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Power Up Your Running Game with the Short Back I Formation


It’s football season again. Many youth football programs are in full swing, high schools have already started district play and college football’s quest for the playoffs is off and running. For all of you youth and high school football coaches that are trying to establish a run game and it’s just not happening or to you coaches that have established a run game but would like to see a little more umph, I have just the thing for you.

The short back offensive package can power up your run game and help you punch the defense in the mouth. It’s a great short yardage & goal line weapon. It can also be used at the end of the game when you have a lead and want to run the clock out. It’s also good coming out of deep in your own territory or as your primary offense if you don’t have the necessary amount of skill players to spread the field and get big plays. I have detailed a few key plays below and have the entire series of plays from this offense available in a playbook that you can order right now.

Here’s what the short back formation looks like:

I short right formation

I short right formation

The short back is depicted as the ‘4’ back in the illustration above.  He’s also know as ‘Z’ when he’s involved in pass plays.  This is basically the Power I formation but we are taking the offset back and moving him up right behind the line of scrimmage.  The advantage that gives the offense is allowing the back to reach the point of attack sooner and head off penetration by blitzing linebackers.  It also hides the back which gives him advantages on certain blocks, runs and pass routes.  There is a World of things you can do out of this formation even with as basic as it may look.

Below,  I will show you a couple of basic plays you can run to start yourself off in this offensive package.

I short right 22 dive

I short right 22 dive

Most defenses will see this double tight, three back formation and will play you with a 5-3 look to start.  If you get a 50 front with tackles playing head up on your tackles then the dive play to the fullback can be a killer.  If the other team’s middle linebacker is not a head banger then get your P.A.T. team ready.  The reach block by the playside tackle is crucial to keep the running lane open.  The center and playside guard,  at the very least need to stall the noseguard.  If they can get movement on him,  all the better.  Your short back comes through hole and tries to ruin the MLB’s life.  The short back must be a powerful player who likes to block.  Playside tightend must work hard inside to try to reach the strong side linebacker (SAM).  If the Sam consistently runs away from him and can make the play then we have a remedy for that.

I short right 36 lead

I short right 36 lead

Once you have begun assaulting the middle of your opponent’s defense, their adjustment may be to either (a) slant their tackles into the gap you keep hitting them in or align their tackles in a ‘3’ technique which basically means in the B gaps. Your best play to counter this is the 36 lead.  Now, your short back, who is in great position in his alignment, can slide down the line and kick out the playside end.  He acts as a pulling guard on a ‘G’ block.  Remember that SAM backer that keeps chasing down inside?  Now we take him where he wants to go with a down block by the tight end.  The fullback goes through the six hole and cleans up the garbage or goes and finds the cornerback.  He should win this blocking mismatch.  The tailback takes an open step,  then lead step to the six hole and should hit it hard.  Once he passes the first line of defense,  he should be gone or getting a massive chunk of yards. If not,  make him aware of the start date of the next track and field season.


I short right 36 lead pass

Now that you have them off balance  the next step for the defense is to either blitz or line up in some type of 6 man or goal line front. Whether it’s a goal line / 6-2 front of they are blitzing,  it’s all the same.  They are committing 8 men to the line of scrimmage to stop you from pounding them into a flat steak.  Now that they are leaning forward,  we have to make them fall flat on their face.  That’s where the 36 lead pass comes in.  Everything looks like the 36 lead.  However,  now the TE on the playside is releasing on a 10 yard corner route,  passing all of those defenders with their eyes in the backfield screaming forward to stop the run play.  The short back is now coming down the line and instead of kicking out the END,  turns up through hole and releases into the flat.  Your fullback makes a hard charge at the line of scrimmage and picks up the end while the tailback picks up any rusher who may appear outside of the DEFENSIVE END.    Your quarterback must carry out a solid fake,  set up behind the tailback, set his feet and read the corner route back down to the flat route.  It is important that your backside TE handle the defensive end from the QB’s blind side.  If you are a high school coach with an experienced line,  you can consider releasing the backside TE on a crossing route and slide your protection to the left.  On the goal line,  inside the 5 yard line,  this play is going to be open more than 90% of the time.

