Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flexbone and the B back-The Running Game

After our first installment on the B back, we now know what we need for the position, but we now need to give him a job description.  I do this with all positions whether offense, defense, or special teams.  So, what is the B back's job description?  Well, the B back's main role in the offense is the dive back on the triple option.  A typical fullback is usually not utilized as a runner, and you will find that blocking is not a top priority of the Flexbone B back.  Being able to run option plays such as midline, inside veer (ISV) and outside veer (OSV) are essential (again this goes back to the first post on what we are looking for in our B back).  The B back is not a "driller" either, he must be able to cut back and make quick cuts on the zone dive play.  I have also utilized the B back as an outside runner on option plays as well.  Lastly the B back does need to block some.  He will be called on a lot in pass protection as he makes up the 6th in our 6 man protection schemes.  He's also the C gap blocker on sprintout passes as well.  The B back, for me, has also needed the ability to catch passes as I run the waggle off the Rocket toss play as well as middle and off tackle screens to the B back.  As you can see, the B back in the Flexbone must be a pretty versatile player.  Let's look closer and some of the common run plays the B back is involved in, and also plays used to keep the B back involved in the game.

Option Runs
The B back is involved in several of the Flexbone option runs.  These include the following, midline, ISV, OSV and speed option.  For those that run trap and trap option, the B back is obviously a part of this as well. 

Inside Veer/Triple Option
The B back is the crux of the triple option.  He is the man that you must get established to make it all go.  The defense must honor the give to the B back.  Listen to any good circle of defensive coaches, and you will hear the phrase "You must take away the dive".  Nobody wants to get beat by a running back (RB) pounding it up the middle on you all night, well, this is EXACTLY what the B back is for.  Quickness and toughness are essential to any B back if they are going to helm make the best play in football go!

Midline, is my favorite play in all of football.  I don't believe there is another play out there that hits with the quickness of the  midline out of the Flexbone offense.  This is where the B back's quickness comes into play.  Toughness is also shown here, as the B back will be running right into the teeth of the defense.

Outside Veer
Though not a staple of many Flexbone offenses, the OSV is one the B back must be able to run.  With the modern day twist on defense switching back to that of the odd front, the need is there for a TE flank and the ability to run OSV putting the defense in conflict.  The B back's role on OSV compared to ISV is no different, especially the way I run it (for a later post, email me to discuss if you'd like).  Nonetheless, the B back still has to utilize his strength and quickness when running the OSV, just as he does with midline and the ISV.

Speed Option
Johnathan Dwyer at Georgia Tech made a living on the speed option, due in part to him being such a fantastic athlete.  If you've watched Paul Johnson's teams as long as I have, you know the speed option is a great play, when your B back is a home run hitter.  A few years back I had a B back that could fly, he was small but super explosive and ran the ball well inside or out. I dusted of the speed option, to a tune of a 7.7 yard per average carry on that single play alone and 9 touchdowns that year.  Our QB was a good runner too, so it was truly a double option threat!  If your B back is more of a straight-ahead power runner, then the speed option might not be for you.  However, if you think your B back would do good out on the edge of the defense, I suggest you run this complimentary play.

Complimentary Plays
Any good defense is going to take away the B back at some point during the season.  Having complimentary plays is what keeps the B back involved in the run game, and a viable threat when running the triple option.  I'm going to list some plays you can use to help keep the B back involved in the run game when the defense is taking him out of the triple option equation.

Zone Dive
The zone dive is the play that is designed to keep the B back involved in the run game when the defense has done a good job of taking away the dive portion of the triple option.  Very simply put, the zone dive is the Flexbone's inside zone play.  There is no read, and all the OL zone block, including the PSSB.  The BSSB goes in motion just like the regular triple option play and runs his normal pitch course.  The B back will take a flat step, instead of a straight ahead attack step as he does on the triple option.  This is so the B back can get a good read on the playside guard's (PSG's) block.  Once this "read step" has been made the B back squares his shoulders and either stays on track or cuts back, but must NEVER bounce to the outside.  The QB will bring the ball back as deep as he can so the ball is in the B back's hands as long as possible to help with the B back's read on the defense.  This also helps with the illusion of the play being the standard triple option play.  Once the QB disconnects with the B back, he then carries out his option fake. 

Iso is a play I got from the University of the Cumberlands staff about three years ago.  It is zone dive, and OSV wrapped into one package for them.  They have used it with great success in recent years, and I took it and completely removed the Zone Dive from my playbook.  Iso blocking was something my players know from running the counter-iso play.  So, there was no new teaching for anybody on the offense.  The only new teaching came from the footwork of the B back, and the QB not having to read anyone.  The QB delivers the ball as deep as he can to the B back, the exact same way the zone dive is run.  Once the ball is seated, then the QB and backside slot (BSSB) carry out their option fake.  The playside slot (PSSB) folds underneath and blocks first LB to the playside.  The OL is iso blocking to the playside and scooping to the backside.  The only difference from ISV to the Iso play is the first step of the B back. Instead of attacking downhill, the B back will take a lateral step, and then attack the outside hip of the playside guard (PSG).  This allows the B back to read the blocks and be prepared to make a cut quickly, just as the Zone Dive does, but without having to teach zone blocking.  This is a very good play, and I recommend that you add it to your playbook...TODAY!!!!

I've never been a big proponent of trap or trap option, however it is a part of many Flexbone schemes.  My guards have always been the large immovable objects on my OL, and not usually known for pulling well, so I've strayed away from running trap or trap option.  If you have the guards to do so, and you run a lot of midline, I suggest adding the trap in, especially if you are facing a hard to read three technique.  The trap puts a "squatting" or "sitting" three technique in conflict as with the trap block it automatically declares the tackle to be a B gap player.  Again, if you've got the guards, and you run a lot of midline, I suggest adding trap to your repertoire.

A great play off sprintout action is the sprint draw.  In years where my B back was more of a rushing threat than my QB, I have used this very play.  It's very successful, and can really crease the defense if you are good at sprintout passing from the Flexbone.  The B back sets up as if to block on the play, but then quickly slashes back running to daylight.  I have seen huge gains off this play from both the B back and the QB.  Even though it's not known as a passing offense, a good draw play is a must in any playbook.

There are many other ways to keep the ball in the hands of the B back, you can use screens and quick passes to him coming out of the backfield.  The plays listed above are ones you can use to keep your play maker involved in the game, even though the defense is taking him away from the bread and butter option plays.  You can also use the complimentary plays to hurt over-aggressive defenses who are being unsound against your option plays.  This ability to keep the defense honest, will allow you to run your base triple option plays successfully.

I certainly hope you enjoyed the installment on one of the key elements to any Flexbone triple option attack...the B back!