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E-MaiL
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Defense
Formations
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Pass Plays
Running Plays
Special Teams
Glossary

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Running Plays
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The Running Lanes
Quick Pitch 
25 Trap
 22 Lead 
 Triple Option
 Counter Pitch
34 Trap
 23 Lead
 10 Sneak
  27 Sweep
27 Blast
 25 Lead
10 Draw
37 Sweep
32 Blast
33 Lead
10 Bootleg
Reverse
44 Blast
44 Counter
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    There is no attempt here to list all the possible running plays.  Each play should serve as an example or model which can be modified by selected formation, personnel, or other means.  For example, the "10 Sneak" (Quarterback Sneak) can be run from literally any formation (times 12), with or without motion (times 2), or mirrored to either side (times 2).  This means a simple quarterback sneak can have 48 different looks for an opposing defense.  Other listed plays may have fewer options concerning possible formations (requiring a certain number of backs or receivers), but may have more available options as to which hole (running lane) the play may be directed towards.  If the average play can be run from half the formations (a very conservative estimate), and be run to half of the available running lanes, then the average play can have around 100 possible looks to the defenders.  This is to say nothing of the possible snap counts available.  Knowledge of an opposing team's plays is of little use unless the play calling tendencies are known and taken in to account.
    Basically, two general concepts are in place.  The offense either wants to outnumber the opponent at the point of attack (mismatch), or confuse the defense as to the actual point of attack (misdirection--element of surprise).
    Twenty basic, generic plays are diagrammed and discussed below:
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The Running Lanes
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The Running Lanes are numbered from the Center position to the side lines.  Each gap between offensive players is numbered with the odd numbers running down the right side, the even numbers to the left.  The 'Zero' hole refers to a play designed to be run directly through the Center's position such as a Zero Draw or the Quarterback Sneak.  A running lane or hole is simply a point of reference usually designating where a player or the ball is to go.  Note the highest numbers (7 & 8) refer to the area outside the TE.  If no TE is present, then a play run to the left at lane #8 (in the diagram here) would specify a play intended to be executed to the outside--NOT to the OT's outside shoulder which would be lane #6.  Generally speaking, a play is called with a two digit number first.  The first digit signifies the back to receive the ball, the second digit refers to the hole or running lane the play is directed at.



Triple Option
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The Triple option is not a play I believe in nor use.  However, its prominence and longevity in the annuls of football history is secure.  Therefore, I felt it necessary to include the basic Triple Option here.  Basically, the Triple Option invokes a three pronged threat.  The QB takes the snap and prepares to hand the ball off to the #4 back (FB).  The QB gives the ball to the FB if the Guard to that side cannot be seen by the QB [1].  This would signal to the QB that the Guard has moved up field, thus the ball can be given to the FB to advance behind the Guard.  If this option is not open, the QB proceeds down the line of scrimmage where he confronts the DE which has been left unblocked.  If the Defensive End's shoulders are not square to the QB, the QB cuts inside the DE [2] advancing the ball up field.  If the DE's shoulders are square to the QB, the QB pitches the ball to the trailing back [3] which has maintained a 5 yard separation with the QB.  Often this pitch is made blindly, so the trailing back's position is critical.  To successfully use the Triple Option it must be practiced at great lengths.


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10 Draw or 10 Sneak
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The Quarterback Draw is shown here run from the Double Slots Formation with the shotgun, and with the up back sent in motion to the left.  The Quarterback takes the snap, pump fakes a quick pass, then tucks the ball away securely and sprints through the zero running lane (up the middle).  In this diagram the defense is in a 4-3 set slightly modified due to the presence of four wide receivers.  If the defenders were in a five man front (e.g.. using a nose guard) the Quarterback would "read" the Center's block and break accordingly.  This play can be run from absolutely any formation and need not employ the shotgun nor motion by the up back.  In the QB Sneak the Quarterback would take the snap from under Center, possibly signaling to the Center via touch which side of the Center the QB was going to run.


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10 Bootleg
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The "10 Bootleg" is not really run to the "zero" lane, it is an end around run by the Quarterback without proper blocking.  All other backs in the back field run away from the play attempting to pull defensive pursuit the wrong way.  Shown here from the Pro Formation the QB fakes to the lone running back and sprints around end taking his key from the Tackle, breaking appropriately dependent upon the Tackle's block.  This play can be run from any formation.

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25 Trap (shown below) 25 Lead
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The 25 Lead Run takes advantage of the Tight End.  The TE and the Offensive Tackle double team the Defensive Tackle containing the tackle inside the running lane.  The play gets its name due to the FB leading through the hole.  If the off side Guard traps back to the play (shown here) he blocks the DE.  If the G does not pull, the FB "kicks out" the DE.  If a double team is not necessary the TE can hit then release from the DE (scrape) and block down on the LB or any other would be tackler in pursuit.  Another option is to send a wide out to the play side in motion to the play and block down on the DE.  Then the Guard (or FB) call lead around the end--as in the 27 Sweep.  In the Sweep, the off side Tackle blocks for one count, the releases to down field block.  The QB opens to the off side to delay pursuit.  This play can be run from any 2-back formation with at least one TE.
Keys:  The off side Offensive Tackle's first responsibility is to block down any defender capable of "shooting the gap" and pursuing the pulling Guard.  If the G is not pulling or no defender is in such position, the OT blocks for one count then releases to down field block.



