Sure, gap schemes are a mainstay in most offensive packages, but how many coaches are pairing them with front side quick screens, backside choice routes, quarterback keep reads and pop passes all built in? What may seem like a complicated process for the quarterback, it’s what Lee Weber, the head coach at Wamego High School calls the “quintessential packaged play” because it makes the defense defend every inch of the field. In this exclusive clinic report, Coach Weber writes about how he compartmentalizes his gap run concept to identify and take advantage of weaknesses in defensive scheme, leverage, space and alignment. Read the report.
By Lee Weber, CSCS
Head Football Coach
Wamego High School (KS)
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In my recent change in coaching positions, I decide that I needed to reinvent my offensive philosophy. I evaluated the talent that we would inherit at my new school as well as the type of athletes that projected to be in my program in the next ten years. From the research we completed, especially here at XandOLabs.com, we devised a simpler no huddle offensive structure based on spread concepts married gap run schemes with trickeration and window dressing ran at a high rate of speed.
This approach allowed us to cater to the sheer number of talented skill players that we would have to put on the field. It also kept the same physicality, but updated my philosophy of outnumbering the defense at the point of attack and making every defender accountable to be run at a more modern tempo and spread formations.
One of the base plays in our offensive arsenal is what we call “River/Lake.” This concept incorporates an inside gap run with pre-snap quick game/screens and a post-snap run-pass-option. To best illustrate this concept, I think it is best to see it through our quarterback’s perspective.
In short, we are compartmentalizing four areas of your defense so we can identify weaknesses in scheme, leverage, space, or alignment and then attacking that with one of five choices:
- Front side quick screen
- Backside choice route
- Tailback gap run
- Quarterback read keep
- Pop pass
It is the quintessential packaged play. We break down your defense in four zones to read and then exploit the advantage that you afford us. It truly makes the defense defend every inch of the field.
We can run a variety of formations, but typically run only 2 x 2 and 3 x 1 sets with the alignment rules as follows:
Most spread offenses include some version of inside zone, but we do not. Our bread and butter inside run is a gap run that we call River (Right Inside Run) and Lake (Left Inside Run.) We like our plays to be called by one or two words so that we can run them as quickly as possible.
A quick rundown of the scheme:
Playside Tackle: Base blocks end man on the line of scrimmage. Widen an outside charge and wash down any inside stunts.
Playside Guard: Down-Gap-Backer
Center: Back block for the pulling guard
Backside Guard: Skip pull (Wrong foot pull) and wrap to first inside backer playside
Backside Tackle: Step hinge. Looking for threat to his inside gap.
Our running back aligned behind the backside guard and one yard deeper than the QB (his heels are at 5 yards.) He J-steps, takes a soft squeeze of the football until he knows the QB is giving it, and presses the A gap playside. His technique when he presses the A is “Bang, Bend, or Bounce.” We attack the A gap to get the linebacker to fill and get caught in the trash of down blocks as well as set him up to be blocked by our guard wrapping. We want our back to read green grass and follow that pulling guard if at all possible. He has the option to bend it back or bounce it if he doesn’t see green grass.
Our quarterback drop steps forward with his playside foot and pivots to look directly at the backside defensive end. He presents the ball for the running back to mesh with. It is the running back’s job to make the mesh point right and run through the QB’s hands. As I said before, our quarterback is never wrong and he is absolutely never wrong if he gives the ball to the back on River or Lake. He has the option to pull if the DE collapses into our backside tackle’s step hinge. We coach the quarterback and the back that once the ball passes the quarterback’s playside hip then the back should take the ball. Before that point, it is a soft squeeze with the option to pull it.
Attacking Different Defensive Structures
We categorize the defenses we see into even and odd fronts, number of players in the box, and coverage shells to teach our quarterbacks how to attack the defense using the four concepts in our River/Lake Scheme.
Beyond finding that 11th man, our other biggest concern is number of players in the box. If we outnumber the defense in the box, then our quarterbacks should be giving the ball to our tailback on our River/Lake gap run. When defenses begin to play with 6 or 7 in the box then we resort to our pre-snap reads and Coke concept.
Our first priority is to get players out of the box so we can run the football. So if the overhang player to our Z’s side is attached to the box (within 1-2 yards) then we are throwing the bubble off a pre-snap read until he plays over top or outside leverage of our Z. We do this regardless of the defensive structure. We want to those overhang players out of the box.
In the inside gap run scheme of this play design, we prefer to run the ball away from the shade nose in a even front. That allows our center to have an easy block back and a quick pull for our backside guard. That said, we feel comfortable running the ball to either side of an even front and especially either side of an odd front. An odd front such as a 3-4 or 3-3 Stack allow us to get a double team at the point of attack which we really like.
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- SCAN pre-snap system that Coach Weber teaches his quarterback to find the “11th man,” the overhang or alley defender that can impede the run game.
- Perimeter blocking structure, including his “cruise” block fundamentals, that he teaches his receivers for his play side bubble concepts.
- 3 options he’ll use for his backside gift concept, depending on the leverage and cushion of the corner.
- Built-in “Coke” call Coach Weber will use to hold the backside alley player in gap run schemes.
- Plus a narrated tutorial by Coach Weber on this concept as well as raw game footage.
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The complexity of this play makes it difficult to defend. It was our most successful concept this past season and the only run scheme we used in our playoff run beyond jet sweep and speed option. While the concepts may seem complex for your players to learn, we found that the part-whole method along with a structure of simple rules made it extremely effective. Our quarterback treats the whole play as a sequence: Bubble Read, Gift Read, Cadence, Give Read, Pop Pass Read. When you break that complex task into parts and it is drilled with good coaching and fundamentals, then it can be run and run well.
Please contact me with any questions or especially any ideas that we could incorporate to make this scheme better!
Meet Coach Lee Weber: Coach Weber is a 15-year veteran head football coach with stops at four schools in Kansas: Plainville, Mission Valley, Council Grove, and currently Wamego. He was the Flint Hills Area Coach of the Year in 2015. He is the winningest coach in Mission Valley and Flint Hills League history. His two seasons at Council Grove saw the first back to back winning seasons in 26 years of Council Grove. His Wamego Red Raiders won their first play-off game in 7 years and their first Regional Championship in 40 years in 2015, his first year at the helm. Coach Weber played collegiately at Fort Hays State University.