Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Leverage, Numbers, and Green Grass

Someone asked me at a clinic this year, "what makes a great football play?" My answer was stolen from something Mike Leach once said. "A play where you don't have to block many dudes." I am not very smart, but I am smart enough to know that we will have a better chance for success if we don't have to block as many players.

Explosive Offense comes down to three things:
1. Leverage
2. Numbers
3. Green Grass

If we can get the ball into the hands of a good athlete with leverage, numbers, and green grass, we have a better chance to gain yards and move the chains. We have a better chance for an explosive play.

What is leverage? Better yet, do your players know what leverage is? Leverage is simply an advantage. If I want to get to the cone on the right, do I have an advantage over my opponent? Below are two pictures illustrating leverage. The player in red needs to get to the red box. The player in white needs to defend the box. If I have the advantage, I have leverage.
In the picture above, the player in red has the advantage. He has leverage.
In the bottom picture the player in white has leverage. He has an angle to defender the player in red from getting to the the box.

Leverage is vital in the game of football. If you have leverage, you have an angle to make a block or defend and area. If you have leverage, keep it, if you don't have leverage, go get it.

The second component is numbers. Do we have enough players to account for the defenders? On defense, do we have enough players to account for each gap? We want to have a numerical advantage when we run a play. A coach asked me the other day how we block 6 in the box when we run inside zone from our 2x2 look. My answer is that you can't. Unless, you have a guy that can block two of theirs. If you do, then you should win. The way we account for the 6th defender is to read him. Reading a defender allows us to account for one more player.

Too often, we beat our heads against the wall trying to run a play when we don't have the numbers.
In the example above, a 4-3 team is keeping all three linebackers in the box. This means you have 7 defenders for 5 blockers. Even if we read a defender, we have to pick a player who will not be blocked. However, if we look outside the box, we have numbers. We can throw the bubble and block the corner, giving us a better chance at an explosive play.

How many times have we tried to run a play and got stopped because we ran the play into an area where we were outnumbered? If we don't have leverage, and we don't have numbers, we can't have an explosive play.

What if that same defense moved their linebackers outside the box to be in a better position to play the bubble? Now you have a 5 man box, giving you numbers to run the inside zone.
We can now account for all 5 players in the box. This gives us an opportunity for a successful football play. We would rather play 5 on 5 than 5 on 7.

Here is an example of the inside zone play being run versus a 5 man box.

We can take this a step further, and play 6 on 5. If we "read" a defender we have 5 players to block 4 defenders.
We can also add a third option phase with a receiver, to account for another defender to the read side. With a 5 man box the defense has to borrow from the secondary to account for the quarterback. We can add essentially a pitch phase to put the quarterback player in conflict. 

If we have leverage and numbers, we should have green grass. Green grass is where we want our best athletes. If we can get a good athlete the football in green grass we should be able to have explosive football plays. 

The best way to do this is to give your quarterback simple RPO's based on presnap alignment. We like to marry a run and a pass together. We might pair inside zone with the bubble screen. Two the 2 receiver side we want to know where the 2nd defender is lined up. If he is outside the box, we don't have leverage. We would then look to the other side. If the number 2 defender is outside the box, we would know we should have leverage to run inside the box. 

In this example both number 2 defenders are outside the box. We want to run inside the box.
If the linebacker to our right was inside the box, we would want to attack the perimeter to that side where we have leverage.
What if the defense came out in a 1 high look? Now you will get a six man box with inverts leveraging your #2 receiver. In this case we would want to "read" a defender in the box to account for all six defensive players. We can add a triple option phase with the bubble player, which adds more pressure do the defense.
And here is a video clip of our inside zone read with a triple option component. They inverted their secondary to move a 6th player into the box, while playing cover 3.

The "cowboy" tag tells the number 2 receiver he will become the pitch man. Rather than having him block the outside linebacker, the cowboy tag allows you to pitch off the outside backer. Better yet, build your RPO concept into your run play and the "cowboy" component is built in. With a one word call you can communicate the run and pass concept. Your offensive line blocks the run. The QB determines whether you throw the quick concept or execute the run. If he executes the run and gets a pull read, he can still throw the quick game concept. 

As I look to put a game plan together, I want to know where we can find leverage and numbers. From there, we ask ourselves where we have a personnel advantage. I script the first 15 plays, with an eye to look at formations we feel give us an advantage. Once we find something we can take advantage of, we begin to hammer away. We faced a team about 12 years ago that ran a 4-4, and consistently had a 6 man box versus our two back sets. We ran our isolation play 22 times in the second half. At one point, we ran the iso 9 straight plays on a 12 play scoring drive. 

If you want to improve your offense, make sure the play called gives you leverage and numbers, giving you green grass. This will increase the number of explosive plays you have, which means more points on the scoreboard. 

A big part of winning the battle for leverage is incorporating RPO's into your offense. I wrote a new book on RPO's that is available as an ibook for the iPad, iPhone, and Mac. It is also available for the Kindle. 
A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here:

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

One of the keys to our success was tremendous preparation!The key to  preparation was our outstanding group of documents we used for all three phases. If you are looking for fully editable and customizable documents that you can tailor to your program, I have made mine available. 

Here is a link to my offensive game planning documents:
It includes everything from a scouting report template, to practice plans, to a two-sided color call sheet, and more! Each of the nine documents are fully editable and customizable! Order today for under $15 and download them tonight!

Here is a link to the defensive game planning documents. It includes 12 fully editable and customizable documents.

And finally, I put together a special teams resource. This has everything you need, included drill tape, practice tape, and game footage. It includes teaching presentations and scouting forms just for special teams!


  1. Coach Vint,

    What software did you draw those football plays on? It looks great

    1. It was called 3D Chalkboard, and they no longer are in business.