Stanford’s Post Wheel Play-Action
In order to have a great play-action game, you must be able to run the ball effectively. One of the best teams at establishing the line of scrimmage and running the ball is Stanford, which is why their play-action game is lethal. Most people don’t think of Stanford as a great passing team, but their ability to run the ball sets up some big play opportunities in their passing game. If you can run the ball well, teams will add extra defenders to the box which makes them vulnerable to the deep play-action passing game. One concept that is really effective versus safeties rolling into the box or corners trigger into the box is the post wheel concept. Today’s post will hopefully give you some ideas of how to incorporate this concept off your base runs. Stanford does a great job of incorporating this concept into multiple personnel groups and formations so it really helps visualize the possibilities of how many different ways you could run this play-action concept.
This first clip is from a run-heavy 2 backs, 2 tight ends formation. This is the type of formation and personnel group you think of when you think of Stanford’s offense. They give a hard Iso play fake as the #1 WR runs a skinny post and the tight end runs the wheel route behind him. The defense is playing Cover 1 man coverage as you can see the safety run with the motion so the QB knows he is going to have the tight end 1 on 1 on the wheel route. Even with man coverage the safety peaks in the backfield which allows the tight end to get leverage on him. That’s the great thing about this formation, as it usually forces the defense to play with a single high safety so Stanford knows the Post Wheel route will be good verse Cover 3 or Cover 1. It also allows them to use a 7 man protection so the QB can get the throw off without any type of pressure. If the defense doesn’t roll a safety into the box, Stanford will have a numbers advantage in the box for the run game. That’s the predicament teams are in when they play a very good run team. They either have to load the box to stop the run or make themselves susceptible to the deep passing game.
One play that is starting to gain popularity is the power read with toss action. Instead of the back coming across the QB and reading the defensive end, the back aligns to the same side of the read and the QB can either toss the ball or keep it based off the defensive end’s reaction. This play-action is a great compliment to that run design. Here you will see Stanford in a 2×2 formation with the twins in the boundary in a bunch look. Stanford fakes the power read toss action which gets the corner to bite on the toss fake which allows the wheel route easy access to the sideline. The post holds the split safety at the same time, and the QB throws a hole shot down the sideline to put them into position to score. Another key coaching point to notice in this clip is how they pull the center to kick out instead of the guard. The reason they do this is because their is a 3 technique backside which is very difficult to back block on like traditional power read. So they base the 3 technique with the back side guard and kick with the center to solidify the protection.
In this particular clip, Stanford runs a vertical switch concept that is pretty similar to the post wheel concept. Instead of a post though, the #1 WR runs a crack seam to sell the run. By running it this way, the safety flies down thinking its run and then the WR can go by him. In the backfield, Stanford is selling power read out of a 2 back shotgun set and the lead back runs a wheel from the backfield. As you can see the safety flies down for run support and the corner squeezes the fake crack which allows the wheel to outflank and get past the corner for a big gain and a touchdown.
Hopefully these examples give you some ideas of how you can incorporate this concept into your offense. It’s a great concept that will compliment many of your base runs. We all know to win games, you have to be able to run the football, but with that being said, you must be able to pass the ball a little to loosen up the box. The play-action pass also helps create some big chunks play that can impact the outcome of a game and change momentum. Even with the option teams that are 90% run, you will see the post wheel concept used in their offenses for this reason. This concept is a very easy progression read of post, wheel, to check down, and usually you can tell if the post is a viable option right at the snap. If you enjoyed this post, check out my post on how to use the post wheel with the jet sweep.