The process of designing and implementing the sugar huddle into your offensive scheme takes patience and commitment, but for us at Refugio High School, it was a grand slam.
By Cameron Cox
Refugio High School (TX)
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If you’re like me, when the dust settles at the end of a long football season, hardly any time passes before you begin searching for any small addition, or change, to improve your scheme. It may be something as simple as a new passing concept, or a small, new, series of plays. Often, the addition/change ends up fading away; for one reason or another, it wasn’t quite as good for your team as you thought it would be. However, other times the addition/change ends up being a home run. The process of designing and implementing the sugar huddle into your offensive scheme takes patience and commitment, but for us at Refugio High School, it was a grand slam.
The sugar huddle is a tight, well organized, huddle set up approximately 2-3 yards from the line of scrimmage. When the huddle is broke, offensive players sprint to the line and the ball is snapped as quickly as possible. You can imagine the advantages of the sugar huddle. Defenses face many struggles when trying to defend an offense that utilizes the sugar huddle regularly throughout a game. There is no time to make a strength call, hardly any time to communicate blitzes/stunts, and very little time to recognize tackle over sets, four-man surfaces, or even which receivers are on and off the line of scrimmage.
I do not know the origins of the sugar huddle, but the major program that I first noticed utilizing it consistently was Auburn University. Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff refer to their sugar huddle package as, "fire alarms." Many of you are probably familiar with this concept, or package, but may be curious as to how to go about implementing it into your offense.
Planning and Installing the Sugar Huddle
The first thing you need to know about installing the sugar huddle is that you can utilize it out of any offensive scheme. I’ve witnessed Slot-T and Wing-T teams use it and I’ve seen spread offenses use it. At Refugio High School, we run a multiple offensive scheme. We base out of a power spread offense, but we also use under center, pro-style sets. Because of this, we will operate out of both the shotgun and from under center in our sugar huddle package.
When you have decided to utilize the sugar huddle in your offensive scheme, you must select the huddle structure that best fits your offense or base personnel grouping. The huddle structure is where your players set up in the huddle. The key is to align your players in the huddle so that they can break out and get to the line of scrimmage, or their respective spots, as quickly and efficiently as possible. We choose to have our center set the huddle 2-3 yards from the ball, with his back towards the line of scrimmage. The right guard and right tackle will line up to the left of the center. The left guard and left tackle will line up to the right of the center. All offensive linemen have their backs to the line of scrimmage. From here, you need to strategically align your skill players in a way that will get them out of the huddle with as little traffic as possible. When we first installed the sugar huddle, we only utilized 20 and 21 personnel, under center sets. We also only aligned in a strong right formation. By starting simple, and keeping everything very consistent, it was easy for our players to get comfortable with the sugar huddle procedure and getting in and out of the huddle quickly and efficiently. We installed five plays from our base offense - jet sweep, power off the jet fake, play-action pass off the jet/power, toss sweep, and naked boot off the toss sweep. We practiced these 5 plays from the sugar huddle all spring long. Our base sugar huddle structure, from 20/21 personnel, is shown below.
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- The 1st directive of the huddle procedure that the QB communicates to the offense.
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- How to vary snap counts in order to steal yardage in the Sugar Huddle operation.
- Plus, game film of this concept.
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The sugar huddle is an extremely tough aspect of an offense to defend. It was a very big part of our success this past season and we will continue to utilize it. The best thing about the sugar huddle is that it can be utilized in any offensive scheme. It may have to be adjusted from the way we do it, to fit your offense, but with patience and commitment, the sugar huddle can be a very rewarding part of your scheme.
Meet Coach Cameron Cox: Cameron Cox has been at Refugio High School for seven seasons, the last four as the offensive coordinator. During his tenure as the offensive coordinator, the Bobcat offense has averaged 44.9 PPG and 439.1 YPG. Coach Cox coordinated the offenses at Refugio for teams that won the 2016 and 2019 UIL Class 2A Texas State Championships. The 2019 Bobcat team, under Head Coach Jason Herring, finished the season with a perfect 16-0 record.