In-Season Situational Football Part Four: “The S-Squared Model:” Prepping for Unique Situations

Sep 18, 2023 | Practice Organization, Program Development

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Researcher/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar



Case 3: Practicing Unique Situations

Situational football is reactionary by nature. Coaches typically don’t understand the value of a situation until they win, or more importantly lose, by not practicing it. Therefore, these situations are not created until it’s too late. But most coaches will use this prior knowledge to be proactive in the future by working through the situations they learned from. Because, more often than not, it will arise again. In this case, we are going to present the unique situations that our sources have encountered, and subsequently practiced, to make sure their players know what to do when it happens again.

Our research is segmented into offense, defense and special teams. And they are in no particular order.


Unique Offensive Situations:

Scramble Situations- If practice correctly, these situations can turn turning potential coverage sacks into explosive plays.  While coaches work these scramble situations daily, base rules are as follows: if you’re short go deep. If you’re deep, come back to the quarterback. If you’re away from the quarterback, get in his line of sight.

  1. If the QB scrambles to your side, the widest receivers run deep; the ball will never be underthrown
  2. If the QB scrambles away from you, break parallel to the QB and get in his vision
  3. Backs who block, fake or run routes, should run a course parallel to LOS with the QB, looking for the open spot
  4. If the QB decides to run, all receivers and backs sprint to get a block. Don’t clip!


Overtime Periods - How many coaches are reviewing overtime with their players? Getting players comfortable with the overtime period rules (both in high school and in college) and go a long way in building their confidence to execute. It’s important that coaches review what calls they are going to make and why they are going to make them. At Towson University (MD) defensive coordinator Darian Dulin spends extra time defending the mandatory two-point play in the third overtime period. As it’s shown, it will often win or lose game.  And on the offensive side of the ball, coordinators need to be prepared with at least 5-7 two point plays in case the game drags on past the second overtime period. “You also have to train your players to understand momentum,” said Jason Eck, the head coach at the University of Idaho. “In the second overtime, the team that scores second goes right back out there. It’s a challenge mentally so you need to get your composure.”

Wet Ball Situation - These situation teaches quarterbacks how to handle a wet ball in inclement weather. Time needs to be taken to teach QB’s how to fall on the ball when it hits the turf and how to protect it.

Six-Second Play Situation - This was referenced earlier. The typical offensive play lasts six seconds. So, when an offense is down to one play and it has to run out the clock, time has to be spent preparing the offense on how to do so. Most coaches will design a sprint out launch point for the quarterback and throw the ball as high as he can out of bounds. This can generate up to 13 seconds of killed clock. It’s important to work on fourth down when an offense doesn’t want to punt the ball.

“Bingo” Transition Situation - These situations are built for offenses coming off a turnover to line up in a unique formation (that has never been seen) with the purpose of creating defensive confusion and stealing a time out.

“Hold or Hang Play” Situation - This is another way to kill the clock. Coaches work on letting the QB run around and basically tackle the defense to kill the clock.  The purpose is to get the clock down to where an offense can take a knee. One of the issues that comes up with the hang play is the question of how far the sidelines are from the stands. Coach Eck told us that while in South Dakota (his previous stop) the ball traveled far to get to the sidelines and out of bounds in an adequate amount of time. But now at Idaho in a Dome, the ball will go out of bounds more quickly because the stands are close to the sideline. It prompted him to come up with his “Safety” play, which is discussed below.