Jimbo Fisher’s Split-Back Counter and Zone Extra Run Game

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With the heralded match up between Florida State and Alabama a couple of weeks away, I decided to sit down and study one of the most intriguing offenses in the nation, Florida State’s. Since Jimbo Fisher has taken over in Tallahassee as the Head Coach the offenses have been electric, often resembling what is seen on Sunday’s in the NFL.

Zone Extra

One of the first plays that pop up on film for Florida State is what is known as ‘Zone Extra’ to Jimbo Fisher. This is an inside zone play that features a wide receiver motioning into the weak side of the backfield to cut off the backside defensive end. The play received its name Zone ‘Extra’ due to the fullback being an extra blocker in the scheme. The fullback has the same read as the running back. He is taught to go where he would run the football. The following is how Jimbo teaches the fullback to read the play;

The following is how Jimbo teaches the fullback to read the play;

“Our first read is the first down lineman to the play side, or the 3-technique. If he expands, the second read goes from him to the nose. If the first read pinches, the second read goes to the end. The fullback reads it just like the tailback reads it. We tell the fullback to be nasty and clean up any off color that shows up and to give us a seam. Sometimes he runs into a robber safety coming up and he knocks him out.”

Florida State will hold the backside defensive end with a wide receiver. They will do this by using him in short motion and set him up behind the tackle to cut off the end. They will also use the wide receiver and fake a reverse to him to hold the end.

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Fisher may run counter more than anyone else in college football. It is a play in which they will run under center, in the shotgun, from multiple formations and personnel groupings. A neat, simple wrinkle that the Seminoles added to their Counter play came from a shotgun two-back set.

Florida State would align in split-backs from the shotgun in 21, or 12, personnel and run their counter play with a lead blocker. The reason for this? Often times a team will have their play side defensive end “wrong arm” the pulling guard and spill the ball outside to a safety coming down. “Wrong arm” is when the defensive end will attack the inside shoulder of the pulling guard, forcing the ball to spill outside to linebacker/safety support. “Wrong arming” helps string the play out and allows the safety time to come down and make the tackle.

Adding a lead blocker allowed Florida State to counter the “wrong arming” defensive ends by adding a lead blocker to handle the rotating safety coming down.

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Though Florida State faces maybe the most daunting schedule in the college football this season, I fully expect them to win the ACC and make their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

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