We are going to see power, in all of its various forms, all season long in college football. The play is not new—in fact, it may not even qualify as a trend in most circles, but it is in every team's playbook.
Even though every coach runs it his own way—LSU with a toss and Stanford with a handoff—it is there to use.
Power is one of the universal running game currencies in college football. Here's a look at the basic power, from an offset I-formation:
Here is a look at a couple of variations.
That is Stanford running the traditional power out of the I-formation. The guard, No. 76, pulls as the fullback—or in this case tight end lined up at fullback, No. 85—kicks out the end. Stepfan Taylor does the rest.
Here we have Georgia running the power to the weak side. The strong-side guard pulls as the fullback kicks out the end, and Todd Gurley finds some daylight.
Again, this is power, although many people do not notice it as such from the beginning. While everyone is worried about the jet-sweep action and the handoff look at the mesh point, the Gators' offensive line and fullback Hunter Joyer (No. 41) are running power to the weak side.
Out of Michigan, we see the inverted veer. Here, you do not get the kick-out block from a fullback by design. The quarterback is reading that end, as the guard pulls around to get to the linebacker. If the end crashes down, the quarterback gives to the running back to get outside. If the end flows wide, then the quarterback keeps and gets upfield on the guard's behind.
Many people call this the read-option or, when the quarterback gives the ball and the back takes off wide, a sweep play. The inverted veer is a staple of many spread rushing attacks, where teams like to get more power at the point of attack.
As you can see, it is a simple play but one that the defense has to bow its necks to stop. It is a play that cannot be cheated or schemed to stop—especially with the ability of teams to go from a front-side power to a weak-side power with only a simple check, thereby rendering attempts to overload the strong side ineffective.
With the exception of the inverted veer reading the defensive end, the power is not about confusion or distractions. It requires a defense to not only play rules but to defeat a block and make a play.
That means a defensive end hammering down a fullback to squeeze the hole. That means a linebacker splattering a guard to force the back to bounce outside to the end and the safety.
As defenses skew toward smaller linebackers and speedier ends, getting big-bodied tight ends and huge, athletic guards on defensive ends and linebackers gives the offense an advantage. If the defensive ends—or the outside linebackers in the case of a 3-4—are not ready to ball up their fists to create collisions and stop the play before it develops, the defense will be in for a long day.
As we have seen in recent years, it is a play that transcends offensive philosophy.
One-back coaches run power. Two-back coaches run power. Option coaches run it. So do spread coaches.
The versatility of the power—that it can be run from a multitude of formations including under center, shotgun and the pistol—makes it all the more dangerous.
Watch for teams running power this season. Look at squads that traditionally spread opponents' motion in the H-Back to get the kick-out block while pulling the guard around and getting upfield on his tail, when the numbers in the box dictate the call. Watch as some traditional ground-and-pound teams line up, show clear signs of power and then dare the opponent to stop the train.
Power has stood the test of time, and even as the game evolves, the basic tenets of the Power-O remain the same: Get big bodies to the point of attack and move the opposition out of the way. As long as teams have guards who can move, tight ends or fullbacks who can block and a running back who can hit the hole hard, there is a place for power in football.
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