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Whiteboard Wednesday: Let’s talk about series football and the screen

An extension of the run game

Don Juan Moore/Character Lines

Tomahawk Nation is bringing you more and more analysis about what the Florida State Seminoles are doing under their new staff, breaking it down to each of the important coaches and their philosophies. We will be turning our focus towards the now as we get an idea of what the new staff is doing.

As we dive into the depths, we know there are some concepts that bear explanation. Scheme takes time to be installed and we want to take the time to give our readers an understanding of what is happening. We will take a much closer look at the Mike Norvell and Adam Fuller offense/defense.

One of the exciting parts for our scheme team is to discuss football in the comments section. We always look forward to your feedback and questions. Please don’t be shy to ask follow-up or clarifying questions after reading.


For years the West Coast offense, made famous by Bill Walsh, has utilized quick throws to running backs as an extension of the running game. These throws could be quick flares, arrow routes, or screens to the RB either in the flat or behind the line of scrimmage.

If you are an Eagles fan like me you have heard Andy Reid say “extension of the running game” a million times and rolled your eyes. But there is more there than meets the eye. Fans scream and holler to “run the football” or “hand it off” when in reality a quick arrow route or a screen pass can be more successful and executed easier at times — something that was emphasized during James Blackman’s first year.

The priority for most defenses is to create negative plays and stop the running game. We have heard Adam Fuller discuss having an offensive mindset on defense.

How do you use a defense’s aggressiveness against them? You get the ball out quick into areas that have been negated by blitzers or pass rushers.

Something Mike Norvell did well early against Georgia Tech was use GT’s attacking style to his advantage. Norvell called a handful of screens early in the game with much success.

Here’s an example:

First, let’s discuss the motion — on the first offensive drive FSU utilized motion and jet sweep a couple of times to set up this action. We see the same jet action (which FSU forced GT to respect) with a running back screen backside. Just watch the linebackers reactions to the jet motion and get an idea of how you can set plays up as an offensive coordinator.

The offensive line does a nice job of inviting the defensive line up the field and James Blackman dumps it off to Lawrence Toafili who reads his blocking well and picks up twelve yards. Check out Maurice Smith being agile in space and Dontae Lucas getting downfield with some athleticism. These are two pieces of the OL you can build around.

This concept of using multiple plays that look a like is called “series football,” essentially using a combination of plays designed to look similar but attack different areas.

For any Wing-T nuts out there, think 121 sweep, 124 guard trap, and 929 waggle. They all look the same, but differ enough that they give answers to what a defense is taking away. Using series football is a great way to attack defenses and a way to create explosive plays later in the game as you set things up.

What are your takes from this? How can FSU use its strengths best in relation to series football? Hit the comments, and let’s get talking.


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