Jim Chaney, Nick Chubb, and the Power Toss

The Georgia Bulldogs enter 2016 with a veteran offense and the return of star running back Nick Chubb to go along with a new coaching staff. Mark Schofield looks at how new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will utilize Chubb on the power toss. 

There is new blood at the helm of the Georgia Bulldogs for the upcoming 2016 college football season. After over a decade as the head coach in Athens, Mark Richt was fired at the end of the 2015 season, and took his talents to South Beach where he now coaches the Miami Hurricanes. Georgia brought in former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to replace Richt. On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs hired former Arkansas and Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to serve in that capacity for the school. Chaney inherits an offense that returns seven starters, chief among them is running back Nick Chubb. The junior was lost for the season during Georgia’s 2015 game against Tennessee with a torn PCL, but is on track to return to the starting lineup for the Bulldogs’ season opener against North Carolina. The powerful, explosive running back fits well with the schemes Chaney favors on offense, including on one play in particular: the power toss.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Chubb on the Toss

Before suffering a gruesome injury against the Volunteers, Chubb was in the midst of an impressive campaign that had him in contention for the Heisman Trophy. Through only four games, Chubb had gained 756 yards on 92 carries, for an impressive average of 8.1 yards per attempt. Georgia used the talented running back in a variety of ways, including the power toss. On this play against South Carolina, Georgia has the football on the Gamecocks’ 31-yard line with under a minute remaining. The Bulldogs have 21 personnel on the field with quarterback Greyson Lambert (#11) under center, and Chubb (#27) the deep back in the i-formation. Georgia uses an unbalanced line, putting tight end Jay Rome (#87) on the right with a slot formation outside of him:


The offense runs power toss to the right – wide – side of the field here, toward the unbalanced side of their formation:


The bulk of the offensive line blocks to their right, in the direction of the play. Right guard Greg Pyke (#73) pulls to the outside in front of the ball carrier, while center Brandon Kublanow (#54) ignores the 1 technique nose tackle on his left shoulder, and immediately races to the second level to seal off the Mike linebacker. Chubb takes the toss with both Pyke and fullback Quayvon Hicks (#48) leading him to the edge.

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The playside defensive end as well as the cornerback do a solid job of turning Chubb back toward the middle of the field, but the RB has the power and explosiveness to turn the ball upfield and gain a quick eight yards, putting the Bulldogs in field goal range before the half.

Last season, Georgia also ran Chubb on the power toss toward the boundary in shorter yardage situations, without the aid of an unbalanced line. Running the toss on the short side of the field takes away the ability of a running back to draw the play laterally to find space, but it also forces him to get North/South quickly, which can be critical in shorter yardage scenarios. Here against the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs face a 2nd and 5 early in the game and have the football on the right hash of the South Carolina 47-yard line. Lambert is again under center and Georgia lines up in 21 personnel with a slot formation to the left. Tight end Jeb Blazevich (#83) is on the right lined up in a three-point stance next to the right tackle. Chubb again dots the i in the backfield behind Hicks:


The Gamecocks’ 4-2-5 defense is on the field, and a cornerback and nickelback both walk down into the box, on each end of the line of scrimmage.

Georgia runs the power to toss to the right, into the boundary:


While the line blocks down and to the left, Pyke pulls to the right edge in front of the play. Chubb takes the toss behind Hicks, heading to the outside. The playside CB crashes forward, and both the FB and RG react to the threat. This allows the playside linebacker a free shot at Chubb, but the running back is able to evade him in the backfield:

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After forcing the missed tackle, Chubb quickly gets North/South, turning the potential loss into a gain of eight and a first down.

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]Chaney and the Power Toss at Pittsburgh

After two seasons as the OC for the University of Arkansas, Chaney assumed that position for the Pittsburgh Panthers. While with the Razorbacks, Chaney steered an offense that relied on power up front, with a big offensive line. The Panthers’ OL was a bit smaller and quicker, which is similar to the group that Chaney inherits in Athens. Last year the Arkansas OL was the biggest in the Southeastern Conference, weighing in at an average of 321.1 pounds per starter, while the Bulldogs’ unit was near the bottom. The projected starters for Georgia increase the size a bit from that number, averaging 296.4 pounds. But that size and quickness in an offensive line makes plays to the edge, such as the power toss that feature pulling blockers, that much more effective. These types of plays were on display from Chaney’s offense when he was at Pittsburgh last season, when the offensive coordinator was using a smaller OL, similar in size to the Georgia unit. The average size for the Pittsburgh projected starters up front – with four starters returning – is 309 pounds. Bigger than the Bulldogs, but well shy of the mark set by Arkansas.

