Editor’s Note: At this point in the season, everyone is looking for a new edge. Some are looking to keep their struggling teams engaged and competitive while others are focused on adding wrinkles that can push their team over the edge into post season play. In either case, adding the empty formation, along with a few complimentary plays is a simple way to create such wrinkles without having to completely change your teams offensive philosophy. The following article gives a great overview of the simplicities and possibilities that can come with the empty formation and will provide you will multiple ways to use as part of your offense starting this week. – Sam Nichols, X&O Labs Managing Editor
Adding Empty to Create Mid Season Wrinkles
By Chris Parker
Pickens High School (GA)
Empty creates matchup problems for the defense. They must remove defenders from the box in order to cover all receivers or they must keep the box sound and leave a defender uncovered. If the defense keeps 2 high Safeties, a receiver is always uncovered. If there is only one linebacker on our 2 inside receivers on the Trips side, one of them is uncovered. Diagram 1 shows a 2 high look where the #3 receiver is uncovered. Diagram 2 shows a look where #2 is uncovered.
Diagram 3 shows the weak side inside receiver uncovered. We get this a lot on the hash. In order for them to leave only the weak #2 receiver uncovered, they have to roll to 1 high which can create some passing matchups and an uncovered receiver underneath.
The only way that all receivers can be covered is if the defense rolls to 1 high and leave 5 in the box (could be 4-1 or 3-2). With 5 offensive linemen you should be able to get four yards or more on a running play to this box with your inside run game (Diagram 4).
The empty formation is full of possibilities, but most of all, it clarifies the defensive responsibilities to allow for a simpler and smaller offensive playbook. We break our playcalling down into 4 play groupings which include inside run, screens, quicks, and drop passes. Within those groups we run the blocking scheme, passing combinations that are the cornerstone of our offense. Here is a look at each of those groups and what we are looking for.