Football 101: Breaking away

Originally Published: October 27, 2004
By Bob Davie | Special to ESPN Insider
Oklahoma freshman running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 122 yards against Kansas on Oct. 23 to bring his season total to 1,023 yards. Obviously, he is a unique talent, but this week's Football 101 evaluates the schemes the Sooners are using to take advantage of his abilities.

Against Texas earlier this season, Peterson carried the ball 32 times for 225 yards. He had 126 yards and averaged 9 yards per carry in the first half alone. When evaluating the tape of that game, several things become obvious.

First, Peterson is a tremendous talent, who is extremely fast and runs hard. Secondly, he is a great I-formation tailback. Oklahoma deserves a lot of credit for creating a scheme to take advantage of his unique skills.

The Sooners have added a lot of I-formation to their spread offense. This has certainly helped Peterson's transition into college football.

Since the quarterback is in the shotgun and the back is offset in the spread offense, there is obviously no lead blocker for the tailback. The spread offense also forces the tailback to take a more lateral angle than the one he would take on I-formation runs.

The I-formation has many advantages. First of all, the presence of a fullback, who can act as a lead blocker, can pay big dividends. The formation also gives the tailback the ability to run downhill or more north-and-south. Another advantage of the I-formation is the ability to run the counter play.

The depth of the tailback and the diversity it adds to the running game fits Adrian Peterson's style. He is the prototype I-formation tailback. Give coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Chuck Long credit for tweaking the Sooners' running game and adding to their spread offense to fit Peterson's talents.

Against Texas, Oklahoma took advantage of Peterson's tremendous speed and the early aggressiveness of the Texas defense. OU ran a lot of misdirection and counter plays early in the game. One of the Sooners' most successful plays was the counter-toss play. They simply faked a toss one direction and flipped the ball opposite to Adrian Peterson breaking contain. Give Oklahoma's wide receivers credit for doing an excellent job blocking on the perimeter.

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.