That is just a handful of many plays that you can use in this offensive package.  I a nice playbook of 13 quality plays you can use out of this formation that will drive the defense into the ground and send them home with a loss. If you are interested dominating the opposition with a powerful run game you can order my Short Back Offense  now only $10.  Hit the button below.  Playbook delivered to you via email in PDF format within 24 hours.

Get the Entire I Short Back Playbook Now Only $10 – Click Here

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Some Thoughts on I Short Playbook

” My name is Jeff  Vonglis and I coach the jr pee wee Happy Valley Warriors here in East Tennesse. Last Sat. night we used your Short I formation for the first time. We had great success with it! I have ran the power I before, but moving the 4 back up really made the difference, especially with this team. If you have any more plays, i would really like to see them if at all possible.
Thank you for the posting of the plays.  A true fan of power football”
J. Vonglis
“I came across your blog almost by chance but now seems like fate.  I’d be very much interested in acquiring A Short Back Playbook. I have a smaller, tough quick player that I think would love that position (as opposed to WB). I’m a first time Youth Coach struggling to find an offense suited to my team. I think this one might be it. Much thanks in advance for your gracious sharing”
L. Cirillo
I run a standard I Formation offense and often times go Power I with the Z lining up next to the fullback (Rip or Liz). I’m very interested in receiving your short back offense playbook.Many thanks,
Jared Play of the Week 9/09/13: Sponsored by FirstDown Playbook


By: Charlie Coiner – CEOFirst Down Playbook

Anyone who has taught or coached this play knows that there really is no playside or backside to it. The weak side zone play or Blunt as it is commonly referred can hit anywhere. In fact if you charted this play the ball hits back over to the Tight Ends’ side much more than it ever hits to the open end side. The play is designed to start weak and get the defense running before the ball carrier normally cuts and runs the ball directly over the original alignment of the Center. As the defense reacts to the initial footwork of the back and the defensive front fights to maintain their gap control the critical blocks often fall on the two Tight Ends cutting off the Defensive End and Sam LB.

When blocking an over defense the Center, Guard and Tackle are working to block the Shade, 3 technique and MLB.  The Tight Ends are left to zone block the Defensive End and SLB. The Tight Ends have some disadvantages. Size and often times leverage are two things that they must take into account as they attempt to zone block a Defensive End who is bigger and a stand up SLB who is normally a great athlete playing downhill to the ball. Well coached defensive linemen will also do a great job to get their hands on the blocker who is trying to get to the second level defender or they will penetrate upfield making the zone block almost impossible because the two Tight Ends are starting on different levels.

Zone blocking the backside still has it’s merits. As the Tight Ends attempt to cut off the two defenders the flow can work to their advantage if they stay on their blocks and just get some movement. If the Tight Ends will accelerate their feet at the end of their blocks it is very hard for the End or LB to get off of the block and tackle a hard charging RB who should be getting north south off of their blocks.

Zone It


However if the play is run enough times in a game then eventually the SLB is going to start flowing fast enough that it is going to be hard for the Y to give enough help to the F on the zone block AND get off on the SLB. The advantages that the Tight Ends have is that one of them is off of the line of scrimmage and can move in motion. This gives your F a chance to do several things. He can keep the defense on their toes up until the last split second before the ball is snapped because the defense does not know if he is going across the formation or not. The Wing can also stop at multiple spots when he begins to return to his original alignment. He can stop inside of the Y, he can motion back to the wing position or he can even motion back outside to an extended alignment. This is why it is important for the Wing to motion with a sense of urgency and also with a body demeanor that is constantly ready for the ball to be snapped.

Man It

As the video shows the man blocking scheme can also be executed without motion. the Y needs to aggressive on the Defensive End so that here is no penetration. The F will need to cheat back a little with his alignment so that he has a chance to fit up on the SLB. The F must also account for the flow of the SLB if he is to have a chance on this block. It is still essential that both players run their feet and finish their blocks.

