I spend a lot of time watching offensive game film, and I've got a long list of things an offense could do to make it harder on a defense.
Today I'm going to share five of my favorites.
1. Flip the back pre-snap from side-to-side a few times per game
There are usually around 60-70 offensive snaps per game at the high school level. If you make a habit of moving the back 6-7 times per game, you've affected 10% of the snaps for the defense, and you've really screwed up their analytics.
Trust me, defensive coordinators study your backfield alignment, depth, and horizontal placement within the backfield with intense precision.
Then they spend all week reinforcing that information to their players.
If you give them more than a few seconds to recognize the back location, and pull up the list of tendencies in their head, they can play faster, and with more anticipation.
For the record, it's OK to have tendencies.
Certain backfield alignments naturally lend themselves to certain run schemes and pass protections, but you want to eliminate that certainty in your opponent's mind, making them play slower, and by extension, making your offense play faster.
You can accomplish all this by adding just a single word to your call (Ex: Right Ace "Flip" 32 Zone).
2. Use One-Word Calls
Speaking of playing faster, what about teams who don't really move that fast?
What if you've got a young quarterback who may not be able to go as fast as you'd like?
Or maybe you're just naturally not an up-tempo team, but you want the ability to manufacture tempo without getting out the giant poster boards every week.
The answer is pretty simple, just add some one-word calls to your offense.
Let's be specific here, what exactly should those calls be?
They should be something that your kids are good at, something that forms the base of your offense, and something they know so well that they don't even have to think about it.
Thinking strategically, you should have the ability to run to the left, run to the right, and to pass.
You can trigger the play call and have everyone rush up to the line as soon as they hear the word.
(Ex: "Alpha! Alpha!" ---> Your offense gets to the line and runs inside zone from 2x2 as fast as possible)
3. Have a "Trips into the Boundary" Package
This is one of the simplest things you can do, and you probably don't need to add any new plays.
Putting trips into the short side of the field forces the defense to make a choice with their numbers.
Do they match your numbers into that boundary, or do they focus on keeping numbers to the field and try to bottle you up into that tight area?
You're using an unbalanced look and really forcing the defense to declare their intentions.
Even if you don't have a clear numbers advantage, you can still gain an edge outside if they over-adjust in the secondary and give you a one-on-one look to the outside.
Here's a good example of a play that lots of college spread teams run in this situation, that gives you an answer against pretty much any look you're going to see.
Here's the first look and answer against a balanced two-high look.
Now what if the defense lines up to take away the screen to the boundary?
Finally, what if the defense rolls the secondary to the boundary while keeping the box loaded with defenders?
Even if you don't want to put in a new play, there's still merit to lining up with your pass strength to the boundary and seeing how the defense reacts.
This is especially true if you haven't done it before, so you'll give the defense something else to talk about at the half.
4. Pre-Determining Routes and Throws for your QB
Look, everyone agrees that it's important for your QB to have a high football IQ, and understand as much as possible about the game.
Still, at the end of the day, you've gotta be able to move the ball, and 16-18 year olds don't always make the right read and throw the ball to who they're supposed to.
Sometimes you've got a matchup that you really want to exploit, or maybe you've spent all week practicing a specific pass concept against a specific look, and you want to make sure it plays out the way it's supposed to.
Either way, adding an extra word to the play call can tell the QB where he's throwing.
(Ex: Trips Right 4 Verts "X" - Where the X tells the QB which receiver to throw to)
If you've got a young passer who's struggling, or maybe you've got a backup who has to play because of an injury who's not quite ready yet, this can be a great way to lighten the load for you as a play caller.
Use it to make your QB look good and play better.
5. Create New Formations with your Special Personnel Groups
One of the best way's to make a defense's life easier is to let them know exactly how you're going to line up when certain guys come out onto the field.
One place that usually happens is with your special personnel groups, like short yardage and goal line personnel.
When those big guys come onto the field, most defensive coordinators at the high school level have a very limited number of calls, maybe even just one, on their call sheet.
It's usually some form of cover zero, with the guys in the middle selling out against the run and plugging the gaps.
What if you could run those big guys out there and give the defense a bunch look instead, or an empty look?
Here are just a few of the different ways you can line up with 22 personnel on the field:
And here are just some of the "back-of-the-napkin" play ideas from one of these formations out of 22 personnel that create matchup problems for a defense that wants to sit in a heavy look:
These are drawn up against 6-2 goal line personnel.
Now all of a sudden that defensive coordinator can't just put extra beef on the field and tell his group to fire the gaps and sell out against the run.
He'll have to spend extra time in practice going over every different wrinkle you have, which takes time away from practicing against your base runs and fitting properly against you when you're trying to run north and south on the goal line.