Toss Sweep Improves I-Formation Outside Run Attack

"Student Body" Provides Powerful Offensive Surge

The power sweep is a very effective and easily taught play which can enhance any team's rushing attack. Dubbed "Student Body" when run to perfection by the USC Trojans in the 1960s, the play gives the offense the advantage of having more blockers than defenders - creating a convoy for the running back to follow.

Success Begins with the Quarterback

At the snap of the ball, the quarterback must step toward the side where the play is being run.

With his weight on the lead foot, he reverse pivots (lifting the back leg, turning the body toward the line of scrimmage, spinning around until his foot lands, pointed in the tailback's direction), and with both hands on the football, underhand tosses the football to the tailback. The initial step is crucial, as a reverse pivot without taking the play-side step puts the quarterback's pitch behind the tailback. After pitching the ball, the quarterback continues down the line of scrimmage to block.

Tight End Down Block

The tight end is responsible for the first defender on the line of scrimmage to his inside shoulder. A defensive player aligned head-up or to the outside does not change the tight end's assignment. His first step will still be with his inside leg toward the next defender inside.

"Fold" Block by Play Side Tackle

With the tight end blocking to the inside, the play-side tackle will step behind the tight end and run toward the outside.

As soon as he clears the tight end, he will turn or "fold" toward the line of scrimmage. He is to block the first defender in sight. Most likely it will be the defensive end. If there is no defender there, he turns to the inside to block a pursuing linebacker or any other defender running toward him.

Guard Leads the Sweep

The first step of the play side guard is with his outside foot, following the tackle down the line of scrimmage. He looks for any defender who crosses his path; otherwise he turns up field to block in the secondary.

Center Blocks Straight Ahead

The center takes on any head-up defender. If the nose tackle is to the play side, the center will hit him, and release down field in search of a linebacker.

Back Side Guard and Tackle

Both of these players will step behind the center and turn up field through the first opening in the line they find. They continue into the secondary to block defenders in pursuit of the running back.

Fullback "Kick Out" Block

The fullback takes a small step forward at the snap. He then runs parallel to the line of scrimmage, looking for the cornerback who should be charging toward the backfield to make the tackle. The fullback must deliver a powerful block, essentially running over the defender and "kicking" (blocking) him out toward the sideline.

Split End/Flanker Blocks Inside

The receiver on the strong side will run into the secondary and block the first defender to the inside. It will likely be a safety, but could be another pursuing defensive player.

Wide Receiver Blocks Back Side

The weak side receiver sprints out as if running a pass pattern. He will block the cornerback or safety on the weak side.

Tailback "Surveys" the Field

Aligned seven yards from the line of scrimmage, and directly behind the quarterback and fullback, the tailback takes an open step toward the sideline. His eyes are on the quarterback. He looks the pitch of the ball into his hands. Upon catching the ball, he runs as fast as he can toward the outside. The tailback must learn to read the fullback's block. If the block is toward the sideline, the tailback will turn up field off the inside of the fullback. If the block is taking the defender to the inside, the tailback will run to the outside.

Coaching Points

  • A blitzing play-side linebacker may force a minor adjustment for the strong side guard. Instead of pulling to the outside, the guard will block his area and pick up the blitz.
  • Depending on the defensive scheme, other minor blocking adjustments may be necessary.
  • If a coach does not want the quarterback involved in blocking, have the quarterback carry out a fake to the weak side after pitching the ball to the tailback.
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Your Citation
McCormick, Sean. "Toss Sweep Improves I-Formation Outside Run Attack." ThoughtCo, Dec. 22, 2010, McCormick, Sean. (2010, December 22). Toss Sweep Improves I-Formation Outside Run Attack. Retrieved from McCormick, Sean. "Toss Sweep Improves I-Formation Outside Run Attack." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 23, 2017).