defenses another thing to think about. I would just advise people not to get overly caught up in the option game if they expect to run the Double-Wing the way it can - and should - be run. The Double-Wing is not exactly no-maintenance - it requires a lot of reps, too.

Don't forget, either - you do need time to work on a passing game, too.

It is worth pointing out that when you invest in an option offense, you are making yourself QB-dependent, with all the vulnerability to injury that that implies. It is very difficult to have two option quarterbacks game-ready. You could very well find yourself on the Monday after the first game trying to decide whether you would have a better chance on Friday night if you spent the next four days trying to get another QB ready to play your option offense, or trying to install the Double-Wing.

There used to be a sign, near a bridge from New Jersey to Philadelphia, that teased traffic-bound Pennsylvanians as they inched homeward on Sunday nights from a summer weekend at the Jersey Shore: "If you lived in New Jersey, you'd be home now."

In the same fashion, if you were already running the Double-Wing,, it would be a matter of finding somebody else to take a snap, showing him the basics, and then - practice as usual.  "If you ran the Double-Wing, you;d be home now."

134. I have been having a little problem adjusting to get the QB out of the way of the pulling linemen on 88/99 super power, I have his arms locked and he knows to try to get away - is there something else or just keep working on it and be patient?

It is important to make sure that he stands as far back from the center as he can (without taking his hands out from under center) by extending his arms until his elbows are locked, but you say he is already doing that.

Once he gets the ball from center, he is probably not pulling the ball in to his groin fast enough, and is probably not stepping far enough (at 3 or 9 o'clock) with his backside foot.

Five things may help:

(1) narrow his stance (this lets him take a bigger first step) "armpit width" is a good way of putting it

(2) make him stand pigeon-toed (this permits a wider pivot - try it yoourself and see how much farther you can pivot)

(3) tell him to "grab grass" with the toes of his playside foot (the one he will be pivoting on). This gets his heel off the ground and enables him to spin on the front cleats of that shoe. Coach Homer Smith shared this point at my Birmingham clinic a couple of years ago

(4) run the "bird-dog" drill (playbook, page 109) and see if everyone else has taken his first step while the QB is still standing there under center. Often the QB doesn't get out fast enough because he doesn't start on the snap himself

(5) during the bird-dog session, check to make sure the backside guard is "clawing" the center with his playside hand. This prevents him from pulling too deep.

 No guarantees, but this should solve the problem.

135. Thanks for the tackling video. But using the techniques it advocates, my son's defensive coach says that he is getting bowled over by the larger fullback. I've witnessed this on a few occasions. Are there any tips you can give me when there is an obvious mismatch in sizes? Please reply, my son's confidence is at stake. (In fact my plans for using this system of tackling are at stake, this defensive coach will be my defensive coordinator when our season starts next month!) Thanks for your help.

This is early July! What kind of drills is the coach using where the tackler is getting "bowled over?"

He certainly isn't teaching tackling.

Tackling drills are not meant to be a contest between the runner and the tackler. Every kid knows how to run. The point is to teach them how to tackle- to teach them correct form.

You need to go back over the main point of the video, which is Bud Wilkinson's statement that kids need to practice and practice and practice, very, very slowly until they are very, very confident. Then and only then do you pick up the speed.

If this guy is already doing drills like this - in early July - before a kid is good and confident, he is not teaching tackling.

I can tell you that I have never had a kid bowled over by a runner because only in a drill in which you have made it a contest - and especially one in which you have a size mismatch - will that happen. In real life, tacklers do not squat there waiting for a runner to bowl over them.

In real life, tacklers are moving, too, and normally attacking at some kind of an angle. They rarely meet a runner head-on. And during and after contact, they use their legs. But these are all things you have to practice, over and over.

In any drill where you are trying to teach a specific skill, you set it up so the kid can be successful. If we are stressing offense, everyone in the drill understands that it is "offense wins"; if we are stressing defense, it is "defense wins."

If you are trying to teach a kid to catch, you don't put somebody on him to cover him closely.

If you are trying to teach a QB to throw, you don't have people rush him and try to sack him.

And if you are trying to teach him to tackle, you don't put him in there in a full-speed drill against a bigger kid.

And what, if I may ask, is a coach doing running drills like this in July, when I doubt that his kids have been thoroughly taught a correct way to tackle.

And if that coach insists that your son tackle low as a way of avoiding being "bowled over," I would suggest that you watch his practices very carefully.

