Tag Archives: Offensive Line

The Bubba Conundrum

I’m a big boy. A lineman for life. “Husky” was my Sears Toughskin categorization as a kid. I loved coaching the big boys of the offensive and defensive line in my football coaching days. Loved it.

We called ourselves the “Bubbas”. The running backs/defensive backs were called “Bullets”. The TE/linebacker-types were the “Bricks”. Everybody belonged to a group, everybody in each of those groups trained differently in our strength and conditioning program.

I almost blew a gasket recently when I heard of a coach telling a big boy lineman he wouldn’t be much use to the team next fall unless he got into better shape. First, I hate this approach, especially with a Bubba. It’s tough growing up a big boy in a skinny boy world. When one tells a big boy the above criticism, what he hears is something he’s probably heard over and over in his entire life—that he’s fat, lazy, and/or of little value— instead of hearing that he needs to be in better shape. Second, the above criticism from the coach is delivered with no plan of action.

The young athlete was knocked into a dark pit by someone he probably respects and not given any plan or tools for climbing out. Modern coaches and parents need to be more positive in these situations. Point out to the athletes they’d perform at a higher level if they were in better condition AND then give them a vision of how we’re going to accomplish this. (The WE part of the equation is very important.)

The conditioning requirements for high school football players are different for the Bubbas, the Bricks, and the Bullets. The specific work/recovery demands require specific considerations for each group of players. Even the casual high school football fan realizes the differences in physical demands between an offensive guard and a wide receiver on any given play. The lineman’s job and the wide receiver’s job both use the burst energy supplied by the anaerobic energy systems but in different ways. The lineman is using power over speed. The wide receiver uses the opposite, speed over power. Power/Speed vs. Speed/Power

A high school football play lasts only 5.6 +/- 2.0 seconds according to a study published in 2006. The NFHS play clock is 25 seconds. Adding the variable length of time it takes for the ball to be marked and set before the play clock is started, the total time between plays is about 45 seconds. I know what you’re saying, “This Hays guy is such a geek. I just want to play football and hit people. I don’t care about math or physiological energy systems. Where’s my dang helmet?”

My answer is this, you don’t have to care. Not really. But, as a strength and conditioning coach, I HAVE to care. I HAVE to design training regimens that give you the best chance to perform and “hit people” like a cannon shot each and every play of a four-quarter high school football game. I HAVE to consider these geeky physiological demands in order to give you the power you need.

5.6 +/- 2.0 seconds work followed by 40 seconds rest.

Why share these seemingly trivial numbers? No, I don’t give you these numbers so you know there’s about 40 seconds to run to get a bag of popcorn without missing any action. I emphasize these numbers because everything we need to do to prepare our Bullets, our Bricks, and our Bubbas to perform needs to revolve around this conditioning ratio. About 8 seconds of intense work, followed by 40 seconds rest.

Sprints, lifts, med ball slams, swings, pull-up, sled pulls/drives, agility drills, etc. all should follow fairly close to this timing 75-80% of total training time. The wide receiver’s plan would include a high percentage of the speed-building exercises. The offensive guard’s plan would include a high percentage of the power-building exercises. The remaining 20% or so would be developing general fitness in order to support the basic foundation.

These methodologies are usually sufficient for the high school athlete. If athletes move up to high levels, the college or professional level, the methodologies become even more personalized and intricate.

Bottom line, give your big kids a solid plan. Instead of straight up criticism, give them a goal. Give them the tools they need to attain the goal and give them the support they’ll need along the way. Every football team is built on the backs of the big boys. You better figure out how to deal with them and understand their needs if you want to be successful.

Respect your big boys! #BubbaForLife!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Coaching, Rants, Training

Blocking the Veer With Your Best Friends

“Hey, Ned.”

“Hello, Mel.”

“Yo, Vic.”

“How’s it going out there, Opie?”

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you had a pretty good idea how stupid I can be. That said, here’s one I’m extra proud of. When you coach, one of the most important (and most difficult) things you have to do is get everyone on the same page. Doesn’t sound that hard, does it? Now, consider you are dealing with high energy, hormone-driven, attention-span-of -duck, teenage boys and the difficulty level rockets through the stratosphere.

A veer-based run game is an explosive, quick hitting scheme and can be a potent offensive weapon.  With veer principles, two level one defenders are left unblocked to be read by the quarterback.   The first level one unblocked defender is the dive read and the second level one unblocked defender is the option read.   The offensive linemen aligned on the two read defenders release to seal level two defenders, creating running lanes for the backs.

In case you don’t understand a word of the previous few sentences, here it is in a nutshell. The offensive lineman need to be smart. Not ACT/SAT, Ivy League smarts, but football smarts. And part of this football smarts is…having everyone on the same page as to what we are trying to do and how we are going to do it.  So, as a coach, you must develop a language everyone, from the ACT 32 composite kid to the kid whose best grade in junior English is 32%,  can wrap their heads around. 

The first year we went to a veer-based offense, we used schemes and rules based on identifying read men from their defensive alignment technique when blocking each of our three veer running plays, the midline veer, inside veer and outside veer.  During that first season, we ran into problems adjusting to the multiple defensive fronts we saw on a weekly basis (or even within a single game) which forced confusion at the line of scrimmage. 

Since the key for blocking success with the veer offense is to get off the ball fast and aggressive, the confusion created when identifying read men against multiple defensive fronts often led to our offensive lineman playing timid, which slowed down our entire play.  As a result, we did not move the ball as well as we would have wanted and we were forced into developing a new system of veer blocking. 

So we went with our Best Friends. But, first a little football basics.

We came up with the gap read veer (GRV) blocking principles which simplified the schemes allowing for continuity of this simplicity throughout multiple defensive fronts and continuity through the midline, inside and outside veer plays.

