More “Bang” for Your Buck With the Power Scheme

The “Power O” is a play that has been around for a long time. Running it with a fullback and a tight end used to be the standard. It was a play that was a staple in many run-based offenses because it allowed for a double team at the point of attack and brought two extra blockers to the play side with the fullback and the pulling guard. Offensive coaches were not afraid to call it into an 8-or 9-man box, and utilizing two tight ends and two running backs to get it done was common.

The professional game evolved with many teams adopting an H-Back for a fullback to the point where some would joke that NFL stood for “No Fullbacks Left”. However, many high school and college teams still used the fullback to run the play. The game evolved further with the advent and popularity of the spread. Still, the power play found a way to survive through all of these changes. Again, the numbers that the scheme brings to the play side makes it a viable play in any offense.

Our one-back power allows us to spread the field and take defenders out of the box. Our basic philosophy in removing a blocker and adding a receiver is that the defense will also have to remove a defender. We force the defense to cover that receiver by having the slot receiver run a bubble. Because the defense must respect our ability to throw the bubble to the slot, we are effectively blocking that defender by taking him away from the point of attack.

The scheme is not limited to just the traditional hand-off to the running back. It became a staple for one back and spread teams as well. The scheme is used in what many teams are calling the inverted veer. It is also used in what teams refer to as an inverted option or shovel pass to a runner coming underneath the quarterback as the quarterback attacks the end man on the line of scrimmage.

The flexibility of the scheme is why we include it in our offense. Over the past four seasons we have used it in all of the ways that I have mentioned. The best part is that in going to those different variations, the rules, line calls and techniques remain the same for the offensive line. This is a key factor in choosing run concepts for our offense. When we find that a blocking scheme is flexible and can have multiple uses and variations yet remain the same up front, we feel it is worth including in our attack.

Furthermore, we like the power scheme because of the synergy it has with our zone schemes. Like our inside zone play, our one back power is an aggressive and physical play that has several similarities. First, both schemes have the offensive line going in one direction. Like zone, everyone is responsible for a gap. In our zone scheme everyone blocks his playside gap; in power, it works the opposite with all linemen responsible for their backside gap with one player kicking out.

Additionally, both use combination blocks. In our run game we want to find as many double teams as possible. On inside zone we can have up to two double teams, and power gives us a double team at the point of attack.

Because we have similarities between the two concepts, our run game allows us to emphasize the execution of fundamentals and techniques. For example, what we call a “Backside B” technique on zone play is very similar to our “Deuce Block” on the power play, and we can work that single technique in a drill. Learn the specifics of our combination blocks here.

From a strategic standpoint, both our zone and power concepts are flexible schemes. Both can be run from multiple formations. These runs provide a balanced attack which can run to both the tight end and split end sides. The variations give the play even more flexibility.

We start our teaching of the power concept with the one-back scheme. The rules of our concept are very similar with one-back or two-back power. Both hit in the A-gap with someone responsible for the Sam linebacker. In two-back that would be the fullback; in one-back we remove the linebacker by positioning a receiver outside the box and forcing the defense to cover down on the receiver. If the linebacker does not leave the box to cover the slot receiver, we have the ability to throw a quick screen, either a now or a bubble, to the receivers.

We define the power as a physically gap blocked play with one (one-back variation) or two (two-back variation) kick out blocks at the point of attack. The kick out block that is consistent for both variations is that of the backside guard. In order for him to be in the correct position to execute his kick out block, he must use a skip pull. Learn the specifics of the skip pull here.

A final reason for including it in our running attack is that the scheme adapts to the different types of defenses that we may see. Whether the defense prefers a penetrating, reading, or pressuring style, gap responsibility always overrides blocking a man. Once the blocking scheme is in place for the offensive line, adding or using the variations is simply adjusting to what is happening behind the line.

The one-back power creates some great angles against a six-man box. Because the defense can walk a player into the box, the offense must have an answer, whether that is checking to a different play or throwing a quick screen to where the defense has left themselves light because they moved a defender into the box. However, when the defense respects the ability to put the ball out on the edges with a quick screen, the run is very effective.

The two -scheme allows for use in more situations. Because of the extra block at the point of attack and the ability for all linemen to gap-down, and the additional gap being added to the play side by the pulling backside guard, offensive coaches tend to stick with this play call. It is a play that can be used either to the tight end side or the split end side. We use this play in both our pistol sets and on the goal line.

Using the concept with the jet sweep adds a different dynamic. Now the quarterback becomes the runner, the running back fills the role of the fullback, kicking out a defender, and the speed of the sweep attacking the perimeter can really force a defense to move and create big running lanes. This was a staple in our wildcat package in 2010-11, and the quarterback power was one of our most explosive runs. Learn more about how receiver motion enhances inside runs here.

The sweep-power concept has evolved further with both being packaged together and the quarterback making a read on the reaction of the play side defensive end. Now the defense is really in a bind because they now are defending an option. If the end closes, the quarterback will give to the sweep. The perimeter is being blocked by a fullback/H-back, receivers or both. Because the quarterback is a potential runner and one man is unblocked (the end) the offense has the ability to get a hat-on-a-hat on the perimeter. If the end widens to stop the sweep, now the quarterback becomes the runner on the power scheme being executed by the offensive linemen inside. The quarterback is taught to catch the snap, slide and mesh with the sweeper, and get his eyes to the end to make the decision to give or keep.

The play can be run from a variety of formations, with or without motion. Here is an example of it being run from an empty formation with jet motion.

The other variation that is used by some spread teams is an inverted option or shovel option. This initially looks like a speed option at the defensive end who is unblocked. Either a slot receiver from the backside or a running back who was aligned away from the play will become the pitch man underneath. Again, the offensive line executes their power blocking scheme. If the end widens, he will shovel the ball underneath to the power. The back receiving the option is taught to get vertical after the pitch. If the end closes, then the quarterback will option the alley defender and pitch off of him.

Here are some cut-ups of Flordia’s “Shovel Option” in 2009.

The effectiveness and flexibility of the power scheme has allowed it to move beyond the three yards and a cloud of dust days when nearly all defenders were packed in the box. When the men upfront can keep the consistency of what they do regardless of what’s happening behind them, you have a scheme with huge value to your offense. Whether you run the I-formation, one-back, spread, or a combination of those sets, the power scheme is worth carrying as part of your arsenal.