136. Maybe you have talked about this before, but is there any merit to putting your best linemen on the left side and becoming a left handed team, assuming that the defense tends to put their better personel on the O's right side? My thoughts are that if that is true, we can get our better guys against maybe their weaker players. And even if the defense flips their defense when they play us, they will not be used to playing on that side of the ball. Also our play action would be to the right where our QB can get set a little better and feel more comfortable throwing. Any thoughts? Then again, it might be that their better defensive side would be going against our weaker side. Maybe it wouldn't be worth it because of that.

I have heard this argument, and while it may make some sense, I think it is giving defenses too much credit. To me, that is letting a defense that most people are going to try to put together in a week's worth of practice dictate your thinking.

I think one of the virtues of a balanced offense is the fact that it can dictate to defenses what they have to do.

And the fact that you may be stronger on one side than the other overlooks the fact that whenever you run a counter, you are getting the desired effect anyhow, by pulling your stronger people to the other side to block on their supposedly weaker people.  

137(a.) Regarding tackling and the comment by Bud Wilkinson; Does this mean that I need to wait until they are confident before scrimmaging at full speed?

Yes, it does. Suggestion: award each kid a "license" to scrimmage once he has demonstrated that he can tackle safely. While you are scrimmaging, those who failed to "qualify" need to go off with a coach and do extra work until they get their license.

137(b.) I will begin teaching the techniques during week 1 with no pads. We get pads week 2. I understand from your tape that the form tackling drills should not be contests but I am confused about scrimmages. I did read that you do not take runners to the ground in scrimmage, is that the answer?

That is the answer for us. When we scrimmage we do not hit below the waist and we do not take people to the ground. But I still am not sure that your kids would be ready to scrimmage - not if they can't tackle confidently - by the second week. A scrimmage is a test. If you knew your kids didn't know their math facts, you wouldn't give them a math test.

A good, all-out, less-than-full-squad scrimmage that I like, before we ever have an offense or a defense installed, is the "West Point" or "3 on 3" Drill.

Set up a drill area 10 yards long and - depending on the age and proficiency of your kids - anywhere from 5 to 10 yards wide. Mark the boundaries with stripes, cones, shirts or soft dummies.

Position six offensive players at the front end of the drill, three of them on the line of scrimmage in linemen's stances, with a QB back of the "center" (don't bother with the snap - have the QB hold the ball near the center's rear end), and two dive backs, one on each side, about 3-4 yards deep.

Position three defenders on the line of scrimmage, one opposite each offensive lineman.

A coach stands behind the defenders (making sure they don't turn around and look at him) and, using hand signals, tells the offense which back is to run, and what the snap count will be.

The play is always a dive, straight ahead, to one side or the other. The playside offensive lineman drive blocks his man and the center and backside offensive linemen "cut off" by drive blocking their men with their helmets on the playside of the defenders' helmets. The runner may bounce or spin off the pile, but he must first dive straight ahead; he may not cut back around the other side. The back who is not carrying does not get involved in the play in any way, nor, other than handing off, does the quarterback.

The object for the offensive team is to advance the ball 10 yards in three downs; for the defense, obviously, it is to prevent the offense from doing so.

Once the runner is down, stopped or out of bounds, mark the ball and run the next play from that spot. Be sure to use a fast whistle.

Mark fumbles where they are fallen on. If the offensive team loses possession, the series is over. Defense wins.

Rotate personnel as you wish, but be careful to avoid mismatches.

Optional: after you get good - assess penalties. At first, it may make more sense to assign pushups or up-downs as a penalty; otherwise, you may find that your offense is always operating in the hole.

(We usually add some sort of incentive - the losers of each three-down "game" have to do, say, 10 up-downs, "supervised" by the winners.

I have been running this drill, under various names, since 1980. It has always been one of my favorites. It gives you a lot of the things you look for in a full-scale scrimmage and also, at least in my experience, because contact is at closer quarters, a bit more safety.

It eliminates the "assignment" factor from the equation, and focuses simply on whether a kid is ready and eager to play football. It is an excellent way to get players used to scrimmaging, and, if you are a high school coach in a new situation, it is a great way to find out very quickly who can play.

It has the additional value of keeping the action confined in a small area, so that your coaches can observe players more closely - including keeping a closer eye on inexperienced players and also making sure kids are not mismatched.

It is a great way to teach kids a few basic principles of defense, such as leverage (if the outside men don't keep their outside leverage, the backs will run outside every time), the importance of knowing where their help is, and not "running around" a block.

