Tony DeMeo

Score TDs in the Red Zone

Modern Offenses in College Football put up tremendous numbers. Announcers and some coaches put over-importance on the stats of total offense and passing offense. But many times some of the most prolific yard producing attacks must settle for Field Goals in the Red Zone when the field shrinks.

Early in the season SMU did a great job moving the ball up & down the field but settled for 3 Field Goals & 9 points. Texas Tech didn’t gain as many yards but scored Touchdowns on their 3 trips to the Red Zone and had a 21 – 9 lead with less yardage. SMU wound up outgaining Texas Tech by 30 yards for the game but lost 41-23.

This reminds me of the classic Arnold Palmer quote “Drive for show, putt for dough” It’s the same in football. You can move the ball like a well- oiled machine *BUT if it does not result in a TD you’re just using clock.

So the best way you can make your offense more effective is to start with the end in mind. The most important yard you can gain is the last one, the yard between the one yard line and the goal line. Your core play must be able to gain that yard. And this play must be repped in the tight environment of a goal line situation.

When we took over the football program at the University of Charleston, which had just finished 2 disappointing seasons, our Turnaround Philosophy was simple:

  1. Play Great Defense (hold opponents to less than 16 points)
  2. Don’t screw up the Kicking Game (Score a Non Offensive TD & don’t give up one)
  3. Control the Ball on Offense ( limit the number of possessions)
  4. Win the Turnover Battle (+2 Turnover margin)
  5. Score when we have the opportunity ( baseline 25 points)

This was a very simple formula that led us to an 8-3 season & the biggest turnaround in conference history.

Scoring touchdowns when we had the opportunity was a big part of our success because our base offense was our goal line offense. Many teams have a separate goal line package and another Red Zone package. This separate package requires separate practice time as well. Our Triple Gun Offense was a goal line to goal line offense.

The core play of the Triple Gun Offense is the Gun Triple which is a great red zone play. The core pass of the Triple Gun Offense is the Quick game which is also very effective in the red zone because its blitz proof. So every time we rep the Gun Triple or the Quick game we are practicing our red zone offense as well. Every coach knows the more you rep a play the better you will execute it regardless of what field zone you are in.

When I think of championship offenses I think of the Green Bay Packers under the great Vince Lombardi. His core play was the Green Bay Sweep which was also a great Red Zone Play. The Packers mastered the sweep and was more effective in the red zone.

The other aspect of the Red Zone Offense is the mindset that you are in “Four Down Territory” and unless we are sacked or penalized – we are going for it on 4th down. One trip to the red zone resulting in a touchdown outscores two trips resulting in Field Goals.

Lastly, when you get to the red zone think in terms of players not plays. Get the rock to your best playmakers and make sure your best guys are on the field. Don’t try to be clever just get your best skill the ball and your score percentage will go up.

These are some tips to be more effective in the Red Zone because if you can be more effective and efficient in the red zone your chance of winning will dramatically improve.