Football Fundamentals: Counter H/F Primer

Counter OH and Counter OF are great run plays within a Power O based offense or an Inside Zone based offense. For a Power O offense, it utilizes a pulling OG and a lead blocking FB or H-back, while utilizing misdirection in the backfield with the RB running a counter step (often allowing this play to be a very effective Weakside run). For an Inside Zone based offense, the initial movement of the FB/HB is the same as a standard split zone block, while the backside (away from the initial RB step) looks very similar to zone steps. In this post, we’ll look more closely how Counter H/F (that’s Counter OH or Counter OF) fits within these schemes, when to run it, why it’s so effective, and how it fits into a spread architecture.

O = Pulling OG
F = FB Block
H = H-Back Block

This is a standard man/gap blocking scheme, that sees the OL down block or double at the point of attack, kick block with the pulling OG, and the FB or HB lead block into the second level. It takes advantage of getting more numbers at the point of attack while being strong fundamentally with double teams and advantageous angles.

Weakside Counter F

YHinge if necessary, work to SAM
PSTBlock inside GAP, Down, to MIKE LB
PSGBlock inside GAP, Down, to Backside LB
CenterBlock inside GAPO, Down, to Backside LB
BSGFlat pull into LOS, kick out EMOL
BSTReach and hinge
FB/HPull, read block of pulling OG and block first LB that shows playside. If pulling OG numbers disappear, go outside
TBShuffle/Counter footwork. Aim at outside hip of playside OG
QBOpen away from call.

When To Run It and Why It Works
If you want to run to the Weakside of the formation, Counter H/F is a great way to get the defense flowing away from the intended point of attack. Likewise, if you have a DE you’re having trouble kicking out, having an OL block him (essentially a long trap) provides a better angle on the DE and a more powerful blocker. This puts a Big-on-Big and a Back-on-Backer, both better match ups for the intended blocker.

Power O
The counter step works to pull the defense initially in that direction. This prevents the LBs from shooting down at the snap. Often times, teams that run Power O will see the playside LB shoot down immediately at the snap so that it becomes difficult for the OL to push him out of the hole. But if he shoots similarly against Counter OH, and the backside tries to scrape over the top to assist on the play, the LBs will be taking themselves out of the play.

Let’s take a look first and Power O and the defense’s reaction.

Now let’s see how that takes them out of position when they key the RB (rather than the key they are more often with reading).

Inside Zone
The point of attack in Counter H initially looks like the backside of inside zone. Each OL at the point of attack down blocks, which is a block in the same direction as an inside zone away. Likewise, the H-back coming back across is what would typically happen in a split zone. Combined with the first step of the RB, this inception of this play looks very much like inside zone for the point of attack DL and LBs, even when reading their keys properly.

So then when the defense starts over playing this, they are set up to be beat by the Counter H.


Fitting Into Spread
There is nothing about this play that prevents it from fitting into a standard zone read based spread-to-run offense. It’s a great play to run back to the RB alignment, and works similarly to split zone.

Adjusting the Puller
There are two different ways to play a 3-tech to the pulling OG’s side. A 3-tech can cause some issues, because theoretically, if they do as taught, they will follow the pulling OG down the LOS right on his butt and stop the play from the backside. Typically, just as in Power O, the OT and Centerare assigned to prevent that from happening. But that isn’t an easy proposition with fast DTs that are lined up in a position where neither blocker has an advantageous angle.

Some offenses will block it just as they do Power O, looking to the OT and Center to cut off that DT. Others will call so that the Center pulls and the OG stays in to block the DT. The advantage to this is that each blocker has a better angle for the front: the OG can block back and the center can get into his kick block very quickly. The difficult part is now you need to trust your Center to snap the ball and then have the footwork to successfully execute the kick block. Pulling the center is often a lot to ask a player that isn’t used to pulling, and pulling the OG regardless has the advantage of keeping blocking rules and styles similar to something the OL is already used to (Power O).

Jet Sweep
This play is also very successful attached to a jet sweeplook. The jet sweep, which puts a lot of stress on secondary players to fill the alley, further pulls the defense away from the point of attack and sucks the third level defenders out of position. Let’s take the 2015 National Championship game for instance.

Here, OSU dips into their 2-back offense and runs the Outside Zone Sweep run.

They come back later with this
The two plays work together because in several ways they look the same at their inception.

Of course, this play is pulled directly from old Split Back and Offset-I playbooks, that utilized the FB to their advantage, and looked initially like the sweep play at the inception of the play.

Counter OH and Counter OF don’t have the advantage of the false-key from the FB as Counter OT does, but it still fits very nicely into a Power O based scheme and an Inside Zone based scheme. At its heart, it has the goal in mind of many modern day man/gap schemes: it gets more bodies at the point of attack. It’s not necessarily a counter play that tries to get outside the defense merely through misdirection, it is still a powerful run play designed to be run off-tackle. It’s ability to be implemented into nearly any offense makes it all the more advantageous.

Also known as: BIM-O, Counter Lead (don't like this as it confuses another counter play, IMO)

Jim Light looks at OSU utilizing Jet Motion and Counter H
Matt Bowen describes Counter OH

I don't like calling it "Counter Trey". For one, Counter Trey is more properly designated for "Counter OT". But even that isn't necessarily accurate. "Trey" is a point of attack double team from a TE and OT to a backside LB. But Counter OH utilizes a "Deuce" block (OT and OG) or an "Ace" block (OG and Center) just as often.

Run with a QB from shotgun: