Five Ways to Speed Up Your Offensive Installs This Fall

Ready to hit the ground run­ning? We’ve got some tips for get­ting the most out of your lim­it­ed prep time this season.

Five Ways to Speed Up Your Offensive Installs This Fall

Ready to hit the ground run­ning? We’ve got some tips for get­ting the most out of your lim­it­ed prep time this season.

There’s been sev­er­al sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges for coach­es dur­ing this pan­dem­ic, none big­ger than the in-per­son time lost phys­i­cal­ly devel­op­ing players. 

For the last four months, we’ve been left to our own imag­i­na­tion in plan­ning for how and when we can pro­vide some guid­ance in work­ing with play­ers. With that in mind, here are a few meth­ods to estab­lish­ing a frame­work for expe­dit­ed fall camp planning. 

Depending on the state of your pro­gram or state leg­is­la­tion, there are two main fac­tors that will play a role in your instal­la­tion process­es this camp.

Factor 1: Time

Coaches need to be effi­cient in how they are going to del­e­gate their time this pre­sea­son. I can only speak for my state, but New Jersey has already been stretched thin on time. In Phase 1, we’re allowed to prac­tice with 10 play­ers, with par­tic­i­pa­tion increas­ing in sub­se­quent phas­es. We are giv­en sev­en days of prac­tice with one day off. 

With the assump­tion that their strength and con­di­tion­ing may have sig­nif­i­cant­ly been affect­ed the last four months, the last thing we want to do is burn our kids out phys­i­cal­ly before we get into the meat of the season.

(Looking for more ways to cut down on your film review? Hudl Assist saves you hours each week dur­ing the sea­son with its film breakdowns)

Factor 2: Experience at Quarterback

A return­ing quar­ter­back is an immea­sur­able asset to any pro­gram dur­ing this time. No amount of vir­tu­al Zoom meet­ings can pre­pare a sig­nal-caller for real game expe­ri­ence. We’re see­ing the same sen­ti­ments come out of the NFL, where orga­ni­za­tions are scur­ry­ing to acquire and solid­i­fy expe­ri­enced play­ers behind cen­ter (the New England Patriots’ recent sign­ing of Cam Newton the most pop­u­lar example). 

For high school pro­grams, a deci­sion needs to be made on how much respon­si­bil­i­ty the quar­ter­back will have for the upcom­ing sea­son. With most 7-on-7s and pass­ing tour­na­ments can­celed, it may make sense to cut back or com­part­men­tal­ize his reads (if you’re not doing that already). In our cir­cum­stance, we’ve gone away from full-field reads to help sig­nif­i­cant­ly clear the pic­ture for our quarterbacks.

Method 1: Group Concepts Together

We’ve lim­it­ed our offen­sive play­book into buck­et teach­ing. In the pass game, we’ve grouped our routes into the following: 

  • Horizontal stretch­es
  • Vertical stretch­es
  • Play action passes 
  • Screens 

That may not seem much dif­fer­ent than usu­al. But this sea­son, we’ve sim­ply elim­i­nat­ed any­thing that didn’t fit into those buckets. 

We’ve also made the choice to group all of our run game into three main concepts:

  • Tight zones
  • Wide zones
  • Gap runs

That will be the extent of our run game this sea­son. We con­scious­ly decid­ed as a staff to elim­i­nate more and more from our play menu as our time­line con­tin­u­al­ly diminished.

In the RPO game, we’ve decid­ed to clear­ly seg­ment pre-snap and post-snap reads by play call. We’ve been able to do a lot of work with our quar­ter­back in teach­ing him exact­ly what lever­age is. We pack­aged our quick and bub­ble screens off defend­er lever­age and were able to use Hudl clips and still frames to quiz him on each. 

This exam­ple below pro­motes an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a quick smoke” screen to the No. 1 receiv­er based on the cornerback’s positioning.

For our post-snap RPO menu, we focused specif­i­cal­ly on influ­enc­ing the play-side box line­backer by pack­ag­ing our entire run game to manip­u­late his move­ment. Again, we were able to use Hudl to talk through clips like the one below in edu­cat­ing our quar­ter­back on the cor­rect decision.

Method 2: Mix Practice Groupings to Promote Leadership

Aside from los­ing time on strength and con­di­tion­ing this spring, we also lost our lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram, where upper­class­men gov­ern younger play­ers through our com­pe­ti­tion groups. It’s our best method for assess­ing and eval­u­at­ing lead­er­ship. Without that, we’ll need to be cre­ative in lead­er­ship development. 

