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By Todd Allen

Offensive Coordinator

Irving High School (TX)

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todd profile 1Editor's Note:  Todd Allen is in his ninth year coaching football and his first year as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach at Irving High School (Texas Class 5A). Under his tutelage, the Tigers saw a 186% increase in points per game and an 82% increase in yards per game from the previous three year average. Prior to his arrival at Irving High School, Coach Allen was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach at The Colony High School (2007-2011).  Under his guidance, the Cougars broke 26 offensive school records and routinely were a top performer in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. From 2007-2011 seasons, The Colony experienced a 71% increase in points per game and 56% increase in yards per game from the previous three year average. Currently, Coach Allen has published two books with Coaches Choice Publishing and is under contract for a third, which is expected in the spring of 2014. 

I’ve been extremely fortunate to work for two head coaches who have great trust in their offensive staff -- asking only that we move the football and score points. As luck would have it, we have done just that. In only one season under this current offensive regime, Irving High School (Texas Class 5A) saw a 186% increase in points per game and an 82% increase in yards per game from the previous three year average. This can be attributed to three things: a great offensive staff, which prides itself on cohesion and honesty about what our kids can and cannot do; great kids willing to adapt to a new system; and a solid, balanced scheme.

While I could write hundreds of pages on the former, it is the latter that will garner the focus of this article. At Irving High School, we run what is generically called a pro-spread offense, assuming we can agree any offense utilizing three or more receivers in multiple formations is in fact an evolution of the spread, and that incorporating a tight end and full back makes you pro style. Moreover, our goal at IHS is to be balanced offensively. It is our opinion this can be achieved in a multitude of ways, with the most obvious being an approximate balance between run and pass. Our identity, however, is truly found in our run game: a scheme utilizing misdirection as well as zone and gap scheme concepts.

The primary focus will be on four plays: 1) pop, 2) pop-power, 3) pop-zone and 4) pop pass. All of these plays begin with the "pop" or "fly" sweep. Obviously, the ability to run just the pop is a great, but is not necessary to achieve success with the other plays as the misdirection will achieve the desired affect regardless, albeit a slight ruse.

For the purpose of time and space, the four plays outlined in this article will only be shown against one front.

Play 1:  Pop Play


The first play illustrated is the pop. Timing is critical and will be a theme throughout. The inside receiver must sprint across the formation at full speed. It is not his job to slow down and receive the football. The quarterback is responsible for getting the football cleanly to the receiver. Likewise, he must snap the football as the inside receiver is approaching the near tackle. Once the ball is snapped the quarterback will put the ball in the receiver’s belly and ride him for two steps, ultimately relinquishing the football. The fullback will offer a hand to the defensive end and will work to the force player. The running back (T) will attack the force player right now and work to next level if the force player is already engaged. The offensive line will execute a full zone technique, working to space more so than a man.

Play 2:  Pop Power


Timing is vital in this package. It is crucial the ball be snapped just before the inside receiver reaches the offensive tackle. The pop runner must be at a full sprint by the time he reaches the tackle. The running back (T) must allow the pop runner to clear as he takes a small slide step toward the quarterback. This action does two things; it allows the running back to see the hole develop and slows him down, forcing patience. The quarterback will offer the ball quickly to the pop runner, and then open his body to the running back, placing the ball in his belly and stepping with him into the line of scrimmage before ultimately relinquishing the football. The quarterback should then take a quick three step drop showing an action pass.

The offensive line play through the three plays outlined in this article utilize power zone and gap scheme. We feel this allows for greater movement and angles. In this particular example, our left tackle will combo block with the left guard to the number two inside linebacker. It is critical we achieve movement and do not get stalemated. The center will block back on the defensive tackle. The right guard will hug the combo block as he pulls around looking for the number one play side linebacker or first off-colored jersey to show in the hole. The right tackle will hinge and protect. The key block on this play is the Y, or tight end. He must read the action of the defensive end. If he can dig out the end, placing his head on the inside shoulder, then he will. However, because we run so much power and counter, our Y’s and guards must realize that if the end washes himself inside in an attempt to spill the play, we must log the end and be prepared to bounce the play outside.

Play 3:  Pop Zone


The third play in this series is the pop-zone. The zone is our number one running play; therefore, any time we can couple zone with misdirection we feel like it should be a safe and successful play. As was the case with the previous example, timing is critical and the receiver must be at a full sprint when the ball is snapped. The running back will open play side then begin downhill, attacking the play side "A" gap. We teach all of our running backs (T) this is a bang or bend play, meaning, this play could go play side A, or even back side A/B gap. Essentially, the running back must be ready to put his foot in the ground and be an athlete. The quarterback will offer the ball quickly to the pop runner, and then get the ball as deep as possible to the running back. He will then show action pass and pop up at 8 yards depth.

The offensive line will execute power zone blocking. The back side tight end is on an island and must dig out the 7 technique. The left tackle and left guard will combo block the defensive tackle to the backside linebacker. The center and right guard will combo block the defensive tackle to the play side linebacker. The right tackle and play side tight end will combo the defensive end to the corner or a stack linebacker. The wing will work to the force player.

Play 4:  Pop Pass


The fourth and final play in this sequence is the pop pass. We believe in having a play action concept for every part of our run game. In this particular play, we show the exact same action as Fig 1.3. The receiver must sprint across the formation and give a great fake as he continues toward the sideline ultimately becoming the flat runner. The running back open play side and attacks the line of scrimmage eyeing the play side linebacker. The quarterback must sell the run action first and foremost. It is imperative he get to 8 yards depth for spacing and timing purposes. The play side tight end will take an outside release then attack the near hash and work to the middle of the field. The wing will release outside, through the outside shoulder of the force player and work up field between the numbers and the sideline. His width is critical for spacing.

The offensive line will execute a 5 man slide protection with the play side tackle locking on to the defensive end. It is critical the back side tight end and all offensive line man take an aggressive play side zone step and maintain a low hat to achieve the desired run action. Once the run action has occurred all lineman must protect their gap not a man.

What you’re missing…

X&O Labs Insiders members will gain full access to Coach Allen’s full length clinic report on including:

  • The advantages that Coach Allen finds from using is "pro-spread" offense. 

  • How Coach employs this concept against different looks and varies playcalling during games.
  • An exclusive interview with Coach Allen that details additional coaching points.

  • Plus game film of all these concepts

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