Monday, January 25, 2016

Implementing RPO Concepts

Back about 15 years ago we started to experiment with RPO concepts. RPO stands simply for Run-Pass-Option. We were talking about how we would call a run and the defense would load the box. The corner over our single WR, however, was playing 8 yards off the ball with no underneath help. I really wish we had called a stop route.

Fast forward a couple of years and we were playing a team that was crowding the box again when we were in 2x2 sets. They were playing cover 3, with the OLB's playing 1x1 on our tackles. Below is a diagram that shows the defensive alignment.

We built in some uncovered rules, and told the QB to alert "BOZO" if the defense showed this alignment. We would rise up and throw to the #2 WR. Regardless of what the play call was, if the defense showed this look we would check BOZO. This worked well, and eventually the defense adjusted and started to cover our #2 receivers. 

During our off-season meetings we started to talk about building quick game concepts into the call. We began to tag our run concepts with a quick game concept. Once we saw the defense was not honoring our perimeter skill players, we would tag the quick game concept. If we tagged it, we were telling the quarterback to throw it. The QB would fake the run and throw the quick. This was great until we added the tag and the defense lined up to take the quick game concept away. Below shows the defense aligned to take away the bubble.
We told our quarterback, if we tag it, you throw it. Our bubble screen got hit in the mouth. This was not very good. At some point we saw a coach at a clinic mention they were having their quarterback make a pre-snap determination of whether he would throw or run based on defensive alignment. This, to me, was very intelligent. From here, our RPO system was born.

We would build in pass concepts to our runs, and if the defense lined up to take the run, we would throw the pass. If the defense lined up to take the pass away, run the ball. There is nothing magical about this approach. It was sound in principal and in practice. 

When we implemented this initially there were some growing pains. We learned we had to have specific criteria of when to throw and when to run. We had to determine how we would communicate our concepts. We had to train our quarterbacks to be able to make a good pre-snap determination. We also had to make sure we had the "right" guy at quarterback. We couldn't have a guy who was selfish. We had to have someone who would be able to make the right read because it was the right read.
Below is an example of a simple RPO concept off our inside zone read. 

Over the last few years we have greatly expanded our RPO package. Every run now has a pass. When we call the run we are calling the pass. This has greatly helped our offense to be more explosive and more balanced. It has forced the defense to defend the entire width of the field while having to remain gap sound. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit was the fact that we could get our skill players the ball in open space. The touches for our X and Z receivers increased tremendously. Below is an example of our inside zone read concept before we implemented our RPO concepts.
If our QB got a pull read we had to hope our #2 WR was able to block the OLB. If the OLB blitzed from depth or walked up late, our QB basically had to give the ball regardless of what the defensive end did. Our quarterback got hit in the mouth more than once. 

Once we added our RPO concept, if the OLB did not honor our #2 WR, we simply threw the tagged quick game concept. This allowed us to have a high percentage throw the protect the run. Below is a diagram of the same concept with the built in RPO.

If the outside linebacker aligned over our #2 WR, we would execute the run. If the OLB aligned inside our #2 WR, we would throw the quick concept. The QB would catch and throw. If we executed the run and got a pull read, we still had to deal with the backer. The QB would replace the read and get his eyes on the OLB. If the OLB widened, the QB would keep. If the OLB attacked him, he would throw the ball to the #1 WR, illustrated in the diagram below.

Essentially we were playing triple option football, just with a twist. And if you consider our pre-snap process, we would playing quadruple option football. The quarterback could throw the quick game pre-snap based on alignment. If you look to the tight end side, our Z WR is running a stop route. If the defense gave us the stop route, the QB could throw that as well based on pre-snap alignment.

This is just one example simple quick game concept that can be built into a base run play to give you a manageable RPO. You can implement this in a couple of days of practice time, and it will lead to some explosive plays. We now have a multitude of RPO concepts in our offense. 

A couple of questions I get are: Do we have lineman downfield? At times we do, but this is a concept thrown just behind the LOS, so we can have lineman downfield. Does our QB ever mess up the read? They do, but more often than not they are conservative on throwing the quick concept pre-snap. 

We complete this concept at a 98% completion rate, and we average over 6.8 yards every time we throw it. It is essentially a toss sweep to a good athlete. It has helped greatly to improve our run game as well.

After speaking at clinics on RPO concepts for several years, and helping several schools install RPO concepts into their offenses, I decided to write a book. It is available on both ibooks and on Windows and Android based systems through the Kindle App.

