Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Game Plan for the A-11 Zone!

Introduce New Strategy On Your Opponents Side of the 50

In the August 22nd issue of ESPN the Magazine, Brian Fremeau's article “30 is the new 20” discusses the new Value Drive statistic, which measures a football team’s scoring power inside the 30 yard line. One of the research statistics about punting inside an opponents 35 yard line caught our eye:

"For most offenses, the 30-yard line is the most significant cutoff point for various strategic options. . . Last season, no punts were kicked from at or inside the 30, while 47 punts were kicked from between the 31- and 35-yard lines. So as the first step to creating our value drive metric -- to truly separate good offenses and defenses from bad ones -- we expanded the scoring zone from the 20 to the 30."
Opportunity Awaits!

There are multiple opportunities throughout a game where a coach gets to make strategic decisions on short yardage, 4th down and field position situations. Some of the most difficult of these de
cisions occur between the opponents 50 and 30, with the majority choosing to either "go for it" or punt. Another option is to think of these situations as an opportunity to present a unique formation to the defense, creating maximum stress and advantage for your team.

Shifting Into A Unique Formation
With some advance preparation, your team can confidently shift from one of your base formations into a unique A-11 formation with your traditional numbered players at critical points throughout a game. If a defense has never seen the formation before and they have little time to react, there is very little chance they will properly align to defend the play. The most likely scenarios are defensive confusion and a time-out being called, both of which are positive for your team.
The key for coaches is to make sure the team is proficient running the A-11 play package you present and shifting into the play from a traditional formation at high speed to cut down the reaction time for the defensive players and coaches. Some coaches might choose to create a special A-11 unit that practices these plays or just shift with the normal players.
Strategically Force the Burn!
It's a tight game, you have the lead and the ball deep in your opponents territory. Your opponent has marched down and scored the last two possessions and now it's one of those see-saw games where the last team with the ball might just win. Your opponent has one timeout left and its 3rd and 1 on their 35 with 1:30 left. Both teams and the fans in the stands are on pins and needles, but your team has something special to unveil. From an offset "I" formation, your team shifts into a 43 set and prepares to run a fake burn sweep toss into the wall. Pandemonium erupts on the defensive sideline, with coaches trying to align their defenders. Players are scrambling to figure out alignment against a formation they have never seen before. The QB starts his cadence when one of the defenders panics, turns to the referee and burns that last valuable time-out.
At this point you have just gained a significant tactical advantage. With no defensive time-outs left, you still have two plays of your choice to win the game. During your time-out you can choose to run the same play, a different A-11 formation, or return to your regular offense. Even if you don't get the first down, you will burn significant clock over the next two plays and leave your opponent with very little time to win.
Create a Preparation Nightmare

Adding and running an A-11 package creates a significant preparation issue for your opponents. Even if coaches only run a few A-11 plays a game, it puts opponents in a difficult situation of committing valuable defensive time coming up with a scheme to defend your formations and plays. This decreases their proficiency at defending your standard offensive package. In the A-11 Winning Edge playbook we include 10 plays, so you can unveil 1 different play per game per week and at the end of the season, a familiar ten play package is ready for the play-offs.

What other advantages do you see with adding an A-11 package to your offensive scheme?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Power Of The A-11 Offense

Last Friday night our Piedmont team faced Samuel Hancock a new football powerhouse from Stockton, which was loaded with more talent than we have seen at the high school level in 23 years of coaching. They had 4 amazing running backs and two huge linebackers that are all headed for full ride D1 scholarships. On the line we were outweighed by over 60 pounds a man. The team Samuel Hancock played a week earlier was so thoroughly wiped out, they were only able to manage a sole first down on offense towards the end of the game.

In the first half our team traded punch after punch with Hancock. Their offense broke huge plays on our defense and we kept them off balance with a dizzying array of A-11 execution. Their 6-5 260 pound middle linebacker landed a thundering one armed club tackle on our quarterback that was something out of a movie. Our quarterback came right back and stung their defense with a perfectly placed fade for 40 yards. With a few minutes left in the half, we brought down the house with a perfectly executed double pass for a touchdown that put us up 27-20. Hancock came back and scored a quick touchdown to tie it up and cap one of the most exciting halves of football ever played at Piedmont.

