Using the Offseason to Build a Series of Plays for your Offense

By Terrance Banks | Posted 1/16/2020

A frequently asked question on football coach message boards and social media among coaches is the use of an “if/then” template to call plays during games. This if/then template was most recently made famous by Paul Johnson, former head coach at Georgia Tech and the Navy. If you are a coach in the wing-T system, you would reply that attacking defenses by series is something that has been done since the day Tubby Raymond first taught coaches how the wing-T worked.

Every offensive system should go through a series of plays for their run and pass game by formation every offseason to ensure that their playbook is not overloaded with things they don’t need and to find out if they are weak in some areas. We do this by taking a defense that we will need to beat to make the playoffs or win a region championship and game plan against it in the summer using our most likely personnel for the season.

My offensive staff and I ask four questions that we attempt to answer about each formation for run and pass plays. No. 1 – what is the base play for this formation? No. 2 – what is the expected defensive reaction to stop this play in this formation from being successful? No. 3 – what can we do from this formation if the defense goes man or blitz, provided this isn’t a base strategy for this team? The fourth and final question is – do we have a natural explosive play off this look that we can use?

If we start with question one and you check the diagram listed below, (diagram 1) you would see we have a 20-personnel split back formation lined up against a 4-2-5 quarters defense.

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For our offense, the base run play from this formation would be to send our A-back in tear motion and run inside zone to the left, with the option for the quarterback to throw the bubble screen to the A-back prior to him reading the zone read (diagram 2).


For this team, the most anticipated reaction was for the Sam backer to jump the flare route if they were unable to stop the bubble screen (diagram 3). For us in our offense, we would then proceed to a mid-zone pop pass RPO (diagram 4). If the Mike overflows the run, then the quarterback will hand off the mid-zone. If he decides to plug the hole, the quarterback with read the pop pass in the open window.

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If we were to expect blitz or Cover 0 from this team, our next play in the series would be to either throw the bubble screen or the quarterback would reset and throw the running back screen back towards the single wide receiver side (diagram 5).


The final and fourth question would be can we create an explosive play off of this series to take advantage of this defense over rotating? Our answer is to then lock the play, which means if the safeties or corners are having to be aggressive to stop the bubble screen, we will pump fake the screen and throw verticals (diagram 6).

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We believe the offseason is where you have an opportunity to take a deep look into your playbook for each formation you expect to take into the upcoming season and make sure you have enough to be successful or cut out plays to make sure you will be prepared to reach the next level.  


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