The Yellow Jackets will see some fundamental changes in the run game this season. Gone are the days of an OL with flat backs, a B-Back with 5 yards and hitting the hole fast, and A-backs catching the pitch in the alley. It will be replaced by a scheme that on the surface looks very different, but in fact shares many of the same reads as the previous scheme. Let’s take a look at some of the runs we saw in the spring game and how they fit into the new philosophy.
This play, made famous by Cam Newton and Gus Malzahn, shares many similarities with Paul Johnson’s traditional triple option play. The QB takes the snap and then reads an unblocked defender on the end of the line of scrimmage, something we have seen hundreds of times in the last 11 seasons. The difference happens with the read, as it is a reverse of the traditional read, where if the opposing end player chases down, the QB will hand the ball off instead of keeping, and if the end player widens, the QB will keep and cut up-field. The play also pulls a backside guard to block in the LB, as opposed to a slipped tackle or a loaded A-back. It is a versatile play and can be ran with both RBs and WRs as the wide ball carrier. This perfectly sets up for Nate Cottrell or Ahmarean Brown to take the ball on the sweep and run to daylight.
Here are three ways the Jackets ran the play in the spring:
Here the DE crashes hard on the QB, so he gives.
Here the read widens, so the QB keeps.
Here the Jackets use a motioning WR and the DE crashes, so we get a give.
This is a staple of the previous offense; a quick hitting play designed to get the ball to the perimeter as quickly as possible. The big difference here is that this play is no longer run with A-back motion. The QB reads the wide man and pitches based on who he (the wide man) commits too.
It’s not a Tech game without a little bit of the ole triple option. This time it was run out of Gun Split, a formation we spent a lot of time in during the spring game and one that we should expect to see a good bit in the fall, given the depth and balance at RB. This one gets a bit mucked up because the pitch read folds hard inside and the dive read never truly commits.
This is one of the most common run plays in football. The offensive line zone steps in one direction and the running back looks for the open space. This is different from the zone read because the backside end man is blocked instead of read, often times the two plays can look almost identical. We used this play very often to play action or RPO out of during the spring game.
This play, much like the inside zone, is heavily dependent on the offensive lines ability to get in the way and the running backs ability to run to space. Here the OL players zone hard and fast to the outside and the RB looks to outrun the defense to the corner, or show that and hard cut to space. Tech ran this play often with a lead blocker during the spring game.
One of the most common plays in the current college game, this play looks to make a back side read of the end man on the line of scrimmage as opposed to the front side read most often seen during the past few years here on the Flats. It is also a play that can have a bubble or quick hitch attached to become the dreaded RPO that commentators seem to think every play action happens to be.
Split Zone is a different take on the inside zone, where the offensive line zone steps in one direction, leaves an end man unblocked, but a TE or FB comes back across the formation to block the end man. It is designed to confuse the linebackers and defensive linemen that are reading the movement of the offensive line. You can also have the TE or FB bypass the unblocked man and have the QB read him, like a zone read, but now you have a lead blocker should the QB pull the ball.
This is an old school run play where the Guard and Tackle double team the 3T, center blocks back, backside guard pulls for a LB. In a two back set the fullback would kickout a LB and the TE would climb to the middle. Tech runs this play from a one back set, with no FB to kick out anyone. This play is seen most often out of pistol backfield sets.
Another old school run play that has seen a resurgence and has been adapted to be run out of the gun is the Counter OY. Run mainly opposite a wing TE, the counter action in the backfield gets the LBs to shuffle away from the play and allows the pulling backside guard and TE a chance to clear the way for the RB.
Outside Zone Read
I’m not 100% sure this was the actual play call, but Graham read the backside end on an outside zone and pulled the ball and ran with it. This shows that any zone play can quickly become an option, if the coaches see the backside end crashing hard on the hand-off, as was the case here.
Spring games are notoriously vanilla affairs, in terms of game planning and play calling. Who knows what the staff has up their sleeves, but expect to see these plays be an integral part of the somewhat new school but still old school look Yellow Jacket run game.