Minor Adjustments late in this season were a huge help in one big game:
Film Analysis Shows Defensive Trends
Every year I do a thorough analysis of my teams and the system via in-depth film study. This year it was a much deeper study than ever before and I started doing it even before our season ended. I was in the process of putting together the 2007 Season DVD. I added subtitles to every single snap of every game so you can see what football plays and defensive calls are in place before the play starts. I’m also adding audio commentary to emphasize the key points to look for on each snap. As the season progressed, we found a number of teams would send their defensive tackles to their knees, “diving” our wedge play if they felt our linemen were wedge blocking. What this did was create a pile that made it a bit more difficult to wedge.
Defense Crowding and Diving the Wedge Play
We also found that if the linebackers saw a wedge forming, they would quickly come up to fill the middle and the defensive ends would curl around the wedge and try and drag the ballcarrier down from behind. Our initial response was to have our offensive linemen just keep their knees up and trample over the defensive lineman, the defensive linemen rarely like using this diving technique the entire game and will rarely stick to it for long. We were still getting good yardage on our wedge, but not quite what we had gotten in the past. Of course for those teams that would dive every play, we simply ran lots of off-tackle, sweeps, counters, buck wedges and passes and just ran wild. In fact this season we averaged about the same number of points per game (35) with our age 10-11 team as we did the previous year and we were much smaller this season. But for those teams that would wait to “feel” the wedge before diving, we had a different plan in store for them.
New Football Play Shows Promise
Late this season we had added a football play that was really just a slight modification of two football plays we already run. The 16 Power, our tailback power play off-tackle run to the strong side and 22 our Wedge, a fullback wedge to the Right Guard. While neither of these is the “sexiest” of football plays, together they averaged almost 9 years per carry this year. The new hybrid play hit so quick and was so open, it looked like our tailback was shot out of a cannon.
This is what we did:
Lessons From the Great “T” Teams
If you’ve ever seen those Power T teams run the ball, it is an amazing offense. Much like the Single Wing, it is real tough to pick up the ball and they hit the line very quickly out of a compressed formation with 3 backs attacking 3 different points of attack. On the base play, the fullback attacks the playside dive or trap hole, the backside halfback attacks the playside off-tackle hole and the quarterback attacks the playside sweep area. The quarterback either gives to the fullback, backside halfback or keeps it on a sweep.
Everything is so compressed and it hits so quick, that you have no clue who has the football. To add to this mess, all the ballcarriers and fake ballcarriers use a “layered” handoff method to hide the ball and carry their fakes out 20 + yards. When I watch these High School teams play on my DVD player, I have to slow everything down frame by frame to see who the heck has the darn football, I kind of like that especially in youth football..
We decided to incorporate some of these concepts into a single football play we would use late in our 2007 youth football season. We would take the “double dive” concept from the Power T teams and adapt it to our youth football playbook. We would run our off-tackle play to our tailback out of our base set, but use wedge blocking and a fake to our fullback to draw the defense in.
Our Version of This Play
It was simple to put in, our linemen wedge blocked, something we learned in the first week of practice and use on a number of our existing football plays. Our backfield would run our base 16 Power (tailback off tackle strong) with the exception being that our fullback would fake a 22 wedge run (wedge run at our right guard). The blocking back would execute his normal kickout block of the playside defensive end and the wingback would do his normal seal of the near linebacker like they were all used to doing on the 16 power.
There was no need for a pulling guard, as the linebackers were already coming up hard when they saw any wedge forming and would get lost in the wash. The tailback would run off-tackle to the strong side, inside the blocking backs kickout block and then just outside the wingbacks seal block, just like the 16 Power we usually run. Both our Fullback and Tailback would carry the ball or fake with both forearms completely over the ball, or their stomachs (if faking) and were bent at the waist more than usual. Since this was a combination of 2 football plays we already run, it took all of 1 minute to install, it stole zero time from our regular football practice schedule.
The keys were we had to make it look like a great fullback wedge play, with our fullback hitting it up in there. He had to get lost in the pile and fight for yardage while our blocking back and wingback executed their respective kickout and seal blocks. Of course we would set the new play up by running plenty of our fullback wedge football plays.
Our First Time Running It
In our last big game of the year we played a 7-1 Malcom team. They had scouted us very thoroughly, plenty of intel from our opponents, film and they come to this site as well where I talk in depth every week about my team and our games. Malcom had lost just one game and had posted at least 6 shutouts. They had won 7 blowout games, were absolutely enormous, 6-7 “striped” (over 128 pounds) linemen to our 1 striped lineman and were well coached.
As some of the other teams had done, they dove our wedge and collapsed on it with linebackers and defensive ends when they saw it forming. I smiled to myself when I saw this and thought to when I would call our new play for a touchdown. To make a long story short, we won the game 41-8 and I ran the play just 2 times, both were for touchdowns as we knew they would be when we called the play. At the first break in action I told our kids we would score on “16 Wedge” the first time we ran it, but to be patient, I was waiting for the right timing, told the kids it was a “guarantee”. The first time we ran it, our tailback could have walked in the endzone, it was that open. Adding the deception on the ballhandling seemed to make it even more effective. Our kids gained a lot of confidence from seeing that play work and the knowledge that the coaching staff knew what we needed to do to beat this team. The kids blew a 12-8 game wide open after that point in the game.
This simple but effective adjustment blew open a close game and made the defense suspect of their “keys”. Once the defenseive players couldn’t trust what their coaches had said would work, it was all downhill. While this may seem like a simple play, when both running backs hit it at full speed it is a killer. With the deception we get from both backs being at just 2 yards from the line of scrimmage and with their fingertips touching the ground and our very low snaps, no one has a clue which ballcarrier has the football.
Free Video Clips of Play Coming Soon
For more info on this football play, including a video clip and diagram, please subscribe to my newsletter on the front page of this website. It will be featured in the January issue, I will also discuss how this experience may slightly change how we run our base 22 wedge football plays.
That’s the great thing about youth football, while what we do has worked extremely well and worked great again this season, there is always someone coming out with something new to stop us. But since I still coach a team or two every year, I can show you how to combat these latest gimmicks and show you how it actually worked for me in real life instead of just some fluffy theory.
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