Gap Read Veer Basics

 The GRV is a combination of the no-mesh mesh technique and a clear/cloudy read of the target gap by the QB.  A speed attack from the dive back into the target hole is necessary.  The goal is to get the dive back 1-2 yards into the line of scrimmage before the defense has a chance to react.

The dive back targets the call hole, 0 or 1 for midline, 2 or 3 for inside veer and 4 or 5 for outside veer (Table 1).  The dive back attacks the target hole full speed expecting the ball.  If he gets it, he tucks and runs, looking to cut out, stay on path or cut back.  If he does not get the ball, the dive back tucks and collides with the defender to sell the fake.

The QB opens to the hole and steps into the line of scrimmage.  He has the ball extended with both hands with his eyes on the read gap (Read Gap = gap directly outside the hole target of the dive back).  If the read gap is open (clear), he gives the ball to the dive and continues on with the fake.  If the read gap is closed (cloudy), he pulls the ball and explodes into and down the line of scrimmage to the option read man.

So, here come the problem of communication. Everyone, when they get to the line of scrimmage, needs to be on the same page as to who the read men are.

We felt it necessary to establish simplicity and consistency in our system which identifies defensive read men.  We wanted a system based on our offensive structure rather than the old system which was based on a defensive alignment structure that could change when the defense changed.

Within our GRV structure, after our linemen get to the line of scrimmage, each lineman verbally identifies the defensive lineman that will ultimately help them determine who the dive and option read defenders are.  What they call the read men doesn’t matter as long as everyone understands what the names stand for and how they need to use it. We designate or identify the defensive lineman with our “BEST FRIEND” names:

  • Center – Called and identified “NED”. The defensive line defender aligned anywhere on the center.  This man will never be a read man.
  • Guards – Called and identified “MEL”. The first defensive line defender outside A gap. This man will be the dive read on Midline.
  • Tackles – Call and identified “VIC”. The first defensive line defender outside B gap. This man is the dive read on Inside Veer.
  • Tight End – Call and identified “OPIE”. The first defensive line defender outside C gap. This man will be the dive read on Outside Veer.

If a lineman felt he could block a defender one on one, he called his friend “ELMO”

If the lineman felt he needed double team help, he called out his friend, “OSCAR”

We also had our friends for lineman pull blocking:

  • COWBOY – Center pulls
  • TODD – Tackle pulls outside
  • GOD – Guard pulls outside
  • SAM – Backside guard pulls
  • GUS – Both guards pull
  • SAW – Both baskside guard and tackle pulls

Our offensive lineman had ALOT of friends!

TABLE 1.

 

 

Dive Target

Hole

QB Gap Read

Release Man

(Dive Read)

Combo

Block

Option Read Man

Midline

Right

0 – Center’s Right Foot

A

1st DL on or outside A gap

DL inside A gap

2nd DL on or outside A gap

Midline

Left

1 – Center’s Left Foot

A

1st DL on or outside A gap

DL inside A gap

2nd DL on or outside A gap

Inside Veer Right

2 – Right Guard’s Crack

B

1st DL on or outside B gap

DL inside B gap

2nd DL on or outside B gap

Inside Veer Left

3 – Left Guard’s Crack

B

1st DL on or outside B gap

DL inside B gap

2nd DL on or outside B gap

Outside Veer Right

4 – Right Tackle’s Crack

C

1st DL on or outside C gap

DL inside C gap

2nd DL on or outside C gap

Outside Veer Left

5 – Left Tackle’s Crack

C

1st DL on or outside C gap

DL inside C gap

2nd DL on or outside C gap

So once we had everyone identified, then we blocked with this simple rule set. General Veer Blocking Rules

                        RELEASE – COMBO – SEAL – CLIMB – ESCORT

Play Side Offensive Linemen

  • Release – An inside release or outside release, whichever is most efficient, around the read man.  Attack and seal a level 2 linebacker.
  • Combo – Double team the first defensive lineman inside the read gap to drive him off the line of scrimmage and seal defenders in order to create a running lane.
  • Seal – Stretch step and cut or seal the 2nd defensive lineman inside the read gap.

            Backside Offensive Linemen

  • Climb – Stretch step and climb to seal play side gap or move up to a level 2 linebacker.
  • Escort – Last man on the backside of play. Sprint downfield to block safety or deep backside pursuit.  Escort the RB into the end zone on a breakaway run.

A veer-based run game can be a potent offensive weapon to attack a defense using an explosive, quick-hitting run scheme.  The key to success in the veer is for the offensive line to get off the ball fast and aggressive.  Confusion at the line of scrimmage will force offensive lineman to play timid and slow down the offense.  For us, the gap read veer blocking principles and the naming of our “Friends” simplified our blocking schemes. 

From an offensive line point of view, the GRV Friends blocking system allowed us to approach the veer package of midline, inside veer and outside veer as one play with different target holes instead of three plays with three blocking schemes.  This concept dramatically simplified the mental aspect for our lineman and was a big part of our success running the football.

 Don’t you agree, NED, MEL, VIC, and OPIE?

(Author’s “Ha ha ha, that’s stupid funny” Note:

I just recalled a story about our blocking friends that cracked me up. We were playing our rival, Marysville, and one of the lineman who also played defensive line came to the sidelines and said, “Coach Hays, Marysville is so f!@#$-ing stupid. Their o-line is calling stupid stuff like ‘San Antonio’ and ‘Fort Worth’.”

I looked at the young man. “Seriously? You’re calling Marysville ‘f!@#$-ing stupid’ and WE’RE the ones who are yelling Sesame Street characters out there?”)

  

1 Comment

Filed under Rants, Reads