Run the entire system
When installing an offense you must prioritize what’s important for your program. In order to succeed with the Flexbone you must make it systematic. Outside of having superior talent you are not running an optimal attack if it’s not systematic. I’ve said it before; although I don’t prefer other offenses I appreciate offenses like the Wing-T and the Air Raid because they are systematic attacks. If you are willing to run the entire Flexbone System, it means you have to be perfect at executing 12/13, the most important play in the offense.
1- The quarterback reads #1 and #2 accurately, simultaneously
I’ve seen teams win if their quarterback didn’t read well but these teams played great defense and had tremendous talent on offense. They won despite their execution, not because of it. For the rest of us, you will optimize results if your quarterback can and does make accurate reads on #1 and #2 simultaneously. The quarterback is an extension of you. Coach him properly.
2- The B-Back bends behind the action key when the action key impedes the dive path
Making your B-Back read the action key is just one small technique that will lead to more yards over the course of the season. Old-school triple option attacks had the B-Back slam it into the B-Gap no matter what. It was a brute force solution to football. Coach smarter not harder, make this one small adjustment for your B-Backs and reap the benefits. Teaching it can be incorporated into other drills.
3- The Center and Playside Tackle knee bend and vertically move on the veer release
Athletic linemen are a must. I know many small schools like the offense because of their lack of talent. This doesn’t mean put the slow wide receivers on the O-Line. If your linemen can bend and move they can be successful. Take the fat kids and send them over to defense. They do us no good. Some of the best O-Linemen I’ve ever had in this offense were between 200-220 pounds, but they could all bend, they all could move and they were good athletes.
Get them moving vertical. Vertical movement is vital to success on the O-line. Every drill I run involves the O-line moving downfield. Have them finish blocks and sprint downfield. Clearing the read key is the most important thing the tackle can do to make the play successful. This makes it easier for the QB.
4- The Backside Linemen scoop the next man over
The linemen away from the play must scoop on the backside. This cuts off pursuit and gives the B-Back creases to run when the ball is cut back. It also demoralized the opposing d-line if they are constantly getting cut on the backside of the play.
5- The Playside A-Back identifies and gets to the leverage point on #3
Many teams don’t really care about identifying #3 or making sure he’s blocked. This is the most important job the A-Back has in the offense. Reinforce your A-Back between each series and take his feedback. He will tell you where #3 is if you coach him how to identify him.
6- The Backside A-Back’s post-snap speed to parallel path on the pitch route
When I look at film of teams struggling to move the ball with the Flexbone, one common issue is the A-Back is not running a parallel pitch path with the QB. This will also help keep the QB clean and put the maximum amount of stress on the defense. The ball must be pitched parallel. If it’s pitched backwards the defense can run downhill to the ball. 5×1 is the proper pitch relationship
7- Make sure the Quarterback Replaces the Read
Another issue I see often is the QB gets stretched too far to the sideline and doesn’t attack north and south. Your quarterback must be instructed to replace the read when he’s running triple option. This is something I’ve added to every drill we run. If its reinforced it will become second nature.
8- Manage the interior defenders
This article touches on some problems with the offensive line. We teach the interior O-Line if we can block the three guys inside the read our job is done. We do this by running a 3 on 3 drill a few times a week in practice. We want to show them every single look we think we could ever see on Friday nights. This will give them a familiarity with anything they could see and a comfort level that they can handle those looks. If the techniques are executed with precision your offense will have a chance. Keep the playside A-gap player out of the QB’s lap.
9- Love your playside receiver
But only love him if he is working in coordination with the A-Back at identifying who has to block which player in the count. We have signals/calls between the A-Back and Wide Receiver so we are always on the same page during the game. We run a perimeter blocking period with these two players a few times a week in practice. If they hesitate when blocking make them the kicker or punter. “No Block, No Rock”
10- Backside Wide Receiver’s urgency on backside cutoff block
This is something that’s often overlooked. The backside receivers cut off block almost never matters to the outcome of the play, but when it does matter is when a touchdown might be scored. If the ball breaks into the open on the frontside it’s this last defender that needs to be accounted for so a 35 yard gain becomes a 70 yard touchdown. Make sure this is being done during practice, don’t overlook it.