Football is a complex and strategic sport that requires teams to employ various offensive and defensive strategies to outwit their opponents.
One such strategy that has gained popularity in recent years is the counter concept.
The counter concept is a play design that aims to deceive the defense by initially appearing to be a run play in one direction, only to quickly change direction and exploit gaps in the defense.
Below we look at the counter concept in football, its history, execution, and its effectiveness in modern-day football.
The History of the Counter Concept
The counter concept has its roots in the early days of football, but it gained prominence in the 1960s and 1970s with the rise of the “Power-I” formation.
Coaches like Woody Hayes and Barry Switzer popularized the use of the counter concept as a way to take advantage of aggressive defenses that overcommitted to stopping the run.
Over time, the counter concept evolved and became more sophisticated.
Coaches began incorporating misdirection and pre-snap motion to further confuse the defense.
Today, the counter concept is a staple in many offensive playbooks at all levels of football.
Execution of the Counter Concept
The counter concept is typically executed from a formation that features a fullback or an H-back positioned behind the quarterback.
The play begins with a fake handoff to the running back moving in one direction, while the offensive linemen block as if it were a run play in that direction.
Meanwhile, the fullback or H-back, who initially moves in the same direction as the running back, quickly changes direction and receives a handoff from the quarterback.
The offensive linemen then execute a “counter” block, where they move in the opposite direction of the initial run fake, creating a wall of blockers for the ball carrier.
The success of the counter concept relies on the ability of the offensive linemen to sell the initial run fake and quickly change direction to execute their blocks.
The running back or fullback must also have good vision and patience to wait for the blocks to develop before hitting the hole.
Football 101: Counter
Effectiveness of the Counter Concept
The counter concept can be highly effective when executed properly.
It takes advantage of aggressive defenses that tend to overcommit to stopping the run, creating opportunities for big gains.
By using misdirection and quick changes of direction, the offense can catch the defense off guard and exploit gaps in their coverage.
Furthermore, the counter concept can also be used as a complementary play to other run plays.
By establishing a threat of running the counter, the offense can force the defense to hesitate and be more cautious, opening up opportunities for other running plays or play-action passes.
Statistics show that teams that incorporate the counter concept into their offensive game plan often have higher rushing averages and more explosive plays.
WATCH: Michigan’s O-Line Coach Explains Their Counter Play
FAQs – Counter Concept in Football
1. How does the counter concept differ from other run plays?
The counter concept differs from other run plays in that it involves a fake handoff in one direction followed by a quick change of direction and a handoff to another player moving in the opposite direction.
This misdirection and change of direction aim to confuse the defense and create running lanes.
2. What are the key elements of a successful counter concept play?
A successful counter concept play requires effective execution from the offensive line, running back, and quarterback.
The offensive line must sell the initial run fake and quickly change direction to execute their blocks.
The running back needs to have good vision and patience to wait for the blocks to develop.
The quarterback must deliver a clean handoff and read the defense to make the correct decision.
3. Can the counter concept be used in the passing game?
Yes, the counter concept can be used in the passing game as well.
Teams can incorporate play-action passes off the counter concept, where the quarterback fakes a handoff and then throws the ball downfield.
This can be particularly effective when the defense is expecting a run play.
4. Are there any risks associated with running the counter concept?
Like any offensive play, there are risks associated with running the counter concept.
If the defense reads the play correctly or if the offensive line fails to execute their blocks, it can result in negative yardage or even turnovers.
However, with proper execution and practice, these risks can be minimized.
5. How do defenses defend against the counter concept?
Defenses defend against the counter concept by staying disciplined and reading their keys.
Linebackers and defensive ends need to be aware of misdirection and quickly react to changes in direction.
Additionally, defenses can employ stunts and blitzes to disrupt the timing and execution of the counter concept.
6. Can the counter concept be used at all levels of football?
Yes, the counter concept can be used at all levels of football, from youth leagues to professional leagues.
However, the complexity and effectiveness of the play may vary depending on the skill level and experience of the players.
7. Are there any famous examples of the counter concept being used in important games?
One famous example of the counter concept being used in an important game is the “Counter Trey” play run by Washington in Super Bowl XVII.
Running back John Riggins took a handoff from quarterback Joe Theismann and followed his blockers to score a critical touchdown, helping the team secure a victory.
8. How can teams incorporate the counter concept into their offensive game plan?
Teams can incorporate the counter concept into their offensive game plan by studying film, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents’ defense, and designing plays that exploit those weaknesses.
Coaches can also work on the timing and execution of the counter concept during practice to ensure that players are comfortable with the play.
9. Are there any variations of the counter concept?
Yes, there are variations of the counter concept that teams can use to keep the defense guessing.
One variation is the “Counter Read” play, where the quarterback has the option to keep the ball and run if the defense overcommits to stopping the running back.
Another variation is the “Counter Bootleg,” where the quarterback fakes a handoff and rolls out to one side, looking for a receiver downfield.
10. Can the counter concept be used in short-yardage situations?
Yes, the counter concept can be particularly effective in short-yardage situations.
By using misdirection and quick changes of direction, the offense can create running lanes and exploit gaps in the defense to gain the necessary yardage.
The counter concept is a strategic play design in American football that aims to deceive the defense by initially appearing to be a run play in one direction, only to quickly change direction and exploit gaps in the defense.
It has a rich history in the sport and has evolved over time to become a staple in many offensive playbooks.
When executed properly, the counter concept can be highly effective, creating opportunities for big gains and complementing other run plays.
However, it also carries risks and requires precise execution from the offensive line, running back, and quarterback.
By understanding the key elements and variations of the counter concept, teams can incorporate it into their offensive game plan and gain an advantage on the field.