The stock answer for controlling outside linebackers in the spread offense is having the ability to run the bubble. The purpose of this article is to give alternatives to a spread offense that doesn’t want to run the bubble. For starters I will discuss why our offense chooses not to major in bubbles as our “hanger/flat area defender” controller. It comes down to a what-do-you-want-to-do argument. Our base philosophy is to be multiple with 4 wide sets with a mix of T.E. sets using the same personnel grouping. To make it as easy as possible for our full-time receivers, we keep the on/off the L.O.S. alignments the same. It doesn’t matter if it is a T.E. set or not, all they need to know to get properly aligned is how many eligible receivers are on their side of the ball.
We are shotgun 100% of the time. It doesn’t matter whether we are on the 1 yard line coming out or going in, or taking a knee. We do not want to spend practice time with a center/QB exchange. With our base alignments of our slots, you can see that one of them will be on the L.O.S. and one will be off. We tried to have them run the bubble route the same (from on/off the L.O.S.) but the throwing angle was different for the QB. Doesn’t seem that drastic, but you try it. We then had the slots off the L.O.S. run a typical J-step, crossover run route. The guys on the L.O.S. did the “crawfish” route backing away from the QB towards the sideline angling slightly away from the ball. These changes were not what we were looking for either.
We could dabble with the bubble and have some moderate success, or control the hangers with other things in our offense that we already practice and run more efficiently. That was an easy choice. Bye-bye bubble.
Option 1 Outside Zone
This has been covered many times by many zone gurus. Rule it up and run it. With or without a T.E., strong or weak, 1 back 2 back no back, fly no fly.
Option 2 Boot
Again covered many times with a gazillion route combinations. Waggle it, naked it, whatever floats your boat, but it will give you some hanger control.
Option 3 Stick
1 back spread, T.E., 21 personnel, swing and an option, or 2 quick outs with a clear by #1.
Meat & Potatoes
The following are our 2 best hanger controllers, a run and a pass.
The run is a “pin & pull” scheme that Appalachian State shared with us in Spring 2007. It is run by many at the collegiate and NFL levels (see google vid of Alex Gibbs--language warning).
Appalachian State called it truck, so we do too. We can and will run it to any front.
ran it to a 7 technique (inside shade of the T.E.) and choose counter to a 6 technique (head up on T.E.) or a 9 technique (outside shade on the T.E.). We have ran the counter, but have found we would rather spend our time “tricking up” truck and pulling as many as 3 to the front side. Truck has a “buck sweep” look. I can get technical if needed with the oline techniques. We have also ran it weak away from a T.E. to a 4i technique (inside shade of the offensive tackle) on an open ended side. The #1 reason for us running truck is the advantage we get when defenses try to walk up the hanger to give a “solid” look. More times than not, these OLB are designed and personneled as “space” players. They have limited practice time playing close to the L.O.S. in a true run support role. Advantage offense. App State
Truck has been our best play (avg. yds per play) since it was put in our offense, whether we were 25-3 combined in 2008-09 with four D1’s on offense (T.E., QB, RB, OT), or 2-8 in 2010. Check out the cuts and fire away with comments/questions.
Our best pass for flat area defender control is what we call “hole.” It has a scat feel that works versus any coverage. We see 1 high 65% of the time, but it has proven effective versus 2 high as well. The protection is our base quick game protection. We have ran this play for years but really tightened it up after a visit with the Texas staff consisting of former OC Greg Davis and former WR coach Bobby Kennedy(now @ Colorado). Hole is a 3 x 1 route (with or w/o a T.E.). The #1 receiver runs a “must outside release” clear. The “must outside release” is especially true with a hard cover 2 corner. He must turn the corner’s eyes or you risk getting a guy hit in the mouth. The #2 receiver is running an inside-angled-route, finding a “hole” between the hanger and the Mike LB at a depth of 7-8 yds. We initially ran this route to 5 yards, but found pushing it just a couple of more steps made the Mike LB work vertical a little more creating a bigger hole. At 5 yds the Mike squatted all over this route. If the Mike does squat, hug up, or as Texas calls it “match” the hole route, he should pivot and work flat to the sideline careful not to lose ground from the L.O.S. giving an interception angle to the LB. The #3 receiver runs a shoot route. His aiming point is hitting the sideline 2-3 yards beyond the L.O.S. flat and fast. The QB reads the first LB outside the box. If the LB squats on the hole, he works the shoot right now. If the LB chases the shoot he looks to the hole route. The QB also has the option to throw to the single WR on the backside. We tag this route as either a slant/fade/hitch. Texas runs a 8 yd curl, cut we choose the other options because we do not run a 8 yd curl as a quick and we wanted to keep it consistent with all other quick game concepts for the QB.
We have run a couple of variations in the past.
#1 - switch routes of 1 & 2 WR. 1 runs the hole, 2 runs the clear.
#2 – 3 runs a shoot-pivot working back to the middle after 7-9 steps, with an automatic “matched” hole route by 2.
#3 – 3 runs a shoot pivot, and 2 runs his hole, bounces for 2 counts and then takes the post.
We also ran hole with a play action fake & protection successfully this past season.
Please fill me in with your hanger/flat area defender controllers.
Charlie Means - Denison HS (TX) - firstname.lastname@example.org