34 Trap
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The 34 Trap is depicted here as run from the Veer Left Formation.  Technically the diagram shows the 34 Counter Trap since the Quarterback and the Fullback both feint to the right like the Tailback, then counter step to run back to the #4 hole.  The left Guard first makes sure the nose tackle is cut off, then scrapes to the Linebacker.  This play can be run from any formation featuring at least one back.  The FB could also "lead" the TB in a 24 Counter Lead and/or Trap.  The play can also be run without the counter steps, substituting the counter with a count delay for the FB.



Quick Pitch
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The Quick Pitch (Quick Pitch Left -- shown here) is designed to get around the corner of the defense.  The QB always turns to the off side of the play to delay pursuit, then pitches the ball to the running back.  The play can be run from any formation featuring at least one running back.  Here the Quick Pitch Left is shown run from the I Formation.  The off side OT releases without contact and flies to the flat hoping to throw a block using the "eyes" rule of blocking (only hit a man if you can see his eyes).  Realistically, the only way an OT can get to the play is if the RB cuts back inside, which he well may do.  All off side personnel from the OT to the side line block down field to create a cut back lane for the RB.


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Reverse
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The Reverse, also known as the End around,  (shown here from the I Right Formation) can be run to either side and from any formation.  Even a Tight End or Slot Man can run the reverse.  The play side wide out runs a post to at least temporarily occupy the Cornerback and a Safety.  In this diagram the Tailback acts as a lead blocker, but there need not be one.  In this case the right Wide Receiver can "hitch" and run to the ball carrier to run the Double Reverse.  As with most runs around end, the ball carrier can pass the ball as well, as in a Halfback Pass.



22 Lead
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The 22 lead is illustrated here run from the Power I Left Formation with the Tight Ends split wide.  Both the #4 and the #3 backs lead through the #2 running lane with the #2 back taking the direct hand off.  This play can be run from any formation with at least two running backs and to any running lane.  If run from a one back formation, the correct name would be a "Blast 2."  Since only one back is present in a one back set, only the run type and assigned lane need be expressed.


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23 Lead
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The 23 Lead is an inside power running play designed to take advantage of a four man defensive alignment.  Trap plays are more difficult to execute in the tight confines inside the Tackles.  Here a Lead or Blast play is more effective.  In the 23 Lead the Fullback 'leads' the Tailback through the #3 hole.  The Fullback's objective is to hit the first man he sees--hopefully the Linebacker to the play side.  In the diagram shown here, the TE kicks out his man while the Center and off side Guard utilize a technique called "cross blocking", further exposing the four man defensive line.  The off Guard's responsibility is to attempt to cut off weak side pursuit.  The off side Tackle blocks for one count then releases down field for the same purpose.


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33 Lead
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The 33 lead is a basic lead play only the Fullback is the ball carrier with the Tailback lead blocking.  The play is illustrated here as run from the Full House Formation but can be run from any formation, although to be classified as a lead play there will need to be two backs.  The off side Tackle and the lead back both try to block the play side Linebacker.


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Counter Pitch
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The Counter Pitch is a misdirection play intended to take advantage of single coverage on the lone wide out to one side.  Shown here the left WR comes down the line of scrimmage in motion. The snap is timed so the WR can "crack down" on the defensive end.  The intention is for the DB responsible for covering the WR to come inside in motion with the WR. This, combined with the play opening to the strong (TE) side and the linemen blocking down hopefully sets the defense in motion to the TE side.  After an initial false step to the strong side, the Tailback reverses and sprints to the weak side receiving the quick pitch from the QB.  The strong side Tackle and TE down field block.  The play seeks to take advantage of the fact that the DB is coming inside and will have to reverse his direction to make the play.  Another variation is for the WR to lead block the DB rather than going in motion, or even to continue in motion past the play.


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27 Sweep  or 37 Sweep or27 Blast
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The 27 Sweep is a power sweep play similar to the 27 Lead.  In the example shown here the 27 Sweep is run with the WR in motion cracking down on the containment man.  The FB then blocks the DB trailing the WR, or the first man that shows.  The TE blocks for one count then 'scrapes' up field to cut off defensive pursuit.  All Linemen left (off side) of the Center do likewise.  Another variation would involve splitting the back field in a Veer formation (FB to the TE side), or TB to the TE side and handing the ball to the FB as in the 37 Sweep.  The off side WR can be replaced by an additional FB (3 backs) and run with both FB's leading through the hole as in a 27 Blast.


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32 Blast
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The 32 Blast is shown here run from the Double Tight Power I Formation.  The defense is depicted as being in a 6-4 (short yardage) formation.  No mismatch is represented in the diagram.  In fact, the defense is in an ideal gap defense to stop the play for minimal gain.  If the play is to be run unmodified for the defensive set, the only procedure available for the offensive line is for the entire line to block down.  A much wiser option for the Quarterback would be to turn to the #4 back and yell the audible "Lead!"  This would tell the #4 back to lead block through the running lane.  An audible changing the entire play is also an option in this instance.

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44 Blast
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The 44 Blast is shown here run from Power I Right Formation.  The fact that there are two Fullbacks designates this play is intended to be run from a four back formation.  As in most Blast plays, there is no lead blocker.  The Tailback and other Fullback, as well as the Quarterback, start to the non play side.  The ball carrier receives the hand off and runs to the appropriate hole.  Add a counter step by the ball carrier and the play becomes the 44 Counter Blast.  If the Tailback (#2 back) leads through the lane the play becomes another version of the 44 Lead.


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44 Counter
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The 44 Counter Blast is similar to the 44 Blast.  The ball carrier simply adds a counter step in an attempt to momentarily freeze the Linebackers.