Monday, March 22, 2010

Air Raid Strip Down

The last two practices were enlightening.

On a personal level, I think it is just what I needed to see to reignite the passion for the game. I am not a guy that believes in pigeon-holing yourself to 'systems' or there being one way to do things in football, but Air Raid, to me (and what it represents) is what I love about the game. It isn't the passing (though I do appreciate it), it is the aggressiveness and organization that I enjoy so much. There aren't any taboo areas to explore - moving the ball and breaking defenses is the only thing that matters.

To best articulate what I'm going to be explaining, the best analogy I could preface this with is the witnessing the difference between the invading force of Normandy and the hard-driving Iraqi Freedom force. Everything is pared down to the smallest, most essential, common-denominator and it is executed at a 100-mph. There is no relenting and there is no settling in a comfort zone, it is always advancing.

The adaptation of Air Raid with the merging of Sonny Dykes and Tony Franklin at Louisiana Tech this year is something to behold. I will provide a basic overview of the recent changes regarding the evolution (what is different) from the recent years as evidenced from Troy-to-Auburn-to-Middle Tennessee-to-now-Louisiana Tech.

I'll start this first post by outliing the simplicity of protection as utilized OL coach Pete Perot and GA Zach Yenser. The protection on ALL passes is 90s. No differentiating between 5-step and 3-step, it is all vertical set for 4-5 steps. There are no adjustments (except for the obvious lasso/rodeo). Because the linemen are retreating up to a 5-step pocket (5 yards), the QB is expected on 3 step to catch the ball and immediately fire it out to the short receiver.

The quarterback does not call the cadence, it is controlled entirely by the center.

The center is at the ready over the ball at all times, calls the front ID, and then waits for a hand-flash from the quarterback to begin the cadence. The center waits in a relaxed position, looking between his legs at the quarterback.

Once signalled, it is just a loud, "ready........ready,hit!". This helps the center get the snap off more effectively (he is controlling it, rather than waiting on another player), as well as put the source of the audible cadence near the rest of the linemen. Also, because he's controlling the cadence, it makes hard-counts (freeze) more effective.

Front Identification
What is also simplified is protection. Rather than making a "nickel" declaration, it has been truncated to just (one-syllable) "nic" making it simpler and faster to deliver the same information. Because everything is either 2x2 or 3x1, so there is no need to get overly complicated, as discussed previously, you really limit just what a defense can do to you.

They treat everything with a zero technique (or simply any front with 3 down linemen) as a "5-0". With any stacked LB look out of a 3-man front, the back will be responsible for the mike and the stacked outside backers are handled by the linemen.
If the 3-man front is in a base front, with both inside linebackers over the guards and overhang players on the edge (ala a 3-4 look), the back is responsible for both and the line will be responsible for the 3 linemen and 2 outside rushers. The general rule is that the OL is responsible for all outside rushers.

Anything with a 4 man front can be handled simply by a nickel call. From here it all can be sorted out with all four linemen picked up plus one backer (opposite of the side the back declares).

That's IT! Nothing else that the line really needs to be aware of.

Here is a little something extra.....prepractice for Oline:

The next part I'll touch on is the tempo they operate at.
The most characteristic element to TFS is the balls-to-the-wall nature of it and what that demands from the coaches. They can get so much accomplished because of the tempo they keep and the momentum that it creates.

Here is an example of a inside drill. Notice everything is being signalled in and the pace at which everything is run. There are no 'breaks' between plays; they just line up, signal and go.

Another 'new' characteristic is that there are no wristbands. Everything is communicated through signals. These signals are created by the players and they eventually come up with multiple signals to convey the same message (3 different ways to signal '90' protection). From Day 1, all concepts are signalled in, whether it is team, group, skelly, pup, inside-drill, or individuals. Each group (receivers, line, quarterback) have their own coach/GA to look to, so there will be multiple signal callers giving a variety of gestures at once. They begin signalling once the play has ended and DO NOT STOP (signalling) until the ball is snapped.

