Jeff Grimes taught some Texas high school coaches, using BYU film to make his points. Here’s why
The former Cougars OC broke down the zone-wide offense for the Texas High School Coaches Association and could only show BYU players
He didn’t have any game film of Baylor’s football team running the stuff his boss Dave Aranda asked him to present at his special breakout session for the Texas High School Coaches Association in San Antonio the last week of July.
So, he presented what he did have: An in-depth breakdown of BYU’s run game offense. He took almost an hour with his presentation, and a big chunk of it was game video of Tyler Allgeier and Lopini Katoa runs and Dax Milne jet and fly sweeps.
The videos were taken from games against Wisconsin, Boise State, Houston, Navy and Utah State. They depicted what he described as the zone-wide offense, the simple but effective blocking and run-game scheme he helped tinker with at BYU.
A great teacher, Grimes was in his element describing the philosophy — where it came from, why it works, and exactly why he valued it as a base offense.
It was educational.
And it was kind of an experience in discovery to see the nuts and bolts of how these things work.
For instance, the creator, the person who Grimes said knew more about this blocking scheme than “anybody in the world” was the late Alex Gibbs.
Gibbs coached 10 years in college at Duke, Georgia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Auburn, and was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State from 1975 to 1978. He then had a long career in the NFL that included two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos.
Mostly working as an offensive line coach, assistant head coach or consultant, his NFL stops include the Raiders, Chargers, Colts, Chiefs, Falcons, Texans and Seahawks.
I was unaware of those roots.
Grimes spoke of the importance of using schemes that you understand as a coach — not to try to do something just for the sake of doing it. He warned against the “pot luck supper” approach of building an offense, putting in a little bit here and there because you just like it.
“If you don’t fully understand what it is you are installing, there is no way you are going to teach that to your players,” Grimes said. “It should be something you are passionate about and love. It’s got to be something you are excited about, something that keeps you awake at night and you can’t wait to make notes and call your coaching friends and talk about.”
Speaking of Baylor, but really explaining BYU, Grimes said the offense was built around one play. That play is built on a blocking scheme that takes glancing angles at defenders. It is designed to both open up run lanes and cutback lanes.
“It has great versatility and is low risk,” he said.
“You are at your best when you are known for something,” he said. “To have an identity of something you do very well.”
He quoted the legendary Vince Lombardi who said, “Every game boils down to doing the things you do best and doing them over and over again.”
Grimes said the wide-zone offense is a scheme that can be run by a lot of different types of athletes. It is an offense that doesn’t require great size in the offensive blockers. It allows offensive linemen to play with speed and aggression. It handles a defense’s stunts and pressures better than most other offenses. It provides play-action opportunities and run-pass options by the quarterback.
“It creates space between defenders and gives an advantage to running backs to see their keys and make cuts,” said Grimes, who said another feature is to prevent and avoid profile tackles.
Showing play after play of BYU backs making backcuts and running toward defenders with lead blockers, Grimes described how the scheme is used with 11 or 12 personnel — one or two tight ends in the formation. He then started breaking down how the jet sweep added to the pre-snap presentation to divide the attention of the defense.
It was interesting to hear Grimes say, pointing to film of BYU running backs, that they taught their ball carriers not to consider making a cut until they had taken five steps.
Those blocking lanes — angled left or right — are called lines of force, and he showed drills by Baylor players last spring running those lanes. He then showed those lanes executed by BYU in game situations — creating space. He discussed the importance of backs leaning forward, teaching it, executing it and then how it worked in real-time with the blocking.
The session did generate all the coachspeak you’d expect.
True, Grimes is gone. He went back home to Texas where Aranda recruited him to install what worked in Provo in Waco. His replacement, Aaron Roderick, helped work on this offense designed around one play. He helped whittle down what was unnecessary or productive.
Every team has to do this to see what the person can handle. New offensive line coach Darrell Funk said his mission is to pick up where Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos (also now at Baylor) left off in 2020.
It was interesting to see somebody break down that design in an extended classroom setting and see what the foundation really is and where it came from.
“Carnage at the goal line,” is what Grimes said Mateos used to call what was required of offensive linemen running the scheme.
Can BYU run it effectively in 2021 with a much tougher schedule?
That’s the question of the fall.