20/30 Personnel Wide Zone Package via William and Mary’s “Go-Go” Formation

Jan 26, 2020 | Offense, 30 Personnel Concepts, Personnel

By Adam Hovorka
Managing Editor
X&O Labs


Coach Marion has been using the Go-Go offense for the last 8 years with a ton of success.  First at HS, then Howard University and now William & Mary with great results. The offense is predicated on, tempo, spacing, big plays, a multitude of formations, motions, personnel groupings, and triple-option principles.  Coach Marion says he wants the defense to cover multiple plays on every play.  Coach says he watched the old Navy films with Roger Staubach films and started thinking if he can attach reads to every single run game this would be difficult to defend. So, he began figuring out how to make every run in the offense a triple-option concept.  Coach says that his offense is triple option football and everything in the run game is dictated by two-or three-man surfaces.  Any two-man surface they see will be a triple-option run with the QB knowing whom his pitch key is based on the call. 

Coach Marion says he will have at least two options on every run play and sometimes there as many as four options on any given play.  One of the new ideas that Coach Marion is employing is the use of 20 personnel formations with both backs to the same side of the quarterback. Coach Marion, says he favors this alignment, “because it creates a three-headed monster in the backfield, without losing anything in the passing game. You know are dictating to the defense when you have three eligible guys that can touch the ball at any given time and you still have to cover the WR's and TE on the outside"   There is no difference in the two backs that play those two spots, they both are asked to do what they need to do in any play in the offense.  It is important to know that both backs are threats to run and catch the ball on any play

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There is a myriad of ways Coach Marion will build his two back formations:  Pro with a TE and WR to one side opposite a solo WR. Twins, with two WR’s to one side opposite an On the Line TE, slot, with two WR’s to one side and a solo WR opposite.  The splits of the WR’s will also be constantly changed to take advantage of angles and certain play calls.

Just like any other spread offense the backs can be moved all over the formation based on the play.  Coach Marion uses the term "performance alignment" to explain where the backs will align.  Coach stresses that the backs will know their alignment based on the play call.  Another popular alignment is both backs in an I to one side of the Quarterback, with the depth changing based on the play call. 

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The Backs will also align with one back in Pistol behind the QB and another even with the QB to the right or left. 

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Coach Marion will also utilize some 30 personnel formations.

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Here you can see the deep back in pistol and two up backs behind the tackles but turning their bodies perpendicular to the line of scrimmage.  Coach Marion likes this formation to give defensive players false keys and mess around with their eyes when those guys start going across the formation.  Another popular formation will be the use of two split backs on both sides of the QB and using an off Y as a sniffer back. 

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The offense is also very series-oriented meaning; there is the base play that sets up the rest of the plays in the series.  Coach Marion will have his base play, multiple tags for the third phase of the option, a reverse with the option to pass the ball, a Play Action Pass with various routes structures, and screens with all the same actions. We will look at the outside zone/stretch series first.

Wide Zone

One of the base plays that William & Mary runs is the Wide Zone.  This play sets up one of their most successful series. The blocking is like how most other teams run Wide Zone.  The Play side Tackle is trying to reach that EMLOS and if he cannot then the tackle will just drive him out.  The other OL are working in unison, stepping laterally to the play side, doubling the covered men and working up to the second level.  The back getting the ball is taught that this is 1-2 read.  The back is reading the first down lineman to the second and will insert where those reads tell him to insert.  The RB must know that this a one-cut run. This will always be at least a double option with the QB reading the backside end on the play.  For the sake of all the descriptions, the back closer to the QB is the RB and the back on the other side of the RB is the F.  Coach Marion will have the F lead for the QB on a pull read opposite the wide zone and block the force play opposite the Wide Zone.  This forces the defense to defend the entire width of the play. 

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Triple Option

Coach Marion will attach a route to the back not running the Wide Zone to make the play a true triple-option The QB and RB will execute their normal Wide Zone read and, on a pull, the QB is reading the force defender for the third phase of the play.  The F, back further away from the QB, will run at the DE and delay a second and run the route called, usually an arrow route or option route stretching the defense.  The running back running a route will act as the "pitch" phase of a triple-option.  The QB will have the ability to throw the route or run the ball if the backer/safety being read is aggressively playing the pass route.  Coach Marion will also have the slot run the bubble as the third phase of the option and have the F lead on the edge giving the QB a lead on the pull phase of the read.

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Play Action Pass

Just like any option offense, the opportunity to run play-action passes will present itself once the defense must commit secondary pl