In Pittsburgh’s 2015 game against Iowa, the Panthers face a 2nd and 8 on their own 27-yard line early in the contest. They line up with quarterback Nathan Peterman (#4) under center and with 12 personnel on the field. Running back Darrin Hall (#22) is alone in the backfield, and Pitt has an unbalanced, bunch look on the right side. Tight end J.P. Holtz (#86) aligns in a two-point stance just outside the right tackle, with fellow TE Scott Ordnoff (#83) in a tight slot alignment, and Zach Challingsworth (#80) aligned a few yards behind Holtz. Receiver Dontez Ford (#19) is split wide toward the sideline:


Iowa has its base 4-3 defense in the game, and is showing Cover 3 in the secondary. Pittsburgh runs the power toss toward the unbalanced, wide side of the field, and the blocking sets up this way:


Holtz blocks down on the defensive end, allowing right tackle Brian O’Neill (#70) to pull to the right. Ordnoff blocks down on the strong-side linebacker, while Challingsworth attempts a cut block on the strong safety:

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Hall takes the toss and because of the wide field, is able to bounce outside of the cut block from Challingsworth. He then gets North/South, turning upfield for a gain of eight yards and a Pittsburgh first down.

Chaney also used this alignment to run toss toward the boundary, out of the shotgun formation. Against Georgia Tech, the Panthers face a 2nd and 1 on their own 34-yard line. Peterman lines up in the shotgun with Hall standing to his left. Pittsburgh has a similar bunch formation on the left side, with 12 personnel once more. Holtz aligns in a two-point stance just outside the left tackle, while tight end Jaymar Parrish (#31) stands just to the outside of his fellow TE. Fullback Stephen Ezekoye (#30) lines up as an up-back, just behind the left tackle:


Here’s how Chaney ran the power toss out of this formation, against the Yellow Jackets’ base 4-3 defense:


The tight ends both block down, with Holtz blocking the defensive end while Parrish blocks the SLB. Ezekoye heads to the outside and he will block the first immediate threat. On the inside, left tackle Adam Bisnowaty (#69) blocks down on the 4i technique defensive tackle, which allows left guard Dorian Johnson (#53) to pull in front of the play.

The blocking comes together nicely:

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The tight ends execute solid down blocks, while the fullback gets a solid cut block on the cornerback to the outside. This creates a nice crease for Hall to get the edge and the first down. Johnson tries to get to the second level, but he cannot prevent the middle linebacker from flowing to the play and making the tackle.The run goes for a gain of seven, giving Pittsburgh a first down.

As this play indicates, Chaney likes to run the toss play into the boundary on short yardage situations. Much like Georgia did last season with Chubb, Chaney runs this play out of both unbalanced and standard formations. On this play against Georgia Tech the Panthers face a 2nd and 3 early in the third quarter of a tie game. Peterman aligns under center, and the offense has their 12 personnel in the game in an unbalanced look. Quadree Ollison (#37) is the deep back in the i-formation, and the Panthers have the wide receiver and both tight ends on the left side:


Holtz aligns as the in-line tight end, and he immediately heads to the second level to block the middle linebacker. Parrish starts the play in a wing just outside his fellow TE, and he slides a step to the inside to block the defensive end. Bisnowaty pulls to the left edge in front of the play, as he and Ezekoye lead Ollison to the edge on the power toss:


Watching this play, you can see the advantage of running this design to the boundary on a short yardage situation. With the field compressed, the running back has to get downhill quickly:

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Ollison does just that, angling right for the first down marker and giving the Panthers a fresh set of downs.

Chaney inherits a more talented group of blockers and runners as he transitions to life back in the SEC. With a healthy Chubb, as well as the return of Sony Michel, the Bulldogs have two great RBs to carry the load. In addition, Georgia returns three starters up front from last year. The Bulldogs also anticipate that graduate transfer Tyler Catalina will start at LT after making 33 starts for the University of Rhode Island in the Football Championship Subdivision. This all points to Georgia having a very successful ground game.Look for the Bulldogs to run this power toss design all over the field, early and often.

Follow @MarkSchofield on Twitter.  Buy his book, 17 Drives.  Check out his other work here, such as how Alabama passes to attack the flat, or Tennessee’s use of the double post concept, or how LSU runs play action.

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All film courtesy of DraftBreakdown.

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