As an offensive staff, it was decided that since we were implementing new blocking rules, going from zone blocking to gap scheme blocking, that we could help our players gain “extra reps” and truly use their strengths to our team’s advantage.
By Will Theobold
Offensive Line Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Park High School (MN)
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My first season at Park High School we as a staff decided to install a gap scheme offense with a strong and quick side to accentuate our personnel, reduce teaching and techniques to those players executing them the most frequently.
The question from my head coach prompted this whole process: How can we maximize our OL's talent and practice reps at the same time? As an offensive staff, it was decided that since we were implementing new blocking rules, going from zone blocking to gap scheme blocking, that we could help our players gain “extra reps” and truly use their strengths to our team’s advantage. As a Gap run scheme team our players only need to know a handful of different types of blocks to master and thus have a narrowing of their overall focus.
The reasoning for Strong/Quick side is so we can put our players in the best situation to be successful along with giving them as many practice reps as possible at their specific job. We were inspired by the idea of an assembly line. You have one worker specializing in a certain part of the overall product. They keep getting reps and over time they can become an expert at their one job in the overall process. We feel like if we can limit our player's input of their job and technique, they can more easily master it and then execute better than the defense. Also, there are some Air Raid coaches who, similarly, never have their receivers switch sides to increase reps and reduce teaching.
For our team, we considered going with the conventional OL play with specializing with a side (i.e. RG, RT) but ultimately decided to go with a Strong/Quick Sides. Here are some traits and characteristics we look for in our offensive line.
- Strong Tackle: Great at Down blocks, great first step, big dude
- Strong Guard: Bigger of two guards, needs to have great feet, needs to be nasty
- Center: Needs to have size, cannot be pushed back, have consistent shotgun snaps
- Quick Guard: Smaller of two guards, needs to have great feet, needs to be persistent to reach those log blocks, great football IQ as he will have to adjust on the fly to the strong guard’s block, “The adjuster”
- Quick Tackle: Any size, needs to have great feet
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- The communication system Coach Theobold uses to align the strong side and quick side based on play concept.
- The “Block Chart” that Coach Theobold gives to his offensive linemen, which helps to itemize the specifics blocks for the strong and quick side in gap schemes.
- Plus, game film of all these concepts.
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Doing a strong and quick side is great for gap schemes as you are working on position-specific mechanics and techniques. If we are running power, the strong tackle is always down blocking or doubling, while the quick tackle is hinging. We are stealing reps in practice and have more opportunities to accelerate growth at their techniques. If you are a zone running team or heavy pass scheme teams, you might want to stay with side-specific players. If you are running inside and outside zone, the players have the same concept both ways and it might be better for your OL from a consistency standpoint. If you are an Air raid team you are going to want your best blocker usually at Left Tackle to block the blindside for your QB, so the strong and quick side offensive line play is not for everyone.
Meet Coach Will Theobold: Coach Theobold has been coaching high school football for eight years, spending his first two years in Arizona and the past six in Minnesota. He has coached multiple positions on both sides of the ball, but his favorite position group is the Offensive Line. He currently serves as the offensive line and offensive coordinator at Park High School.