Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Read Tags in the Shotgun Run Game

There is often confusion about the different types of reads in the Shotgun Running game that I wanted to talk about and clarify.  I will be talking about Zone, Power, and Counter and these four primary read tags off of those concepts: Read, Flash, Bash, and Toss.

"Read" by definition means that the QB will be reading the backside DE or EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage) to the play.  So, "Zone Left Read" means I am reading the DE on the right.  Read is used so much as a tag on the Zone play that many coaches don't even use the tag anymore.  So when I call "Zone Left," it is an automatic read.  The Double Teams are so gorgeous on these two clips.

Zone Read is commonly ran out of 2 Back sets with an Arc block by the the H-Back to lead for the QB (some people call this Zone Slice).  Look at the the second cut-up and the H-Back from Kansas St.  He takes an angle that looks like he will kick out the DE and then goes around him at the last second.  That is a very good technique because it gets the DE to come down tight and try to spill the play, allowing the H-Back to slip around him and lead for the QB.

Lincoln Riley has used the Read tag with Counter G-T (pulling the backside Guard and Tackle), which I will refer to as "Hammer" (Counter G-F with the Guard and Fullback pulling will be referred to as "Counter" in this article).  They also do a lot of RPOs off of this concept.  I have fooled around with this a bit in practice but there is another tag I like better with Hammer, which I will get to in a bit.

Hammer Read is also ran out of 2 Back sets with an H-Back.

Technically, it is incorrect to use the Read tag with the play everyone refers to as "Power Read," because you are not reading the backside DE.  It can more accurately be named Power Flash (Flash - frontside sweep).  It really is in its own category as there is no other Gun option concept with a frontside read.  The only exception to this is if you run your Inside Zone as a true Inside Veer play.  We used to call this play "Posse," for Power + Sweep.  Look at the first cut-up and the finish on the block by my Center on the play.  Beautiful.  Let me wipe the tear from my eye and move on.

Bash stands for "Backside Sweep" and this one gets people confused sometimes.  You can run Bash on the backside of just about any QB run you can think of from the Gun, like QB Wedge.  In my last post on The Origin of Power Read, I described how the first time I thought I saw Power Read was by Texas A & M in their 2006 bowl game, only the play was actually Q Zone Bash.

The next year in 2007 saw the rise of the Bash tag with Oregon and its new Offensive Coordinator, Chip Kelly, and with Urban Meyer in his second year at Florida.  Urban Meyer, Dan Mullen, and the Florida offensive staff were the ones to come up with the name for the tag, "Bash."  I wrote in an article on Defending Bash and Midline how Meyer liked the Zone Read play while at Utah with the Running Back hitting it up between the tackles and his QB, Alex Smith, being able to pull it and get yards on the perimeter.  

His situation at Florida was completely opposite and atypical.  Meyer had guys in the backfield like Percy Harvin, Chris Rainey, and Jeff Demps who could fly, but weren't as good at running it inside.  He had Tim Tebow at QB, who could run it outside but was best equipped to do the heavy lifting inside.  Q Hammer Bash was a perfect play for that Offense and it led to a Heisman Trophy in 2007 for Tebow and a second National Championship for Meyer in 2008.

Q Hammer Bash was probably my favorite play as an OC in the crazy year of 2014, being handed the job in mid-season after coaching the Defensive Line the first half of the year.  A key to this play is that your Center must be able to block back on the 3 tech, and I was blessed with a very good Center who could do that.

The next two Bash plays were something new we developed in 2014 to attack the 3-4 and the Mint front or Tite front (0 tech Nose and two 4i's) that is so popular today.

Mint Front

I have seen the 3-4 plenty of times but this game was the first time I had seen a team run the Mint front with the 4i's as its base Defense.  Q Iso Bash was something new we put in to get good angles vs. this front.  We found that putting the H-Back on the opposite side of the Iso timed it up the best and was the most effective way to run it.

Q Nail Bash was a unique way for us to tweak Counter and run it vs the 3-4.  My Tackles did a great job of wrapping on Hammer (Counter G-T) so I wanted to keep that the same, and my H-Back was a glorified Guard, so why not have him Kick Out?  It worked out great and it allowed us to still run our Hammer play with minimal changes up front.

I didn't want to delve into the vast universe of RPOs, but this one was too cool not to include.  My jaw dropped the first time I saw this play.  It pairs a Sprint-Out concept with Bash on the backside.  Magnificent job, Scott Frost.

This is the newest tag in the Shotgun Run Game and it is lethal.  The first time I had ever seen this play on film was Auburn vs. Alabama in the 2014 Iron Bowl, although I didn't realize it at first.  I had watched that film quite a few times and thought it was just a simple Toss to the Back, but after Clemson started making the tag popular beginning in 2016 I finally noticed the pull of the backside Guard and realized it was a read concept (this is the first cut-up in the video below).  

I wish I had known of Toss earlier.  When I was an Offensive Coordinator in 2014, I ran a ton of Posse and Hammer Bash.  I had a good Back and teams would scheme us and have the DE or OLB away from the Back come upfield hard to make our QB keep it.  Toss allows you to run option concepts to either side of the Back and makes it much harder on defenses. 

A well-trained DE can play both the Back and the QB on Posse (what everybody calls Power Read), but he cannot play both on Power Toss.  If he takes even one step down with the Offensive Tackle, he is toast and the ball is out on the perimeter (unless your DE runs a 4.4 and the Back runs a 5.4). 

Q Counter Toss is also a nice play with the H-Back in a Hip position outside the OT, because now the DE sees the OT step down inside AND the H-Back pull inside; so even if he has the Back, it will be difficult for him to be able to do that with all the eye candy distracting him in the opposite direction.

I hope this post clarifies your understanding of Shotgun Read Tags and gives you some ideas for the upcoming season.  A future post may include the Stretch and Dart run concepts, as well as the Lock, Midline, Shovel, and Triple read tags; but my next few posts will focus on Defense and look at the Simulated Pressures and Creepers that are becoming extremely popular in today's game.

Also, don't miss out on out the best football podcast there is, Deep Dive on Defense, with my man, Coach Vass.

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