By Javier Cardenas
Eagle Pass High School (TX)
I attended a lecture where a college level defensive coordinator laid out key trends about defending spread concepts, including the RPO. He said defenses have evolved adjustments to defend the spread game by developing defensive personnel and schemes. He shared two points that resonated with me.
- The spread is simple to prepare for since it’s mostly 1 or 2 back sets.
- Just as a spread offense seeks to exploit space, the spread gives up much space a defense can attack.
He said the challenge for the defense is to assimilate the game speed of a spread offense in practice. Finding creative ways to prepare for the speed of the spread game is crucial for defenses. Essentially, speed stops speed.
The lecture made me reflect and assess the state of our spread game. How can we enhance and evolve the speed of our athletes and spread concepts to yield maximum advantage and output? How do we evolve ambitious offensive schemes while maintaining a tough and disciplined identity? Preparing to defend typical spread formations and concepts is simple BUT speed is a key factor in successfully executing the modern day spread offense.
We strive to make motion an integral, meaningful part of our offense rather than using it solely as eye candy. Motion, of course, is not a new idea. However, we have evolved and personalized motions to fit the strengths of our athletes while aiming to gain speed and space advantages throughout the field. We want to shed all forms of offensive finesse; this is evident in ALL we do, including using motions.
As part of our RPO identity, using motion to maximize offensive output is the main idea addressed in this report. But motion is not a stand-alone idea in our offense. It is part of a broader goal we strive to instill in our athletes through our culture and core values; we will be the best program in ALL we do academically, in the community and in competition. It is important- at the very least- to mention our core values since it guides ALL we are and ALL we do- including something as simple as preparing our kids to use motion. Our Core Values: Toughness, Respect, Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership.
- Protects and disguises our base offense identity through our alignment as we try to exploit the space a defense is willing to give up as we build up motions in a game.
- Allows creativity and simple progressions.
- Displaces base defensive alignments. We try to gain numbers advantages throughout the field by mixing in motion with other concepts to protect our base RPO concepts.
BENEFITS OF USING MOTIONS
- Instills Toughness: Inside Run, Full Speed Motion and Perimeter Blocking (sets up pass progression).
- Communication: A silent offense is a dead offense. All are communicating; alignment, adjustments, cadence, motions, corrections and positive reinforcement.
- Constantly improve speed / conditioning: Our kids run their best 40 when in motion to give consistency in timing. It’s amazing what kids do for the program and themselves when we purposely instill a culture of high expectations in ALL we do- even if it’s simply teaching the motion.
- Ownership: This one is personal to me. Great teachers are great coaches. Surround yourself with coaches who work to develop the kids we have rather than complaining about the ones we don’t. Great coaches know how to give kids ownership that aligns with the vision, culture and expectations of the program. Kids will support what they help create. Kids work together on cadence, timing of snap and motion progression. Their confidence and football IQ increases. More importantly, they’ll learn to work together to “figure it out”- which in turn prepares them to overcome unpredictable and strenuous situations encountered in competition. This is an invaluable skill our athletes will take with them.
- Discipline: OL not fazed by shifting defense. QB knows his read progression even with shifting defense. RB knows how his alignment and role within the motion concept. Receivers understand how motion affects defensive alignment and how this affects blocking / passing responsibilities.
- Mix, match and switch motions: Start by giving motion concepts to playmakers. Then incorporate others in motions as we work on getting creative throughout the season. Very few changes to what OL does. A few skill guys handle the motions.
- Simple adjustments: Motion can be tagged to any menu run, pass or screen. Protect the motion concept by making weekly tweaks via formations, alignments and personnel. However, the base concepts do not change.
- Value and create ownership in getting faster, better conditioned and stronger. Opponents will not be better prepared than us. This process begins in the offseason through personalized speed /lifting/ nutrition/ hydration and rest plans, character education, accountability, fierce competition and purposeful planning that develops the character and maturity of everyone in our program. This is further enhanced through our track, junior high, after school lifting and conditioning programs. Everything we do works together for the good of our program, our school and our community.
- Motion concepts are simple to grasp, fun for the kids and yield great results, including low error rate, reduction in hesitation and explosive plays.