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Author Information

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

Your Quarterback and the Decision Making Process: Pre-Snap Decisions

Previously I wrote about your quarterback and the decision making process. No matter the field of study it’s vital that the learner in any case, the quarterback in this case in particular obtain background knowledge on the subject. When executing this offense on any Friday night, the quarterback must be able to understand what he is looking at from the defense. In order to do this the quarterback must fully understand his pre-snap reads. Only when his pre-snap reads are correct, can we expect his post-snap execution to be adequate. 

Let’s examine what pre-snap identification and reads the quarterback must make before getting into his cadence. The triple option is the staple of your offense. When running triple option there are requirements of the quarterback, that he must do before the ball is snapped. They are as follows:

slideshow_1281428_gatech.0927_9Triple Option Pre-Snap Identification

#1=Read Key– First man in a 4i out on the line of scrimmage; The PST will make a call distinguishing a 3-tech from a 4I. The quarterback must hear this call being made. 

#2=Pitch Key- Next man out from #1 either on or off the line of scrimmage; The PST will make a call to determine if this is player is the playside linebacker. 

#3=Support Player-  This is the player who is responsible for the pitchback. The A-Back will be responsible for blocking this player unless a tag is called changing his responsibility. 

NDD=Near Deep Defender- This is the secondary player responsible for covering the wide receiver on a vertical release from the line of scrimmage. This player is cancelled/blocked by the wide receiver and not considered part of the count. 

It is imperative that the quarterback be able to identify these four players to each side before the ball is snapped. It is of course of utmost importance when running triple option. The quarterback and the offense cannot execute triple option effectively if these players aren’t identified. A future article we discuss the perimeter of the defense.

GDMD_FileThe quarterback must do the following:

Come to the line of scrimmage expecting a different front from the previous snap and use the simplicity of our count system to assist you. Defenses can play in patterns, but you could also face a defense that changes their alignment constantly from play to play. We faced one in week five this season. 

As the quarterback approaches the line of scrimmage, each tackle will make a technique call to help you with the identification of #1 and make an “in” or “out” call to tell you if the linebacker in his area is a part of the count. The quarterback must hear each call

Treat each play wholly separate from the play or plays run previously. This will prevent quarterbacks from guessing on their reads. If quarterbacks prepare themselves mentally to accurately make each read irregardless of the last play, they will see their total number of missed reads decrease. This will lead to more confidence in their play and more production from the position.

There are times the quarterback will be asked to change the play or check the play to the correct side. To do so, the quarterback must understand numbers, and where to gain the advantage. The quarterback must understand leverage and where the blocking angles are best for each play. The quarterback must also understand field position, whether it’s hash placement or distance to or from the goal line, and how the defense may play differently based on those scenarios. 

gqsbgjh3w06x983vUnderstand Numbers

The quarterback must understand how the defense will align to him. If the offense aligns balanced, the defense should align balanced. If the defense aligns in an unbalanced manner, the quarterback must recognize that the offense has a numbers advantage the other way. The easiest way to recognize this numbers advantage is against 8-man fronts. If the free safety moves out of the middle of the formation, the offense will have a numbers advantage to the opposite side.

Against 7-man fronts it may be a bit more difficult to locate a numbers advantage. In many cases against a 7-man front team, they will displace a safety from the secondary structure. Like 8-man fronts, it’s usually the secondary that will tip the hand of the defense. The other situation where a defense could align unbalanced with a 7-man front is by deploying three defensive lineman (IE 1-5-9) to one side of the defense and (IE 3-5) to the other side. We instruct our quarterback to recognize these differences. You should too.

College Football- Navy vs Georgia SouthernUnderstand Leverage

In addition to understanding numbers, the quarterback must understand leverage. If you are running triple option, where is the biggest window to run the ball to? Do they have a 3-5 to one side and a 1-5 to the other? If they are a  4-3 defense, is one linebacker removed from the box? Did the defense widen the pitch key from the quarterback? if they have two linebackers in the box like a 4-4 team, is one in a stacked position and the other in the A-gap?

If you align in an unbalanced formation, what is the defensive adjustment? Are they matching your numbers, or are they staying in their same base alignment? If they are adjusting to your adjustment, are they displacing someone else? Some of these questions will need to be answered by you or your staff, but depending on the play called, the quarterback must be able to identify those leverage advantages when the play dictates he do so. It is your job as a coach to make sure he can accomplish this task.

FrontPage102613fbUnderstand Field Position

Lastly, the quarterback needs to understand where he is on the field before the snap. Is the defense shading to the field? Are they likely to play more man coverage in the red-zone. Are they giving you an overhang player to the field. Are they playing a 4-3 Monster scheme? What about the alignment of the defensive linemen in relation to the position on the field? Like the leverage situations your team may encounter, if your quarterback understands where he is on the field; what to expect in certain field positions, he will be able to retain mental composure and lead your team to the endzone more consistently than a quarterback that cannot recognize these things.

There are many coaches who are tempted to try to put their best athlete at quarterback. I don’t think that’s a bad idea, but the player you put there has to have the smarts and composure to be able to handle what you are going to put on him. If your best athlete can’t handle the mental aspect of the position you are going to meet more frustration than you care for. Put yourself in the best possible situation next season. Be fully prepared on your next friday night.

Feature Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Nesbitt Photo: Johnny Crawford AJC

Ricky Dobbs Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

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  1. Flexbone Triple Option 101 | Flexbone Association - July 11, 2014

    […] 5. Understand (Numbers, Leverage and Field Position) […]

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