As someone who has more to learn when it comes to football X's and O's, I found Seth Price's Fast and Furious: Butch Jones and the Tennessee Volunteers' Offense to be helpful. It's an easy read that really hits its stride when it starts breaking down individual concepts the Vols have gone to a lot under Butch Jones. Seth does a good job distinguishing between what we saw under Mike Bajakian and what we see now with Mike DeBord along the way. And it's written from a perspective Tennessee fans will certainly enjoy.
The book's greatest strengths come when it shows how more detailed concepts were put into play in game situations. Seth was good enough to share one of those from the book with us at Rocky Top Talk; the whole thing is available now at Amazon, and you can find more of Seth's good work at The Football Concepts.
The base Pin and Pull scheme is an important part of the offense and a very effective play. However, DeBord and Jones devised a variation of the play to attack a three man front that is even more dangerous.
In back-to-back weeks in 2015, the Vols faced the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Kentucky Wildcats, both teams who base out of a 3-4 front. As part of the game plan to attack the 3-4, DeBord added a variation of the Pin and Pull called the Dual Sweep.
The Vols only ran the play twice versus Alabama, runs of seventeen and eleven yards by Dobbs, before the Crimson Tide switched out of the 30 front. The Vols went back to the play quite a few times the next week versus the Wildcats, who stayed in the 3-4 look for most of the game. Neither defense had any answer to the Vols scheme, besides abandoning the 3-4 entirely. Tennessee went for over twenty yards on this play multiple times and averaged over ten yards per run.
The design of this play is very similar to the base Pin and Pull, but the Dual Sweep can attack in either direction. The running back runs to the strongside and the quarterback runs to the weakside. Instead of always handing off to the back, the quarterback reads the weakside linebacker to determine if he should give or keep the ball.
Both offensive tackles block down on the defensive ends, sealing them inside. Both offensive guards pull outside to block the outside linebackers. The center’s job is to reach block the nose tackle and not let him impact either the running back or the quarterback.
On the strong side, the tight end has to get to the second level and block the middle linebacker. The point of this blocking scheme is to seal the edge on both sides. With the tackles blocking down and the guards pulling around, there should be room around the edge for a runner on both sides.
The quarterback’s job is to read the weakside linebacker. He can either keep the ball himself if the linebacker moves toward the running back, or he can hand it to his back if the linebacker respects the quarterback keep.
The beauty of this play is that it perfectly attacks a 30 front defense. A defense that aligns with three interior defensive linemen and four linebackers is going to struggle to defend this play just because of their alignment. DeBord put this play in to specifically attack this front.
The defensive ends’ alignment in a 30 front, directly over or just inside the offensive tackles, puts them at a big disadvantage. The down block is an easy assignment for any offensive tackle. The toughest responsibility goes to the offensive guards. These players are pulling around and have to block an outside linebacker in space.
The weakside linebacker is the player Tennessee really wants to attack here. He is left unblocked and Dobbs is reading him. If he stays on the weakside, Dobbs can hand to the back moving in the opposite direction. If he chases the back, then Dobbs will have all sorts of room to run in the area he vacated.
The Vols had so much success early on against Kentucky that the Wildcats were forced to adjust. They began slanting their defensive ends inside in order to beat the down blocks and attack the mesh point between the quarterback and running back.
This was effective, so Jones and DeBord countered with an adjustment of their own. Instead of pinning and pulling, the Vols went to a traditional Outside Zone scheme where all the playside blockers execute a reach block.
The result is that the end stepping inside would be blocked by the guard who is now reaching into the B gap. The tackle is able to get to the second level to pick up the linebacker, while the tight end just has to reach the outside linebacker.
This completely stymied Kentucky, as their end who had been darting inside was now being cut off by the guard, and Alvin Kamara ended up with a career long 63 yard run.