In breaking down Jimbo Fisher’s pro-option offense, we’ve already look at the triple option, the QB draw, and the various passing concepts. Today we’re going to look at a play near and dear to any offensive line coach’s heart, the counter play. A&M runs multiple versions of counter, but CG Counter Read comes with a twist, a backside read option.
The counter play is a pretty simple basic concept. Two players pull from backside to playside, first puller kicks out the end man on the line of scrimmage and second puller leads the ballcarrier into the hole by sealing a linebacker inside. First puller creates the hole, second puller goes inside the hole and creates the wall backside, ballcarrier runs flies through the tunnel.
Typically teams will pull a guard and tackle or guard and tight end/H-back to run counter, but A&M puts their own twist on the play by pulling the center and playside guard. The center and playside guard pull while the backside defensive end is left unblocked as a read option for the QB. Texas A&M runs their CG Counter Read from 11 personnel with the TE and three receivers aligned to the field.
Key block on the play is really the backside guard, if he can’t down block the 1-tech the play is stuffed before it begins. Playside tackle down blocks on 3-tech. Tight end blocks strongside end. Playside guard pulls playside and kicks out playside linebacker. Center follows and seals middle linebacker inside. Backside tackle goes second level and looks for backside linebacker to cut off pursuit. Weakside end is left unblocked because he is the read man. QB meshes with RB for handoff and read of backside end. If end crashes inside, keep outside. If end floats, give to RB. Playside guard and center are trying to open a hole by kicking out PSLB and sealing MLB. RB takes ball and runs tunnel created by center and playside guard. Outside receiver runs a fade. Inside and outside slot receivers stalk block.
Executing CG Counter Read Option
When A&M played South Carolina in their 2021 game, the Gamecocks aligned their defense in a 4-3 with a cornerback playing press man on the outside receiver and Cover 2 over the top. A&M is aligned on the boundary hash with the TE and wide receivers aligned to the field. Running to the field with everyone constrained inside is an easy choice.
A&M has Devon Achane aligned to Zach Calzada’s right, Demond Demas as the field receiver, Chase Lane as the outside slot, and Ainias Smith as the inside slot. TE Jalen Wydermyer is in-line to the field.
At the snap, RG Layden Robinson hits the key block, taking on the 1-tech. Left tackle Jahmir Johnson blocks down on the 3-tech and TE Wydermyer blocks the playside end. LG Kenyon Green pulls around Wydermyer’s block and takes on PSLB Damani Staley. Center Bryce Foster pulls around Wydermyer and under Green and blocks the middle linebacker. Calzada takes the snap, sees the backside DE floating, and hands to Achane. Achane takes the ball and runs inside Green and Foster’s blocks for an 8 yard gain.
Both the playside and middle linebacker combine to make the tackle. If Foster engages the MLB beyond a shoulder block and Green stays on the PSLB, there is the opportunity for an explosive play.
Run It The Other Way, Coach
This time A&M is running CG Counter Read to the right side. Wydermyer is aligned outside RT Reuben Fatheree. Wydermyer blocks down on the PSDE and Fatheree blocks down on the 3-tech. LG Green cuts the 1-tech. Zacch (with two c’s) Pickens jumps over the cut attempt. RG Layden Robinson pulls around Wydermyer and kicks out the MLB. Foster pulls under Robinson and is forced to kick the WLB Brad Johnson outside. Johnson is widening in an attempt to force Achane back inside. Achane plays London Bridges with Johnson and Foster and slips under and through the block. The play results in a 13 yard gain (his knee was down) and a first down. Devon Achane is undefeated at London Bridges.
If you watch backside end Kingsley Enagbare, he crashes down on this play. Play was a designed give. At this point in the season, Calzada’s was A&M’s only scholarship QB and keeping him healthy was paramount. A&M coaches intentionally limited his number of carries in games. The option to keep the ball and run backside is there, though.
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