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Taking Away Tiki

trapping or leading the play to the opposite side of the formation.  

The quarterback opens just like the "Fullback Lead." He starts to make the simple handoff, then switches the ball to the other hand to give to Tiki after he has planted his feet and reverses his direction. The quarterback now has turned his back to the line of scrimmage in order to make the exchange.  

This play is a variation of Joe Gibbs' "Counter O, T" that Washington's Timmy Smith gained 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII. With their success they made the "Counter O, T" as common as the quarterback sneak. Everybody started running it.  

What's different between "O, F" and the "O, T", is rather than the "O" (off-side guard) and the "T" (off-side tackle "T"), it is now the "O" (off-side guard) and the "F" (fullback).  

The fullback is more agile and quicker to get the other side of the formation, plus initially sending the fullback exactly in the same direction as the "Fullback Lead" really can make it hard to read.  

The Giants and Tiki are experiencing much success with these two simple companion plays.  

The defense gets hell-bent to pursue to the front side and attack the play when the "Fullback Lead" is hot. But then to their dismay, many times the "Fullback Lead" will morph into the "Counter O, F", and the play will end up on the other side of the line.  

For the first 2-2.5 seconds the offensive backfield (quarterback, tailback and fullback) motion looks exactly like a "Fullback Lead" one way, but then it counters to the other side. Good plan.  

Dallas can combat this by run blitzing and working games (stunts) with their defensive linemen. Penetration, someone slicing through the line, knocks the timing off, and timing is critical. The 3-4 front bodes well against the Counter O, F but not so well against the Fullback Lead. It's too much to explain. Just trust me.  

Scheming (game-planning) will always disrupt the offense's intentions, but recognition and knowledge of the opponents is Aladdin's lamp. Play recognition through study to find the subtle difference between the two plays will also combat it. Tiki will have some success on these two plays.  

Just how much and how often is up to Dallas.  

These two runs could play havoc for Dallas, but the most dangerous is the screen pass. Tiki is very comfortable in space and if the screen is "sold" properly, he's almost guaranteed open spaces when he turns after catching the soft dump pass on the screen.  

Tiki is quicker than a hiccup. He doesn't need much blocking as his quickness serves him well.  

The screen is defended by the LB'ers and the DB's, as the DL's that are rushing the passer are lured to the QB thinking they are going to get a sack, only to find out he's just sucking them back there so he can lightly flip the ball over their heads to Tiki.  

Screen recognition by a lineman is rare, but if he sees it soon enough the play can be destroyed. The balance of the defense is responsible for corralling Tiki. Knowing what Tiki is going to do and trying to tackle him are horses of a different color, both challenging.  

Tackling him in the open field - no, trying to tackle him in the open field - is usually not pretty. He can make you miss and he can make you look bad. Real bad. 

Once again, recognition and knowledge of the attack will be the difference in whether the defense will be successful or not against the screen. For screens, a "spy" designated to be responsible for Tiki only would work.  

The No. 1 run defense in the league will be challenged by the No. 1 running back. The very best way to handle Tiki Barber is to keep the ball away from him. Have long drives and score many points. Force the enemy to have to throw it. Sound familiar? Pretty simple and popular philosophy. 

This is going to be a war.                                     

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