By Brian Francis
QB Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Parsippany Hills High School (NJ)
Offenses are expected to score points. Whatever offensive scheme you use, an audible system can make it much easier to do just that. I believe in using an audible system to take advantage of certain defensive fronts or coverages and get easy yards to continue to move the chains. The basic concept I teach my quarterbacks is to recognize an uncovered area and to audible to direct one of our players into it. This is not only done through the passing game but the run game as well. We are trying to take advantage of a defense’s weakness. It’s a concept that can conceivably be used on every snap. I’ve used it for an entire quarter, for a series here and there, as well as sporadically throughout a game. One of the most important uses and most basic is to get us out of a bad play. Using an audible system is something we do daily from our first summer workout on through to the end of the season. I believe, if practiced effectively, it can be used successfully in any offensive system whether you marry the concept or just occasionally date it.
Each year, in my very first quarterback meeting, I introduce our audible system and go through how to check, recognizing when to check, and what to check to. Over the past 20 years of coaching, I’ve used this audible concept in a variety of base offensive sets. Whether I’ve run 10, 11, 21 personnel, 3 backs, or an Empty set, we’ve been able to take advantage of opposing defenses using audibles. If my QB can give me a good reason why he changed a play, I give him the freedom to audible whenever he thinks it will help us. We practice this so often and it’s such a big part of my offensive philosophy that I must be confident in the fact that I’ve taught my QB well enough to make the right reads and audibles when they present themselves. Even if it is 3rd and 1 and he checks to a pass, which has happened more than a few times, I must live with it. If you're not as confident in your QB making those crunch-time decisions then you can always tell him when he can audible or just tell him “No Checks”, for example when it’s short yardage.
We can audible with using colors, numbers, and words in our cadence. The LIVE color/# will change from week to week if needed. The QB can also use hand signals and sometimes wristbands to communicate the audible.
Over the past few years, we’ve been mainly a 10 and 11 personnel team. We’ve had some good skill players and I’m always looking to take advantage of mismatches and get my skill players in space. This has worked with all types of quarterbacks from a first-year freshman starting varsity, two- and three-year starters, as well as a senior transfer during this past season.
After the initial install, since the majority of our audibles are quick game routes, we do a quick game period of 5-10 minutes, depending on the day, and run the routes on air, vs coverage, then with adjustments like when a hitch is called and a DB stems to press. Once we get to camp and into the regular season the quick game period becomes a daily period of 10 minutes on Offensive days and 5 minutes on Defensive days.