FF 101 - The Fundamentals: Syllabus & Day 1
FF 101: Day 2 – Offense
Major Edit: I modified some of the formation names for more simplicity and universality. Let me know if any more questions arise.
Author’s Note: If you played football, whether in real life or video games, you may already know a lot of this. Hopefully this won’t turn you off from the course too quickly.
This day in class we will look at the mindset and philosophy it takes to be successful on offense. After that I will discuss deeper in depth the positions, the breakdown of their positional units, and some further terminology to help you get acclimated with formations and play calling. We will end with a few simple examples.
“We have an offensive concept, an overall season plan, and strong beliefs about techniques and strategy. But we also copy what others have done successfully and adjust our plan from week to week.” – Joe Paterno.
Offense is very different than defense – obviously. On defense you rely on eliminating space with the help of the boundaries, you react, you pay for errors and try to hide weaknesses, and you stymie the unexpected (by the way, all generalizations are false, including this one, but you get the idea). On offense you attack, you strike, you surprise, you thrive in space and exploit errors and deficiencies. There are things that the two have in common though such as speed, adaptability, opportunity, utilizing strengths, having balance, and execution. Execution: probably the most important aspect of football. This is the mindset of offensive football, an approach in which you play to win, win, win, humiliate through finesse and raw toughness and everything in between. Offense is a different species, and there are many different breeds of said specie. The goal is always the same though, to degrade and exasperate the opponent and to score touchdowns. The killing comes later.
Obviously philosophies defer greatly. Philosophies depend on offensive talent and personnel as well as defensive talent and personnel. Some things remain fairly constant across philosophies though. Finish every play, every route, every run, every block. When you’re a receiver don’t take plays off, stretch the ball horizontally and vertically. As a running back, help out your quarterback by blocking and running well and help out your lineman by being patient and explosive. As a lineman, get to your spots and block through defenders. No matter the case, execute the game plan and the offense should succeed.
Positions can be broken up into three groups, with small subgroups included.
Offensive Line:Offensive Tackle (T), Offensive Guard (G), Center (C)
Backfield:Quarterback (QB), Running Back (RB).
Running Back: Tailback (TB), Fullback (FB), Halfback (HB), Wing (W/WB)
Receivers: Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE)
Wide Receiver: Wide Receiver (WR), Split End (SE), Slot (SR), Wing (W), Flanker (Fl)
Tight End: Tight End (TE), H-Back (HB/H)
So most of you knew most of this and all I probably did was confuse you more. Anyway, to clarify, a split end is a lot like tight end playing wide receiver, and a h-back is a lot like tight end that isn’t on the line of scrimmage (LOS), a wing, or wing back, is either the third RB in the back field, the third receiver in a single back, single TE formation, or the forth receiver in a single back, four receiver set. Flanker is like a wide receiver, typically off the line. I will get more into their specific functions, attitudes, and goals when I break down their individual units.
For now, I will introduce some terminology that is common in football play calling and position play calling.
2: Wingback (at times considered Z receiver (see below))
3: The Fullback
4: The Tailback
This comes into account when calling plays, such as a 34 Trap (‘3’ means the fullback running to the ‘4’ hole. The weakside guard does a trap block) or 47 Sweep (‘4’ stands for Tailback running a sweep to the ‘7’ hole) for example.
X: The WR that is on the LOS. This usually means this is the split out that is away from strength (typically denoted as the side with the TE).
Y: This is typically your TE, or the last man on the LOS toward the strength side.
Z: Typically your flanker, or the receiver that is off of the LOS. This can be toward strength or away, near the offensive linemen or far from them.
W: This receiver usually subs in for one of the RBs on 4 receiver sets. Also considered different nomenclature for the Z-receiver on occasion.
I was asked a question about eligible receivers which I will attempt to explain here and supplement a little below. On every play there are 5 eligible receivers (6 if you count the QB for plays such as throw backs). At least seven players must be on the line of scrimmage. More can be on the line of scrimmage but it decreases your number of eligible receivers.
The eligible receivers consist of anyone lined up off the LOS and the two players furthest outside that are lined up on the LOS. Technically then, if 6 guys were lined up on the LOS to the right of the center, and none were on the LOS to his left, the center would actually be an eligible receiver because he is the last person to the outside on the LOS.
Most problems occur from: a) the tackle lining up in the backfield, making it so only 6 players are on the LOS; or b) if an extra person is on the LOS, either the extra person (who is lined up inside the outer most person on the LOS) to become ineligible or causing someone who is supposed to be eligible to be ineligible because the 8th person on the LOS is outside the person who is supposed to be the last one on the line of scrimmage.
The formations below are very basic in nature. On Friday through Sunday you will see some formations more complex than these. This is simply to get you acclimated with my personal terminology. (Note: any player with a letter is an eligible receiver)
*Strong - When the FB is offset toward the TE. Sometimes known as King.
*Weak - When FB is away from TE side. Also referred to as Queen.
Some teams prefer to call strength (i.e. left or right) based on the location of the Y receiver, typically the TE. However, I find this can cause confusion. In my play calling I tend to call the strength the side with the greater number of eligible receivers. Therefore “Twins I Left” means the twin set (where more people are) is to the left. Important to note is that this is not always the same as defensive strength calls.
(Another way of playing by some teams is just have a single call, such as “I-Formation” and then say “Flip” when going from “Right I” (their version of “I Formation”) to “Left I”. I still prefer my own method as I find it to be clearer in nature.)
There are also some more receiver-heavy formations.
There are some similarities in shotgun play calling, though some nomenclature is a little different. A few examples are given below.
Flex = Receiver positioning
Gun = Shotgun
Right = Position of running back
Very few plays are diagramed below. The goal is simply to get you acclimated on how plays are called, and what the meaning behind the play call is. In this set I won’t show detailed blocking for certain defensive alignments for simplicity.
Note: I Right 34 Trap should read "I Right 32 Trap" as the fullback goes through the 2 hole
For simplicity of the play calls, some pass plays simply go by names. For now I will just go over these type plays, in the future we will look at more complex plays/routes.
This is all an art form, from the necessary dialog of calling a play, to the picture that is painted prior to the implementation of the actual actors playing out their roles on stage. Offensive football is a treat to watch because of small intricacy adds up into something so grand as to make it so 11 people cannot even bring down a single person. It can stand for so many things, the strength and intelligence of humanity, as a metaphor for the power of cohesion, or it can just be seen as football. People love points, and I can’t blame them, but it isn’t where the beauty of the sport begins, but rather where it starts. In our next class we will begin our look at defensive football. Have a good day.
Note: In the near future I will try to figure out some way to have an add-on that will include a whole bunch of formations rather than just these basics. Whether I put it on a download site to as a .pdf or power point document, or if I should embed all the formations (which is a ton, and that’s just scratching the surface) on a simple blog post, I don’t know yet. I would like to hear suggestions or preferences if there is any demand for such a thing (and maybe how I would go about doing it). Either way, for a basics package to be complete so that communication can become more fluent on the board, I think a package such as this is necessary.