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Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

Navy Breakdown Against Notre Dame: Second Quarter


I wrote yesterday about the tremendous gameplan and execution the Navy offense in their narrow defeat by Notre Dame on Saturday. Navy only had two drives in the first half. One resulted in a touchdown, the other ended in a punt, as the offense got themselves behind the sticks with a sack on a 1st and 10 play from their own 34 yardline. Navy found themselves trailing 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter began with Navy on defense. That changed quickly however after an interception by Parrish Gaines. The Navy offense returned to the field at their own 23 yard line.

1st and 10 on the 23

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Navy ran a little used although effective play, Counter Speed Option. Like Josh Nesbitt told the Flexbone Association back in 2011

We ran Counter Speed Option in 2008-2009 to get the ball in Jonathan Dwyer’s hands.  I liked the play because it’s about getting the ball outside—it’s one read and go!  Get around the block and get downhill. – Josh Nesbitt

The play is designed to get the ball into the hands of the B-Back on the outside, rather than sending him through the tackle box yet again. Similar to Counter Option the backside guard, in this case #57 E.K. Binns will pull and look to log the defensive end.

Backside Guard Looks to Log Defensive End

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Although there was a blocking error on the perimeter, the play resulted in a 20 yard gain by Quinton Singleton and a first down at the 43 yard line. Three plays later Navy faced another 3rd down situation. This time 3rd and 3 right at midfield. This time Navy aligned in Double Flex. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds checked the play, then Notre Dame stemmed back to a 4-man front. Reynolds once again checked the play. The play started out looking like Zone Option (which I haven’t wrote about yet, but is becoming a staple play of the offense). This time however, Navy once again changed their blocking assignments on the perimeter.

Changed Blocking Assignments on Zone Option

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Rather than blocking the perimeter just like triple option, and sending the B-Back to block the Mike-Backer and pitching off of #2, this time Navy had their flexed receiver #86 Jamir Tillman, block #2 (in the option count). The playside A-Back #26 Marcus Thomas blocked the Mike-Backer and B-Back #37 Chris Swain blocked the near deep defender. Reynolds ran his regular Zone Option path, but this time pitched off of #3 in the option count, this time Notre Dame cornerback #2 Benett Jackson. The play gained 15 and gave Navy another first down in Notre Dame territory.

Zone Option: Pitch Off #3

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Navy methodically drove the ball down to just outside the Notre Dame 10 yard line. Facing a 1st and 10, Navy aligned in their standard double slot (spread formation). Offensive Coordinator Ivin Jasper dialed up the same play that was used on the third down play just outside the red zone on the first series of the game, which I covered yesterday

1st and 10 – Triple Option

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Notre Dame aligned 2I/4 to each side, with the Mike shaded slightly to the boundary. Jasper once again had the playside tackle #62 Bradyn Heap exchange responsibilities with A-Back #21 DeBrandon Sanders. Sanders blocked the Mike-Backer #44 Carlo Calabrese. Heap blocked #3 in the option count and the boundary side receiver blocked the near deep defender, which in this case ended up being the safety. You will see in the following screen shot that the Quarterback Keenan Reynolds eyes are firmly planted on the stack look that Notre Dame showed at the snap.

Reynolds Read Give vs. The Stacked #1 and #2

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Reynolds reads give, The backside linemen, especially right guard #64 Jake Zuzek used proper backside scoop blocking technique, as coached by King of the T-Boards (Run Game Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach) Ashley Ingram. The final coaching point that made this play succesful and lead to an 11-yard touchdown run is that B-Back Chris Swain read the action key (See Below).

11-Yard Touchdown Run by Chris Swain

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Navy next received the ball at their own 25 yardline, down 17-14 with 6:18 left in the half. Navy gained two first downs and as the clock wound under 4:00 to go in the half, the faced a 1st and 10 on the Notre Dame 37 yard line. Navy ran play-action pass. 

Boundary Corner Playing Tight Coverage on 1st and 10

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As you likely notice with your own team, if a corner is playing tight coverage, that many times means that player is #3 in the option count and the safety is playing deep coverage. Navy took advantage of this scheme for a seemingly easy 12-yard gain and another first down. 

Corner Plays Pitch Leaving a Window to Throw

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When shown an option look his way the Notre Dame corner came up to take pitch. The safety flowed flat to the sideline. The secondary reaction left a window for Reynolds to connect with #81 Brandon Dudeck for a 12 yard gain. Dudeck sat in that hole, caught the ball and gave Navy another first down at the Notre Dame 25 yard line.

A few plays later Navy advanced the ball just outside the Notre Dame 11 yard line. Navy aligned in the standard double slot spread formation. Navy ran Counter Option (a play you must have in the playbook, which I’ll write about in the future) back to the field.

Counter Option Count Back to the Field

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Although the playside blocking wasn’t ideal, the linemen got just enough of the interior defensive players for Reynolds to read #2 in the count properly for keep or pitch. The defender gave him a pitch read. Reynolds pitched the ball to #29 Geoffrey Whiteside who ran the ball to the Notre Dame 3 yard line (see below).

Counter Option Pitch Phase/Perimeter Blocking

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On the next play Navy had a 2nd and 2 situation from the 3 yard line. Navy aligned in Heavy Right (Tackle Over Right). As you can see from the diagram there is only one player (other than the corner) lined up outside the over tackle. Navy runs Solid Rebel (A goaline favorite from Navy).

Heavy Right

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What they did was to use Rocket Motion from the left A-Back to control that player lined up outside the over tackle. This made that overhang player hesitate just a bit. 

Rocket Motion Used to Control Overhang Player to Run Solid Rebel

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Since the overhang player had to account for the Rocket Motion, he wasn’t in position to account for the quarterback running Solid Rebel. 

Reynolds Scores on Solid Rebel Giving Navy a 20-17 Lead

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Navy Freshman Corner #1 Brendon Clements intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees giving Navy the ball one more time with 1:57 remaining at their own 26 yard line. The Navy offense was able to move the ball to midfield before a Hail Mary pass fell to the turf as time expired. Navy took a 20-17 lead into the half, playing exactly the type of game they needed to play to win. They forced two Notre Dame turnovers. They took care of the ball themselves, used up the clock and scored touchdowns when they got inside the red zone. The second quarter saw the Navy Offense run 29 plays for 181 yards, reaching the end zone twice and putting 13 points on the scoreboard.

What stood out to me in the second quarter was their use of Counter Option; how they continued to change blocking assignments on Triple Option and Zone Option. The deft application of Rocket Motion on Solid Rebel; and the small adjustment in running Play-Action Pass to the boundary to sit in the open window.

The Flexbone Association is here to guide you to your goals as a football coach. You will begin to see the Flexbone Offense as a system based attack that will give you a chance to move the ball on anyone. To serve our clients going forward, our products (Flexbone Association Academy, and Flexbone Association Camps) are now more accessible than ever. Don’t be held back by what-ifs. Contact The Flexbone Association today! Check back for the 3rd quarter analysis tomorrow.

Photo: AP

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