Does Your Offense Need A Diet: Finding a Precise Offense
Every year for my anniversary present, my wife pays for a subscription to ESPN Gameplan. I like to watch teams from all over the states, and even the smaller colleges, where I believe the most innovative football is being played. I love to watch small college football, or non-power conferences. These coordinators are motivated and have to use the players they have to compete. I feel it really computes to high school football. In this post we will talk about how finding a precise offense can propel you to new heights.
I spent the early part of my career as a defensive coordinator running the Georgia Military style 353 defense. Each week I would break down film, and arrive at the same conclusions, plays by formation or a lot of formations few plays. The most dynamic teams I faced were ones who used the same plays inside of a ton of formations. The best coaches masked their best plays by using a select few formations that forced the defense to tip their alignment. They dictated the defense, and they had a run and pass based on the look to keep you honest. Maybe this was the grandfather to the now fashionable RPO? Many teams I would break down would “tip their hand” by moving a key player into a certain position, or line up in a single formation to run a single play. This made scouting so much easier for me. I can teach my players this type of analytical data in a week, and often times be successful.
We all fight Time
Offenses can only be good at a said number of concepts, due to the limited time we have as high school coaches. With a vast majority of media outlets available to us, coaches can practically view a multitude of plays. While I think this is outstanding for educational purposes, this can also become a slippery slope as well.
We can easily become a “jack of all trades” offense, and “master of none.” Implementing tons of great concepts, but lacking the time to get proficient at any of it. 101 plays can never fit into your playbook, but a select few can. So before sitting down with a jigsaw puzzle of plays step over quantity and look at quality.
I also believe that while moving across the internet at the large menu of concepts available, you have to ask: How does it fit into your personnel and offense? Can your quarterback make that throw? Case point, I recently was at a clinic and heard an offensive coordinator speak on a “shot” play he used in the early red zone. It was a great play, and put a huge strain on the defense. I quickly wrote it down, but knew it did not fit into our scheme. I might could use it one time, but then a defense should pick up on it, because it did not fit into our formation menu. What is intriguing about the Air Raid offense, is its adaptability. From 2 back gun, ace set, and empty, the offense can be ran and adjusted each season. So I can file away the play I just mentioned and come back to it when it fits our personnel. There are tons of great offensive plays out there, but how does it compliment what you do?
I believe that if you want to be successful in high stress situations you have to be comfortable executing what is asked of you. It has to become second nature, and reactive by nature. It is very easy in today’s availability of knowledge to throw execution to the wind. We can essentially throw darts at the board until we hit bulls eye. This is chance and circumstance, and has the same reward, but less likely in consistency. You will be unable to succeed countless times if you are just throwing darts. But if you practice throwing darts and get good at it each round you will achieve more points and the likely hood of winning. I used a key word practice, because it leads me to my next point: the “beast of burden” that we do each week and all off season, PRACTICE.
Make Your Offense Repetitive in the Weekly Allotment We Have
I am a sold believer in the 3 day rule. If you cannot install your total offense in 3 days, then you have too much. Three days is basically what we have each game week to prepare for an opponent. If we find our niche and cut down the way the defense can defend us, then we have won the situational battle. We have created a practice plan, and narrowed down logically how a defense can attack us. Reducing the variables leads to solving the puzzle. Before you disagree, let me explain. Each game week most of us is allowed a Monday-Thursday practice week, with a Friday night game. Really Tuesday-Wednesday are heavier days, and allowed more intensive practice. Thursday is usually a polish and persist day. So if we are taking 3 days (Monday-Wednesday) to prepare, does it really make since to have a playbook that requires more time? If it does then at some point you are sacrificing plays against each other in the effort to rep them. Never sacrifice repetitions. If you are sacrificing repetitions then you are sacrificing the whole basis of practice.
When we go into a weekly practice, we can run every play in our offense with an exceeding number of reps in a 120 minute practice (45 being allocated to offense). So each day we can continually get better with our base plays and formations throughout the season. This 3 day rule is essential because of the way we structure the game-week practice. In other words you don’t need to carry every rpo, quick game, deep drop-back concepts that you made read about and install them into a huge playbook. A good coach will funnel it down to a few of each.
This is how I would funnel it an an Air Raid Team:
Passing Plays: 9
RPO: The 4 run plays can be tagged to 2 quick concepts
If I was a primarily running team, I would probably keep it the same but maybe adjusting it to 5 and 5. The idea behind offense is production, and this is an area, but definition that streamlines a process. Stats as we call them are production, just as in a factory setting proficiency and process is what we hold ourselves accountable to. Production is more efficient when wasted time and extra processes are removed. Plays are the process and the offense is the production. It is my trust in the process that produces the product, not the availability of my resources. A library full of books never made an expert out of no one, but the ones that funneled a particular subject down to the very minimum, those are the true genius. Same as a playbook full of plays, it is not going to make you a better coordinator. Find a few concepts, a few run plays, group them together and refine, polish, refine. Complete this process daily, and you will build a great opportunity for your offense. This is finding a precise offense.
In the end, the amount of information available to us as coaches is very tempting. And every play ever created is a good play, but take a look at your whole scheme and define the process. How do they work together, and is it making your production capacity higher? You offense may just need to go on a diet. So trim the fat and be a more efficient process.