When sum­mer work­outs begin, the lim­it to each group­ing in Phase 1 will be 10 play­ers for social dis­tanc­ing pur­pos­es. We decid­ed we’ll mix those group­ings by class, rather than by play­ing expe­ri­ence, for two main reasons: 

  1. It gives the old­er play­ers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with novice play­ers on skill devel­op­ment and pro­vides them with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to lead drills. 
  2. A mixed group­ing can also help alle­vi­ate a night­mare sce­nario of an infect­ed key play­er spread­ing the virus to the entire posi­tion group­ing. It’s a scary thought, but one we have to pre­pare for.

Method 3: Flip Your Teaching Methods

To keep con­nect­ed with our units dur­ing the ear­ly sum­mer months, we shared all of our instal­la­tion PowerPoints, film, etc. with our play­ers through Hudl before meet­ing with them phys­i­cal­ly. This was a first for us, but it allowed us to deliv­er the con­tent ahead of time and mon­i­tor their engagement. 

Once a week, we cir­cled back on a Zoom call to answer any ques­tions. This cut down the learn­ing curve so that when work­outs resume, we can sim­ply focus on par­tic­u­lar skills that address these prob­lem areas. 

For exam­ple, if we found a play­er had trou­ble under­stand­ing the post-play­er respon­si­bil­i­ty in zone dou­ble teams, we can plan to spend time dur­ing work­outs sim­ply work­ing on our near leg, or gal­lop,” tech­nique. We want to make sure we assess as many indi­vid­ual defi­cien­cies as we can online, so that when work­outs resume, we only need to hit those areas in question.

Method 4: Emphasize Reactionary Drill Work

Quite sim­ply, there isn’t enough time to work on items like bird dogs, shield work or chutes like we’ve done as an offen­sive line in the past. But we can find a way to imple­ment those ele­men­tary skills using the pro­gres­sion below. 

I’ve incor­po­rat­ed what I believe are the essen­tial tech­niques of our run game: gap, tight zone and wide zone runs. The more reps I can get on these, the bet­ter. These tech­niques are all fused into a rotat­ing three-day instal­la­tion method. On each of those rotat­ing days, we can select one spe­cif­ic drill to work on, attain­ing max­i­mum poten­tial reps.

  • Day 1, Gap Run Schemes: Horizontal dou­ble teams, train­ing the wall puller to iden­ti­fy sec­ond lev­el and kick puller blocks at the line of scrim­mage vs. per­pen­dic­u­lar and par­al­lel defenders 
  • Day 2, Tight Zone Run Schemes: Vertical dou­ble teams, dou­ble under vs. sin­gle under block­ing sce­nar­ios for cov­ered defend­ers, near knee tech­nique for uncov­ered defenders.
  • Day 3, Wide Zone Run Schemes: Rip to reach prin­ci­ples of cov­ered defend­er, square drag tech­nique of uncov­ered defend­er and back­side cut progressions

Method 5: Integrate Conditioning into Individual Drills

Since we lost our entire spring train­ing block, there’s going to be a sig­nif­i­cant adjust­ment peri­od for play­ers to get into the shape they need to be in for fall camp. And quite hon­est­ly, I don’t antic­i­pate the major­i­ty of our play­ers being in com­pe­ti­tion shape. 

Trouble is, there may not be enough time to sep­a­rate con­di­tion­ing from skill devel­op­ment, so it becomes our respon­si­bil­i­ty to inte­grate the two. From an offen­sive line stand­point, I’ve inte­grat­ed con­di­tion­ing into our drill work, where group­ings get the reps they need at a high­er tempo. 

An exam­ple of this is my dou­ble pull drill that we use for our Buck Sweep con­cept below. Guards rotate from left to right in work­ing the alley play­er block and the insert block on our Buck Sweep con­cept. It’s a 10-minute indi­vid­ual peri­od, where play­ers can get up to 20 reps at each position.

This fall camp (if we’re able to have one) will be unlike any oth­er we have expe­ri­enced as coach­es. If we con­tin­ue to be proac­tive, and not reac­tive, in our coach­ing meth­ods, we have a bet­ter chance of giv­ing our play­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ties they need to succeed. 

With the sus­pen­sion of all ath­let­ic activ­i­ties since last March, the play­ing field has been lev­eled. How we use the time we have when work­outs resume may make the dif­fer­ence between wins and losses.


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