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4 Plays that Benefit from Bunch Formations

The objective of any offensive coach is to put his best players in positions and match-ups that allow them to make things happen.  The goal is to get your best players with the ball in space.  

Certainly, there are many ways to accomplish this, but one method that has stood the test of time is to condense formations so that athletes can use both traffic and field space created to get open in the pass game, and allow for extra gaps and angles inside as well as the ability to threaten the perimeter faster.

If you don’t have the athletes you’d like, bunch sets become an equalizer.  It creates short throws for the QB.  Receivers with average or less speed can find holes in the defense because man and match coverage becomes tougher with all of the switches and rubs.

The benefits of bunch and stacks are numerous. Here’s a few of the big ones:

It breaks man coverage with multiple picks and rubs.

Creates problems for zone coverage especially with floods and trail concepts.

Aids the outside running game by shortening the edge and creating angles.

Provides opportunities to dictate coverage.

Excellent vs the blitz because it allows for seven man protection.

Minimizes lack of speed from receiver positions, but maximizes the speed of fast receivers.

Can narrow a defense's answers to  these formations.  Most defenses carry one bunch check, so if they want more, it will be a game-planned answer which means they had little time to perfect it with their players.

Compressed formations fit with just about every scheme in the running game or passing game. Some of those concepts are even enhanced by utilizing these sets. Here are four concepts that benefit from condensed sets and create a different set of problems for a defense.

#1 Mesh

Mesh is a known man beater and is definitely helped by the condensed set.  Jason McManus shares multiple condensed set examples in this video (click on images for videos):


#2 Shallow

Another staple found in the Air Raid offense, and just a solid passing concept, the Shallow is well served by condensed sets as well. Austin Peay Head Coach Scotty Walden shows how the shallow from a condensed formation creates space needed for a big play.


#3 Pin and Pull

With gaps and angles created, the pin and pull is an outstanding play from a bunched set.  North Texas Head Coach Seth Litrell illustrates the concept in this video:


#4 Power Read

Power read has the ability to distort a defense from any formation, but I loved condensing the sweep side in order to get our best player with the ball on the perimeter.  In this example we utilize 12 personnel with both tight ends paired on the same side to get the play going.


If you are looking for an equalizer for this next season, researching and developing some bunch or compressed formations in your offense can provide a benefit while giving the defense something different to prepare for.