As the evolution of the Spread Offense continues, our staff has noticed teams stray away from the use of gap scheme in the run game. We’ve found, especially at the high school level, that you can create huge advantages with numbers, angles, and leverage utilizing gap scheme.
By Lou Chiccehitto
Liberty High School (VA)
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As the evolution of the Spread Offense continues, our staff has noticed teams stray away from the use of gap scheme in the run game. We’ve found, especially at the high school level, that you can create huge advantages with numbers, angles, and leverage utilizing gap scheme. Our staple run is Counter Trey, and we use Bash (back away sweep) and Triple Option as ways to stress a defense horizontally. We also get the Tight End involved running Counter, using RPO’s and play action with this to stress the 2nd and 3rd levels of defenses. These two runs get our more athletic Tight Ends and Tackles to the 2nd level, instead of a guard in Power.
We’ve found that whether teams read guards, backs, cross key the backfield, gap exchange, or simply double fill, we can have answers in the run game with these two Gap Scheme runs. It’s easy to create rules against blitz (we call “Down” vs. interior pressure, which eliminates combos), against Bear fronts (call “Down”), for who to ID (always first LB past the midline), against Bear 4i’s or Tite Fronts (cut the backside 4i and read the EMOL/Overhang), and helps hide a smaller or immobile Center. And most importantly, we have tags that can beat aggressive Safeties or LBs without changing anything up front.
Gap Scheme Overview
For all Gap Scheme runs, we start with basic rules for our OL. We teach the frontside “On-Gap Down-Backer” and always ID the first LB past the midline for the puller. We stress eyes up, not to chase movement, block your gap instead of a guy, and never block a blocked man. This helps tremendously with teams who blitz, reduce gaps or gap exchange. Against Bear Fronts or interior pressure, we call "Down" which eliminates combos and sends OL a gap down to LB.
Playside Tackle (PST): Vs. Over, combo with PSG to first LB on or past the midline. Vs. Under, gap-down-backer. Vs. Odd Fronts, Rip/Rake rules (rip C-gap defender, rake B-gap defender). Against bear, “Down” to 3-tech or 4i.
Playside Guard (PSG): Vs. Over, combo with PST to first LB on or past the midline. Vs. Under, block back on A-gap defender. Vs. Odd Fronts, combo with C to first LB past midline. Against Bear, "Down" to the nose.
Center (C): Vs. Even Front, block back to first down lineman. Vs. Odd, combo with PSG to first LB past midline. Against Bear, “Down” to BS 3-Tech. Call “Down” vs. interior pressure or when in doubt
Backside Guard (BSG): Trap pull tight to OL for C-Gap Defender. Log spillers kick out squatters (easy terminology for our guys).
Backside Tackle (BST): Skip pull inside BSG for first LB past the midline. If BSG logs, insert outside.
Y: Tag will tell him. Can arc to secure box if backside, or down block /base block playside.
QB: Open with feet aimed at playside B gap. “Trim the hedges” with your mesh. Read BS EMOL.
RB: 6-inch lateral step, aim at playside B gap. Fit tight off your puller. Slow to, fast through!
WRs: MDM rules unless the passing concept is tagged.
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- The top two play action concepts Coach Chiccehitto will use to manipulate Guard read teams.
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As an offense, I believe it’s important to keep things as simple as possible up front while having answers for different looks. Rather than running inside and outside zone exclusively, using gap scheme opens a realm of possibilities to exploit defenses. Variations off of gap scheme runs such as Bash, Triple, RPO's, and play action allows you to get playmakers the ball in space if the defense wants to take away the inside run. Without changing rules up front, we are able to stress a defense both horizontally and vertically, while making them remain gap-sound inside.
Meet Coach Chiccehitto: Lou Chiccehitto started coaching football at a local high school as an undergraduate student at James Madison University and knew this was the perfect way for him to use his passion and gifts to build relationships with young people. After graduating, Coach Chiccehitto had the privilege of interning for the 2014 season at JMU with the Quarterbacks, working under the tutelage of some incredible coaches. This affirmed his calling, and he went to Bealeton, VA to coach Quarterbacks. A year later, he became offensive coordinator, and every minute has been a gift.