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Gobbler Country Thought Experiment Series: The Next Play

So, the opening bid was a Tight End dig in across the middle for 8 yards. (the voting was nearly even so we’ll discuss some of the other plays). Now we are going to deal with how we move the sticks.

Cam Phillips gets slippery in the wet 2017 Duke Game
John Schneider - SB Nation

We went with the high percentage play to open. Out of the three main plays in this formation (we tossed in a fourth with the wheel route that we’ll talk about) We picked the three second drop that was designed to net between 6 and 10 yards. Of course getting to the “line to gain” (the technical term for a 1st down) would have been nice, but remember we are trying to both move the ball and control the clock.

Ah Yes! Time is Your Enemy, Early

In this situation, throwing an out route has two clock stop risks, an incomplete pass and running out of field. The former is not what you want, anyway. The latter is great for the 2 minute drill but stinks at 14:55 left on the clock in the 1st quarter.

The priority is to move the ball and run the clock. The notorious reality of a pass heavy offense is clock stoppage. The networks love it, lots and lots of commercials, but the game ends up so slow that the fans become frustrated. That means something that you’ll need to put in your back pocket for later consideration. The situation still counts more than just your blind playbook formulas.

Reviewing the Situation

So, back to the next play. It’s 2nd down and 2 yards to go. In the football world of play action, that’s gold because 2nd and very short is where you do something to “stretch the field” or eat up some yards. That reasoning is not invalid, at all; and it applies to an all passing situation, too. Remember we are on our own 33 yard line and doing “interesting” things is not often looked upon as wise decision making.

Let’s call the same formation, we’ll not shift out of it much, maybe widen the split but hold back the H-Back or the Running Back for blocking support. Remember, that will telegraph information to the defense. By holding a blocking back in the backfield to help with protection, you are telling the defense that you are planning on running something that takes more time than 3 or 4 seconds to develop. The safeties and cornerbacks will start getting itchy scalps, and early in the game many defensive coordinators are going to be reluctant to dial up an exotic blitz.

The Play is Up to You

And this is where the second point comes in. Since you are voluntarily making yourself one-dimensional by eliminating the run, it’s going to be necessary to be as unpredictable as possible. You’ll also have to make sure that the playbook is loaded with varying route trees from different receivers. It will be critical to expand the field depth to three dimensions. Running is essentially a 2 dimensional play structure.


That means in this case we would be wise to run what play?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Huddle up, Start normal.. Shift into an empty set, run a normal route tree from a slot left (wide side) rub route and throw the out pass for 12.
    (6 votes)
  • 40%
    Pump fake to a flare pass in the shallow flat, and hit the deep seam as a surprise stunner.
    (26 votes)
  • 15%
    Run a wheel to your running back on the short side of the formation while rolling in his direction.
    (10 votes)
  • 34%
    Throw a screen pass to the held back blocking back and get the sticks moved.
    (22 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

Now, this one is up to you. We’ll see where it goes.

The last poll, we had a tight finish. There was a three vote plurality for the wheel route. That is not a bad opening bid. It gets the ball outside the ends, has a good opportunity for yards after the catch, and isn’t much lower in percentage than the 3 second dig in. The reason why I went with the crossing route was that most of the time, the defense is going to open in a base formation where it’s easier to predict what the linebackers will do. Few defensive players are going to be ready for that play since it happens in 3 seconds. That’s why I didn’t choose the wheel route is that it’s a slower developing play, needing some roll out and about 4 to 5 seconds to get into decent completion range. We want to build momentum, not throw an incomplete and be at 2nd and long.