The X's and O's: The Power of Power
LSU’s favorite play isn’t flashy, but it gets the job done
By Billy GomilaPosted Sep 12, 2012
Note: This is the first in a new feature. Each week, our resident football guru will break down the logistics of a key play or unique facet of LSU’s playbook. This week: Power.
If you listen to enough chatter between LSU fans, and even some members of the media, you hear a lot of disdain for the “inside toss,” or “toss dive” play. I’ve always found this hilarious, because A) they always manage to completely misidentify the play, and B) it’s only been one of the Tigers’ best running plays in the last few years.
The technical name for the play is “Power,” or “Power-O,” and it’s been around the game for decades. Fans my age might remember it making stars out of players like Christian Okoye and Marcus Allen, but current LSU students might identify it with LaDanian Tomlinson in his San Diego Chargers heyday.
The moniker is extremely appropriate, because Power is about that very thing. It’s about mashing the defensive front as hard as you can, and trying to collapse one side while the running back comes around with a lead blocker. It’s a favorite of most offensive line coaches, so it should come as no surprise that Greg Studrawa and Les Miles – both o-line guys – favor it.
The main characteristics include the play-side (i.e., the side at which the play is being directed) blocking “down,” the fullback “kicking out,” and a backside guard “pulling” – looping around to lead the running back into the lane.
Let’s break it down, piece by piece:
1. Down block
Down-blocking means that offensive linemen attack the defender aligned directly in front of them or on their inside shoulder. Typically, two linemen double-team the first defender (in most cases, a defensive lineman) for a moment, before one of the double-teaming blockers peels off to attack a second level player like a linebacker.
2. Fullback kick
On the play-side, the end man on the defensive line – a defensive end, or as with the case of a 3-4 defense (three defensive linemen, four linebackers) like Washington’s, a linebacker – will be left unblocked by the line or tight end. The fullback is responsible for the unblocked player, and he will block that player toward the sideline, executing a “kick out” block.
3. The pulling guard
This is the most distinctive feature of the play. At the snap, the backside guard pulls around behind the rest of the offensive line to escort the back through the hole. Meanwhile, the end-player on the defense’s backside, here an outside linebacker, will be occupied by the quarterback, who will roll out in his direction after pitching the ball to the tailback. This takes advantage of a typical defensive responsibility of backside containment (that is to say, to ensure that an offensive player doesn’t get outside of his alignment), and allows the offense to have an extra blocker to the side at which the play is directed.
4. The toss
The toss here is a feature that is unique to LSU, and allows the ball to get into the hands of the back faster so that he can hit the hole quickly and decisively. Plays that involve pulling guards can typically take longer to develop, and it’s no secret that time can be of the essence with the defenses in the SEC. A similar evolution occurred with the toss-sweep, which was once a slow-developing play for the Vince Lombardi Packers, but was updated by legendary Southern California Head Coach John McKay to make better use of speedy runners like OJ Simpson and Mike Garrett.
Power has become one of LSU’s most reliable plays in recent seasons, good on any down and especially in short-yardage. Like most of LSU’s offense, it’s not flashy, but it’s very, very effective.