Spread Running Game Tips

Spread Running Game Tips


Hey Coach, thanks again for checking out this post and for being a loyal subscriber. I really appreciate it. Today we are going to look at a few spread running game tips. I had a question this week on the blog and I thought that our conversation might benefit everyone, so here you go.

I want to start with a premise that I think we can all agree on: The entire point of the spread offense and, more specifically, the Air Raid is to force the defense to make a choice. It’s a numbers game. If you practice this system and implement it correctly, the defense cannot be right. If they commit 5 guys to the passing game, you will kill them through the air. If they try to stop the passing game, you have numbers in the running game.

That is obviously an oversimplification especially because we coach high school kids and the most important thing in any high school football game is player not play. But, assuming that all else is equal and you don’t have a D-I kid in the backfield, it’s as easy as counting the box and calling a play that puts your guys in position to win.

So, with that said, let me bring you in on a conversation I had with a coach this week and hopefully it can lead us to a few spread running game tips that benefit everyone.

The question posed to me was: Hey Coach, I love the Air Raid, but I really want to keep my power running game intact. Any thoughts?

So, the short answer is…yes absolutely you can have a power running game in the spread offense. But, here are a couple of tips that might make it practical and applicable,

#1 – Define Your Run Concepts

The first thing we have to do is define what we mean by “power run game.” In my mind, power run game means anything that puts a lead blocker at the point of attack. So, even if we run an outside play, if we have a lead blocker, it’s part of the power run game. But, when you think of power run game, you might be thinking inside, downhill, 2-back. Once you define your idea of a power running game, it will help you choose your concepts, which will, in turn lead to how you scheme to achieve your ideas in the context of the spread offense. So, for the sake of the rest of this article, I will tell you how I go about getting a blocker in front of my back.

#2 – Use Pullers

This is the easiest solution. Dart and Trap are two plays that are staples in our running game. Each play puts one of our best blockers in front of one of our best athletes. Trap utilizes the backside guard to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage. Dart utilizes the backside tackle as a lead blocker through the 4 hole. I love them both. There is a defined hole and a defined path for the RB. Sometimes, in order to get numbers at the point of attack, we utilize receivers or RB’s (we will talk about this in a second) but your guards and tackles are your best blockers. These concepts maximize your strengths and it give kids a chance to be successful. Click Here to read more about the Dart concept and Click Here to read more about Trap

#3 – QB Lead

This is the easiest way to get lead blocker without using a puller. QB lead is the easiest two back play you can run out of a spread set. We have probably all utilized the lead pay at some time in our coaching career but I will describe it quickly. Lead is run to the open gap on the playside. So, it could be a B gap play or an A gap play depending on the front. The rules for your guard and tackle are simple…block the nearest down lineman away from the open gap. So, if the defense has a 1 technique and 5 technique, the guard down blocks on the 1 and the Tackle kicks out the 5 and we run through the B gap. If it’s a 3 technique and a 5 technique then it’s two kick out blocks and we run through the A gap.

The key is your RB. He has to execute a lead block on the linebacker at the point of attack. This can be a difficult proposition depending on the skill set of your back. If he can’t do it, then I recommend focusing on Dart and Trap and using your linemen. Another option would be to sub him out when you want to run lead, but this tips your hand to the defense and slows down your pace. So, again, be aware of what your kids can do. If he’s 175 and the Mike backer is 220, it’s probably not the best idea to have lead as a staple in your gameplan. But, if he can block and your QB can run, this is a great way to run a downhill two back play out of a spread set.

#4 – Motion a WR as a Lead Blocker

Again, this depends on the skill set of your kids, but this is something that I have utilized with quite a bit of success. If you have a big TE type playing slot, you can motion him into the backfield and use him to lead or kick out. The upside is that he will have momentum and is probably better suited to lead on a backer or kick out a DE than your RB. The downside is that, unless you also incorporate motion into the passing game, you are going to tip your hand to the defense.

But if you do utilize motion in the passing game, at least a few times a night, this could be an easy wrinkle to throw in. You could also double up on the lead blockers and run a variation of the power play…all down blocks on the playside, TE motions into the backfield and kicks out the playside DE, RB leads up the hole on the playside LB, and QB carries the ball. This would give you a true power play out of a spread set.

Again, make sure that you are utilizing the talents of your kids. Only ask them to do what they can actually do!

Thanks again for reading coach. Have a great week!