Ah, the 3-3 Stack. A balanced defense that allows defensive coordinators the chance to stop the Spread Offense by bringing exotic stunts and blitzes.

It’s an offensive coordinator’s worst nightmare.

But should it be?

No, it shouldn’t.

That’s why I’m going to go over one of the ways we attack the 3-3 Stack using our inside zone play.

How to Screw with defensive coordinators

Yes I stole this formation from Baylor. Sue me.

When you go against the 3-3 Stack you need to get out of your normal 2 x 2 formation mindset. The 3-3 Stack is designed to go up against those formations. You are making the defenses job easier when you sit in a static, balanced formation.

We want to get into some form of 3 x 1. The above formation is one of my favorites. We call it Trio Rt Special. The ‘Special’ tag tells the F to line up behind the Y in a Stack alignment.

How does this formation cause problems for the defense? The defense is out numbered two to one by our stacked wide receivers.

“But Coach McKie,” you ask. “Won’t the defense just roll down the safety and go cover one when they see this formation?”


Defensive coordinators are in love with Palm’s coverage the same way Spread coaches are in love with the Run Pass Options. They are going to stay in two high until their Lord Saban tells them it is okay to roll down against 3 x 1 formations.

But, defensive coaches aren’t completely stupid. They are still going to try to dictate who is going to keep the ball on the zone read. That’s why they will put their defensive ends in a 4i.

Now, the defense is forcing the quarterback to pull the ball since the ‘read’ key is slanting inside to take away the dive. This puts the Outside Linebacker  as the quarterback player.

That’s okay though. Let the defensive coordinators think they’ve won this battle. It will make their tears that sweeter when we score a rushing touchdown on them.

How We Combat This Strategy

We have our backside tackle arc release to the Outside Linebacker that’s head up to outside of him and have the Quarterback read the 4i. (Note: You can either teach it this way or make it a call from the sideline.)

How do you like me now Defensive Coordinators?

Why do we do this instead of having our tackle wash down the 4i? Because our tackles aren’t that good at washing down 4is. So instead of banging my head against the wall and wailing to the football gods for cursing me with offensive linemen that can’t wash anyone down, I instead teach them to arc release to the second level and have our Quarterback read the 4i trying to make the play.

It’s a win-win situation for the tackle and myself. He doesn’t have to hear me screaming at him during practice, and I don’t have to get a headache.

Blocking Scheme

Left Tackle: You have someone head up to outside of you so you will base block that man.

Left Guard: You don’t have a defender in your play side B-Gap, nor do you have a defender in your back side A-gap. So you will help the center double team the nose, while having your eyes on the Front Side Linebacker. Once the Front Side Linebacker triggers towards the line of scrimmage then you will come off the double team and block him.

Center: You are covered. Therefore you will block the nose guard. Easy.

Right Guard: You do not have anyone in your front side A-Gap. You do have a B-gap defender in the back side B-Gap, BUT you know the center is covered. So you will double the nose with your eyes on the Back Side Linebacker/Middle Linebacker. When the Back Side Linebacker/Middle Linebacker triggers towards the line of scrimmage then you will come off the double team and block him.

Right Tackle: You have a 4i and you know that the center is covered. So you will arc release - meaning you will not block the guy in the play side B-Gap - and immediately block the linebacker that is head up to outside of you.

Quarterback Reads

You are reading the B-Gap defender. If the B-Gap defender runs straight at you then you will hand the ball off to the Running Back. If the B-Gap defender flies towards the Running Back then you will pull the ball and chase the butt of the Right Tackle.

If the Outside Linebacker lined up over the Y comes to tackle you then you will flip the ball out to the F receiver running the key screen. If the Outside Linebacker lined up over the Y chases the key screen then you will turn up and score.

Wide Receivers

You will be running our normal quick screen.

The R recevier will block the corner.

The Y receiver will block the Outside Linebacker over him. If the Outside Linebacker chases the Quarterback then you will turn up and block the first different colored jersey you see.

The F receiver will take one step forward and then back pedal. You are looking for the ball. If you get it then you will put your foot in the ground and get North and South.

Running Back

Your steps are as followed: Open, Cross Over, Bang it behind the Center’s butt.

That’s the play.

You need to realize that this is one of the two running plays we have, before you tell me that it isn’t an easy play. I am a firm believer of Less is More.

So there you have it. That is one of the ways we attack the 3-3 Stack using our Inside zone. If you do anything different then please leave a comment below. I love hearing from ya’ll.

Also, please Check out my FREE One Back Power eBook if you haven’t already. You can sign up on the side of my webpage.

And until next week, let’s Master the Spread, Score Points, and Have Fun!

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My head during games.

I’m not as well versed in the ways of football like Coach Dub Maddox, but his article led me to do some thinking on my own. I’ve been an offensive coordinator for two years, and a football coach for eight.

Each off season I reflect back on the previous season and see what I did right and what I did wrong. I try to improve on my strengths and work on trying to negate my weaknesses.

This list came to me while I was reflecting on the previous season . I thought I would share.

