Doublewing Power Sweep - Why you need it and How to block it.
I am a big believer in "Run Power Stupid" but I am not a big believer of running the same play into a wall of defenders over and over as I see diminishing returns from the play. Instead I view power in a much broader picture of the entire scheme I run. Yes, you should absolutely run power 50% or more (my teams average around 68%) throughout the game but it doesn't have to be the same exact play or even the same exact ball carrier or the same formation for that matter. The point is to remember to center your offense around power and getting four or more yard per play. There a plenty of ways to dress your power up and give it a different look all the while sticking to "Run Power Stupid". I have done it for well over two decades and the results speak for themselves. At the youth level often times youth coaches confuse variety in appearance with complexity and that doesn’t have to be the case nor should it. The one thing I impress upon coaches I mentor is that power is the center piece of your offense but you should always be thinking power, power sweep, power pass and to both sides of the field. I will, if anyone wants me to, get into our power play but because this was a recent topic and rather in-depth conversation on power sweep I thought I would write my thoughts down for anyone else to peruse as well. One play I like to run with power is our power sweep. Out of all the complimentary plays I run I have found that power sweep has consistently been successful and has allowed us to put stress on the defensive perimeter triangle (OLB, DE, and CB) and has allowed us to keep attacking the off-tackle hole due to the defense having to play the perimeter honestly or give up a homerun play outside at every age level. If we force the perimeter triangle to sit on sweep we give our power play the ability to be effective throughout the entire game and season.
There are really five ways I run sweep but there are three ways I run power sweep specifically. The first, and the simplest method is our WIDE variation of Power. It is to go to method of power sweep that I teach my offense first. Specifically, because once you teach power there are only three changes that need to be made and two are changes that carry over to the other two versions. The first and most important is to the backfield footwork/technique to execute the power sweep action. Secondly, the wingback’s reach block. Lastly, the extension of the backside kickout and vertical lane of the pulling guard. This version is simple because the blocking scheme power (TKO) from an offensive line perspective stays the same except for the first puller (usually the BSG). Which means the line can focus their attention on stance, get off, and TKO/Pulling technique and not worry about learning another blocking scheme. I am a big believer in maximizing your base schemes for multiple uses if possible. I will also add that there is an enormous benefit to having your power sweep play “look” like a real power play. Having your line block down forces the defense on the perimeter to squeeze down. That means the reach block of the wing back becomes easier as the defensive end or end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS) squeezes down to fill the off-tackle hole. This is key to making your sweeps effective; force the defense to squeeze down hard and fast to stop the power play into the C and B gap. Once they do that the blocking on the perimeter is easier to execute for your edge blockers.
The next variation of the power sweep is MONSTER SWEEP. This is really the battering ram version of power sweep. I like to use this version when teams are stacking the line with defenders and squeezing down hard to stop power and wedge. The MONSTER becomes very easy to block when you see a stacked line of scrimmage (9+ defenders) and are slanting hard inside or to the B/C gap. The backfield action is exactly the same as WIDE and the wingback’s reach technique is exactly the same. The blocking scheme, however, is very different and requires additional coaching. Essentially the frontside and backside tight ends are blocking down hard to the center’s near hip while the play side pulls under and around the wingback and builds a wall on the wingback’s upfield hip (get vertical push on the WB’s reach block and wall off any defensive line scrappers trying to come down the line hard and fast). The center will actually look to cut a nose tackle or play side one/two tech DT. The backside pullers are looking to pull hard across the line of scrimmage looking to eat up leakage trying to come across and if they make it past the play side TE’s radical down block they go vertical trying to create a bubble inside of the wingback’s reach block. This essentially disallows penetration and creates a hump that backside defensive linemen and shallow linebackers have to get through. Bear in mind we stick to the concept that the down block (in this case a radical down block) forces the EMLOS to squeeze down hard to defend the B/C gap. We want to create a log jam of blockers and defenders from the wingback to the center and the bigger the log jam the more likely the play will go for big yardage.