Often, because a kid knows he is under close scrutiny and because in this drill contact is hard to avoid anyhow, he discovers for the first time that mixing it up can be fun.

It is meant to be a highly spirited, competive drill in which kids really get after it. Typically, the area is surrounded by the non-participants, shouting for one team or the other. (HINT: If your kids don't like this drill, it may be a long season for you.)

For eight years, I coached at Hudson's Bay High, in Vancouver, Washington. Our arch-rivals - it got downright nasty at times - were the Fort Vancouver High Trappers, so it made sense to us to call it "Trapper Drill." It was always the first full-contact drill we held on the first day we were allowed to put on pads.

For several years, we were a three-year high school, and we drew kids from five different junior highs, so we really didn't know which incoming sophs could play. Trapper Drill told us a lot. We seldom had many big kids, but one year, for some reason, we had an unusually large number of very big sophs coming in. We were excited. We finally had some big guys! And then we took a look at them in their first Trapper Drill - and if we'd put a dozen eggs in a bag in the middle of them we wouldn't have broken one.

On the other hand, there was another year when we'd graduated a large bunch of very talented seniors, and the class behind them, not a particularly physical bunch as sophs and juniors, had not been very good as jayvees the year before. But they'd been working hard in the weight room, and I'll never forget seeing them run the Trapper Drill for the first time as seniors. Those kids were flying all over the place, knocking the crap out of each other. We coaches just looked at each other and said, "Holy sh--!"

After the final game of the 1983 season, we stood as a team out in the middle of the stadium, none of us ready yet to head into the locker room and call it a season, when one of my senior leaders, Damon Schafte, said, "I want to play some more football." Others began to pick up on it, and suddenly someone said, "Trapper Drill!" Someone else said, "Hey - could we?" And I said, "Why not?"

We persuaded the custodians to leave the lights on, and so, for the next half-hour, as mystified parents looked on, the kids went at it in the Trapper Drill, out in the middle of an near-empty stadium, playing football the way it was meant to be played - rough-and-tumble, for the sheer fun of it.  

138. When installing the system this week, I ran into something that I was unsure of how to handle. While putting in 88 Power I realized that if the DE is in a 9 technique, nobody was left to block the cornerback. The B-Back is doing a kickout block on the DE. We see 9 technique alot in our league. We are running out of tight formation. How do you handle this situation?

The situation you describe is one of the reasons why I tell people that they should not be timid and stop at teaching just the power, but they should continue on and run the super power. There are several good reasons, including the fact that that way the QB takes the playside corner. It is not usually a tough block for the QB.

If for some reason you are unable or unwilling to run the Super Power, you will have to account for the corner in one of two ways-

(1) The backside TE may be able to get him, but he really has to hustle over, and he may arrive too deep to block the corner anyhow;

(2) If the corner is consistently coming up, aggressively and recklessly, to make the tackle, he is vulnerable to play action. Red-Red (or Blue-Blue) will beat him, provided your wingback stays away from the safety.

139. "I am having enormous resistance to the pulling techniques. Is this the norm when you first roll it out?I am only trying to teach tight rip 88 super power at this time, I don't even dare try the 99 play.I have tried to follow every trick I have seen you either talk about or have on tape. I was curious if there were any tips to help me get these kids running these plays with more proficiency quickly. Our 1st scrimmage is Wednesday the 15th and at this pace I"ll only have 2 plays and not real comfortable with the feel of this team. We are separating the offensive line and backfield and then we bring them together for 15 minutes at the end of practice. Did you have problems when you have taught it in the past at first and then the lights went on or do I have the wrong personnel? Any thoughts would be appreciated."

I have never had this trouble. Or heard of it, for that matter. One thing that gives me a clue is the separation into groups and then coming together for only 15 minutes. That is not a lot of time. I doubt that in that time you can run even10 plays successfully.

That may be the way you are used to working as a staff, but with the Double-Wing, that won't get it. There is too much intertwined timing involved. Later, you can break up for some group technique work, but you simply have to teach this offense as a team. That is probably why you are stuck on one play, when you ought to be averaging at least two a day.

I haven't even mentioned the possibility that one of you - the backfield coach or the line coach - isn't selling it to the kids or teaching it correctly. But if there's any chance of that, this way you can oversee everything.

 140. Coach ----------- and his staff were at your Denver clinic this year and said they learned more than they ever could have imagined about the offense, but something they said they learned at your clinic has me a little confused, and I was hoping you could clear it up for me.

