A Simple RPO (Part I)
By Matt Kalb, Offensive Coordinator
Being a “Pro-style” offense, I was slow to the RPO trend. We’ve always used WR screens (we call them ‘Keys’, taken from Coach Noel Mazzone) in conjunction with our run game; however, these are used to help us execute the run play called and not necessarily get the ball to the perimeter (or as I tell my quarterbacks, “If in doubt, run the ball”).
Now when I say we’re a “Pro-style” offense, many get visions of 21-personnel, QB under center, and the backs aligned in an “I”; that is exactly how every introductory page in the playbook is laid out. But if you watch one of our games, few would refer to us as a traditional pro-style offense, and most would refer to us as a spread team. We live in 10-, 11-, and 20-personnel groupings with the QB in the gun around 95% of the time. QB Power read is our number one run play, and we do it from every look possible, including meshing from fly-motion. Because of this, it was easy for me to begin adopting certain RPO schemes into the offensive structure.
In deciding what we wanted to put in, one thing was non-negotiable – we were not going to add a new scheme solely for the purpose of installing the pass option off of it. Prior to last spring, we looked at how our opponents were aligning to our formations and how they played our top run plays. In most cases, we tried to identify the Point of Attack defender and develop a Pass Option off of his reaction (Diagram 1).
Our number one RPO this season was also the most successful one coming out of spring ball last year. Our defense is a 3-3 Stack. Whenever we run the Read Zone play, the read-end would crash down with the tackle and the stack LB would exchange gaps to play the QB (Diagram 1). In order to keep the DE from crashing, we need to base him, which leaves the stack LB sitting in the cut-back lane. This gives us our first opportunity for an RPO and a big play with our slot receiver (Diagram 2).
TO BE CONTINUED, PART II Tomorrow