If you watch the good tempo teams that play lightning fast, one thing you will see often is how they use trips into the boundary at a high tempo pace. Many teams don’t use Formations into the boundary because of the lack of space into the boundary, but good offensive teams will use this strategy to see if the opposing defense calls their strength to the offensive strength or just calls it to the field. If they just call it to the field, an offense can gain a numbers advantage into the boundary. If they do end up adjusting to the formation instead of the field, then the offense may have an opportunity to get a player into even more space since the defense is loaded into the boundary which always scares a defensive coordinator. Then throw in some tempo, and the defense has a hard time recognizing the formation and getting lined up regardless of the defensive coordinator’s preference. As a default, most teams will just call their defense to the field especially against a high tempo team so they can at least use the sideline and boundary as another line of defense.
One team that really introduced this tempo concept is Chip Kelly at Oregon. Now most of the no-huddle teams have some type of trips into the boundary tempo sequence. Chip Kelly even incorporates unbalanced trips into the boundary just to get another player into the boundary to overload a defense. One of his favorite tempo calls is Trips Unbalanced into the Boundary with Inside Zone and a Perimeter now screen. The other great thing about unbalanced, is the defense still has to account for the tackle to the field who is an elgible WR and usually the tight end as the tackle moves over to the boundary. Here is a picture of the formation and play:
The first thing the QB will do with this play is count the numbers on the perimeter. If it’s 3 on 2, he will then throw the perimeter screen. If the defense accounts for all three receivers, he will then run zone read and can read the c-gap player or the d-gap player depending on the tag. If teams start jumping the screen they will also go max protection and throw the screen and go.
Here is the first clip against Washington State. First off notice, how difficult it is for Washington State to get lined up. Guys aren’t even set when the ball is snapped. The perimeter is covered 3 over 3 so Oregon stays with the run because they have 6 on 6 and get a nice gain on the run play.
This next one Washington State agains aligns 3 over 3 to the Trips side so the QB will execute the run portion of the play. This time Washington state is lined up really odd and doesn’t really have a D-gap defender. The QB notice this and keeps it on the read for a huge play and a touchdown. Again tempo really stresses the defense and you will get some misalignments by the defense when you execute at a high speed.
The next clip is against Stanford and again you can see the defense in disarray trying to get lined up against this formation at tempo. Fortunately, their initial look made it look like 3 over 3 and then they realigned but Oregon didn’t catch the advantage on the perimeter in time so they ran the zone but still got a nice positive gain.
The screen and go is another part of this tempo play. When teams start to aggressively play the screen, Oregon will counter with the screen and go to test their discipline. Here you can see the confusion verse Stanford but unfortunately can’t connect for the touchdown.
Here are a couple more clips verse Stanford where Oregon puts Trips into the boundary. This time they don’t go unbalanced but it still forces the defense to make a quick decision on how they want to defend this formation. Stanford covers all 3 WR’s so Oregon runs the zone read play for decent gains. By utilizing the QB in the run game, Oregon is 6 on 6 in the run game. The first time they give the ball because the Defensive end plays the QB and they gain about 11 yards:
The next time, the QB does a great job riding the RB and getting the end to crash so the QB pulls it for a touchdown.
Again, this is a simple thing to incorporate into your offense but stresses the defense and forces them to make a decision on how they want to play this difficult formation. These tempo teams also call these plays with 1 word that tells the players the formation and the play so that they can run the play even faster. Next time you watch a high tempo spread team, you will start to notice this strategy more often.