Brennan Marion's "GoGo" offense presents defenses with a lot of challenges.
For instance, the offense may have a split-back backfield but then have trips to the field as well. In order to be in trips while at the same time having two eligible players in the backfield means that one receiver will be “covered,” meaning that he cannot go downfield for a pass.
While this may sound like a disadvantage at first, there are a handful of benefits for running unbalanced formations. For one, defenses are not used to seeing such formations. Unbalanced formations can cause a lot of confusion and chaos on the defensive side of the ball, especially if an offense sugar huddles and lines up quickly. Additionally, many defenses will still cover the ineligible receiver, leaving one less defender to fill a gap. There are also times a defense will bring their extra corner over to help defend the covered receiver. By doing this, they vacate the perimeter on the side of the ball the corner abandoned.
I found six plays that William & Mary used and was successful with. Every play is run out of an unbalanced formation, which again, means that there is one “covered” receiver.
Most teams that run Zone Read Triple with two RB’s will typically be split-back or have one RB in pistol with the other RB in a sidecar position. William and Mary likes to stack RB’s (both horizontally and vertically) together and “overload” them on either side of the QB.
On this specific play, the QB is reading the end man on the line of scrimmage, this being the DE. The DE crashes down and pursues the RB, telling the QB to keep it. The QB then reads the Outside LB. The LB decides to play the QB. The QB sees the LB commit to him, and pitches it to the pitch man (RB) and he takes it for a big gain.
William and Mary line up in “Quads” to the field out of 10 personnel. The H is ineligible because this is an unbalanced formation, yet the defense covers him anyway. The defense “clovers” and brings the boundary corner over to the field. This creates a numbers advantage to the boundary. It is now five on five in the box.
This play is still Zone Read Triple Option, but instead of a RB in the backfield being the pitch man, he is substituted by the X running a bubble to the field. The QB’s reads remain the same. He reads the DE and then the Outside LB. The only thing that changes is that instead of having the option to pitch it to a RB, he now has the ability to sling the ball to the X on the bubble.
William and Mary run this play on the opponents two yard line. They once again line up in Quads out of 10 personnel, but the WR’s are all attached tightly to the line of scrimmage. This formation creates eight gaps to the right side of the center, and the defense only has six players accounting for them (six and a half if we count the nose). Unbalanced formations can stir up confusion in the defense and can many times create more gaps than they can defend.
This variation of Outside Zone has the Right Tackle down blocking on the three technique and the Right Guard pulling and looking for the most dangerous man. Everyone else is blocking their gap. When the ball was snapped on this play, the defense was still trying to figure out how to get lined up. The RB was able to walk in for the touchdown.
Here is another formation that you cannot be in without having an ineligible receiver. There are two RB’s in the backfield with three WR’s to the field. There is no other way to line up this way without being “unbalanced.”
The play that is called is Counter Read. At the snap, the RB runs lateral towards the field and the QB takes one slide step with him while reading the DE. If the DE charges the QB, he will hand it to the RB who will then have three blockers to the field. If the DE widens, the QB will keep it and follow his pullers. The Center, Right Guard, and Right Tackle down block while the Left Guard and Left Tackle pull and block their assignments (Playside DE and Playside LB). The Fullback works up to the corner.
William & Mary Twins Unbalanced Playaction Shot Play
Here is another unbalanced formation out of 21 personnel. The Y, who is the ineligible receiver, stays inside to block. Also, the two RB’s are both to the left of the QB in William & Mary’s signature “stacked backfield” look.
On this play, the O-Line pass protects like they’re running Inside Zone to the right. The FB protects the edge to the field and the RB fakes the mesh with the QB and then sets up to protect. The Play-Action causes the LB’s and FS to come downhill, leaving two WR’s one on one to the field side. The H wins his match-up and scores on the post.
The defense lines up heavily to the H-Back, leaving the unbalanced side lighter and more vulnerable. The RB’s line up side by side once again, but this time they are behind the QB instead of beside him.
At the snap, the QB stretches the ball out to the RB and fakes Outside Zone to the left along with the O-Line. The majority of the defense flows with the play-action. After the brief fake, the QB boots back out to the unbalanced side where the Y and Z are blocking for the H on the Flat Route. The LB runs hard with the H, helping the QB decide to run it in himself through a giant gap that was vacated by the LB who pursued the Flat.