They said that you told them that a double team on the playside should be taken up the field instead of down into the wall. If I'm not mistaken, I could swear that you used to teach that the down blocks on playside, whether they be a double team or single down block, were to be taken down into the wall, thereby clogging the lanes for the LB's.

Could you please clear this up for me?

Coach, they are correct in that we want the double-team at the corner to drive the man backward, because if we get this then the double-team walls off scraping linebackers. I have tape that shows my kids driving a man backward and finally collapsing him and in the process tripping up both inside linebackers.

Now, the down portion of the block has to make sure that he establishes the inside of the hole, and he can't allow the man to roll off the double-team, but essentially, we want to drive him back and plant him.

If he becomes too concerned with driving that man down the line, he will not stay hip-to-hip with the TE, increasing the likelihood that the defender will split the double-team.

Hope that clears things up.

 141. I recently installed the Double-Wing with my 10-12 year-old team and things were going smoothly until we scrimmaged for the first time, and then my centers just got killed. The nose man kept running around them and chasing the play down from behind whenever we pulled a guard. 

I think first of all that your centers may not be athletic enough, which, unfortunately, is sometimes the case. Even more likely, though, is the possibility that the centers aren't being put in a position which enables them to do their jobs. Most youth centers I see, especially bigger kids, bend at the waist, not at the knees... their tail is higher than their head, which droops down... and the hand with the ball in it almost seems to hang straight down from the shoulder, so that the ball is no farther forward than the kid's head.

This causes two problems when he is faced with blocking a nose guard:

(1) His head is down, and so are his eyes, which means he can't see the nose man. Good luck looking up after the snap and trying to find - and block - somebody.

(2) The ball is right under his nose. And so is the nose man. By the time the center snaps the ball, a quick nose man is past him.


(1) Help your center to see what he has to block: get his tail down, his head and eyes up. Make him bend his knees. Stand over on the defensive side and make sure you can see his eyes;

(2) Help him to move the nose man farther away from him: Now that your center's knees are bent (and his tail is lower), get him to reach out farther in front of him with the ball.

AND - Every bit as important - make sure he stays in his stance when he snaps - tail down, head and eyes up - and remains in his stance after the snap. ("Stay in your stance!") You can't have him straightening his legs and lifting his tail and dropping his head when he snaps, which is common among young centers, because (1) he will lose sight of the nose man and (2) his weight will be so far forward that he will almost be falling on his face, and he won't even be able to turn and salute as the nose man runs by.

142. This Saturday will be our first game...I'm concerned because our linemen(11/12 - first year players ) are having a hard time remembering the plays...we installed 88/99 SP, 2-Wedge, XX 47-C, 6-G, and 3 Trap at 2...Red/Red... What additional pass plays should we install?...the linemen are excellent pass blockers...

A quick way to review linemen's assignments is to use the Bird-Dog Drill (page 109 in the playbook).

An even quicker way, even before you do the bird-dog drill, is to create a defensive front with people, or dummies, or overturned trash cans, and have them kneel at their positions and on the count, immediately point to the man (or dummy, or overturned trash can) they will block - and hold their point until you can make sure.

I wouldn't, by the way, give the ability to pass block even the slightest consideration in my plans to pass or not pass. Our quarterbacks are trained to get the ball off either on the run or after three steps, so they are not going to get sacked. The key is having someone who can catch - every time, anything you throw to him - and designing pass plays to get the ball to him and throwing only to him.

Spending too much time on pass protection can, in my opinion, lead your offensive linemen to be passive and lazy. From the sound of things, they don't need any more encouragement in that direction.

 143. My OL was having trouble picking up the blitz namely the nose tackle would slant one way or the other and the MLB would fire the other gap. they would do this in a TNT with the nose going one way, the tackle going the other, and the MLB shooting the Gap. What adjustment should I make to handle this?

Coach, if you see the "TNT" look you should be blocking down on most plays.

Tell your players to pay no attention to where the opponents line up - just come down hard on the correct path and there will be somebody to block.

That tackle who slants outside is very trappable. 3 trap at 2 or 2 trap at 3 are very good against that.

Wedging is very effective against a slanting nose man. But work hard on practicing closing down your wedge so that the blitzing MLB does not penetrate.

144. I have been running the Double Wing for 4 years with great success. However, we occasionally run into a team that has a nice defensive game plan and the athletes to execute it. An example would be a team that runs a 5 - 2 front and matches up their corners to our Wings and their Safeties to our Ends. They end up in a 5 - 6, and the corners and safeties come up to stop the run when our ends and wings show run block. A 9 - 2 record is good, but of course, we are striving for perfection. Any suggestions ? As a coach at (a college) told me - If you run the ball, you are going to tell me that's the way we get it done; but to break over the top you better get closer to a 50/50 run/pass mix. Any help would be appreciated.

