Buckeye Charting - Formation Guide

yrro's picture
September 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm

This initial list comes courtesy of NW Buckeye. I will attempt to update it at some point with pictures from Urban Meyer's playbook.

Understanding Formation Terminology!
My goal it to keep this as simple as possible.  Charting plays is always a challenge, particularly if you have multiple people recording the information.  We just all need to be on the same page so that the compilation make sense. 
Generally formations are referred to in the following manor:  We start off in the middle of the formation and work our way out.  The terminology varies, but this is what I am used to.  Also, you need to note that often the Buckeyes will line up in one formation and then shift to another formation before the snap.  The formation that should be recorded is what they are in at the snap of the ball.
1. QB takes direct snap from C.  Probably the formation we are all most familiar with, the QB lines up directly behind the C and takes the snap there.  There is no special terminology for this set by the Q, as that is the standard set.  So, we would start with designating the alignment of the RB's.  Terms generally used include:  Ace (one back behind the Q), I (two backs behind the Q, lined up directly behind him in a line), Pro, (two backs behind the Q, but off set from the Q, one to his left and one to his right).  Full House is what we have when there are 3 RB's behind the Q (think goal line here, Woody used to call it Robust!).  We will stop there, because I doubt we will see the offense in any other RB alignment when the Q is up under C.
2. QB is lined up in the backfield, 3 to 5 yards behind the C.  Basically we have two formations, Shotgun and Pistol.  Both are very similar, with subtle differences.  In Shotgun, one or two backs are in the backfield to the left and/or right of the Q.  There are other terminologies for whether they are aligned in front or behind the Q, but we will just leave it as ShotgunPistol is where the RB or is aligned directly behind the Q. The buckeyes show this formation a lot, but shift to Shotgun before the snap. Remember, we want the set formation at the snap of the ball (this excludes any motion that is occurring during the snap). 
3. We then work our way out from the Q and the RB's, generally calling the strength of the formation first, with other tags that will follow.  For example, Shotgun Right would indicate that we have a TE on the right side of the formation. The other side most likely has 2 receivers.  Shotgun Double Tight indicates that we indeed have two TE's lined up right next to the tackles.
4. 3 receivers on one side of the formation makes it a Trips formation.  So, Shotgun Trips Right would mean 3 receivers to the Right, a tight end to the left and a single RB next to the QB.  The Buckeyes do this a lot.  A tag of Open would indicate that the TE has now shifted out to the WR receiver spot on the left side, hence Shotgun Trips Right Open.  Add to that an Empty tag, and the RB usually next to the Q is now aligned as a wing or slot on the TE Side, hence Shotgun Trips Right Open Empty
6. We have also heard about the Diamond formation.  In this formation you have Pistol, with the other two running backs to the left and right of the Q.  Generally both Ends are split out, so if they do come in to cap the line we would add a tag like Diamond Left (a TE on the left side) or Diamond Double Tight (2 TE's).
There are also tags that you can add for motion.  Can supply terms for those if necessary.
Hey guys, forgot about Quads.  Yes, 4 receivers on one side would be referred to Quads.  So Shotgun Quads Left is 4 receivers to the left, TE to the right.  And of course, if it is just Quads Left, the Q would be up under the C.  And, yes, the Buckeyes will occasionally utilize this formation.  Please note that there are a lot of other tags to designate the alignment of the quads, but we will just leave it at Quads.
One other possibility is an Unbalanced set (for the line, Tag would be Unbalanced Left or Right, and since we move from the middle out, it would be inserted after the Q and RB's sets).  Several ways to accomplish this, but the usual flop is to put both Tackles on one side of the line.  I have seen this on occasion, but this is usually not employed in a the sets of the hurry up offense.  As a coach, I would love to go unbalanced against a team like Buffalo - 3 DLs, 3 LBs and 3 S's.  The unbalanced set tends to confuse defensive linemen and creates a great mismatch for the O by outnumbering the D to one side of the field.

Awesome find by Ross Fulton! Urban Meyer's playbook from when he was at Utah. His base plays have not changed much. I will try to cut this up into a summary sometime before Saturday, but in the meantime here's the full thing for the more motivated among us.

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