The Counter Trey GT play is one of the best plays in football. When combined with an RPO, it creates two of the toughest types of deception for a defense to defend in modern day football. The Counter GT play offers the deception of misdirection, while the RPO's provide the deception of being a run or a pass. In general, the counter GT play is a great constraint play for any offense that runs a lot of power, zone, slam and other plays that are full flow to the play side.
The base two back counter play run out of split back gun would like this:
As you can see in the Max Counter diagram above, the front side RB fakes into the back side DE. This is important because this block stops the play from being run down from behind. Also, the block allows for all the players in the BOX to be accounted for because the Center can block the most dangerous man A gap to C Gap.
This takes us to the base spread gun single back counter play that would look like this:
With the single back counter play, there is one player in the box left unaccounted for on the back side. The center will block the most dangerous man, but the other will run free. Because of this, the QB will read the back side DE and essentially block him with his eyes by giving the QB the option to pull.
The Give/Pull Option
The first “Option” I am going to discuss with the counter play is really a run/run option by giving the QB Give/Pull Option. In this situation, the QB will read the BACK SIDE end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS) of the defense for his give or pull read. As I explained HERE, the QB’s read rule is EMLOS “DE Squeeze and Chase, I Pull and Replace.” If the EMLOS on the back side chases the pulling tackle down the LOS, the QB will pull the ball from the RB and run right where the back side EMLOS left. This read allows for the offense to keep that backside pursuit from chasing the play down from behind. This is a very effective option variation with Counter GT because all of the flow is leading the play. When you are running the play effectively, that back side ‘READ’ player can have a tendency to get nosy and attempt to chase down the play.
In the diagram above, you can see the H player (Green Circle) is blocking the man on him. This would be typical protocol in a normal offense without any run pass options. Once the QB has READ the EMLOS and decided to pull the ball, he is supposed to run straight down hill and replace the read man to get what he can. This pull read can become an RPO very easily with 2 adaptations to the original diagram.
The Give/Pull Option with a Bubble or Juke Route
To make the QB pull read an RPO, these two adaptations need to take place.
- Adaptation #1 – The slot receiver will run a bubble instead of blocking the man on him.
- Adaptation #2 – The QB has to run flatter and less downhill after he pulls the ball.
These two adaptations to the original play gives the QB a run/throw read in the force player that is diagrammed with a dotted green box in the diagram below.
As you can see in the diagram above, the force player is now in a bind. He has to decide if he is going to cover the bubble or tackle the QB. Because of the QB taking a flatter path, he now has time to make the secondary read and keep or throw accordingly. You could also run this same principle with the outside receiver running a Turn route and the slot receiver going to block the corner. I have diagrammed this below:
Since both of these throws are behind the line of scrimmage, lineman down field do not matter even though the play develops slower than a normal RPO. These are really variations of the triple option and take a little more time.
The Backside Quick Slant RPO
The quick slant RPO involves the backside most inside receiver running a 1-step slant right behind the inside stack linebacker. With this concept, the QB will read the flow of the back side inside linebacker (BSILB). The QB read looks like this:
- If the BSILB fills downhill fast or chases the play to the front side, the QB will pull and immediately throw the ball to the slanting wide receiver in the area where the LB left.
- If the BSILB sits and slow plays the play, the QB will give the ball to the RB on the called counter play.
Here is the diagram:
Either way, this read is helping the play because the LB cannot help on the front side counter play if he sits. If he leaves, he will be wrong because the Slant is replacing him.
You can do the same thing with the TE when you run counter week. RPO’s are really good off of counter because of the pullers.
As Bill Walsh once said:
“If you really want play action, you better pull a guard”
He went on to explain the true essence of the modern day RPO…
“The Play-Pass is the one fundamentally sound football play that does everything possible to contradict the basic principles of defense. I truly believe it is the single best tool available to take advantage of a disciplined defense. By using the play-pass as an integral part of your offense you are trying to take advantage of a defensive team that is very anxious very intense and very fired-up to play football. The play-pass is one of the best ways to cool all of that emotion and intensity down because the object of the play-pass is to get the defensive team to commit to a fake run and then throw behind them. Once you get the defensive team distracted and disoriented, they begin to think about options and, therefore, are susceptible to the running game.”
When RPO reads are executed correctly, the defense will always be wrong. If you can't run over them, confuse the heck out of them.
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Keep shredding 'em!
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