Adding RPO’s to Your Run Game

By Jarrett Troxler

Here at Massillon (Ohio) Washington, we are a multiple pro style/spread offense. We have taken a lot of different parts of other offensive systems and made our own. There are parts of various systems including the Air Raid and Tony Franklin System.

In 2018, we were the Ohio state runner-up in Division II. We averaged 44.7 points per game and 416 yards per game.

This year we had a record setting year:

  • Most points scored in a season (670)
  • Most touchdowns scored in a season (93)
  • Most wins in a season (14)
  • Most offensive yards in a season (6,244)

Offensive Staff Culture

  • We have a close offensive staff at Massillon.
  • Our culture as an offensive staff is to encourage everyone to question the status quo.
  • We have created an environment in the offensive office that every detail will be questioned.
  • No egos.
  • If a coach brings up an idea, he must be prepared to put it on the board and show how it fits within our system.
  • No wasted time.
  • “Question everything. Trash no one.”

Massillon RPOs

  • More pre-snap RPOs than post-snap RPOs
  • Gives our offense the ability to be a full field offense
  • The goal is to ensure we have a great run look in the box

Around 85 percent of our runs have a RPO tag attached to them.

Massillon RPO Drill Work

Like any other scheme, we drill RPOs and develop the skill set required to master them, specifically when talking about the quarterback. We find time to drill these RPO skills throughout practice, whether that be pre-practice, during special teams’ periods or combining drills and working the quarterback’s footwork to master the skillset needed to execute.

Give the quarterback different looks in practice scripts and cards. Don’t give your quarterback the same look all week on scout cards. We draw up our scout cards every day. We don’t draw up the cards on Sunday and say, “These are the cards we’ll use all week.” I want to put our quarterback in a bind with the scout looks to provide different looks. I don’t want to give the same look all week long because that’s not how it will be on Friday night.

RPO Skillset Progression

In the offseason we use Hudl, installs, videos and whiteboard to teach the schemes of what we’re doing. Then we progress into the preseason and summer camps to start drilling the footwork. This is our progression for our drill work.

  1. Drops/Footwork
  2. Drops/Footwork/Throw (Static)
  3. Drops/Footwork/Throw with WR’s (Routes)
  4. Run Tracks/Throw (Static)
  5. Run Tracks/Throw with WRs (Working the scheme)

Massillon Base RPO Schemes

This is day one install for us. We are teaching the “Y” to flat fast and under control. He is blocking the corner, but if the corner bails he is peaking back inside to possibly block the safety or Sam linebacker.

The main read for the quarterback is the Sam linebacker. If he’s coming off the edge we’ll throw. If he’s in the box we’ll throw. There are times when maybe the Sam isn’t in the box but isn’t wide either, so we’ll throw to the tag screen and force the defense to run and tackle in space.

The main goal is to get the Sam away from the run game and give us a favorable run look.

We really like this tag against 1-high looks and man coverage. We came up with this scheme as an answer for when defenses are clouding and knifing real hard on the tag screen.

The No. 2 receiver is on a wide fade while the No. 1 is on a 3-step slant.

Against 1-high in an unfavorable run box we’ll throw this. With man coverage, I really like the wide fade by No. 2.

Tag Screen paired with Quick Game

This is our tag screen paired with some sort of quick game paired backside. You still have the same read to the frontside on the Sam linebacker.

First, the quarterback would check backside and see if he has what he wants. If the defense drops the weak safety down or rotates him to the middle of the field, then you can throw the backside. You can game plan the route backside. You can put the “X” on a vertical, a hitch, a free access out route or a 3-step slant. This holds the backside of the defense accountable.

If you have a really good player backside at the “X,” a lot of the times the defense will keep that weak safety over the top. That forces the defense to defend the entire field.

If the defense keeps the weak safety high and backside then we’ll look out at the Sam linebacker to see if we want to run the football or throw the tag screen frontside.

You can run this scheme in the open field – as we have – but we think it’s a little more effective in the red zone. We kind of stumbled onto this scheme by accident. We were blocking pass up front and running fades on the outside, but because the safeties saw a high hat from the offensive line, they were able to get over the top and help on the fades.

We just started blocking power up front to draw the safeties in and throw the fade.

If we are getting 2-high then we’ll run the ball because we have the box count that we’re looking for. If we’re getting 1-high then we’ll throw the fade based off which way the free safety is leaning.

Up front, we’ll block a fold scheme where the guard will fold up on the frontside linebacker and we’ll read the Mike linebacker for a give-or-run read.

With the pop pass RPO, we still have a pre-snap tag screen that we can throw. If the Sam tightens down close to the No. 3 then we’ll throw the tag screen. We want to force the Sam linebacker to defend the tag screen so we can play off the Mike linebacker with the pop pass.

This is a post-snap RPO, but we have a pre-snap RPO built into it to keep us in a good play.