If I were a head coach in the area…

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rather than rant and rave this week, I thought I might switch gears a bit and talk about something I have been thinking about a lot lately, football.

I have been talking with the coaches around the area for the past several weeks to find out what they are doing to prepare for the upcoming season and to get a feel for each of their programs and coaching styles before they get into fall play. With every coach I have talked, I have asked what formations they run and their preferences on offense and defense.

As I had more and more of these conversations, I began to see a common coaching theme in the area and began to speculate how I, if I were a coach at a local school, might counter these tendencies and create a powerhouse program in the area. While this is all speculation, I feel I have come up with a pretty good system.

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With every one of the coaches I have talked with thus far, the offense for their teams is based first and foremost on establishing a run game. Whether is up the gut or around the outside, all coaches felt that on-the-ground production is the cornerstone of opening up any sort of productive passing game.

Knowing this, most coaches in the area have moved to a versatile defense with almost equal numbers of players on the defensive line, at the linebacker position and in the backfield. There might be some exceptions, throwing one or two more players on the line or in the secondary, but most programs run something along the lines of a 4-3, 4-4, 5-2 or Nickel formation.

I, however, have always been a fan of defenses running out of a 3-4. Speed is crucial in this formation, popular in the NFL and some colleges, that sacrifices a lineman for added backs. I have always felt that a 3-4 is versatile and allows for a larger number of adjustments that aren&8217;t as easily read as some other formations, such as a number of looks you get on blitzes that can confuse offensive blocking schemes. It also can be utilized quite efficiently to stop the run and the pass without showing too much of your hand &8212; the poker player&8217;s defense, if you will.

With the running game that is abundant in the area and the lack of 6A lines to bust through the small line you are bound to have out of a 3-4, the formation lends itself to pursuit and limits big gains with a large secondary (also detrimental to passing attacks). A team running the formation with an intelligent linebacker to call out adjustments at the line becomes a wall.

With defense wrapped up, lets move on to offense.

I love passing, and I have always felt that if it is done right it will open up huge gains on the ground. So my offense for the team would run out of a Pro Set formation, which gives me two backs split in the backfield, two receivers and a tight end for the quarterback to work with.

Based out of the formation, I could also rotate the tight end position out and add another receiver on either side of the ball or create a bunch package with three receivers on one side. All of which would be relatively simple and give the quarterback a lot of options to whom to pass, along with the ability to switch formations at the line, depending on what looks he sees from the defense.

Not only does the formation have the threat of three eligible receivers every play on the line, it also gives the team the ability to call on backs for screens and to slip out off a block into open field for a pass.

Once the pass game becomes respected, the formation lends itself to a powerful option run game. On a play to the weak side, with no tight end, you have a receiver, the quarterback and the running back out front available for blocking, and on the strong side you have an extra tight end or receiver to throw at them. If you want to get really squirrely, I don&8217;t find it inconceivable to throw in an option pass every now and then if you are getting a lot of passing game respect from the defense or are lined up in the bunch package, sweeping to that side.

If you come out with a quick trigger from the snap, the amount of passing options, even for short yardage, should confuse and wear down the defense. This coupled with a tendency to run a two minute offense type of drive every now and then with the quarterback calling the shots should put even the most seasoned defenses on their heels.

The biggest downfall to this type of dream scheme is the knowledge of the game held by the people on whom you must rely for adjustments out on the field on both offense and defense. If players have a sound grasp of football theory and have been drilled until they run their routes in their sleep, I don&8217;t think it can be stopped.

Brandon Glover is the sports editor of The Times. He can be reached at brandon.glover@demopolistimes.com.