By Pete DeWeese
Offensive Coordinator & Quarterback’s Coach
Sprayberry High School (GA)
In the world of offensive football, compressed (or Tite) formations are nothing new. Teams have been using Tite Bunch formations in Pro and Spread offenses for decades. Several other offensive systems have used Double-Wing and Double Slot formations to condense offensive sets and put the defense in a bind. I think that football has seen a bit of a resurgence of compressed sets in recent years from NFL teams like the Rams, Chiefs, and 49ers as well as college teams from across the county. LSU used compressed sets as a big part of their National Title run in 2019.
Our offensive staff at Sprayberry has used compressed formations in some fashion since we arrived before the 2017 season. As the offense grew, we found ourselves building more and more Tite formations into our system. By the time that we entered the 2019 season we had built a solid catalog of compressed sets that aided our offense production.
One of our primary reasons for transitioning to Tite sets was for our run game, as we felt that we could use the formations to gain numbers for our edge run game. The other advantage that we sought to gain from our compressed sets was the ability to alter coverage structures. Sprayberry is in a highly competitive 6A region here in the metro Atlanta area. Several of our opponents have outstanding defensive coaching staffs and are stocked with incredibly talented players. The best teams that we play want to play some variation of match coverage and they all want to be physical at the line of scrimmage with their secondary. Utilizing compressed sets can force teams to utilize checks that may get them out of their coverage comfort zone, and that is our goal. As we moved to more and more condensed sets, we found ourselves needing to adapt our traditional passing attack into our Tite sets. We believe that any offense can take many of the common staples of modern offenses and easily execute them from condensed formations.
SMASH CONCEPT Smash is certainly nothing new. Many offenses utilize different variations of the traditional Hi/Low stretch that Smash places on a flat defender. Whether you are facing a Cover 3 defense or a 2-High team that will Cloud the coverage, good defenses can easily find ways to blurry the picture for a Quarterback when you are utilizing traditional splits. I have found that compressing the formation makes the read even easier for the quarterback and often seems to make it more difficult on the defense. Instead of using some form of a hitch, condensing the formation allows you to put the receiver into the same space with a different angle of departure. Whether you choose to put the #1 receiver, the #2 receiver, or a RB into the flat, you easily place a quick threat to that area of the field and force a quick reaction by the defense. Our primary method of running Smash puts the outside receiver on a speed out. Any corner that wants to be a hard-flat player gets pulled outside as the angle of our route often forces him to turn his hips and match the path of the route to the sideline. If he does not turn his hips but instead sinks off to protect the safety, he is giving up leverage and leaving your flat route open. The other option that we see is defenses that want to protect the CB by aligning him 3-4 yards outside of the formation. When defenses give you that soft edge, they are now more vulnerable in the run game and open themselves up to some of our other concepts.
The most common response we see from 2-High teams is either play a "SINK" version of Cover 2 or Pattern Match off the release of the #2 receiver. Because of this, we have found that 2-High teams typically keep the safety both more inside and a little deeper than they may be otherwise. This allows continues to put the CB in a bind as we pair our speed out with the traditional corner route. If the Safety is deep and inside, we have created the leverage that we need for our route and given the QB an extremely easy read.
One-High defenses must decide where they are going to put their alley defender. If they put him outside of the #2 receiver, or even outside of the #1 receiver, you have been able to take advantage of the interior run gap that the alignment has created. You also must take advantage of what has likely become the free release of your #2 receiver against that look. We think Smash allows you to do just that.