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By Charlie Stubbs
Head Coach
Nicholls State University


          Coaching a successful offensive unit is very complex and requires a good amount of organization. In establishing an offensive philosophy, it is important to follow a few basic principles to ensure success.


          Offensive FlowCreate a rhythm or flow to the offense that will often produce the deciding momentum. This rhythm should be felt in practice and internalized so that it can be generated again in a game.

          Beat Opponents To The PunchGain the advantage by repeatedly beating the opponent to the punch with quickness and explosiveness. This will eventually wear down the opponent, which will often be a deciding factor.

          Second EffortBelieve in the ability and the desire of a blocker to sustain just a little longer, and of a receiver to extend just a little farther. Often, this will be a deciding factor in the game decided by inches.

          CommunicationMuch of the detail and precision of the offense can only be “fine-tuned” by communication – from coaches to players, players to coaches, and coaches to coaches.

          Play The Hand You’re DealtThe maturity, poise, awareness, and flexibility to adjust to changing situations will often be a deciding factor between winning and losing.

          Will To PrepareConcentrating in meetings, doing extra film study, and practicing with rhythm, as well as effort and detail, is a part of the price that must be paid to win.

          Let It Flow, Let It GoProper preparation will allow players to play uninhibited without fear of making a mistake. True ability will only show itself in this type of environment.

          DesignThe purpose of design is to put players in positions to utilize their talents. Flexibility, communication, and consistent concepts are keys in allowing players to win.

          Tell Each Player: “Be a Football Player”Gray areas are sorted out by players. Instinctive players can make things work in these situations.



          When developing the offensive plan, it is important to identify the teams playmakers, the athletes who must have the ball in their hands a major portion of the game for the team to be successful. (Goal: Get the ball to the playmakers at least 2/3 of all offensive plays). The playmaker title is earned through hard work and production in practice/games. Many successful coaches design specific plays beyond the core offense to allow these gifted athletes to use their skills. Reminder – PLAYERS MAKE PLAYS!

          A good idea during games is to assign a specific coach (in the press box) to chart the number of touches the playmakers have to ensure that the offense will not get off course.

          It is a good practice to script the first 10 plays of the game to jump start your offense. A coach should emphasize getting the ball into the playmaker’s hands, different personnel groupings, formations, motions, and shifts to see how the defense reacts. I will follow scripted plays to ensure a great start to the game.


“All warfare is based upon deception.”
                                                Chinese Military Strategist
                                                The Art of War

          Special plays are intended to provide the element of surprise and cause defensive confusion. Within the weekly offensive game plan, a coach should design special plays. These plays can jump start an offense, and therefore need to be both innovative and able to exploit a defensive weakness or defensive player. These plays need to be set up properly and called at the correct time.

          Numerous factors exist when considering the design of special plays, as well as the timing of when they should be called. Considering the following factors can aid coaches in their efforts to develop this unique package.

  • Most successful specials complement a core/base offensive play that a team has is its offensive plan.
  • Try to use a variety of formations/motions/personnel groupings to help in disguising the play from game to game. Special plays will quickly lose their effectiveness when they are overused.


  • Timing is paramount. A special play called at the proper time can be the difference between a win and a loss. Also, early in the game is a great opportunity to jump-start an offense.
  • Special plays are designed to exploit a defensive tendency, weakness, or particular player.
  • Other factors to consider:
    • Down/Distance
    • Field Location: Red Zone, Hash, etc…
    • Time of Game: First/Fourth Quarter, Before Half, etc…
    • Change of possession or after a big play when the defense is rattled or confused.


Football is a game that evolves, with each new coach adding their own wrinkles even as they are indebted to the great coaches before them. I am a product of many coaches, learning from them all – while at the same time trying to add my own innovations and adjustments to give the players a better chance for success.



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