  1. Less is always better.

Every year going into the season I put in a crap ton of plays, formations, motions, and tags. And every year I take all of those things out as the year goes on. And you know what? We get better. Kids confidence goes up. Point total goes up. Passing yardage goes up. Rushing yardage goes up. Kids’ confidence in the offense goes up. And more importantly, the wins go up.

Think there is a correlation?
So this year I’m going to keep it small and get great at a couple of plays instead of going big and being average at many plays.

2) Players - not plays - win games.

We are down four points with thirty seconds to go. We are driving for the winning touchdown. It is fourth down and six. I call a shallow cross play because I know it will work against the defensive coverage the DC  likes to play. The ball is completed but we don’t get enough yards and we loose the game.

The next day I’m watching film and see that we’ve got a six four kid being played by a five nine corner. The play I called has him third in the passing progression. Why didn’t I call a play that gave him the ball instead of the one I called?

Because I’m an idiot.

You better give your play makers the ball when it is crunch time or you will be looking for a new job.

3) If you are going to be a passing team then you better be throwing the ball all the time in practice.

I love throwing the ball. I think the forward pass is the greatest invention besides the coffee maker.

So I call passing plays all the time during games. And my players were dropping balls during the game.


Because we weren’t throwing the ball enough in practice for the players to work on catching.

That changed though. We went from throwing only during 7 on 7 and team to throwing and catching every period in practice - including inside.

And our dropped passes dropped to zero.

Practice what you will be doing in games. Crazy concept, right?

4) Use the defensive guys on staff.

Don’t know what coverage your opponent is running? Confused by why your opponent would blitz in this situation? Suck up your pride and ask those defensive guys in the next room for help. Those guys love defense like you love offense.

Use one another and get better as a team.

5) If the players don’t like a play then scrape it.

Your players are the one running the plays. So if they aren’t comfortable running the play then don’t run the play. Run things the kids are good at and you will be successful. Run plays that the kids aren’t good at and you will get fired.


6) Sometimes the opposing defense makes a good play.

That team across the field practiced hard all week like you did. They have great players like you do. They have quality coaches on their staff like you do. Sometimes the coaches call a great blitz or their players make a great play. Tip your hat to them when they do, then call the next play.

7) Make sure you have two plays you are great at when it is 3rd and long.

There will be times when you are in this situation. Make sure you have a play, and your kids have repped the play throughout the week, so that you aren’t looking like a stoner trying to pick which flavor of ice cream he wants.

You will be amazed at how successful you will be in third and long when the kids are confident in the play because they’ve practice it enough during the week.

8) Don’t yell at your kids during the game.

These kids have their friends and family in the stands watching them during the game. So they aren’t messing up on purpose.

You don’t like it when your boss chews you out in front of your peers. Why do you think kids are any different?

You are the adult. Act like it.

9) Don’t take things personal during the game.

Sometimes things are said on the headset in the heat of the battle. Brush it off. Trust me,  the parents in the stands are saying things a lot worse about you than the other coaches on the headsets.

10) Remember that football is a game and have fun.

Life sucks sometimes. Football shouldn’t. Make it fun and rewarding. You will last longer in this profession and the kids will enjoy the sport more. It’s win-win.

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Shallow Cross Route Is Simple and Deadly

Greatest Passing Play Ever

I love the shallow cross play.  I’ve talked about how it’s one of the three simple passing plays for your tight end. But not many people run this simple concept.


Because they don’t know how to drill it.

But I’ve got that covered. I’m going to go over the main drill we use to increase our chances of success on the shallow cross concept.

Shallow Cross Drill for practice

You know you like the drawing

We set up our Fs - our fast slot type wide receiver - on the left and the Ys - our bigger, slower slot receiver - on the right side. The tailback will be behind whichever quarterback is closest to the wide receiver running the shallow route.

We use two sets of cones in this drill. The first set is placed at the three yard mark. This set is for the shallow runner. He is to run UNDER the cones. The second set is placed ten yards from the line of scrimmage. This is for the dig runner. He is to run his route BEHIND the cones.

The cones are the most important piece of equipment for this drill. You must use the cones, or something cone like, to train your receivers how to use space properly while running the route combination.

Now, the quarterbacks will all drop back at the same time. This is similar to the Air Raid’s Routes on Air drill. I make the quarterback who is throwing the shallow route call the cadence. When he goes through the cadence - Ready, Set, Go! - all three quarterbacks drop back as the F, Y, and tailback get into their pass route.

The first quarterback will take his three step drop and on the last step throw the ball to the Y running the shallow route. The second quarterback - who was also looking at the shallow route while he was dropping back - will hitch up after the first quarterback throws the ball, and throw the ball to the F. The third quarterback - who was staring down the shallow route, hitching, starting down the dig route - will hitch and throw the ball to the running back.

The wide receivers will catch the ball, tuck it, and SPRINT into the end zone. The quarterbacks will then rotate to the left. A new F, Y, and tailback will step into the drill and then you do the whole thing again.


That’s it.

That’s the drill. That’s the thing we do every day for ten minutes so that we are successful on this play. If you want to be successful on the Shallow Cross route then I believe you have to do this drill every day as well. It’s simple. It’s effective. And it will make you look like a brilliant coach.

So until next time, remember to never stop Mastering the Spread, Score Points, and Have Fun!

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