We knew the challenge we were up against the previous Saturday upon looking at the film of Samuel Hancock and there was nothing we could do except prepare for a brutal football game and “believe we could win”. That was our mantra the entire week of practice as we upped the toughness of hitting drills and intensity of our scrimmage sessions. We kept the pressure on the kids and demanded quick execution as we installed our “Einstein” no-huddle tempo. Our players rose to the occasion and as we left the locker room to hit the field every player believed we could win.

That belief continued even as Hancock built a 21 point lead in the 3rd quarter. Our players kept executing our A-11 offense and put their defense on their heels. Our kids never believed we were out of it and hit another fade to cut the Hancock lead to 34-48. After scoring their final touchdown to make the score 61-34, Hancock was preparing to kick off. There was only 2:18 left in the game and what was amazing at that moment was our players could hardly wait to get back on the field and run more plays against their defense. Unfortunately we fumbled the kick-off and they ran the clock out to cap a great night for our team.

Some might ask, “a great night in a loss?” Absolutely. The fact we ran our A-11 offense with command and hung 34 points on a team loaded with that much talent was a huge victory for our team. Without our A-11 Offense, Hancock would have trounced our team in similar fashion to their previous opponent. Instead, our players kept taking the fight to the Hancock players and even though the score doesn’t reflect it, gained more confidence as a team as the game wore on. The fact a team can develop in such a positive manner in a losing effort is one of the great lessons that playing football can give young men. Piedmont is going to be very dangerous the rest of the season.

If anyone has a question about the value the A-11 Offense brings to the game of high school football, this game is a prime example of why the A-11 needs to stay. After watching this game and seeing how a physically outmatched team can keep it close against a superior opponent, there is no way anyone can justify their position that the A-11 is deceptive or a travesty of the game whatsoever. Would our detractors really prefer that a smaller and less talented team lose 80-0 with no first downs?

You can judge for yourself by watching the game in its entirety "on demand" for free at www.a11network.com.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Its taken almost three years for the A-11 Offense to morph from a collection of different formations into a theoretical "offensive system", which then had to translate itself onto the field as an actual offense for the 2007 season. We've gone from ideas, to plays, to a system with techniques and throughout the whole process the driving force has been - Ideas.

This is what makes football fun. This is what drives our coaches. And this theme is what my blog is all about. A relentless commitment to new ideas and pressing the game of football to evolve for the better.

There is nothing more frustrating than watching football and seeing a team in a 4th and 1 situation on their opponents 40 and deciding to "punt", or letting Ben Rothlesberger bootleg on 3rd and 1, with a Wild Card game on the line. This complete lack of imagination or fear of failing, from coaching staffs who are paid lots of money, has permeated the game of football and let the fans down. What if the Steelers showed some ingenuity and shifted to a contrarian formation on that 3rd and 1? Would it have caused the Jags to burn a valuable time-out at the end of the game? Could the Steelers have quickly shifted and caught the defense off-guard and created a last second mismatch to get the win? We will never know because they chose to bootleg with a hobbled quarterback, fearing making an exchange of the football. Lame conservatism. The Steelers deserved to lose and their fans deserved better.

On the flip side there are many examples of new ideas making their way to the gridiron and enlightening the game. Florida's game plan versus Ohio State in the 2007 National Championship game, spread speed across the field into open space and decimated Ohio States #1 defense. Rutger's super spread punt in 2007 put severe stress on the defense and showed amazing promise if they tried a play. The Forty Niners tried a contrarian punt that looked a lot like our "base" A-11 formation in week 15 of the 2007 NFL season. It almost got blocked, but Carolina definitely looked confused and it was great to see something different in the NFL. Flutie's drop kick ranks up there too. Even the top high school team in California, De La Salle, ran a spread punt in this year's NCS Championship game.

This blossoming trend in football towards innovation will continue, but the A-11 takes things even farther by shaping "one off" formation opportunities into an entire game plan. We don't expect you to do the same, but we do hope the launching of this offense creates something fun to follow and inspires coaches to invent new schemes that test the limits of the game of football.