Lake Erie University finished the 2013 season as the second best offense in Division 2, averaging 551 yards per game, and many of these yards came off the boot action of its zone run scheme. LEU offensive coordinator Gerald Hazzard takes you through game week on how he prepares his PAP’s.
Every Sunday when we start to breakdown our next opponent our top priority is to make sure that we are able to run our zone schemes against all of the fronts they show on film. We will divide the film we are watching up by formation and make sure we look at each clip that our opponent has played during the season. Once we have established that we can run our zone schemes against the looks that are on the film we will next determine what formations are the most advantageous to use. This step may lead us to use the same formations we have been using all year or it may lead us insert new formations for the week. This is a great way to broaden your attack and keep the defense on their heels. Our next step in game planning is to make sure that we have at least one play action pass off of each of our zone looks. It is our general philosophy to keep our run/pass ratio as close to 50/50 as we can. Having a diverse play action package goes a long way to helping us accomplish that goal.
Main Objectives in Game Planning PAP’s
When we designed our zone play action package we had three main objectives in mind. The first objective is to take advantage of the reaction of the second level defenders and complete quick passes to skill guys in space. We will run zone 35-40 times a game if we can. Second level defenders have to respect our commitment to running zone and are often caught out of position against a quick throw. Our tight end and our slot receivers are our main targets in our quick hitting play action plays because defenders get caught up in run flow so often they lose their responsibilities in the pass game.
Our second objective in our zone play action package is to attack a specific coverage with a route combination that is designed to beat it. When we go thru the formation portion of our game plan one of the defensive tendencies we are looking for is how often they play certain coverages against a specific formation. For example if we know we are going to get cover 3 when we line up in a certain formation we will run curl/flat off of a zone fake. Curl/flat is a good route combination to use against cover 3 but when you add in a strong run look it can be even more successful because of the added reaction from the second level defenders. Against quarters coverage we like to run a 12-14 speed bend by #2 with a post behind it by #1. The speed bend will get the attention of the quarters safety and we should be one on one to the post. I like this concept even more if we see that a team plays outside leverage with their corners.
To see cutups of the Speed Bend concept, click on the link below:
INSERT SPEED BEND CUTUP- BLUE P
Protection Technique and Rules
We use traditional bootleg protection for the vast majority of our play actions. We will have our attack side tackle take responsibility for the play side B gap. If there is a defender lined up in the B gap presnap he is going to take a 2 O’clock step and down block him. If there is no one lined up in the B gap presnap he will take his zone steps into the gap and be ready for anything that shows. Our attack side guard is responsible for the play side A gap. He has the same rule as our tackle. He will down block a defender that is lined up in the A gap or zone step into the A gap if no defender is there presnap. Our center is responsible for backside A gap. His rule is the same as our play side tackle and play side guard. Our back side guard is going to pull to the attack side. His assignment is to log the end man on the line of scrimmage. When he pulls he is going to use what we call the 2 ½ yard rule. If the end man on the line of scrimmage is deeper than 2 ½ yards he will kick him out instead of logging him. Our back side tackle will have one assignment if there is a three technique to his side, and another assignment if the tight shade is to his side. He will down block the three technique if he is there. If he is not there he will zone block the five technique that is on him.
Our tailback will be tied into the protection. He is responsible for identifying if there is a defender in the B gap on the back side. (the side he is faking to) If there is a defender in the B gap our backside tackle will down block it. The tailback will come right off his butt and block the five technique inside out. We encourage our tailbacks to cut block the five technique in this situation. If there is no defender in the B gap on the back side, the tailback will come off of his play fake and plug the B gap. He is looking for a blitzer or a stunting lineman that our offensive line did not handle. If no defender shows he will slide to the outside to protect against an outside blitz.
It is important for our quarterback to understand what version of play action we are using. We will do the best we can to vary our formations, motions, and where the routes are coming from. It is also very important for our quarterback to be comfortable making quick decisions. When we are running our quick hitting play actions the window to hit routes in the middle of the defense has to be anticipated and for the most part will not stay open for long. The quarterback must make great decisions when throwing the football but also realize that there is a great opportunity to run with the football when the routes are covered. Many times the defense is going to bite on the fake, then scramble to cover the routes. That can lead to great running lanes if nothing is open.
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- Which specific routes he targets to attack certain coverages.
- The vertical seam he adjustment he tags to negate zone pressures.
- Lake Erie’s bootleg couch concept, which he uses against two-deep coverage concepts.
- Plus game film on all these concepts.
We will call play action plays in many different situations. Run downs and short yardage are two situations that can be very effective but we have also found that calling play action on 3rd and medium and long can be very effective. Especially if you know what coverage you are going to see. Second level defenders will still respect a play fake on third and long. I’ve never seen a linebacker run away from a running back coming at him. Another situation that has been great for us calling play action plays is when we are backed up. When you are inside your own 5-yard line the defense is going to be thinking about getting a safety. This is when you will get tight safeties, one on one match ups, and over aggressive linebackers. Take advantage of it!