Updated: Feb 9
This series of blogs will go over how we coach the O'Brien Offense. What is advantageous in this offense is the ability to run the football effectively offering dives, sweeps, counters and reverses. It also allows for play action and drop back passing. This form of offense seems to be run rarely in today's sixman game but at one time was a staple of many programs.
The advantages to the O'Brien is its ability to operate with slower athletes. It has been my experience, spread offenses rely heavily on an athletic mobile quarterback (spreadback). We have had great success against spread teams where the pass rush is equally as talented as the spreadback. We are never certain our program will have the athlete needed to run a spread offense, nor that we will face an opposition who will not have the ability to stop him. The O'Brien allows us to then operate using either smash mouth or deception and without having superior athleticism.
In 2018, our Junior High football team was gifted with some good athletes but no singular star and certainly none that would allow us to use a spread formation effectively. Our team found themselves in the championship game against a much bigger, faster and more athletic team. It was one of those games where you wanted to check the IDs of the other team's players and ask them to please shave before taking the field. The game plan was gamble on defense and keep their offense off the field through ball control.
O'Brien full steam ahead, four yards and a cloud of dust was the mantra that day. We told our players we only need four yards on every play and to not commit any turnovers or penalties. Our undersized lineman only had to hold blocks for 2 seconds, our backs just ducked their heads and plowed ahead for what they could get. The result was a one point victory in a game where we controlled the ball for almost two-thirds of the game.
This game encapsulated everything I had come to believe about the O'Brien. When executed properly, the opponent would need to commit four or five defenders to stop the run which opened up the passing, counters and reverses. It is not flashy, it is old school football which is going to require your opponent to play disciplined defense. It will require your team to not commit turnovers and to learn how to block. I think we are far too often captivated by the fast paced offenses not realizing those who run them get their players through drafts (NFL), provide scholarships (College) or large talent pools (4A-6A High Schools). If you are a sixman coach, my guess is you are not this fortunate and if you are ... count yourself blessed.