While Run/Pass Options continue to be a popular method to manipulate and control extra defensive run fitters, other coaches, like Casey Miller at Herriman High School (UT), have found alternatives to run the football against loaded run boxes. In this exclusive clinic report, Coach Miller details five different ways in which he is able to protect his base runs without having his quarterback make any post-snap reads. He also provides narrated game clips that illustrate all these concepts. Read the clinic report.
By Casey Miller
Herriman High School (UT)
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In any run-oriented offense, defenses will load the box with an 8th defender to help stop the run game. There are a few offensive strategies you can utilize to combat this defensive tactic and still be able to stick to your offensive philosophy of being a physical running team. There are five ways we try to do this, and we always build them into the gameplan at Herriman High School. Depending on what the defensive coordinator does to adjust to our base run game, we can move to any of them at any point in the game to counter-adjust.
Loaded Box Solution #1: Remove the 8th Defender from the Box
Most teams who face a run-heavy team will drop a safety down into the box to get an 8th defender in the box. For any stack-defenses (3-3-5, 3-5-3, 4-2-5, 4-4), it usually means the overhangs come up and play really tight, or they come all the way up on the line of scrimmage and come off the edge. For traditional 4-3 and 3-4 teams, this is usually dropping the “strong safety” down into the box on the multiple receiver side. By using formations with both WRs on the same side, most teams will put the strong safety on the side with both WRs, and he will have to leave the box to account for the slot receiver. In the box, this keeps the offense with the same run formation they always have, but it removes the 8th defender from the box because he has to widen out to the 2-WR side to continue to play zone coverage. You have now turned the 8 man box into a 7 man box, or at the very least, you are now running the ball at a corner that now has to be the primary run support on the TE side.
Loaded Box Solution #2: Add an 8th Blocker to the Box
Defenses generally do not want their corners playing in the box, so as an offense, you can use personnel packages to add an 8th blocker to the box, which will usually bring the corner in a little tighter, but not make him a true box defender. You can now schematically block all 8 box defenders with your 8 blockers and again, put the defense in a situation where their corner has to play as a primary run support player in the box, which is something they are usually not comfortable with. We use several personnel packages at Herriman, but our most common personnel package we call “Kings,” which is when we bring out one of our starting WRs and put in another TE to get into what most call “22 personnel”.
Loaded Box Solution #3: Run Away From the Extra Man
Defenses can adjust to you trying to remove the 8th defender or bringing in an 8th blocker by matching substitution packages or by bringing the corner over in 2-WR formations. In this case, you can’t get a true numbers advantage in the box, so you have to find a way to run the football as efficiently as possible without completely changing what you do. For this, we use a “check-with-me” system, where we simply call a run play without a direction and tag check-with-me at the end. The QB’s job with any check-with-me play is to make sure we run it to where the 8th defender shouldn’t be able to get to the ball.
For traditional Power/Counter plays, this means running away from the side that the defense has gained a number advantage by dropping a man down. If they roll the safety down on the tight-side, we want to run Power and Counter to the split-side. For Zone/Iso plays, this means we want to run at the side the defense has gained a number advantage because those plays are built to cut to the backside in our offense. If the safety drops down on the tight-side, we want to run Zone and Iso to the tight-side.
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- Narrated film cutups on how Coach Miller is able to remove the eighth defender from the box by the use of formations.
- Narrated film cutups on how Coach Miller is able to add an eighth defender to the box to protect his run game.
- Narrated film cutups on how Coach Miller is able to run the ball away from the extra defender in the box.
- How Coach Miller is able to take access the perimeter of the defense by using unbalanced sets to gain a numbers advantage at the point of attack.
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In summary, our 5 game planned options to maintain a powerful run game give us many options in games. Instead or trying to scheme on the fly, we have pre-determined answers that help us react faster and help our kids better execute common solutions on the field. Thanks for your time reading this article. I hope this is helpful to you and your team.
Meet Coach Miller: Coach Miller has coached on both the offensive and defensive side of the football in both Utah and California. Currently, he is the offensive coordinator at Herriman High School, which is in the largest classification in the state of Utah (5A). In 2015, in the schools 6th year of existence, they won the state championship.