Not many programs run gap schemes like Stanford University, which is why Gabe Fertitta, the offensive coordinator at prep powerhouse Catholic High School (LA) went right to the source when re-working his combination blocks for his power play. Since using the traditional settle step footwork wasn’t keeping his post and drive player in line, he studied the footwork the “Cardinal” were using to stay square in doubles and protect run thru’s. Since shifting to this technique, Catholic High has averaged over 7 yards per attempt on its power scheme.
By Gabe Fertitta
Catholic High of Baton Rouge
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One of the staples of our offense for 3 years at Catholic High has been the power play. In three seasons, we have averaged calling some version of power over 150 times per season and have averaged 7+ yards per carry. One of the most influential changes we instituted to the fundamentals of our blocking came from our study of Stanford University’s techniques on the front side double team, or what we now call our “Cardinal Technique.”
Coaching The Tackle/Guard Combination on a 3 Technique
In the past, we have taught traditional footwork for the power double team. The inside (or post man) would take a settle step with his inside foot and work his second step through the crotch of the 3 technique and use “half bench” hand technique. For the most part, this part of the concept hasn’t changed. Our tackles used angle footwork with their backside (non-play side) foot and attempted to “dent” the defense vertically. He used “full bench” hand technique. We taught both the guard and tackle to work the 3 technique as vertical as they could to create a dent in the defense to run power. Our running back aiming point was and continues to be “A-Gap to Bounce.” We do not allow our running backs to cut back on power unless they score. Stanford’s coaching point on this is “we only cut back for a $20 bill and not a $1 bill.”
This technique worked well for us and Power was a staple run for us even before we changed techniques. That said, the wisdom we gained from hearing Coach Bloomgren discuss the technique they use at Stanford illuminated a fatal flaw in how were blocking the front side double team on power. We were asking our guard to work toward a 3 technique in one direction and our tackle to work toward a 3 technique in another. Simple physics tells us that resulting vector from those two forces will not be as strong as if both forces were moving in the same direction. Fixing the angles would allow for more movement at the point of attack.
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- How Coach Fertitta teaches the guard to torque the 3-technique down the line of scrimmage when he feels the bump from the tackle.
- The “U-Out” fundamental Coach Fertitta uses to widen the backside linebacker past the A gap entry point in power schemes
- How he has adjusted the “Cardinal” double team to block odd fronts to combat the issue of the guard not getting a solid piece of the nose.
- The adjustment he makes against defenses that teach their linebackers to run through the backside of double teams.
- Plus narrated and raw game film of this technique.
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As you can see, the small change in teaching made a great play even greater in our scheme. It put our kids in a position to succeed and made the Power play even more powerful. I hope that this helps you and your program and I appreciate X&O Labs for giving me the opportunity to share. Best of luck this coming year.
Meet Coach Fertitta: Gabe Fertitta was recently named the Head Coach at Catholic High in Baton Rouge. He is replacing, Coach Weiner who retired at the end of the year after his 30th season. Fertitta previously was the offensive coordinator at Catholic High. This season, Catholic High finished 10-1 including an undefeated regular season. In 2015, they won the Division 1 State Championship in Louisiana’s highest classification. Prior to arriving at Catholic, Fertitta was the head football coach at St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, MS. While there, his teams made history by being the first team in Mississippi High School football history to go from winless in one regular season to undefeated in the next. In 2013, St. Stanislaus advanced to the state quarterfinals and lost to the eventual state champions. Prior to working at St. Stanislaus, Fertitta was the offensive coordinator at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS.