What is college coaches do if they are forced to wait ten seconds to snap the ball? You can bet they will use more combination plays and check systems. See how Coach Wilkerson has utilized different check with me options to maintain control of the defense.
By Jay Wilkinson
Broken Arrow High School (OK)
Insiders Members: This article was part of our extensive No Huddle Special Report. To view more content like this in that report, click here.
How many times have you reviewed film the day after the game and said that a play you called was dead before it started because of the defensive look you got? The freeze and check with me methods are a way to eliminate dead play calls. We use the freeze and check with me methods to take a quick picture of how the defense is lining up and making the best play call we have versus that look. Some of our biggest plays have come from these methods.
On its most basic level, the "Check with Me" concept allows an offense to make the play call or change the play at the line of scrimmage. We have two different ways that we have this built into our offense. Here is a more in-depth look at each concept:
When using the freeze concept, we will signal in the formation and no play. The QB will go through the pre snap process and signal for the snap. If we don't draw the defense offsides, then we will call a play from the sidelines. This allows us to look over the defense and call a play based on the look we are getting.
Want more on the "Freeze Concept? Make sure you access our full No Huddle Special Report!
The check starts with us calling a formation and a play and tag check to it. The QB will dummy signal for the snap and look to the sidelines. If we like the play called, we will leave it on and the QB will call for the snap and run the play. If we don't like the play we have called, we will tell the QB to erase it. He will then tell the team to look to the sidelines to get the new play and we will signal the new play and run it.
We prefer this method as opposed to the fast as you can model because it helps us from running a play into a look we can't be successful against. We do have some plays that we feel like we can run vs. any look. We include this plays in our fastest tempo mode.
We have found that checking at the line of scrimmage gives us many advantages. It allows us to look at the defense and call a play based on the look we are getting. For example, if it is 3rd and 7 and we don't know if we are going to get base defense or coverage. We can freeze it, see how the defense is going to play us, then call a play that give us a chance to be successful. Similarly, if we want to run the zone at the 3 technique, we can call zone right and tag check. If the 3 technique is on the left, we can just flip the play.
Building either or both of these check concepts into your system is really just a matter of mechanics. We use our normal play calling as the base and build from here. Here is what our kids expect to see on a normal play:
When we go to "Freeze," we hold a similar rhythm but add the check with me portion into the timeline. Here is what that might look like in our system:
The same concept is applied when we use the check system. Here is what that timeline looks like:
At first glance, this may seem like a lot. When you watch the film, I think it becomes more clear just how quickly this all happens. The key is that in the end we are able to better employ our game plan because we have these concepts in place leading to more success.
It is imperative that the play caller has to react quickly to what he is seeing. It is important to know the looks you don't want to run the play into and what the alternative call it. Have to keep in mind that the defense can always change as well.
We make sure that we are prepared for different eventualities that we will encounter by the way that we set up our gameplan. This concept was outlined in detail a few months back on X&O Labs. Click the links below to read the article and download our game preparation files.
(Note: Click here to download an editable version. You can also view his earlier article, Packaging Plays for Success here.
It is important to have multiple check and freeze signals. Defensive coaches are always trying to pick your signals, so you need to have multiple ways to signal your check and freeze signals. If they pick them, then they simply won't call a defense until they know you are running a play.
The amount that we use these concepts varies game by game. A lot of it depends on how comfortable we feel with the looks we are getting. If a team is really changing their looks a bunch, then we have a tendency to use it quite a bit. If they line up the same way the majority of the time, then we may not use it much.
Want additional tips and coaching points to help your No Huddle? Click here to access our full No Huddle Special Report!
The no huddle has many advantages as have been discussed in other parts of this report. We have found that the "check with me" concepts discussed in this article allow us to truly maximize the potential of the no huddle and run good plays more often. While this might fly in the face of the "go as fast as you can" no huddle mentality, the success that we and others have had with this method shows that sometimes good things come to those who slow down.
Thanks coach. Nice read. Definitely like the upside. Couple questions. 1- How did this affect pre-snap penalties when first implemented? 2- On average, how many snaps per game on O do you get?
Again, thanks for the read.