Football 101: Empty sets

Updated: November 13, 2003, 11:03 PM ET
By Bob Davie | Special to
Just about every week in college football you see offenses align in formations spread across the entire field, sometimes with no backs in the backfield. This trend was started in college football years ago and now has even spread to the NFL.

The object of the empty or no-back sets is to spread the defense out and cause coverage mismatches, forcing linebackers to cover in space. It is even more difficult to defend if the offense has a mobile quarterback who can run when the defense displaces its underneath personnel.

In today's class, we will examine why offenses use this no-back package and what makes it so hard to defend.

Bob Davie

College Football
Bob Davie, a veteran college football coach of 25 years, most recently as head coach at the University of Notre Dame, serves as an analyst on college football game telecasts and select studio shows.