I know a lot of us are familiar with the offensive system that has been synonymous with Texas Tech for the past decade and a half. What I intend to do is to break down the system so we can understand what works, when it works and why.
To start, I want to let you know regardless of how much I may ramble and how much knowledge I may drop on you, this is a pretty simple offense once you know how the pieces work together.
Let's look at 3 of the most common formations you will see Tech run.
This is a pretty standard formation (it's actually a shift from the "Doubles" or "Spread" formation). This was the first 'normal' formation used this season vs. SMU (the first being from the pistol, which I'm we'll cover much later). Let's look at the positions to start:
X - outside receiver, will almost ALWAYS be on the left of the formation. Only exception would be if the formation was modified or was put in motion. The X position has been played by Eric Ward these past two seasons. Previous X receivers have included Marcus Kennard, Detron Lewis, Lyle Leong and Edward Britton.
Z - outside receiver, much like the X, will almost ALWAYS be on the right of the formation. The Z position has been played by Bradley Marquez and Reginald Davis this year. Previous Z receivers have included Darrin Moore, Javon Bell and Michael Crabtree.
Those are the 2 true wide receivers in the offense. The remaining 3 offensive skill players, besides the QB, are hybrid- or flex-type players.
Y - inside receiver; tight end. This has always been a hybrid position and Texas Tech was lucky enough to have a hybrid player fill this position the past 3 years in Jace Amaro. The Y is normally the 3rd receiver in the formation (being the only other receiver other than X & Z when there are 2 RBs). From what I can tell from tendencies in personnel this past season, these are your better route running and catching inside receivers, i.e. Jace Amaro, Jordan Davis (shown above) and Dylan Cantrell. If you are concerning yourself with formation strengths and how that is determined, it is almost always determined where Y lines up.
H - inside receiver. Unlike the outside receivers, the inside receivers are moved all over the field; left, right, or subbed. This past year, the H has been the smaller, speed receiver and the 2nd RB position. In the above picture, Sadale Foster is lined up in the slot, but in the previous play he was in the backfield (just a glimpse at the flexibility of this system). Jakeem Grant was the other main player that lined up at H this season. H is the fourth receiver in the formation.
F - running back, 5th receiver. We saw Texas Tech roll out with a 5-wide set plenty of times this year. This receiver is the F, normally the running back. With 2 RBs, the F is the primary back.
This is the standard 5-wide set, known as "Gator (right)," right denoting the formation strength, or where the Y is lined up. For demonstration's sake: X - Eric Ward; F - Sadale Foster; Y - Jace Amaro; H - Jakeem Grant; Z - Bradley Marquez. In this formation, there seemed to be a pretty steady rotation between Sadale Foster, Jakeem Grant and Jordan Davis for the F and H positions.
Finally, this is Trips (left), again, formation strength being based on where Y lines up. X - Eric Ward; H - Jordan Davis; Y Jace Amaro; F - Kenny Williams; Z - Bradley Marquez.
Without the charting and stats sitting in front of me (and not having the time to chart 13 games for this post), Texas Tech ran a mojority of it's plays from a Trips formation, followed by a Gator formation, then a Doubles/Spread formation, and lastly a pistol variant (although it was used sparingly enough, it barely rates ahead of special formations like the goal line sets).
Now, you may be wondering if the F (running back) position has anything to do with how the formation is aligned. Normally, when a running back is in the F position, it makes very little impact on the play. Most of the receivers can motion and shift pre-snap with little impact on the actual play, F having the least amount (excluding screens and swings). In most situations, the first read the F player makes is pass protection anyways. The QB will line the F up for protection purposes first, and then if there are no rushing threats, F will release into the pattern.
That's it. Now you know the formations the offense will run a super majority of their plays out of.
Next time, we will look into common offensive plays; what they look like, how they're run, when and why.