In this exclusive clinic report, Coach Taracuk details the blocking adjustments he uses to handle the various combinations of A gap pressures from multiple fronts. Read report.
By Doug Taracuk
Offensive Line Coach
Capital University (OH)
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The gap run scheme has constantly evolved from the Wing-T days and Robust T days of my early coaching years. It is hard to watch a game on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday and not see several gap scheme runs. The concept of building a wall inside, kicking someone out and leading a blocker through the hole lives today just like it does on the classic Vince Lombardi film explaining the "Packer Sweep". One key difference offenses face today is the multitude of line stunts and second level blitzes designed to attack the running game.
At Capital, in the Ohio Athletic Conference, we face more pressures on run downs than we consistently see on passing downs. As we build a running package each week, we must make sure that it can account for the pressures we will see that week. We start by examining the common fronts used by our opponent. We like to know the alignments and favored techniques of the down linemen and the alignment and reads of the linebackers. We need to understand what is "normal" from this front. From there we will examine their pressure package used to stop the run game. Do they do this out of the normal front or do they align differently to get it done? We see both situations. Obviously, if we can see a key for a stunt or pressure via an alignment key, it helps us. In this report, I will walk you through some of our adjustments used to handle the various combinations of “A-gap" pressures used to stop our Gap Scheme Runs.
Defining Gap Rules
Our base rule on the play side is "Gap-Down-Backer". Simple as it may seem, this rule has held true for my four decades of coaching. Gap is defined as a down defender aligned between my nose and the near shoulder of my inside partner on the play side. A player in the "gap" will be tough for my inside partner to assist with blocking. He would have to step outside while his responsibilities are inside. "Down", for us, runs from the inside V of the neck on my inside partner to the tip of my partner's near shoulder. Here, we could receive help on a combo block used to move a down lineman. "Backer" comes into play when there is no down man in my Gap or Down rules.
Using these guidelines, an offensive line could block most any look presented to it on the play side.
Here are "Gap" alignments.
The defenders are aligned somewhere between my nose and the near shoulder of my play side partner in Diagram 1. Diagram 2 are "Down" alignments. The lineman is aligned head-up or aligned on the outside half of my play side partner.
The Tackle has no one in his Gap or Down rule. To get to his "Backer" he will work a track through the rear of the Nose to pick off a loop move which would be difficult for his Guard to get. Refer to Diagram 3. On the backside we will pull one or two of the lineman and we must control pinching movements which threaten our run from the inside-out. We are not set on who we pull for our gap plays. If it makes sense to pull the Center instead of the Backside Guard, we will. There are times when it makes sense to pull the Backside Tackle instead of the Guard or the Center. The key is for the three of them to know who should pull and why that pull takes preference. On Counter, we will pull the Center and the Tackle, the Guard and the Tackle, the Center and the TE/H-Back, the Guard and the TE/H-Back, the Center and the RB or the Guard and the RB. Once we determine the most dangerous pressures, we will select the pulling schemes.
Continue to the full-length version of this report...
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- How Coach Taracuk alters his combination techniques to block penetrating A gap linebackers.
- How Coach Taracuk will change the technique of the play side Guard in combinations based on if he’s blocking a penetrator or read defender.
- How the back block of the Center changes based on the angle of the blitzer.
- How the reactions of the Center and two Guards differ based on Double Dog (pure A gap) and Cross Dog pressure.
- How gap concepts are adjusted to block field pressure and boundary pressure from both Even and Odd fronts.
- Plus, game film of all these concepts.
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Like any called run, the name of the game is getting the numbers advantage in the box. It doesn't matter if you are running zone schemes or gap schemes, you have to have a way to control the numbers. In an age where RPO tags are common on most runs, I feel it is important to give the defense different formations, different motions and different personnel groupings with your gap scheme runs. Teams today that are utilizing a strong runner at QB are usually very effective with gap scheme runs. The other key factor with gap schemes is they give your offensive linemen a chance to get great angles by utilizing slight variances in the scheme. The mental part of the gap scheme can often negate a talent disadvantage for the five guys up front.
Meet Coach Taracuk: Long-time Ohio high school coach and state champion Doug Taracuk enters his third season with Capital University football staff as an assistant coach. His main responsibility is developing the Crusaders’ offensive line.
With Taracuk coaching the offensive line, Zack Kennedy ’18 was crowned a two-time All-OAC honoree in his final two seasons. Following the 2016 and 2017 season, Kennedy was named Second Team All-OAC and helped protect quarterback Thomas Wibbeler as the Crusader offense began its transition into a spread offense.
Prior to joining the Purple and White, Taracuk was assistant coach at Dublin Scioto High School (Dublin, Ohio) where he spent 12 years grooming the offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, receivers and was the offensive coordinator from 2009-2015.