You will notice that the QB and Strong Safety are also in red on the drawings. Regardless of what run play you call you will always be one player short if the defense plays eight defenders in the box. The QB can help offset this by giving the defense a hard naked fake after the handoff. This will make the Safety hesitate just enough to give the ball carrier a chance to get north south on the run before the Safety can get involved. Even if your QB is not a run threat he can hold the Safety with the threat of a two on one naked pass to one of the Tight Ends or the X on an over route.

For more help with football schemes and ideas for coaches and fans at all levels go to

GridironStuds Play of the Week sponsored by FirstDown Playbook

0 Play of the Week: Sponsored by FirstDown Playbook
by: Charlie Coiner – CEO Developer First Down Playbook App

942 China H Swing

This 3×1 high low passing play was one of my favorites when I was coaching the Tight Ends with the Buffalo Bills. We ran it a lot with two Tight Ends in the game. One of the main reasons was that Derek Schouman ran it so well from the F position. The slot Tight End has to have a feel for the route to run it correctly. Derek was very good at detecting man or zone coverage based on the pre-snap alignment of the defense and also at reading how the Mike and Will LB’s reacted after the ball was snapped.

As the drawing indicates the F must stay on the move but a good player will understand staying on the move does not always mean to come screaming across the middle 100 MPH with your hair on fire. Vs man coverage staying on the move with speed is the correct thing but vs zone a good player will come across with a little pace so that he does not run out of the opening in the zone coverage. This will also help the F after the catch when it is time for him to put his foot in the ground and get north south to split the zone defenders. Schouman was particularly good at this in the red zone as he had a feel for catching the ball and finding a way to get in the end zone. This is a relatively simple read for the QB if he also has a good feel for the coverage he is attacking. I have included a few coaching tips for this 3×1 passing game concept below.

Read: Y to F to Z

-If the QB sees bracket or in and out coverage on the Y, F or Z he can remove that receiver from the read and get to the H back on the swing route as #3.

-This is a high low on the MLB and SLB depending on who carries the the Y.
– The Y must get his depth and sell a vertical route so that there will be separation between him and the F.
-In the tight red zone the Y will run the crossing route two yards from the back of the end zone.
-The Y should also outside release to provide a possible rub vs man coverage and to sell the threat of a vertical route.
– There is a complimentary play to this that has the Y running a corner route. The Y must take advantage of this at the top of his route and do a good job with his head selling the corner route first before breaking inside on his crossing route.
-The Z must delay off of the ball to allow spacing between him and the F. 

For detailed passing plays every week from FirstDown PlayBook go to the NFL High School Player Development website. Play of the Week by FirstDown Playbook


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FirstDown PlayBookCoaching Points:
by: Charlie Coiner – CEO FirstDown Playbook 

-This is a 5 step our progression read for the QB.

-He should read this Y to X to F to H (If his protection is suspect I would tell him Y to X to H)

-Vs MOF Open/Zone: (2 or 1/4’s coverage)

-The QB should look to get the ball to the Tight End on the 5th step of his drop.
-The Tight End should outside release and sell a vertical route early.
-The Tight End should turn outside and sit in the hole away from the leverage of the LB.
-If the SLB expands past the Y and the MLB expands or gets depth then the QB should get to the X who is sitting down in that hole.
-If the SLB and the MLB match the Y and the X the QB can:

a) Take one hitch and hit the F as he comes into the zone behind the MLB

b) Swing the ball out to the H.

-Vs MOF Closed/Zone:

I would read this the same way except I would get off of the Y earlier especially vs strong rotation.

-Vs Man Free Coverage: 

– The read stays the same except:
-The Y and the X should stay on the move with their routes.
-If the F recognizes man he can shorten his route to 14 for the QB.

-The Z is a consideration on an alert if you like that matchup vs the corner.

-Vs 2 Man Coverage: 

– The read stays the same.
-The QB needs to understand that the F will likely be doubled at the top of his route so F-X-H is better.

– QB can think tuck it and run if all are covered.

Hot Reads:

-Strong Pressure makes you hot: The Y must expedite his route to the outside and look for the ball.
-Weak Pressure makes you hot: The X is coming into your vision.

Coaching Points:

-The Z must outside release at all cost
-The Y and the X must stay on the move vs man and sit down in the hole vs zone.
– The F must stem outside on his release to get the proper spacing with the x vs zone.

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