Air Raid Offense Run Production:Most People think their Just a 7on7 Team
In 2015, the number 4 ranked team in the state visited our home field. They were a extremely well coached team, with a strong tradition of winning. We were a severe underdog, and looking to find our niche in this offense. We ended the night with 30 carries for 189 yards, and 11/25 passing for 237 yard and 4 TDS. We lost by 3 points that night, but gained the respect for what people thought was a gimmic offense. What I remember most about that night, is that we ran 4 run plays, and were going at a rate that by the 3rd quarter they knew what was coming, and still could not stop it, and by that I mean on the ground. The team had to call multiple time outs to catch their breath, because we were coming at the heart of their defense. I sat out to prove what I knew about this offense: the balance of unbalance. If you take one thing away, we are completely comfortable doing the other, and we will get our way.
If you think formations alone lead to dominant run production, I immediately turn my ears off to you. I look at proficiency and stats such as yards per carry, yards per play, etc. These stats lead to first downs, scores, wins. Since this offense has been on the national level, it has been deemed a soft or passive style offense by many of the minds that differ from it, and completely impossible to be a physical offense. Most of this type of thinking comes from people who are afraid of change, or work harder not smarter.
I come from the mind set of logic. What is logical: to execute by what you are facing? I cannot stand “square peg into round hole thinking,” if you doing it just because you like it. Football is about a process, and that involves Execution. Execution is completing a task in the most effective way, with the least amount of wasted energy. When I first created this blog I did a post on wide line splits, and why they were logical and essential to execution for any offense. Now I want to dabble into the ideas of running from the Air Raid. I have taken the idea from 2 seasons of our own stats to look at it. The ridicule of hey we gonna line up 2 tights and ground and pound. I have no problem with that, if that is what you have from a personnel grouping, have fun. The next question I will ask is what is your yards per carry or play? Does multiplying yards per play x 2 = 10+ yards? I like all types of football if it is executed proficiently, the Air Raid is just my passion.
For personnel purposes we ran everything from a one back set. We traditionally did not have a fullback /H-back type in the program. We basically have 3 run plays total. I hear a lot of static about single back teams not being as physical or tough running the football. That our games are so long, and you need an attached tight end. That we need to Run Power Often, and well we do. Just because we call ourselves an Air Raid team, the perception is we are passive and an 7 on 7 team that uses lineman through the year. I agree that this offense was the break out party for passing becoming a norm, instead of a bail out, but in no way is the Air Raid a passive offense. Every run we have is between the tackles, and downhill. We make your space eaters defend more area. Instead of the defense being able to play us like fish in a barrel, they have to play us honest, and worry about space instead of cover.
So lets look at the numbers. I have done a comparison with 2 other teams that are very dominant, and great at what they do. Traditionally 2 back teams, who are highly successful, to show how the one back teams stack up. The only thing that is a little skewed in this experiment, is our strength of schedule is a little tougher. The numbers were based on a 11 game regular season schedule.
One of the key statements Hal Mumme ever told me is, “the Air Raid is an attitude more than an offense.” I have seen passive run teams, and I have seen passive pass teams. There is a physicality in football, that is why we have tackling and not 2 hand touch. If you say your a physical team and you are 3 yards per carry or under, well yea you might be, but I question your philosophy. If you can line up and just pound or pass it well I would bet your more dominant than your scheduled opponents (or the opposing DC is on life support job status).
As you can see we produced the same numbers with one back spread, as the other teams did with an attached TE and more times than not a 2 or 3 back set. People must cut through perception, cause perception lies. Perception is a lie in itself, unless you cut through it and it truly is the reality. Here recently a local DC was asked why he defended a specific team the way he did, because they were a spread team by nature. His response was “I had to stop the run,” and by the reality he was right, but by perception he was dead wrong. The team he faced averaged 7+ yards per carry, and ran more than passed. He was right.
I became a fan of the Air Raid because of its ability to balance and unbalance tendency and still be completely comfortable. You take away our pass, we gonna carve it up on the ground, you take away the run and we gonna stretch you horizontal and vertical. The dynamic of the balance and unbalance is what will allow you to execute at a higher rate, and have greater success. In my span of coaching I have seen passing teams that could not run it, and running teams that could not pass it. Plan for balance, so if you have to, you can unbalance your tendency.
Simplicity was also a key ingredient to our success, be basically had 4 run plays, 3 of which we ran regular. We were good at what we practiced over and over, it was like a machine, make the order get your results. I often hear teams with a vast playbook, and I am intrigued by their ability to run them proficiently, but simplicity is what the world is paying the greatest minds to find. I remember hearing a clinic from Rich Rod many years ago, about counting the numbers from each side of the center line of the defense. It was basically about running inside zone and stretch. It made since because he was attacking numbers. If your formations to contract do not help you with the point of attack you better find something else. The same as your numbers to expand. If you expand with 7 in the box you better be able to throw it, just like if your contract and there is 8+ in the box you better be able to throw it. If you can maintain against those odds your just better, and sometimes that is fine.
Do not fall into the perception that Air Raid teams are passive, or just a 7 on 7 team. We are just comfortable with being unbalanced either way. Do not get caught up in the mind set of you have to have this grouping in order be physical. Do listen to the negative comments on your way to success. No fan has ever complained about a game being too long when a W is the result. Take what the Defense gives you, and if you are just that dominant do whatever you want, because it really does not matter. But never call an Air Raid team soft, because we are not scared to show you power running or an aerial assault at any time.