Freeze Backers with the Shovel/Bubble

Apr 20, 2019 | Offense, Post-Snap Manipulations, RPO's, 11 Personnel Concepts, Personnel

By Dan Ellis

Head Coach

West Chester East High School (PA)

Editor's Note:  Coach Dan Ellis is one of X&O Labs’ most popular monthly columnist.  His columns focus on offensive schemes that just flat out move the ball.  His previous post have been some of the most read and commented articles in X&O Labs’ history.  Ellis is the former record-setting quarterback at Virginia and currently serves as the Head Football Coach at West Chester East High School (PA).  And one of the best things about Coach Ellis is that he takes the time to answer any and all questions asked. So, if you have any questions after reading his column, just post it in the comments section below this report and Coach will respond shortly.

This season, we wanted to simplify our blocking rules for our offensive line and not get into too many plays and too many rules.  One of our basic plays that we will always run in Power and so we tried to think of other ways to use the scheme with different action, much the same way zone teams do with their schemes.  As a spread team, we try to be as innovative as possible in getting our skill guys on the field and into open space. 

As we began this process, several years ago we decided to add the power read.  Power read did a great job for us adding pressure on the defense.  This past off-season, we worked on running the same power scheme with the traditional shovel pass, but we also added a bubble to it on the edge to add an extra dynamic.  This gives us a simple scheme similar to other plays we run (both power and bubble) and adds pressure on the defense to play disciplined football similar to a traditional triple option team.

Here are our basic power rules:

PST – Combo to ILB

PSG – Combo to ILB

C – Backside A gap

BSG – Skip pull to PSLB

BST – Gap, hinge

Key Coaching Point:  Pulling guard will not block the play side defensive end and needs to pull tight to the play side combo, keeping his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage.

The Bubble will always come from the inside receiver to the same side as the shovel. We do this out of multiple formations, mostly doubles and trips looks. It also can be run out of pistol. 

Quarterback Read

Teaching the QB to read the play side defensive end is really the crucial point of the play.  Key coaching point for the QB – assume you are going to get the edge.  The QB cannot be surprised that the defensive end closes on the RB or squeezes the B gap.  If the QB comes out slow or is stalled by indecision, the integrity of the play and relationship between the RB, QB and Bubble player is ruined.

First, the QB must press the edge, putting pressure on the defense to not allow him to get the corner.  We teach the QB to get lateral quickly.  He is looking to get out on the edge unless the defensive end stops him, turning his hips or getting up field.  If he does either of those things, the QB will continue into the alley and force the LB/Alley player to make a decision.  If the LB attacks the QB, we will deliver the ball to the Bubble screen as quickly as possible. 

One of the key parts of the play for the QB is if he gets immediate pressure from the LB/Alley player.  In this situation, he will have to redirect directly to the Bubble.  We work consistently working quick feet to get hips and shoulders around to our target (Bubble).  We tell the QB to ‘two step’ – this means to take two quick steps right under their shoulders and get their shoulder and hip pointed to the Bubble immediately and then get the ball out now.  This is a technique we also use in our running game with the Bubble attached on the backside, so it is not a new technique that we need to teach.

Running Back

For the Tailback, we teach him to patiently run his track as he would on the regular Power play.  In our offense, we teach the aiming point for the Tailback to be the butt of the guard.  He will take a slower path and be very patient. We prefer to be slower rather than faster.  If we are too fast, the tailback will be in the ‘junk’ of the combo and pulling guard.  Patience will allow the tailback to avoid the ‘junk’ because the tailback is looking at the QB for the pitch.  Too fast and he will run into the guard.  Once he catches the shovel pitch, the tailback must get vertical now and not work too far laterally.  It is still a power play for him.  Patience!

Even Front vs Odd Front

The beauty of this play is that at its core, it is a simple power play that many teams run as a base running play.  There is no real teaching other than the QB read.  For us this play is a call it/run it.  We don’t need to worry about the front given or blitz shown.  We will run it either way. 

Key coaching point vs the odd front:  If the PST gets a 4I, we will vacate that player vs a true odd front or stack and work up to the LB.  Against the stack, see below.

Below you can see the different ways we run the play vs the different fronts:




Adjustment agains Stack Teams:

With a stack team, we often get the games from the stack and so we always want to block the LB, not the DE.  If he is in a 4I, we rip outside the DE for the Stack LB.  Same if it is a 5, rip inside for the Stack LB. If the 5 slants and crosses the face of the PST, we never let someone cross our face.  In that case, the PST will block the slant and the BSG will pull around for the Stack LB.



To see video of these concepts live this year, click on the link below: