Flipping Offensive Lineman

Optimizing your Football Running Plays

 

Optimizing Football PlaysIf you have been following our Essential Youth Football Plays and Football Plays, Formations, and Adjustments blog posts, you know that come September many youth football coaches will be scouring the Internet looking for football plays to help their struggling offenses.  What many youth football coaches fail to understand are that it may not be the plays they are running, but where they are placing their players. One of the strategies that we would like to suggest is flipping your offensive lineman.  This tactic makes optimal use of your talent while finding spots for less athletically gifted players and is even a strategy used at the higher levels of football.

To illustrate this concept, we will use Coach Bruce Eien’s I Wing Offense.

I Wing Base Formation

I Wing Base Formation

Using the strategy of flipping lineman we will designate the play side of the line as the “Wall” side and the back side of the play as the “Pull” side.

Pull and Wall Side

Pull and Wall Side

Our play calling nomenclature might look something like this:

[Backs Formation] [Blocking Scheme] [Wall Side/Play Direction] [Tag]

Using the examples of the I Back Toss Power Play and I Back Toss Counter Play in our previous blog posts, our play calls would be:

I-Right Toss Right

  • I-Right = Backs Formation
  • Toss = Power Blocking Scheme
  • Right = Designates which side of the Center the Wall side lineman are to line up and the direction of the play.
I Wing Toss Power Play

I Wing Toss Power Play

I-Right Counter Left

  • I-Right = Backs Formation
  • Counter = Power Blocking Scheme
  • Left = Designates which side of the Center the Wall side lineman are to line up and the direction of the play.
I Wing Toss Counter Play

I Wing Toss Counter Play

Player Placement

By flipping the offensive line, positions can be prioritized and players can be placed in spots where they have a greater chance of success.  Keeping with the previous examples, we would use the following guideline for building our offensive line:

Position Description Priority
pg Pull side Guard  (Most Athletic) 1
wt Wall side Tackle (Strongest/Best Blocker) 2
wg Wall side Guard – (Wall side Tackle in Waiting) 3
Y Wall side Tight End – (Best Receiver) 4
C Center – (Confident/Coachable) 5
pt Pull side Tackle (Minimum Type Player) 6
X Pull side Tight End (Minimum Type Player) 7

Since we are running away from the Pull side of the offensive line, we have created two positions, pt and X, that can be utilized for rotating players.  As these positions improve throughout the season, we could introduce tags that have the Wall side and Pull side swap responsibilities.  For example, if we align in the following fashion and our opponent has scouted us enough, they are going to expect that we are going to run Counter to the left of the formation and might shift their defense accordingly:

I-Right

I-Right

To combat this, we could simply add a Tag like “Rhino” or “Lion” that tells the Wall side and Pull side to swap responsibilities and the Backfield the new direction of the play.  Keeping with our I Wing Toss Power Play example, our play call would look like this:

I-Right Toss Left Rhino

  • I-Right = Backs Formation
  • Toss = Power Blocking Scheme
  • Left = Designates which side of the Center the Wall side are to lineman line up.
  • Rhino = Tells the Wall side and Play side to swap responsibilities and the Backfield the direction (Right) of the play.
I Wing Toss with Rhino Tag

I Wing Toss with Rhino Tag

If we wanted to appear to be running Toss to the Right, we could call:

I-Right Counter Right Lion

  • I-Right = Backs Formation
  • Counter = Counter Blocking Scheme
  • Right = Designates which side of the Center the Wall side lineman are to line up.
  • Lion = Tells the Wall side and Play side to swap responsibilities and the Backfield the direction (Left) of the play.
I Wing Toss Counter with Lion Tag

I Wing Toss Counter with Lion Tag

You would only need to use these tags if you think the defense is keying the Wall side of the line and only enough times to keep the defense honest.

Shifting the Offensive Line

If you like the idea of flipping your offensive line, you should also give consideration to shifting to further stress the defensive.  This could be simply done by having your Wall Side and Pull Side always start on the same side of the line and adding a “Shift” to your cadence.  For example, the Wall side could always line up on the Right and the Pull side on the Left of the Center with your cadence being something like the following:

Shift, Down, Set, GO

Assuming that the play call designated that the Wall side is to be on the Left side of the line, the offensive line would flip upon hearing “Shift”.  Otherwise they would just stay in their position.  Below is an example of a youth team flipping their line and better illustrates what we are trying to describe.  Though the team in the video is a Single Wing team, their flip method could be adopted to other offenses as well.

That’s Coaching!

Unless you are blessed with an abundance of quality offensive lineman, flipping your line puts your team in the best possible position to be successful while creating spots to get more players on the field without sacrificing competitiveness.  Finding ways to maintain competitiveness while striving to involve as many of your players is what Coaching is all about.  If you have doubts, we suggest you take a look at our Should I play my best 11 or risk sacrificing wins blog post.

If you are interested in learning more about the I Back Toss, please check out our I Back Toss (Double Wing Style) clinic.  Also, if you would like to further explore the thought of shifting your offensive line and the choreography required, you might want to take a look at our Flipping with the Unbalanced Single Wing clinic.