How Did Blending the Jet Sweep and Georgia Southern’s Hambone Result in College Football’s All-time Leading Rusher?

I know this, no Offense in American football history has rushed for more yards up the middle while featuring a single back and utilizing a jet sweep approach with influences from Georgia Southern’s Hambone. In fact, at Emporia State (1995-1998) Brian Shay rushed for 6,958 yards in his career benefiting from this approach of attacking the defense. He finished as the all-time leading rusher in college football history.

Here’re a few clips featuring Brian Shay…

As you might notice, many of Shay’s runs were between the Tackles, set up by the Pop Out motion. Now, let’s get to the details of how we were able to take advantage of this approach.

How the Pop Out Stretched Opposing Defenses?

We noticed that there only three ways they can soundly adjust to the Pop Out.

  1. Bumping Linebackers.
  2. Rolling the Secondary.
  3. Running across the formation.

Take a look at how defenses primarily adjust to Jet Sweep motion…

More importantly, if we ride the Pop Out before handing off to the Superback, we cause a moment of indecision for defenders. This takes time and precision to work correctly. Ultimately, this action caused us to create what Tony DeMeo now calls “Smart Splits.” In my 4 seasons coaching at Emporia State, I enjoyed creating a friendship with one of the finest offensive minds in the game, Coach DeMeo.

Coach DeMeo & I After One of Our Rivalry Games

Coach DeMeo & I After One of Our Rivalry Games

How the Hambone Helped me Create Accordion Splits to Open up Interior Running Lanes?

The Hambone did not go nearly as extreme with it’s splits as the Triple Shoot. However, I give credit to the concept of adjusting splits based on the Hambone as well as other option offensive attacks.

Here’s how accordion splits work…

Reduce the A & Expand the B.”

What we mean by this is that our linemen would determine whether we had an A-gap or B-gap player to the direction that we were running the Pop Out. If we noticed an A-gap player, the Guard would reduce his split and the Tackle would expand. If we saw a B-gap player, the Guard would expand his split and the Tackle would reduce. Note: We would use the same accordion split principles for the backside of the dive and Pop Out play.

Because our linemen were in a 2-point stance, they were able to shift, thus creating the illusion of an accordion. Guards were able to adjust from “toe to toe” with the Center or widen up to 5 feet. Tackles could expand from “toe to toe” with the Guard or expand up to 8 feet. Much of our accordion concept would depend on the athleticism of each lineman and his ability to handle a linebacker attacking the line of scrimmage. This also gave us the ability to adjust if we were over-matched from a personnel standpoint.

In 1999, in my first game as offensive coordinator at Wyoming we played the University of Tennessee in Knoxville… To say we were out-manned would be an understatement. Take a look at some of our Dive & Jet Sweeps versus John Chavis’ defense.

Once the accordion splits were installed, we worked on our double team blocks with the Center & Guard as well as the Guard & Tackle. The idea of the double team was to put 600 pounds with two offensive linemen on a 300-pound defender and get enough movement to push him back to linebacker level. We coached the linemen to stay on the double team block as long as possible before coming off on the linebacker.

The 2 base ways we blocked the dive:

If we had a play-side A-gap defender, the Center & Guard would double team him to the backside linebacker. The play side Tackle would then veer block down on the front-side linebacker from his wide split. Notice that the 5-technique also had to deal with a potential jet sweep before he could come down on the dive play. The Superback handled running past the down block of the double team and breaking any arm tackle attempted from the 5-technique (We also had the ability to run the Pop Out with veer blocking as a variation). The Superback was also told that if a defender crossed his face he would bend the play to the backside.

Dive Play to A-gap Player.

Dive Play to A-gap Player.

If we had a play-side B-gap defender, the Guard & Tackle would double team him to the front-side linebacker. On the backside, the Center & Guard would double team to the backside linebacker while the backside Tackle handled reading the man over the slot receiver that was jetting across the formation. If that defender covering the slot receiver came into the box, he would go “heavy through” his defender up to seal off the bumping linebacker. If the defender ran across, the Tackle would stay on his man and wall him off.

Dive Play to B-gap Player.

Dive Play to B-gap Player.

In the case, that we had both an A & B-gap player we “licked our chops” and expected a big play. (More on this in a later post…) Notice what happened when North Dakota State was silly enough to play 7 in the box versus the dive play!

NDSU’s only home-opener loss in 22 years of football at the Fargodome.

Divide & Conquer… The Superback Position Comes of Age

Brian Shay Comes of Age! (Emporia State Sports Information)

Brian Shay Comes of Age! (Emporia State Sports Information)

The final ingredient of our recipe in the Triple Shoot Offense for dive play success was also borrowed from the Hambone. These were the variable tracks we used for the Superback depending on the alignment of the defensive front.

  1. With an A-gap player, he ran a “wide” track from the inside heel of the play-side Guard.
  2. With a B-gap player, he ran a “tight” track, up the spine of the center.
  3. On all Pop Out plays, the Superback would also run a “wide” track.

What we noticed was that by blocking the dive play with accordion splits, this became a variable adjusting play for the Superback to run quickly to daylight. The more reps the back gets at seeing how various fronts adjust to the dive, the better he could make his decision on the field.”

Weird Science in the Canadian Football League

In 2009, I had one of the most enjoyable seasons of my coaching career. The Canadian Football League re-energized me and expanded my view of what was possible with the offense.

In training camp, I started experimenting with our 2-backs running downhill (waggle) and the jet sweep coming across the formation. Then we had sweeps coming from all different directions complimenting the backfield waggle. (I’ll write more on this for our coaching friends up North in a later post.) In the meanwhile, here is the result of this play versus the British Columbia Lions….

On that evening in Vancouver, here was the tale of the tape:

  1. Fred Reid ran for 260 yards on 26 carries.
  2. Yvenson Bernard ran for 112 yards on 11 carries.
  3. Blue Bomber club rushing record (393 yards)!

For more resources to utilizing a Jet Sweep Approach: CLICK HERE

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