Spread Two-Back Power Play Without Two Backs (Part I)
By Vincent Giacalone, Offensive Line Coach
Valparaiso is an FCS football program that competes in the non-scholarship Pioneer League. I am going to talk about a run play that is new to our offense that helped us be a more consistent running team out of 11 (3 WRs, 1 HB, 1 TE) personnel groups. I will talk about the evolution of the play, its key coaching points, and some of the work we have to do as coaches to make it viable.
Our offense is predicated on the QB being both a running and throwing threat and our HB being an all-around runner and blocker. This allows our offense to remain in 11 personnel and still have a potent gap scheme and zone read running attack. By running the QB with Zone Read or QB Power, we were always able to even up the numbers in the box between the offense and defense. However, our personnel has not matched up to those needs over the last few years and as a result, we have needed to get creative in our run game. During the 2015 season I was watching Oklahoma play Baylor late in the year and witnessed them pull both their backside guard and tackle to lead up on a run play out of a four WR set. I was immediately curious to see if we could get the play to work on our level. Luckily, I work for an Offensive Coordinator, Jason Miran, and a Head Coach, Dave Cecchini, that encouraged me to start fiddling with the play during our season and then perfect it over the course of spring ball.
In our offense, we call the play below Gap and I will be referring to it as such for the remainder of this article (Diagram 1).
Diagram 1 – Gap
Initially, we drew up and ran the play with the same basic teaching and principles as Power. The BSG would become the kick out block, a role usually fulfilled by a FB or HB if the QB was running the ball. The BST would become the lead through block, pulling inside the guard’s kick out and looking to kick out the front side LB. The HB would take a path similar to Power out of the gun and look to hit the run through the front side A gap. Very quickly we realized that this was not the way Gap should be run. First, the backside DE is unblocked. The DE has so many rules and reads for when he is unblocked
in zone read, that when the offensive tackle pulls away from him, it adds another layer of eye recognition and thought processing that slows him down.
As coaches, we are prepared for him to eventually scrape over the defense and be able to make the play. Even though he has a ton of traffic to overcome as he scrapes, running the ball through the A gap made this too easy. In addition, you will see our solution in a minute. Second, our HB’s were uncomfortable with the unblocked DE and having faith to hit the play in the front side A gap. Understand, with two pullers in the backfield, there is a lot going on. As our usage of the play progressed, we addressed these issues by moving away from Power rules and more towards a Buck Sweep play. (Full disclosure: I played for Rich Lackner and Rich Erdelyi at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The opportunity for me to bring a Wing-T Buck Sweep play to our Shotgun/Spread offense left me quite happy.) Currently, this is how we run Gap (Diagrams 2 and 3).
To be continued… Part II will be posted tomorrow.