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Diversion Tactic Play Suggestions?

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We are playing an upcoming team on our 5 on 5, 5 second rush delay, 8-9 year old age group. We have played them before and they are simply unstoppable on defense as they are VERY good at staying in their zones...freakishly so (I say this enviously...LOL).

Can anyone share any advice or particularly some diversion plays that would help me try to jump start our offense? I basically have one VERY fast, runner that cannot juke well, one set of decent hands with moderate speed and a good scrambler with not a lot of speed. That is the highlight of my team. I have a somewhat effective quarterback with a good arm but poor instincts and results in throwing picks so I am limited with the pass.

Thanks in advance!

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They run a combination of 3 up front and 2 in the back OR 2 up front and 3 in the back.

I need more info. Do they send a rusher? Do the 3 up front sit across the los to 5 yards back or so? And do the 2 deep split the field? How about in the 3 deep across? Rusher? How deep is the middle guy? Do you ever roll out? How does the defense react? Can your QB run?

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Before you reply with the particulars I'll give you my thoughts. Any defense can be exploited. When you tell me this team plays a zone and is particularly good at staying home, then I think OK let's use that against them. My first thought is to flood a particular zone or side of the field. That way their defenders will have more receivers in their area than they can handle. To further exploit this you can roll your QB out to one side or the other, play twin or trips and really go after a side. Another thought I have is to attack the seams in the zone. The middle is usually split between defenders, especially if they send a rusher. You can also split them vertically. especially when they have only two on a side and don't move over to help. Respond to my previous post and let me know more about the specifics and then we'll formulate something more specific.

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All 3 up front sit directly across the los when they run the 3 up front with the nose guard as the designated rusher making sure the QB does not run after the 5 sec. Otherwise he plays back and splits the back field with the other two in even zones with him (ng) covering the middle zone. Usually its 3 up front however with the 2 DB splitting the field down the middle. If I split a WR out the defensive back will also creep up and play man-to-man on the wr split out for his zone with their denfensive tackle still watching the run for that side. If I send 2 WR to one side, the db for that zone plays up almost man-to-man and the middle DB/NG watches the other if he is playing back or the tackle also is able to watch the other WR I send over too. I am not sure how they communicate that in time which is frustrating.

I do roll out with one play to either side with the QB running towards a RB positioned all the way to the sideline almost for a fake handoff. I then either have him pass downfield if they are drawn in OR turn like they are going to pass up field and then turn towards the runner and pass to him on the other side of the field parallel to the los. This has worked to some degree of success. My problem is the QB with the arm is not getting his passes off fast enough to complete a pass downfield after the fake and is not good on the run to pass back to the RB. My other QB is a real good runner/juker, not as much of a arm but alot more intuitive and accurate. It's important to note that the other teams has 1-2 kids playing at all time that are faster than any of the kids on my team. Even when we get a breakaway, I have seen these guys come from one side of the field to the other and run down our fastest player.

I also have a play where the RB comes for a fake hand-off while QB is in the pocket from either side. Once that occurs the QB looks to pass deep towards the opposite side of where the runner is completing their fake. The QB then quickly passes the ball to the RB as he is all but forgotten. This play has also had some effect. I have a reverse, double reverse and fake reverse that us useless as well as a statue of liberty run play that works for everyone but them, they just are tough to fool with misdirection.

Thanks for the help!

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Let's make sure we're on the same page as you are using different terms. Typically we see two safeties that play deeper and split the field. On the outside at the los we usually see two cornerbacks. Then we have a middle defender who can rush after 5 seconds.

From what you describe it sounds like the corners have primary run stop responsibility. And it sounds like the safeties play up on receivers on their side. I'll suggest 3 simple plays, all of which I have used regularly.

Play 1: Center over middle pass. Formation balanced, 1 wideout split wide left, one split wide right. QB under center with halfback behind him. The wideouts will run flag patterns designed to pull the safeties away from the middle and deep. The QB takes the snap and turns and does a fake handoff to the running back. That fake handoff should freeze the middle defender and two corners (especially if you hand off a few times before that). The center runs at a 45 degree angle to the right and then cuts back 45 degrees towards the middle where he should be wide open somewhere about 5-7 yards past the los. The QB should toss it over that middle defenders head. Ideally the center should be right down the middle when the pass comes. If he goes too far to one side or the other he defeats the purpose of the pulling the zones apart. The pass is an easy one because the QB will still be near the los and it's only 5-7 yards. But he does not want to lob it too much either or the safeties or middle defender can recover and close.

Play 2: Double swingout. Formation balanced as above. Wideouts run deep post patterns taking the safeties deep. The halfback swings right and the center swings left, each running a wheel type pattern towards the sideline. If the corners stay home then you should be able to pass over their heads to either sideline. It's not a long pass depending on how wide your field is because you hit them close to the los. If the corners spread to cover them then it's one-on-one for your QB and that lone middle defender. That's advantageous if he has some moves. Key to this play is looking off the deep posts and even fake pumping long before hitting one of the players on the sideline.

Play 3: Sideline sit pass. We ran this one against a team that pinched their corners in tight and played the run first. They also tended to play their safeties deep but if not then I'll give you another option here. Formation balanced as above. QB executes fake handoff to running back. That should effectively freeze the corners. The wideout simply runs towards the sideline and sits about 1 yard past it and 1-2 yards next to it. As long as that safety doesn't come in, you can hit that pass all day long and have some room to run. If the safety cheats in then we run the center on a flag pattern to that side giving you a deep pass option. Have the receiver on the other side run some middle outside pattern to draw the other safeties attention away from the play. I call it a sit pass because the receiver only takes a few steps to get into position and then just waits for the pass. He's trying to "sit" on the outside seam. What I drill into that receivers head is this: After the catch, run up the sideline! He usually would see more initial space cutting back inside but that's right back into the heart of the defense. Run up the sideline!

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I really like Play 1 based on the way you described their defense. Hit that a couple of times and the defense will adjust by dropping the middle defender back to cover the center. At that point run the same play, have the center streak long, fake the pass to him and then hit the halfback right down that middle line about 5 yards downfield. You could have him curl or whatever but once that middle defender drops back it should be open underneath in the middle. Either that or have the running back swing out after the fake handoff and then the QB fake pumps long to the center and then scrambles right down the middle (should be good for 5-10 yards).

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Quick question, on the Flag and Post routes do you have them angle towards the sideline or center of the field after they make their cut? How many steps do you suggest for the Flag and Post prior to making the cut?

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I would have them running about 5 yards before making the cuts.

This is how wiki defines it:

"A corner (or flag route) route is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs up the field and then turns at approximately a 45 degree angle, heading away from the quarterback towards the sideline."

"A post is a moderate to deep passing route in American football in which a receiver runs 7-10 yards from the line of scrimmage straight down the field, then cuts toward the middle of the field (towards the facing goalposts, hence the name) at a 45 degree angle."

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In addition to this---try calling a few plays on "Down". X's and O's are great, and intangibles like catching the defenders off-guard with your cadence augments it to perfection. If I've learned anything about coaching players 5-9 age group, it's the little things that make the world of difference.

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