The final play is our POWER DRIVE; DRIVE tells the offensive line to block DRIVE (this is our covered/uncovered to play side line scheme). POWER WIDE is our simple to install, simple to run, looks a lot like power POWER SWEEP. MONSTER is our battering ram power sweep we use when we are facing a team that plays 9+ defenders at the line of scrimmage and are looking to stop wedge/power. POWER DRIVE is essentially our quick hitting POWER SWEEP. The entire line is blocking covered/uncovered looking to get three to four double teams from playside to backside. There is no pulling so the backfield action, although the same action as WIDE and MONSTER, hits much faster and far more vertically than the two previous sweeps. It is a more man on man scheme where we look to get off the ball vertically and get hat on hat quickly. Any uncovered blocker is moving playside to double team the next defensive lineman so we can spill those defensive linemen into the laps of the linebackers. The benefit of this play is if we are running a lot of power and power wide and the team is sitting back and reading-filling; running POWER DRIVE can put those defensive linemen into the laps of the linebackers before they know what is going on and we can get our runner onto the edge quickly for a big play.
These three variation of power sweep are the heart of what we do from a power sweep perspective. Now there are additional variations we can add to this. First being formation variations (including under center/gun variation). Second being edge tags that extend out the end and/or wingback and even the fullback or backside wingback. Thirdly, the use of tags that give a different approach to how we run the sweep. SPEED is a good example of this as we can run it out of all three variations above but it is simply the QB and backside wingback running speed option reading the cornerback if he is sitting on the line of scrimmage (or is simply readable). By blocking the defensive end it allows us to extend the sweep to a speed option and read the cornerback. Which is a much easier read for a young QB to make as he has time to make the read (especially in gun). This is a play we have had a lot of success with at the middle school level with semi-athletic quarterbacks.
The benefit of power sweep compared to classic speed sweep is that you can run it to the short side of the field just as effectively as the wide side. Don't get me wrong open space is your friend when it comes to running wide side. It gives you a much higher probability of a home run play but power sweep can be effective at getting you that 4+ yards per carry going to the short side of the field without any issues due to the vertical nature of the play.
One main point I wanted to finish with is the approach of the ball carrier. This is not a classic D gap speed sweep. The emphasis is not on running horizontally to space but attacking the edge just past the wingback’s heels as he reaches the EMLOS and getting the ball vertical and past the second level as quickly as possible. The power sweep is not intended to run east-west for any extended period of time and the main coaching point is to get depth and get flat, gain width quickly but as soon as you see daylight past the wingback’s heels you plant, get square, and go vertical RIGHT NOW! The space might be small, tiny, little but attack it and get behind your pads. If the runner breaches the first level this play will often breach the entire defense for big yards. The runner and really the entire backfield as to understand they don’t run east west they run vertically off the wingback’s heels and they attack any defender outside the heels as fast as possible to create space for the runner.
In closing, I am a big advocate of running the core plays and running them well. More importantly, I am a big believer in not giving the defense an easy time at making adjustments to our offense. “Run Power Stupid” has been on every one of my game clip boards since the mid 90’s and it is a reminder to me while in the heat of the moment that our best play, what we are really good at, what we pride ourselves on running is power. But you need to have plays that you run well that compliment your base and power sweep is part of that core. It is an essential component to being able to move the ball down the field consistently while forcing the defense to be honest and defend the entire field. I always tell young coaches WEDGE-POWER/POWER SWEEP/POWER PASS should be the core of your offense. Traps, counters, reverses, and additional passes are great to have but if you are really good at the core"power" plays you can do a lot with them by adding some small variations to them that puts the defense on their heels while keeping the overall complexity of your offense down.
Exsisto Fortis, Exsisto Validus
One other point I would add.
You have to teach your pullers, in any of these schemes, that they must never stop and they must never turn around and "look" for the ball. This will kill your plays every time. They must learn to get vertical and go to the endzone. It is the one thing at the second level that will get you big plays as the vertical pullers will create lanes for your runner to utilize as he goes vertical and breaches the second level. Whether he simply shoots vertical, hits the sideline, or cuts against the grain the vertical lanes of the pullers will help him against secondary defenders and backside pursuers.
Exsisto Fortis, Exsisto Validus
"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."
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