Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Changing Your Offense?

Posted by admin March - 19 - 2013 - Tuesday

I spent some time this morning on the phone with a coaching friend. He wanted some advice on whether he should “modify” his offense. He’s a long time Wing T coach and is looking to make some changes. He wanted my opinion on whether I thought he should go to the Pistol Wing T? My first question to him was: “WHY are you thinking about doing this?” Your motivation is the critical first question anytime you’re contemplating a change in the way you do things. I wanted him to hear himself say why he wanted to switch to Pistol.

“I think it’s better suited to the strengths of my QB,” he said. That was good. If he’d said something like, “Well there’s a team in our conference who ran it.” Or, “the 49’ers looked good running it in the Super Bowl…” then I would’ve taken issue with his thought process. Too often, coaches (especially Offensive Coordinators!) see themselves as being innovators.” We’d love to be the next Chris Ault and come up with something like the Pistol. Then everyone would jump on board the new wave and we’d average 50 points a game. This is when I need to caution you. If you are running an offense (Wing T, Wishbone, Single Wing) that nobody else in your league runs— be happy!!! Why do you think people in the ACC hate to prepare for Georgia Tech? Is it because they have superior personnel?! It’s that crazy, unconventional offense that Paul Johnson runs. Why is GT so effective running it? Because Coach Johnson KNOWS that offense. That, in my mind, is the key. Run something that you know and understand— particularly how to attack defenses! I love to watch Johnson match wits with Bud Foster at VT (my team!) It’s a chess match. Bud will change option responsibilities and Johnson changes blocking scheme. And on it goes for 60 minutes!

If you are thinking about changing offenses, you better be prepared to spend hours upon hours learning it. Then you have to teach it to your staff and they have to teach it to your players. My first year at my current school, I decided that I wanted to install some read option from shotgun Wing T like some schools out west run. I studied it and felt pretty comfortable with it. There was just one problem: I failed to take into account that my coaches and players had never seen the Del. Wing T. To try to teach base Wing T (under center) and our Spread package AND… then add a read option conponent from the shotgun was simply overwhelming. After 2 scrimmages and 3 games, I bagged the read option package and went stricty base Wing T. We repped the heck out of our 6-7 base plays that next week; attacked the flank of our 4th opponent all night and at the end of the game we’d rushed for 411 yards.

I’m not saying don’t change. Heck, you may need to change. But… be sure you are prepared for the “transition” period that will likely occur upon changing. I’d say: Stick with what you know best and keep studying. I purchased Tubby’s book 22 years ago. I re-read it every winter! Invariably, there’s something in there that I “see” for the first time or there’s a reminder of how a play needs to be executed. We’re going to add Jet and Rocket Sweep to our offense this year— we need another (faster) way to attack the flanks. They will be a small part of our offensive package until everyone is totally comfortable with executing them. It’s a slight addition— NOT a total revamping.

I’m of the opinion: Grow where you are planted!

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