Game Planning an RPO Offense Part 2: Game Planning the Run Game

In our last article, we started the process of an RPO game plan by introducing the concept of breaking down the field into quadrants.


This article, we are going to breakdown the box. Which run schemes are going to work for this week’s opponent?

To figure out which run schemes are going to work, we draw up the box for each formation. Some weeks zone schemes are the pieces of the puzzle. Some weeks it’s gap schemes. We have to draw each scheme up to figure out if we’re going to have a numbers and angles advantage for each particular scheme.

Once we have our board set we get into drawing up each base run play in our offense against the box each formation will see based on our film breakdown.

Whiteboard Prep

We aren’t going to draw up the entire formation, just the box. (Excuse my sloppy coach’s handwriting.)

Whiteboard Deuce 1

If I draw up inside zone against this front, I’m not going to run it against this defense:

Whiteboard IZ

The reason why is blocking angles, numbers, and reads. I have the numbers: five defenders for five blockers, plus a sixth defender for my QB to read. But, based on alignment, inside zone isn’t the best choice for attacking this front. A head up tackle/defensive end can slant or stunt and throw off the QB’s run read, as well as throw off the double team rules for inside zone.  We have no true double team on the zero tech.  I just don’t like it. This one is out for this week.

Whiteboard IZ 2

Next I’ll draw up outside zone to the boundary, away from the free overhang:

Whiteboard Outside Zone

I like this to the boundary.  We’ll put this in the game plan based on advantageous numbers and blocking angles

Then we’ll draw it up to the field, toward the overhang:


We have an unblockable player to the side of this play. This one is out for this week.

I usually start with inside zone for each personnel grouping, then move on to outside zone, power, counter, and counter trey.  Then I tinker with some of the fringe concepts that are not staples of our offense like iso and trap, but might be worth giving a look based on what the defense is showing us.

This is the process we will work through to see which plays we like for the week’s game or which plays won’t work and won’t be on the game plan.  This is a pretty massive effort.  But, the results are in the details.

This seems like a pretty “duh” moment, but I’ve always been surprised that many coaches DON’T draw up their run game to include and eliminate certain schemes throughout the game planning process.

Up next, we will work the edges, getting into the short RPO tags that will start to bring our game plan more into focus.



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