PPOs are gaining steam and this simple screen concept is a great addition to your RPO catelog. Read more here...
By Kevin Wallace
R.B. Glenn High School (Kernersville, NC)
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Our tailback screen has proven to be one of our most efficient and explosive plays over the past 4 years. This past season, we averaged an explosive play (16+ yards) 20% of the time that we ran this play. As a result, this has been a staple in our offense.
We use screen plays on any down and anywhere on the field. It is also used as part on an RPO, or more accurately, a Pass-Pass Option play. Our no-huddle, up-tempo style of offense benefits tremendously from the running back screen game and the PPO off of it.
Our offense is mainly a 10 and 11 personnel based offense that adapts to our talent from year to year. We practice screens in a half-line version during the in-season every day. These screens are paired with our smoke and bubble screens, which we tag to nearly 95% of our run plays.
This is not a slow screen to the running back. We want the running back to align behind the play side guard. On the snap, the running back will take 3 steps forward stepping with his inside foot first. As he moves forward, his eyes are focused on the play side guard’s backside. This should put the running back about 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. When the play side guard releases, the running back will turn and run to the sideline and catch the ball over his outside shoulder. He will then read off his blocks.
We will mix up the back’s alignment during the season and put the running back opposite the call side to break tendencies. Each year, we start by installing this screen out of a 2 x 2 set (usually run to the field). From there, we install it out of our 3 x 1 formation that we run a lot in the red zone and on the goal line.
Once the quarterback takes the snap, he will eye down the first linebacker inside the box to the play side. The quarterback will “skate out” depending on the block of the playside tackle. He is looking to find a path to deliver the football to the running back. This path could be under the or over the top of the tackle. We teach the quarterback to run to the sideline until he has a clear path to deliver the football to the running back. We emphasize to “never throw over a defensive player.”
We talk about finding the hole to throw, we compare it to a hockey player taking a penalty shot. The farther away the player is from the target, the less room it looks like to score in hockey. It looks like the goalie is taking up the entire goal. This is similar to dropping back away from the defensive end. The defensive end looks like he is taking up all the windows for the quarterback to deliver the football. Instead, we want the quarterback to find a lane and deliver the ball to the running back. There are times that the quarterback will run and deliver the football to the running back near the sidelines. We coach the quarterback to not throw the ball away until he is near the sideline.
In our 2 x 2 formation, the slot is responsible for the crack block as in Diagram 3. In Diagram 4, the screen is shown out of a 3 x 1 formation and the single wide receiver will crack the linebacker. We send two guys for the #1 linebacker because he is the most immediate threat to making the tackle on the play. Like any staple in an offense, you must create ways to “window wash” the play and protect it. We use motion and align the running back on an opposite side. This is not ideal but we do switch his alignment to break tendencies other coaches might be picking up on us in their preparation.
Blocking the RB Screen…
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- The offensive line’s blocking rules of the screen concept, including how Coach Wallace teaches the play side tackle to get depth and how marries the backside blocking with his half-slide protection.
- A detailed explanation of the half-line Screen Drill Coach Wallace uses to work his bubble and smoke screen concept.
- The PPO (run/pass option) concept Coach Wallace ties into his RB screen including the QB post-snap read progression.
- Plus game film on all these concepts.
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The screen game has become very useful over the years. This play has consistently been one of the most efficient and productive plays in our offense. The pass concept off of this screen has added a nice wrinkle into the screen package. I truly believe you can and need to learn from every experience. You either learn a correct way to do something or you learn a way that you feel is not the right way to handle a situation. The day you stop learning in this profession is the day people will pass you by. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
I appreciate the opportunity to share information to you about our running back screen and the “RPO” off of it that we have adapted over the years. I want to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my career, from my playing years to my coaching career. I especially want to show my gratitude towards the coaches who have helped me to learn this game and the ones who significantly impacted me during my journey in football.
Meet Coach Wallace: Kevin Wallace is the Offensive Coordinator at R.B. Glenn High School in North Carolina. This is his first year at the school. Prior to Glenn High School, he was the Offensive Coordinator at Greensboro College in Greensboro, NC for the past 3 years. He has also coached at the Apprentice School, Frostburg State, and LaSalle University, where he began coaching as a student-assistant after he was done playing.