Tony DeMeo

The Law of Balance

One of the most over-used misunderstood terms in college football is “Balance”. Other than “there’s the Wildcat” every time a quarterback runs the ball, the ESPN crowd love to talk about balance. To them, balance is throwing & running for the same yardage or equal attempts. But I think of balance in multi-dimensional views.

Sun Tzu the author of The Art of War said deception is everything in warfare. Never let the enemy know when where or how you are going to attack. “If he must defend everything he will defend nothing” Sun Tzu also said the best attack is where there is no defense. A formless attack should flow like water adjusting as it goes, completely flexible. How does this “ying/yang” stuff apply to balance?

Tubby Raymond’s Wing T Attack used the “Power of Sequence” to achieve balance. Tubby and Ted Kempski always had a counter and play action pass to go along with their base play. For example their Buck Sweep sequence was the sweep, the Trap and the Waggle that all looked the same. So the enemy had to defend 3 plays at the snap of the ball. Tubby always said that the effectiveness of a play improves dramatically if it’s part of a sequence that creates defensive conflicts.

Unbalance is another way to create balance. Paul Johnson’s Spread Option Attack is so potent on the ground that it makes the Pass game easy to execute. To stop Johnson’s running game you have to commit so many defenders that you have to play his wide outs 1 0n 1. So Paul achieves balance by forcing defenses to be unsound against the pass and thus easy to exploit with big plays. The Triple Option also forces the defense to view every back a threat. Mike Leach and Hal Mumme also created balance from the opposite direction. Their passing game was so good that defenses must commit so many defenders to defending the pass that they have a simple and effective running game. They always have a 1000 yard running back. By being so good at one phase of offense creates balance because the defense must commit an unsound number of defenders to combat your strength. The key is execution.

The Triple Gun came into existence for the sake of balance. The shot gun made it easier to protect the QB – it’s that simple. We got in the Gun to improve our pass protection and then developed the Gun Triple to go along with it. Originally the Gun was a part of our package that included a complete under center package, but as we got better with the Gun Triple, the under center package disappeared.

The style of creating balance may differ but old Sun Tzu was right; “attack where they can’t defend”. Strength vs. weakness gives you an edge. But the key is this: “A weakness is only a weakness if you can exploit it” That is a BIG if. That is what makes Paul Johnson a great coach – he can exploit weaknesses as could Tubby or Leach. Coaches that struggle are those that don’t get great at executing their answers. If your answer to a Safety fill is the Post, you better be able to hit it often.

The Triple Gun gives us great balance for a variety of reasons.

1. We can run from a pass set (even Empty) and throw from a run set.
2. We can throw on run downs and run on pass downs.
3. We are equally effective in two minute offense or kill the clock offense. (We led the nation in time of possession).
4. We are effective in the Red Zone or in the middle of the field. (Our red zone scoring was 92% while scoring almost 40points/game).
5. Every back is a threat to carry the ball. (We had 3 rushers in the top 10 in the conference).
6. Every pass in The Triple Gun has a run built in to it as an escape and every run has a pass built in to it (Flash & Bubble).
7. The Gun Triple has a built in counter play because of the cutback possibilities.
8. The Gun Triple is such a great run that the defense must become unsound against the pass (like Paul Johnson’s Triple Option)
9. The Triple Gun pass game is so effective (we led the nation in pass efficiency) the defense

How can you achieve this type of diverse offense? The key is to have a limited but inclusive menu and then get great at that menu. The Gun Triple is our base run, how a team defenses that signature play will set up the rest of our attack. We’ve been running the Triple Gun for so long that we know how teams will defend the Gun Triple, so we have a set of answers ready. The Gun Triple is so tough to defend that we don’t need many other runs hence we can really get a lot of reps at the runs on the menu. And because we don’t have many runs we can devote 60% of our practice time to the pass game. You become what you practice, the more you rep something the better you execute it. So the more you limit your menu, the more detailed you can be and the better you’ll execute it. So have enough answers to handle every defense, but not over kill. So if your answer to a Free Safety fill is the Post route – rep the post so you can hit in your sleep. Every play in your offense should have a specific use and be an answer to a specific defensive scheme. Remember too many answers to the same defense equals NO answer. There are many great plays out there but unless a play has a specific spot on your call sheet – leave it out.

In conclusion The Triple Gun Offense is a balanced offense that is “formless” because we have the capability of instant adjustments even after the snap. The Gun Triple is such an effective run play, that we have the practice time to develop a simple but very effective pass game. Hence we can exploit a defensive weakness and “attack where there is no defense”. The Triple Gun forces a defense to defend everything. The Gun Triple is such an effective play; the defense must commit too many defenders to stop it. But our Quick game is so good, that it forces a defense to stay out of the box as well and that makes the Triple Gun so effective. Stay simple with effective answers, run plays that complement each other and rep those plays. Sun Tzu will be proud of you.