For high school coaches that are allowed to have spring practice, it’s a great time to get a head start on installing your offense during the spring. When preparing for your spring install, it’s really important to have an idea of what type of offense you plan on running in the fall. This can be based on your preferred style of offense or maybe even the personnel you expect to have once you’re in season. Understanding “who you are” as an offense can give clarity to installing your offense during spring football.
This year we will be practicing for 8 days during the spring. In these 8 days, I will be installing the main components of our offense — base formations, motions, run schemes and pass concepts with pass protections. Installing the main components will also help reinforce the necessary fundamentals and technique that players must practice with in order to properly execute the correct scheme. Fundamentals and technique should always be the utmost priority because your schemes don’t mean anything without those two components. “How” players execute the scheme with fundamentals and technique is the foundation for “what” you do on offense and “why” you do it.
We are an up-tempo, no huddle offense that uses hand signals for everything. We believe this style of offense gives us the best chance to win and is the most efficient way to communicate. In order to lay the foundation for this style of offense, “how” we practice is extremely important. In order to build our players’ comprehension of our concepts and the signals that go with it, we try to hit as many of their learning sensory’s as possible. We have our players see it, hear it and do it. For example, if we were to install formations with QB’s, RB’s and WR’s, we would say the formation while giving the sign and the players would physically move to get in the correct formation. With repetition of hearing it, seeing it, and doing it when installing formations, run schemes, pass concepts etc. you will increase their comprehension over a longer period of time.
Goals for Installing Your Offense During Spring Football
The main goal for me when installing my offense during spring football is to install as much as I can. Some may prefer to take it slower and install only 1-2 runs or just a few pass concepts. I understand why coaches would want to take that approach for a variety of reasons. However, I prefer installing as much as I can in the 8 days that I have scheduled. I know we are not going to perfect our run schemes in the little time that we have whether I install one run play or four. That’s why I lean towards throwing more at them in the beginning because I know it will take all summer and early fall to tighten the screws on fundamentals, technique and the overall execution of the play.
Here is what I hope to install by the end of spring football
- 2×2 & 3×1— 8 total
- Inside zone
- Outside zone
- Power read
- GT Counter
- Quick pass game — Quick, Bubble, Hitch, Fade-out, Stick-out, Slant-arrow, Stick
- Go series (4 verts)
- Dig (Mills / Shallow)
- Double Post
- Half slide
I should also note that leading up to spring football, I have my players join our Football Google Classroom where this material is posted for them to study. I quiz them in Google Classroom on hand signals, names of formations and plays and other terminology that is important to our offense. The idea is to front load them with this information so that when we get on the field we don’t have to stop practice and teach hand signals, names of our plays etc.
Below is a tentative schedule for installing our offense during the spring. This would be filled out so each coach knows how the next 8 days will be mapped out in terms of what we install.
Day 1 of Installing Your Offense During Spring Football
Our day 1 install is going to be inside zone out of 2×2 formation because that is our bread and butter. Most of what we do is based off inside zone and it’s a big part of our identity on offense. We teach the offensive linemen the technique and fundamentals of the 3-point stance for their respective position, and the technique in their steps, hands, and aiming points when firing off the ball. We also teach them a few different fronts (base even and odd) and how our inside zone blocking rules apply to these fronts.
Our QB’s and RB’s will work the mesh point for inside zone which is extremely important as this technique is carried over across all of our zone and gap schemes. We are a read option team in our zone and gap schemes which is why our mesh point drills involves a read defender for the QB to get comfortable with reading right away.
WR’s will be nailing down formations out of 2×2 and routes for our quick pass game and the drop back pass concepts that are installed for the day. They will learn proper technique for stance and starts, proper get offs, and finishing the catch all the way into the tuck and bursting after the catch. If you show up to one of our practices, you will hear our WR’s coach stress the importance of catching the ball with their eyes as a reminder to look the ball all the way into the tuck.
