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Thread: Scripting Plays

  1. #1

    Default Scripting Plays

    This is a topic I feel strongly about which I believe will help your overall organization and comfort calling plays. I became an offensive coordinator and play caller in 1972. We would decide what our first 3 plays of the game were going to be and actually scrimmage them live at the end of our warmup. I don't recommend doing that in today's climate
    ...concussions, liability etc. Those were different times!

    What I do recommend is what I did in college coaching for 25 years. I heard Bill Walsh talk about scripting his first 10 plays so I did that. The issue was if it was 3rd and 1 and I had XX called that wasn't what I wanted to run in that situation. Here's what we evolved to my last 20 years.

    We'd meet on Thursday night after our last full practice. We's discuss any personnel issues and then we'd start. I had the game plan done based on situations and each coach had one. We went around the room and each coach including my intern got 1 play that would be included in our first 4 series. If I didn't like the play that coach had to go to the board and defend his choice and convince us why that play should be included (nobody wanted to do this so their choices were usually well thought out). The 1st week of the season the OL coach went 1st and the 2nd week he'd go last in the rotation. If the RB coach was 2nd and the play he wanted was said by the OL coach he needed a backup play so every coach had 4 plays ready. This got the entire staff thinking and invested in what we were doing!

    Then we'd start...normal situation +/- 5 yd lines. I'm in charge of bad
    1st and 10...Red Jet Sweep to TE. Worst case No Gain. Probable +5
    2nd and 10..Friends Left Gun Quick Pass 1 step. Worst Case inc. Probable+5
    2nd and 5...Twins Left Gun Buck/Bubble Worst NG. Probable+4
    3rd and 10..Trips Left Gun 49er Pass
    3rd and 5....Trips Left Gun 52 Y stick
    3rd and 1....Rip Blast Right(Unbalanced FB/BC Slide motion Kick-out).

    We've gone through all scenarios based on worst and probable outcomes. We've shown 5 different formations in 6 plays. Then we'd start the 2nd series with different outcomes...2nd and 8 and 3rd and 2 might replace 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 5. The 3rd series might have 2nd and 2 and 3rd and 7. We'd have another 2nd and 10 and 3rd and 10. We would do this for 4 series. This would give us 18-20 situations with usually 15 different formations and motions usually without trying. Then I'd ask for our 4th and 1 call and 1st and Goal at the 7. These are tough calls and should be well thought out. The final question I ask are plays we NEED to run...maybe a new play or perhaps plays that look good vs. this team that might not be core plays...Jet Reverse, Belly Boot, No Back Max Protection, etc. We then would go through these plays in our Friday practice so all are on the same page. I'll put the ball at the 35 going in and run our 4th and 1 call. I'll put the ball at the 7 and run our 1st and Goal at the 7 call. We'll put the ball at the 3 and run our 2 point play call.

    Prior to this at our Sunday and Monday meetings we've looked at our last year game and pulled up that plan so we know what our prep was and what worked and what didn't. We know how we started the game and our play selection in D&D. Also remember that our practice plan in team drill is based on D&D with the TE right on Tues, left on Wed and multiple formations and specials on Thur.

    If anyone would like a copy of a Game Plan with this Script that I just described on it email me at Always glad to help if I can.

    Rich Erdelyi

  2. #2

    Default Scripting

    Erd': I have to admit... this (scripting) is a topic that I never even considered. It's completely new to me! Why "script" as opposed to calling plays as the game unfolds? What are the advantages? Are there any disadvantages to scripting? Thanks, Lew

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Almont, MI

    Default Scripting Plays

    I have always scripted my first 10 plays. However, I rarely ever get through the first 10 plays without going off script. The only time that happens is when we are playing a team that is awful and everything works as drawn up. I typically script calls for 2nd & 8+, 3rd & 1, 4th & 1, etc. If I have to call one of those plays, then I typically go back to the script after moving the chains. A lot of times, I will look at those 10 scripted plays at halftime and see what worked and what didn't. I might cross off 1 or 2 plays, but then begin the 2nd half with the same stuff.
    Last edited by jbacholzky; 04-25-2018 at 12:23 PM.

