The Trio Formation is one of the hardest formations in football to defend. If you have the personnel, I personally think this formation causes more issues to a defense than the traditional Trips formation. We use a very basic series of plays from our Trio formation to put the defense in a bind and then punish their alignment.
Creating Alignment Conflict for the Defense with the Trio Formation Series
The reason why the Trio formation is so difficult to defend is because it presents two very different problems to the defense. On one side there is a Trips formation. This leaves three defenders out wide that the defense must account for. Between quick screens and the roll out game, the offense can really exploit the defense if they decide not to allocate enough players out wide. On the other side of the formation there is a Tight End. Because there isn’t a receiver out wide, normally defenses will put their Cornerback as the edge defender. This is not something that he is built to do and normally he does not want to come down and play the run. The result is an edge where the Offense can run and make a player who does not normally like to tackle, deal with one of the offense’s top runners.
Power to the Tight End Side
The first play we run out of this formation is the Power Play to the Tight End. Most defenses are going to widen their End so that he can help to keep contain and provide the Cornerback with some run support. When he does this it automatically opens up the Power Play that is a staple of our offense. We will run this Power play with the Running Back coming across the Quarterback’s face so that the Quarterback can keep his eyes downfield to look at the Safeties rotation. This will help him get an understanding of how they are moving so that we can exploit it later in the game. We will also run our three receivers on vertical routes. The #3 receiver is trying to get under the Safety that is on the playside while our #2 receiver is looking to get under the Safety that is on the backside. This will help set up our Play Action game but can be effective in slowing down the Safeties enough to give our ball carrier an extra step or two.
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The normal response by most defenses when we have success with the Power Play is to move the Defensive End in to stop the play. When the defense moves a defender into the C Gap we see and edge that has become more accessible. We use our Buck Sweep play to attack this edge. This allows use our leverage and the advantage it gives us. Instead of trying to dig the Defensive End out we will now use our leverage advantage to block him down. We will then pull our two Guards to kick-out the outside defender (normally the Cornerback) and lead up on the playside Linebacker. Again we will have the Running Back come across the Quarterbacks face so that the QB can keep his eyes downfield to get a look at how the Safeties are reacting to this play.
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Vertical Passing Concept
The final play in this series is for when the defense decides to roll down a Safety or the Safety starts to get aggressive and come downhill to make the tackle on the Sweep or Power. We will punish this play by running our 4 Verticals Concept behind it. While we normally don’t release our Tight End, the same general landmarks apply as when we run this play from a Trips formation. The #3 receiver on the trips side is responsible for getting across to the opposite hash mark. Normally we refer to this as the Bait because he is coming directly across the face of the deep Safety. When the Safety comes down to take this route it opens up the #2 receiver on his deep route. We tell this #2 receiver that his landmark is the near hash but he has the whole middle of the field to find open space, he just needs to run to green grass in that space. The #1 receiver is going to be running an outside release Go route to occupy the far defensive backs.
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These three plays create a powerful package that can cause defense’s to struggle in how they deal with the Trio formation. While it’s very easy to add your roll out and traditional drop back passing game to the Trips side, and it’s something that we do, it’s important to have an answer to keep the defense from over adjusting to the trips side.