I've included video of these periods (there are no lulls) to illustrate just what I'm talking about. You can say, "they are always moving" or "they practice fast" but still never come away with understanding what that is supposed to look like. Even in this clip below (during PUP), notice the time from the play ends to the start of the very next play (both resulted in INTs, however).

Think about how something as meticulous as PUP can be (to get everything set up right) and what would happen after a bad throw, how long it would be to set up the next play. Now watch this, and see them setting up as quickly as possible, signalling in the next one, and flying through it.

Everything is stripped down to essentials. The terminology may have more to do with Dykes, but their terms are extremely simple, and they don't use but 2 formations (3x1 and 2x2). So, you end up with "trips left" / "trips right" or "ace" ('dart'). They have special sets, but everything is based off these two formation groupings. During these practices they would hammer home a concept from the start of practice until the end. So you would have quarterbacks and receivers doing prepractice based on "trips left - mesh" and they would condition their warmups with that concept in mind. Moving on to individuals and skelly, they would continue that same theme, "trips left - mesh", and couple it with a tag, "trips left - mesh left - X hook". This was extremely effective, as they would go 3 to 4 groupings deep working the same concept and focusing in on the very critical details of reads and stems of the concept. They were able to get a lot done in very little time because of the pace and amount of coaching/competition involved.

Some additional content can be found here, and I'll see if I can't review some of the effective concepts installed.


Kevin said...

Thanks for sharing. Couple questions if you wouldn't mind answereing.
1. Is Zero like a big on big for you?
Sub question: Do you treat stunts by forming a pocket/zone call?
2. We have trouble with our tackles picking up the outside rush, what do you do if that becomes an issue? We usually commit the back to the edge.
3. Any motions/shifts used or signaled in?
4. You might have this on your site already, but I'd like to see how the line protects for the QB the same on 3 and 5 step drops.

Thanks again for the wealth of info. I wish I could get out there and run some spring stuff. Michigan rules prevent a lot for HS coaches...

Coach Bigelow said...

This is one of the reasons I love the Air Raid. Don't over complicate things.

The Flipped Coach said...

Again, great information! I am really curious though about what they are doing with their inside zone read blocking? Were you able to pick up much info on Line stance, starts, steps, aiming points, etc? It seemed like on your bonus video they were using a drop step for the first step of their inside zone. Is this correct? There also seemed to be some kind of a sprint out or stretch blocking scheme used. Were you able to see how that fit with the run game? Finally, did you see them work the screen game and did you pick up anything key or interesting with this part? I've already been revising our playbook with your stuff here it has been such a great help!

brophy said...

1. there is no inside zone. Those are stretch steps, set to rip to reach. The prepractice video is followed by draw, followed by lasso/rodeo.

2. inside run game is draw,Power G, Q Power.

3. The videos illustrate how "the system" looks the same no matter where it is installed. "the system" is premised on the screen game (fast, solid, missile

4. Motions are handled by the QB. When motion is tagged, the QB sets the receiver in motion, then signals the center to go through the cadence. The center knows with motion he has to deliver the ball quickly. The QB is responsible for providing a timely signal.

5. The line uses a vertical set for all drop back. There is no differentiating for them.

Blitzology said...

Looking at the pass pro I have some questions.

1. vs. Nickle how do they determine which ILB the back is responsible for blocking?

2. vs. 3-3 stack look if the spur/overhang guys blitz who has them?

3. vs. 3-4 how do they handle both ILB blitzing?


brophy said...

1. Roger/Louie call from the back as described in the linked post.

2. For the overhang guys to be an issue, they would be declaring who is coming, because by formation, they would have to detatch from the box. This would become a 5-0 box call declaring how/where the line is working. As a general rule, they handle the stack as the OLBs - if a team doesn't bring those guys, you adjust via game plan. But again, by formation, those Rover/Bandit guys can't be hanging around the box (see linked post).

3. Back picks up one, QB is responsible for the other (if overhang defenders are coming). Typically, the opposite would be true (line accounts for inside pressure, back takes outside rushers), however, they treat these fronts as most-dangerous-man as the outside rushers (which they routinely see because of the strongest pass rushers in a 3-4 are on the edge).