  4. Default

    i script to see what the defense's alignment or reaction is to formations/motions, not really for the play

  5. #5


    To answer Lew's question we script to check defensive alignments, adjustment to formations and motions, secondary adjustments, personnel adjustments and any unusual defensive alignments or the "defense of the week". I felt this was a systematic approach to calling plays. Planning and preparation are the keys. The game is played based on D&D so that's how we practiced and how we prepared. This also allowed us to "think outside the box" while also getting the entire staff involved. Once the game starts I'm in charge but I wanted everyone to feel an investment. I also thought this was great teaching and learning for my younger coaches who moved on to other jobs and they felt better prepared for going through this task each week.

    Here are 3 examples of "thinking out of the box":

    1. We had Jet XX Pass called on 3rd and 4. HB to HB, lateral back to the QB, throw to the SE running a deep post over the safeties. It was called on the third play of the game. When I threw it out there at our meeting in this situation a young assistant properly asked what if it's the 3rd play of the game? We haven't set it up? We'd been playing this team for 10 years so I said we've been setting it up for 10 years! 70 yard TD! I would have never thought of doing this on the 3rd play of the game and most of you wouldn't.

    2. An opponent we played for several years was a Cov3 team. When we were it Red/Blue and ran Jet or Slide motion to the TE/wing into the boundary they brought the FS down hard as an extra man in the box and the SS to the field raced back to center field with his back to our SE. We ran Belly Slide Throwback on the 1st play of the game from our own 10 yard line for a 60 yard gain. We faked Belly to the TE side and dropped back 3 steps off the fake and hit the SE running a Post. Again, scripted and called following a penalty on the KO that started us deep.

    3. The year before, our opponent blitzed Double A gaps and brought 6 every time we went empty. We lined up in Double tight 2 flankers to one side and 1 flanker to the boundary. We ran a Dig to the widest flanker, inside flanker ran a Post, backside flanker ran a Drag, we protected with 7. I felt we'd get their SS and slowest DB covering the inside flanker which is what he did and who we hit on a 70 yd TD on the 3rd play of the game since this was my first 3rd and 7 call which was the situation.

    I see no disadvantage to doing this. If you look at my example we could be in 3 different Gun looks but in all of them Buck, Jet and Belly Slide could all be in play. In 2 of those looks I'm looking to see how they will cover my single receiver who's my best. Also by my alignments there are only so many adjustments that the D can make. I want to see what their plan is to Jet/Slide motion and to unbalanced and I can find all of this out in a handful of plays. I don't want to be just calling plays but I want a purpose behind what I'm calling. This also insures we are calling what we are practicing and also being unpredictable by script.

    All of my coaches have assigned areas to watch. The C/G coach is watching the triangle over his men for trap, sucker, scissors, draw etc. The T/TE coach is watching his men and particularly the POA on Belly, Blast and Jet. The RB coach is watching his men and partcularly the block at the POA. The receiver coach is watching the safeties for their support angles. I'm watching the backside for XX, Boots, Nakeds, Reverse, etc. Those are usually big gains or losses so that's on me. I want to hear from the QB as to what he's seeing when he comes off the field as well as the receivers.

    I hope this is giving everyone food for thought. Yes we were still trying to put #3 and #4 in conflict but this is just a different approach. It's what worked for me from an organizational standpoint and also a way to educate my coaches without them knowing they were being educated.

    As always, write or call with questions. Sorry for the delayed response. At the Beach on Tuesday and Golf yesterday and watching the local HS at Spring Practice. It's a great life!

    Rich Erdelyi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Cleveland, Ohio


    Scripting plays is an art form that some of us rely on and some coaches simply use it as a reminder on what was worked on during the week. During my time as an assistant, my former head coach called the plays, and basically like Coach Lew, the playbook was in his head and could compute what plays to call at the right moment without going to a script. With the exception of new plays evolving and minor tweaks, the offense has been basically the same for 20 years so he would know what to call when and where.

    Me personally I would prefer to run a script but mine would be based on D&D along with where the ball is marked. Field & Boundary are important too, just remember your angles more so than running space.

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