Coach, You didn't say what kind of Double-Wing you are running, and how closely what you are doing resembles what we are doing. But anybody who tries to tell me that I should be running 50 % or throwing 50 % is plain nuts. I am going to go into a game fully armed, and I am going to find the open door and go through that one. If you were at a clinic and you described that defense to me, I would say, "Coach- you ever heard of passing?" If they were to play me in a defense like the one you describe, I would pass a lot You are only going to get so far with our offense if you can't throw. Look at the two diagrams above: I would bet you money that those wings and safeties can't support the run at the line of scrimmage and also cover deep on passes.  I guarantee you that that cornerback can't look at the same basic action and know whether to fight through a reach block to stop a sweep - or cover a throwback fade!


145. What do you do when they put 10 men in the box?

I think the biggest problem here is in the way some coaches see the situation you describe and act as if they've been shot with the silver bullet. (Ohmigod! 10 men in the box! We're dead!)

People sometimes call and tell me that they lost, and then they add, "they had 10 men in the box," as if that is supposed to explain everything. I think the biggest problem with "10 men in the box" is the way coaches go to pieces when they hear the expression. I think for them it becomes a cop-out - like it explains everything.

As I've said before, I want to ask them, "uh... have you heard of passing?" (Name me any offense you can run if they can bunch 10 men in there against you and you can't throw?)

Obviously, you must be able to throw the football. It doesn't take much of a passer. And it takes one kid who can catch.

But if by some chance you can't find those two kids, there is nothing automatically poisonous to a Double-Wing about a 10-man front.

Mathematically, when a team brings 10 men up to the line of scrimmage, the advantage is yours, because they have committed five men to the side of the line where you aren't going to be running, and you, knowing in advance where the play is going, can get more men to the point of attack, provided... you have done all the little things necessary- stance, alignment, and assignment for example.

What the defense does do by increasing the pressure on you is to expose flaws in your offensive teaching that were there the all along - they have turned the water pressure higher and found leaks in the hose that were always there, but weren't apparent under normal water pressure.

The Double-Wing is not a no-brainer, no maintenance offense. Many people think it is, and they may have some success with it during the honeymoon period when defenses are seeing it for the first time and don't understand what they are up against, but if the Double-Wing coach neglects the details, he will get hurt eventually, and will look around for something to blame his problems on.

"They had 10 men in the box" is as convenient as any.

146. Have you ever tried to run a Super Power from the "Wildcat" formation (either tight or spread)? In your video (Dynamics III) you said that you had not explored the "Wildcat" formation thoroughly yet and I was hoping that, by now, you had tried that. What little I have tried has not looked too good. The A back seems to be so close to the Q.B. when the toss should come that it may as well be handed to him ! I even took the motion out of the play and the A back was still very close, perhaps too close.

Is Super Power just one of those plays that should not be run from the "Cat" to be properly effective ?

I can't say that I have explored the Wildcat (direct snap) series thoroughly, but that doesn't mean that I haven't done an awful lot of research on it. I have, and I can tell you that you cannot physically run an effective super power play from Wildcat formation. There simply isn't the time for your QB to get the ball, toss it to a wingback, and then become an interferer himself, as Super Power requires.

Just as bad, though, the action of such a play is unique, meaning that nothing else - play action, trap, counter - comes off the same action, so it would be an orphan play, which is not in keeping with our idea of series or sequence football.

You can run plain old Power, handing off to the wingback (drawing "a" at left below) or Power keep, with the QB himself running it, (drawing "B" at right below). They are both great plays. And they both enable you to run other plays coming off the same action.

147. I've been searching the internet and notice a lot of d wing defenses. I purchased your videos and playbooks and installed it this year and have had great success. I see that all of the d wing defenses coach linemen crabbing into our o line legs and blitzing the gaps. How should I handle this since I'm sure to see it in the future? Thank you so much for your help.  

This is an old one that just won't go away, mainly because a lot of the so-called "defenses"for the Double-Wing that you see on the Web advocate cheating - crabbing across and grabbing the legs of our pulling backside linemen. This is, of course, illegal, and the conscious teaching of an illegal tactic is a serious breach of coaching ethics. The fact that perhaps the coach is unaware of its illegality is not a defense, either, since it is a coach's responsibility to know the rules of the game.

