Split and Stack Formations

by | Jul 19, 2018 | ACC, Analysis, FSU

Watching the first half of the spring game, I was able to chart all ten formations that Florida State used. There were two formations that stood out to me. I am sure at Florida State they could be called something else, but they are commonly known as split and stack. These two formations were shown 29 times total in the first half, accumulating for 39% of plays in the first half. These two formations are usually shown when the offense can control the box, create misdirection, or create explosive play action gains.


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The split formation is where your H (Hybrid Back) and F (Featured Back) are literally split apart pre-snap. In this formation you can run sweeps, powers, misdirection, counters, screens, and maximum pass protection. (My favorite play ran out of the formation was kick, which you will eventually see an article elaborating on that play.) In the still frame picture below is the first touchdown to #15 Tamorrion Terry; the split formation created play action and maximum protection. When you are in the split or stack formation more then likely you are confident running the ball, or already having success running the ball.


Split Formation from the Spring game

In the image above you will see #21 Laborn next to Hockman who is the F “Featured Back.” Then #82 Upshur who is the H “Hybrid Back” is hidden on the other side behind the offensive tackle. One of the advantages of this formation is giving your quarterback a premium amount of time to make a good decision. In this play Hockman was not ruched at all with seven blockers and play action to help. It is also worth nothing that you can keep both backs in to block when you feel like you have a dominant receiver to throw to, and it doesn’t matter who is covering him. Tamorrion Terry scores here, set up by the formations ability to create time for the quarterback. Not the prettiest throw, but plenty of time made it the easiest decision.



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 The Stack formation is when your F (Featured Back) and H (Hybrid Back) are lined up on the same side, and right behind each other. One of the most ran plays out of this formation during the first half of the spring game was the GH Counter. Basically the backside guard would pull and kick out the defensive end, while the H Back pulled behind him, wrapping for playside linebacker. The GH counter causes a misdirection which is easily accessible through the stack formation. (We will also expand on the GH play as well in a future post). You can run the same plays from stack and split. Although in my opinion running plays from stack hits the hole quicker, and better smash mouth run plays.


In the still frame image above you will see Jacques Patrick #19 next to James Blackman as the F (Featured Back). While the H (Hybrid Back) in front of him is #26 Johnathan Vickers. The play about to be ran is GH Counter (Guard+H Back Counter). From Center to playside offensive tackle, all three players will be blocking down. Sealing off the playside for the backside guard Walk-on #66 Andrew Basham to kick out the defensive end. You will see the H-Back #26 Vickers take a jab step, allowing time for the pulling guard, then wrap for playside backer. The play is very messy, but ends up being a positive gain. Check out the play in the gif below (GH Counter Right).


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