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By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

There is a reason why University of Texas head coach Tom Herman told us the tight end position "is just a tick behind the importance of the quarterback in this system."

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar


Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report. 



There is a reason why University of Texas head coach Tom Herman told us the tight end position "is just a tick behind the importance of the quarterback in this system." And he should know. He has built his brand on 11 and 12 personnel offense, first as the offensive coordinator at Ohio State University then as the head coach at the University of Houston. Now at Texas, he's hell-bent on establishing that same downhill A gap run game that has made his other offenses so dynamic.

But there is one thing these offenses all had in common: a versatile tight end. He's developed former linebackers into NFL caliber tight ends and believes playing without one is senseless. "I don't know how you run the ball without a tight end," he told us. "We are going to align in a two back set or we are going to create a two back running game with the use of a tight end."

And if you're going to commit to keeping your tight end on the field this season, you'd better develop one who can handle all of the following assignments:  

  • Block an interior gap defender
  • Block an exterior perimeter defender
  • Block a pass rusher from the edge
  • Block a pass rusher from the box
  • Recognize coverage and how it affects route structure
  • Understand the entire route tree
  • Carry the ball (that's if you got a real special one)

So, when we set out to create the complete tight end manual for coaches this fall, we made it our mission to find a program that not only utilized its tight ends but relied on them. UT was that place and tight ends coach Derek Warehime was our host.

C Gap Drill

What we found is that much of the technique work that Coach Warehime does with his "Y Dogs" is incorporated into what he calls his "C Gap Drill," a drill born out of necessity. It's a progression he invented in order to train his players to make all the necessary blocks they need to in this system- all in a 25-minute per day time frame. It's a combination of many different plays within one drill. Just in this drill work alone, tight ends are able to work their blocking assignments on all of following concepts:

  • Insert Zone
  • Divide Zone
  • Zone Read
  • Divide Zone Read
  • Power
  • Counter
  • Speed Option
  • Speed Sweep
  • Insert Pass Protection
  • Slide Pass Protection

It's a functional way of getting as much done in as little amount of time as possible. "We couldn't use traditional (roll) tape," he told us. "We needed moveable parts like offensive tackles (so tight ends can see their landmarks on these blocks). You don't have the time to work much else. This is the drill. You get a lot done in these situations. You call or signal the play and they run the concept. Give them a look and let them go execute the look."

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While we were there, Coach Warehime had the UT film staff record all of the aspects of the drill. The drill work is available to all Insider members right now.

In fact, there are coaches are already incorporating this drill into spring and summer workouts. Here's what they said:

"There is very little literature on the tight end position, especially the H-back in an [11] personnel system. Most TE articles are really offensive line drills for blocking or wide receiver drills for route running and catching.  This study shows actually has tight end/H-back drills. Seeing how a Power 5 program implements this position and teaches their concepts and techniques affirms some things I believe in while also helps to develop new ideas this fall."- Brian White, offensive coordinator, Hampton University (VA)

"This data break down, the why and how of the use of that player and the sheer all access pass to one of the elite program in the game with one of the elite head coaches in the game is something you just can't find anywhere else. You guys got into the heart of a program and broke it down to the base levels and then built it back up to the complexities some of us see on Saturday afternoons."- Kyle Ralph, head football coach, New Palestine High School

Get access to the entire special report, Training the Modern Day Tight End in 11/12 Personnel...

We've just released a brand-new special report, Training the Modern Day Tight End in 11/12 Personnel. Much of this new report features what I learned during my time in Austin this spring. This report is available in our Insiders membership website.

In case three of this report, we discuss insert blocking rules and fundamentals for interior runs. Here's a brief list of what is covered:

  • Teen vs. Deuce Identification Protocol
  • Inside V vs. Outside V Aiming Points
  • Inside V Landmark
  • Outside V Landmark
  • Identifying Potential "Rockets"
  • Push vs. Heavy Calls
  • Vertical Step Footwork
  • Slide Step Footwork
  • Angle Step Footwork
  • Insert Run Concepts: Cutoff Zone Concept; Divide Zone Concept; Zone Iso Concept; Divide Zone Iso Concept; Power Concept; these are detailed from both 11 and 12 personnel structures.

To be clear, that is just one of the four cases in this report. Plus, we’ve included a bonus case on various practice models that both high school and college coaches are using to train this player during game weeks.

Here's the cases in this report (which detail the tight end's responsibility, the techniques he is taught to carry out that responsibility and the adjustments within the scheme he must know)...

Case 1: System Overview/Alignments, Formations and Motions

Case 2: Insert Blocking Rules and Fundamentals for Interior Runs

Case 3: Perimeter Blocking Rules and Fundamentals for Perimeter Runs

Case 4: Pass Game Responsibility: Protections and Routes

I've been coaching football for over 12 years and I believe what I learned during my visit to Texas can truly help programs that run 11 and 12 personnel—either at the high school or college level.

To access this report, just go here and register for our Insiders membership website.



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