The book covers everything you need to implement RPO's into your offense. Whether you want to add RPO concepts to your entire run game, or you want to start with one or two simple concepts, this book will show you how to do so with confidence. I cover everything from pre-snap to 2nd and 3rd level post snap concepts and reads. The book is written with a very systematic process to installing RPO's. Regardless of your system, this book will give you a method and a plan.

The apple version on ibooks has video embedded. Their are clips of all of our RPO concepts. The Kindle version has everything but the video clips. Both books are chalk full of diagrams and explanation. The biggest thing is that this book is a manual with a very systematic process of installing RPO's into your system. 

Here is a link to the ibooks version: These iBooks are truly innovative as the video brings the concept to life. If you have an iPad or iPhone, or a Mac, this is the way to go. 

If you don't have an apple device, you can order the paperback version! It is available on Amazon!

Here is a link to the Kindle version for all Android and Windows devices:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Using Tempo to Create Explosive Plays!

Offensive coordinators are always striving for new ways to gain an advantage over the defense. We go to clinics and visit coaching staffs trying to find new ways to gain more yards and score more points. One very important area that has helped the evolution of football is tempo. Over the last ten years we have seen a significant increase in the number of teams who use elements of tempo in their offense.

Back about 15 years ago I began my own experiment with tempo. We were getting ready to play a team that had us physically overmatched. They were better than us up front. They were faster than us in the secondary. They had dominated everyone they played. We decided to play at Nascar Tempo for entire drives. We were in the I Formation for the most part, and we were option based. We did jump in the gun to run our zone read concepts, but our identity was being in the I and running the ball.

In the first quarter we ran 30 plays and racked up over 180 yards on the ground. We had two drives that started inside our own 10 yardline. We were able to consistently move the football. As soon as the play ended we were sprinting to the line and getting set. We were going as fast as we could and the defense was lost. They couldn't communicate their fronts and coverages. They couldn't get lined up properly. Despite being overmatched we were able to consistently move the ball. Our tempo system was born.

"We ran 30 plays in the first quarter and racked up over 180 yards on the ground!"

The second tempo we added was our Freeze or Look tempo. We are going to make it look like we are going to run a play at Nascar Tempo. We would sprint to the line and the quarterback would say, "ready go." If the defense jumps we snap the ball and run verticals. We essentially get a free play. If the defense doesn't jump the quarterback says, "easy-easy look-look." The offense looks over and we signal to them the play we are going to run. When we use the freeze/look mode I have a chance to look at the defense and call a play based on how they are lined up. I found I called a better game when I could see how the defense lined up each play.

We then added four more tempos to our offense. Playing fast is great, we like to do it, but the defense will adapt to whatever speed you play. If you play fast, the defense will get acclimated and play fast. If you play slow, the defense will get acclimated. But if you change tempos the defense will not be able to settle into a comfort zone. Each tempo we added had a specific purpose, and the defense never knew when we were going to run a specific tempo. We are able to change speeds from one play to the next. Because we can play fast every snap if we want to, the defense must prepare that way. They must get their call in immediately, regardless of what speed we actually go.

Adding an element of tempo has helped us to become much more explosive on offense. When we change speeds we have more explosive plays than when we play one speed. The biggest mistake I have made is slowing down when we had injuries and trying to shorten the game. When we did this we sacrificed effectiveness on offense. We eliminated what might have been the most dynamic part of our offensive system.

Coaches ask me about tempo and how we implement it into our system, and I decided to write a book about it. There really wasn't a book that gave a systematic approach to building a multiple tempo system into an offense. This book I wrote talks about how to incorporate tempo into any offense. It gives you a process that can easily be adapted to anything you might do. What is special abut this book is that it contains video! It is built on Apple's Ibooks platform. The downside is that it can only be viewed on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. I also have version for the Kindle with text and pictures! There is no video on the Kindle version.

I shared the book with a few close friends in coaching, and they believe this is one of the best pieces of information available on tempo! It takes you through a simple process for each of our tempos, and how you can fit them into your system. Whether you are running a wing-t system and huddling, or you are an Air Raid team, you can benefit from what I talk about in the book.

One very important aspect of the book is the price. I wanted it to be affordable to coaches. There may not be a better value out there!

Here are a couple of screenshots from the book:

The book includes over an over of video clips so you can see each tempo in action! I include practice footage as well, so you can see how we teach and install each tempo! And, I show you how you can build picture boards as one method of communication! I also take you through a simple communication system you can use to implement tempo into your offense!

If you are looking to learn more about tempo, this is a book you NEED to purchase! Here is a link to the book:

Here is a link to the Amazon Kindle Version:

This book will give you something you can use with you program!

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!