When someone tells me that this is a problem for him, I am usually correct in assuming that (1) he didn't get the Double-Wing from me, or (2) he hasn't been paying sufficient attention to the fine points.

Frankly, this is not a major problem for people who run our system by the book - the playbook, that is. (Page two, to be exact, point #2.)

The biggest thing you must do to thwart the grabbers is to give your linemen a bigger head start - to get them as far back, away from the defensive linemen, as the rules permit.

You accomplish this in two ways:

(1) You get them back off the ball as far as the rules allow (tops of their helmets even with the center's waist)

(2) You get your center to make sure he reaches out as far in front of him with the ball as he can.

(You also make sure that your backside ends get very good at cutting those guys off - "shoeshining" them.)

One other thing - if you have reason to believe an opponent might do this to you, you should notify the officials of this in your pre-game conference and remind them that it is illegal. They may get their backs up at the idea that a mere coach should be advising them on how to officiate, and they may tell you to stick to your coaching and leave the officiating to them, blah, blah, blah - but if they will look for it and call it early, it will be a better game. And if they don't care to do so, and instead dismiss your petitioning as sour grapes, it seems reasonable to ask them if you might have your choice of any one rule that your kids can break without penalty.  I can think of a few that might even things up a bit.

148. Why is the fold/"Charlie" block used on the X and base plays?

The fold block secures your backside against the reading lineman who would play off your backside guard's block, and it sets up a block on the middle/backside blocker which you just wouldn't get if you expected your center to fire out after the other team's best player. And a center-guard double-team on the tackle is a waste of manpower that lets the backer go unblocked. The fold block forces that backer (who undoubtedly is reading the center's block) to honor the inside run, setting him up for the guard's block. In the Delaware Wing-T, where the fullback is lined up deeper, he is sometimes able, on what we would call 5-X, to cut back and run the play up the middle, with one side of the hole secured by the "Charlie" block (see below)

149. What you do in terms of making calls for blocking adjustments?

With rare exceptions - such as the TNT call, or the TE-wingback communication on certain off-tackle and outside plays - I do not wish to get involved in linemen making calls. In my opinion there are better uses of valuable coaching time. It is probably holdover thinking from other offenses that people are accustomed to.

Ours are for the most part Delaware Wing-T rules and they have stood the test of time. They don't, for the most part, require any fine-tuning by a high school kid. I heard the Delaware offensive coordinator say once that you will get in a lot more trouble - and create more coaching problems - going with line calls than you will if you just teach the rules and go with the play called. I agree.

In my travels I occasionally come across kids who supposedly are making line calls, when the fact of the matter is they don't even know their basic blocking rules. That is insane.

I'll take my chances with teaching rules that hold up against any defense.

150. Coach, Thank you for the great work on your site. What an encouragement to the coaching and teaching profession. I am asking a question in regard to position coaching. Do you have an opinion about the most important positions on offense and defense in regard to possible outcome of the game? Also does it make a difference which position the head coach is involved with? I have heard several opinions but would like to hear what you think.

Coach- It is hard to say where to start, but let's say for the sake of argument that you are one guy, all by yourself. A lot of oldtimers have had to do it. I've been there myself, coaching overseas.

Obviously, in a situation like that, you have to coach both sides of the ball. I think you have to coach back-to-front. You might muddle through on the line play, but you'd better be able to teach the mechanics of ball handling and the intricacies of plays on offense as well as alignments and coverages on defense.

And just like the oldtimers, the absolute next guy you would have to get would be a line coach - someone who can coach both O and D.

A lot of us remember being coached by two-man partnerships like that. It was a rare successful program that didn't have an outstanding line coach supporting the head coach.

The next guy I would want would be a guy to handle the defense and take that load off me. It seems to me that most defensive coaches come from the ranks of linebackers or defensive backs, probably because as players they were more accustomed to seeing the big picture, to having everything in front of them, to making adjustments to different offensive sets, and understanding how the whole defense fits together.

I do not mean to diminish in any way the importance of the defense or defensive coaches, but I think it is critical to a new coach's survival to put initial emphasis, at least, on offense.

First of all, it is easier to criticize you if you suck on offense, because it is more immediately noticeable. If you are bad on defense, you still might be able to get by if the opponent is inept offensively.

And, when people pay to watch they expect to be entertained, which means they expect you to score. And if you can't score...

That is possibly why - although it is by no means a hard-and-fast rule - more head coaches at the high school level seem to have come up as offensive guys than as defensive guys.

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