We will install two drop back concepts on day 1 which will come out of our 2×2 formations for the day. The concepts are our Go Series (4 verts—Switch & comebacks against 2 hi & 1 high looks) as well as our sail concept. These are installed on day 1 because these concepts are probably ran the most for us, and it also gives us opportunities to work against a 2 high and 1 high safety.
Installing these drop back pass concepts gives our offensive linemen time to work on their half slide protection against base even and odd fronts. We discuss their rules and responsibilities when sliding left or right. Our RB’s will also work their rules and responsibilities within the protection.
Day 2 Install for Spring Football
After day 1 we will have installed one to two 2×2 formations, 1 motion (fast across), our main run scheme of inside zone, all of our quick game and two of our drop back pass concepts. This is a good start to building our identity on offense as our players will eventually learn how we tag our quick pass concepts to our base runs as we move through summer and into fall.
On day 2 we’ll review the 2×2 formations and add one to two more. We dedicate the second day to inside zone again because of how important the run scheme is to our offense. We’ll also review all of our quick pass concepts that were installed out of 2×2 from the day before. We’ll install new drop back pass concepts of Smash and (Y) Cross out of our 2×2 formations with emphasis against 2 high looks.
We will install Tunnel screen out of our 2×2 formations on Day 2. This will be something new for us as we didn’t run a ton of screens last year. We had one RB screen and we rarely used it because I wasn’t comfortable calling it with the lack of commitment in practice. We also struggled at times alleviating the defenses’ pressure and making them pay for blitzing. Screens are on the spring install schedule because we want a successful screen game this year to defeat overly aggressive teams that like to bring pressure.
Progressing Through Install Schedule
As we work through our install schedule, we’ll progress from our zone run schemes to our gap schemes. After inside zone we’ll install outside zone. I like progressing this way because of the natural transition from IZ to OZ. We teach similarities and differences between inside zone and outside zone by telling our offensive linemen that “Who we are blocking stays the same, but how we are blocking them is different”. This leads to outside zone coaching points of footwork, hand placement, and aiming points when executing the blocks. Sticking with zone blocking for 3 days is enough time for our offensive linemen to get comfortable with similar blocking styles and combinations within the zone schemes.
After 3 days of zone blocking, we’ll move to our gap schemes as Power Read is the first gap scheme we cover. We’ll spend the next two days with our gap schemes as Power Read and GT counter both have similar rules for how we block on the front side. Our Center + Guards will get ample opportunities to double on a nose and work to backside linebackers (odd fronts) and our Guard + Tackles will have plenty of reps at doubling a 2i or 3t before working to the backside linebacker (even fronts). These are great run schemes for us because they have elements of misdirection, options for QB or RB to run the ball, and they both have the option to be ran in between the tackles or to the outside, depending on the read made by the QB.
We’ll also transition from 2×2 formations to 3×1. We’ll emphasize how our route concepts adjust from our 2×2 formations to our 3×1 formations whether it’s quick pass game or our drop back pass concepts. We’ll also address how space on the defense will change when we go from a 2×2 formation to a 3×1, and how we want to attack space with our route concepts.
At the end of the 8 days we’d like to have most of our offense installed with our players. Although it may not look pretty (it’s May, it’s not suppose to) at least the concepts, terminology, communication, and overall operation of our plays has been taught to the players. This will give us good momentum going into Summer where we can really take our time revisiting anything that needs more attention.
Stick to the Plan for Installing Your Offense During Spring Football
I think it’s important to create a plan for the spring and stick to the plan as best you can. Your plan may look different depending on the number of days you’re allowed to practice. 8-10 days of spring ball should be enough time to install your base concepts. If you’re only given a few days you may want to scale back and introduce a few concepts and use the summer to complete the installation of the offense.
This is a great time to evaluate players and possible personnel, lay the foundation for technique and fundamentals, and introduce the main components of your offense so that you have something to build on throughout the summer and into fall.