The popular defensive guru gives us a peek at how he builds his run game hit charts using Hudl data, and why it’s so important to study the rela­tion­ship between the tailback and Y receiver.

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Gus Malzahn’s spread run game has been trending in high school football for well over a decade. One of the keys to this style of offense has been the alignment of the “Sniffer.” This offense is typically based out of 11 personnel but relies heavily on moving the Y, or the “Sniffer,” around in the formation. 

Custom Hudl reports help us put together our run game hit chart for our players. With these reports, we’re able to analyze our opponents’ run game tendencies based on the relationship of the running back and the Y/Sniffer.

We use two major custom columns in our breakdown to help us determine run game tendencies based on the relationship of these two positions:

Backfield 2

In this column, we’ll input the alignment of the Y/Sniffer in relation to the run strength using one of these tags:

  • Near — Aligned to running strength.
  • Far — Aligned away from running strength.
  • Home — Aligned directly behind the quarterback

We’ll also input the running back’s alignment in relation to the run strength in this column, using one of these tags:

  • Plus — Offset towards running strength
  • Minus — Offset away from running strength
  • Pistol — Directly behind quarterback out of shotgun
  • Dot — Directly behind quarterback under center

Backfield 3

We will put data in this field if the Y is aligned within the core of the offensive formation and there’s a running back within the core. This data tells us the horizontal alignment of the Y/Sniffer. We’ll use one of three terms:

  • Seal — Alignment is outside of the offensive tackle. 
  • Snug — Alignment crosses the body of the offensive tackle. 
  • Sniff — Alignment is from the B gap to the center. 

The second data point in this column is the vertical alignment of the running back, labeled at three different depths:

  • 0 — Aligned even with the quarterback. 
  • 1 — Aligned in front of the quarterback.
  • 2 — Aligned behind the quarterback.

The ability to create Hudl custom columns allows us to utilize the analytics needed to produce our run game hit chart. This allows us to easily create a document to share with our players that gives them a huge advantage in understanding our opponents run game tendencies.

Gaylor, who helped lead nationally-revered Jenks to its 17th state title last month, was a featured speaker at Blitz '21, where he dished on a variety of defensive topics. You can follow him on Twitter at @CoachAdamGaylor

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