The art of the power play

The “power” play is a staple of many offensive playbooks across the country. The concept is simple but vital to the success of a smashmouth rushing attack, and it all hinges on one thing: the pull of the backside offensive guard from the weakside of the play over to the strongside of the play.

Here is a basic I-formation.


Image via wikipedia

In that formation, the right side of the line would be the strongside of the play, and the left side would be the weakside. It’s strong because there is a tight end (TE) on the right of the offensive line, if you split the formation in half through the center there are three people on the right side of the offensive line, and two on the left, therefore the right side is the strongside.

The playside is the side of the formation the play will be run towards, and the backside is the side of the formation where the play will not be run towards.

Pulling, in essence, adds an extra blocker on the strongside/playside and — when run correctly– creates a convoy of blockers on one side of the line of scrimmage for the running back to run behind.

Here is a diagram of a basic power blocking scheme out of an I-formation.


If Florida were to run power to the strongside it would make the right side the playside of the formation. The left guard will execute what is called a pull, where he opens his body up to run on lateral track (in orange above) down the line of scrimmage then leads up through a hole on the other side.

When the Gators run this play, they often flip it so instead of the right guard being playside, he is, instead, on the backside and is therefore the guard that pulls. Florida’s right guard is senior Jon Halapio, who puts a good pull in his own words.

“First, knowing what you’re pulling for,” Halapio said. “And if you get out there and your guy is not there how you adjust to a different defender.” The 6-3 321-pounder was often utilized for his pulling aptitude last season.

This year, he’s been called upon sparingly — only five out of 45 rushing plays against Kentucky were plays that involved him pulling. Some of that has to do with his partially torn left pectoral muscle — an injury that sidelined him the first two games of the season and something he admitted could re-tear at any time. Minimizing Halapio’s full speed collisions with defensive linemen and linebackers is good for his chest in the long run. Surprisingly, he admits that he’s not the most skilled at pulling on the team. That, Halapio says, is center Jonnothan Harrison.

“Actually, he’s giving me tips on how to pull better,” Halapio said. “He’s probably our best puller, and that’s why he pulled a lot in [the Kentucky] game. He’s doing very well at it.”

On Florida’s most successful play from the Kentucky game, the Gators ran a different variation of the power play that involved left tackle DJ Humphries as well as Harrison pulling. You might have noticed it because it was Florida’s longest play from scrimmage this season –Matt Jones’ 67-yard run.

The strongside of this play is to the left.

Jon Harrison is at center, Max Garcia at left guard, Humphries at tackle and Clay Burton at tight end.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 1.23.49 AM

From another angle showing Harrison (orange) and Humphries (blue) pulling.

Harry 2

And Harrison with the block on the edge that helps Jones to get around the outside.

Harry 4

So what does having a center who can pull like Harrison do for Florida?

“A lot,” Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday. “You get a guy around the edge and, especially, you know, Jon [Harrison] being able to run gives him angles”

Pease said the play is something that has been in Florida’s scheme since he’s been on the coaching staff. The individual defensive fronts the Gators face are what determines when to deploy it.

When done right, the power play can look like a work of art, and the Gators paint the picture pretty well.

Images via  Libgator video

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Richard Johnson
Richard lives in Gainesville and prides himself in being a bonafide lifelong Alachua County Resident. He attends the University of Florida and is in his third year studying Telecommunications. He isn’t sure how he started loving football being the son of two immigrants that don’t care about the sport, but he has developed a borderline unhealthy obsession with it. In his free time, Richard watches other sports and is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tampa Bay Rays. He doesn’t like chocolate, knows Moe’s is better than Chipotle and drinks way too many Arnold Palmers. He also took up golf in the summer of 2012. That pursuit isn’t going well. You can listen to him talk about sports during the Cheapseats radio show on ESPN 850-WRUF or online at Follow him on Twitter at @RagjUF.