Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ninja Attack

If you caught it Tuesday night, good for you..... but Tony Franklin busted out the old "Ninja" formation from the Kentucky air raid days (and used quite a bit by Mike Leach at Texas Tech). Though Leach credits Amherst College as running it in the early 80's, it didin't really catch on until being popularized in the early 90's by Florida (under Spurrier) and Evangel Christian Academy.

The formation is used much like the "swinging gate" series; to force defenses to waste precious time preparing for such an untraditional look. This unconventional approach can force defenders to process new information, hestitate, and have the offense easily exploiting any mental error.
Typically, the alignment has the widest receivers just inside the numbers with the tackle just inside of them. The slot receiver to either side will apex behind these two players. Everything else is handled just like regular Ace formation, nothing changes from the usual offense (save the split of the tackle).
The plays typically run out of Ninja are:
  • 42/52 flash screens to the slot receiver
  • Shovel pass or QB run
  • Verticals (with F angle)
The less, the better. The less time spent "coaching" in Ninja, the more efficient it will be for the offense as it will be used as a game planning gimmick.
On the second play of their second series against Boise State, Franklin used a trips version of Ninja, to zone flash and let QB Ross Jenkins exploit the opening in the middle of the defense to gain a quick 7 yards (making it managable 3rd and 3).
Though they never went back to it, it wasn't necessary; Franklin's frantic attack against the Boise defense through tempo, formations, and personnel allowed LTU to fend off (keep off balance) the contending National Champions.
* A great interview of Franlkin after this game (his thoughts on Boise, Oregon, and Auburn) is available at
**Be sure to check out Coach Hoover's post on Curl/Flat at
and Hoover's interview (as well as Ken Wilmesherr coaching points on zone running) at CompuSports Radio

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up, Coach.