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CFB/NFL Sarge's Guide to Gameplanning (THE SECONDING)


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Georgia coach Kirby Smart focused on execution, not motivation, ahead of  rematch with Auburn in SEC title game
Alright coaches. It’s almost been a full calendar year (outside of sim) since I last dropped my first gameplan guide. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight of knowing all these changes were coming to the sim before I dropped it so with all the dynamic engine changes Rocketcan put under the hood and Tuscan helped bring to life on the interface for us gameplanning junkies, let’s give another guide to gameplanning.

NOTE: I am not the end all be all at gameplanning. I’m only writing this because…
A) I think it could be helpful to new coaches who need a jumping point in the sim
B) I think it could be helpful to existing coaches to give them a different perspective
C) It’s very understandable that not everyone wants their own processes put out into the public and all their own secrets to gameplanning made available so I am more than happy to provide in order to help the community.

NOTE 2:
I don’t have a ton of experience with rushing heavy schemes but I firmly believe that they’re an untapped area that can still be HIGHLY effective in our CFB/NFL sim.

I once again need to reiterate that gameplanning is MY favorite thing and recruiting is other peoples’ favorite thing. If you have any questions about the guide please don’t hesitate to reach out to me in the discord via either of #simNFL, #simCFB, or #mentor-help

NOTE 3:
I will be redacting some info from my gameplan since we’re mid-season!!

Okay, so we have our next game coming up. What’s your workflow Coach Sarge?

The first thing I do in no particular order is open up:

  • My Depth Chart
  • My Opponent’s Depth Chart
  • Sarge’s Gameplanning Guide
  • My Opponent’s Last 2-3 games (to include preseason in NFL  or ‘scrimmages’ in college if we’re at Week 0 or Week 1)


Additionally, I like to use a tool @alexfall862 introduced that allows you to take an exported game report of an opponent, it parses it and consolidates key information such as frequency of plays ran for offensives. THIS IS ONLY 70%-ish of the FIGHT. We need to reference gameflow when digesting this information which I’ll cover later.

P.S. - @Piercewise1 has a similar tool you can use as well that does pivot tables for data you're looking for!!

Order of how I work:
1. Reference Opponent Depth Chart
2. Reference Opponent Last 2-3 Games
3. My Depth Chart
4. My Gameplan
5. Agonize
6. Save Gameplan

You’re going to follow along with me while I gameplan for an opponent.

STEP 1
Previously before Scheme Fits and their penalties (can be found on the interface under your gameplan options on the left), how an opponent configured their Depth Chart was an important piece. It’s still important, but less so because some players may or may not be scheme fits for your own scheme as well as your opponent’s. It’s still necessary to identify what your opponent is fielding.

Here, we’ll use: https://www.simfba.com/topic/5973-106-simfba-scheme-changes-part-1-new-schemes-personnel-and-scheme-fits/#comment-20976

This is Dev Diary #106 that covers what player archetypes meet with scheme bonus and malus effects. USE THIS AS REFERENCE INSTEAD OF CHANGING YOUR OWN SCHEME ON THE INTERFACE SO THAT YOU DON’T ACCIDENTALLY SAVE YOUR GAMEPLAN AND INCUR A PENALTY FOR SCHEME CHANGING.

There’s only certain positions I personally think are critical in the gameplanning process when looking at your opponent’s depthchart:

  • Opponent DL OVR
  • Opponent OL OVR/Archetype
  • QB OVR/Archetype
  • RB OVR
  • WR OVR/Archetype
  • CB OVR


What do we know about our Opponent’s DL?
image.png.4a975f4638aa2075f66c6f596d3e7185.png
We don’t know opposing defensive schemes unfortunately but it doesn’t matter too much in my opinion as long as we look at starting edges and at least two deep at DT.

The immediate thing that jumps to me is that he’s playing a DE at DT. While there is a negligible amount of drop-off there for out of position penalties (there is a dev diary I published covering them), there’s still a small one that exists. So, his best player on his front four is probably going to perform the same as his other linemates. The opponent essentially has on average an all B DLine (but credit to them for starting very young players to get them snaps). We note that.

What do we know about our Opponent’s OL?
I won’t insult intelligence here by posting another picture for all the other positions. The opponent  has a good blend of pass and run blocking guys making it tough for me just on paper to decipher what they’re going to do offensively. That’s okay! We have other tools later! Their Center is Balanced and the others are 2 run blocking and 2 pass blocking. All B OVR.

What do we know about our Opponent’s QB?

So, I have my own gameplan open, and if I click on defense, it will indicate the offense my opponent is running.

image.png.3dfe4e27a31450b04fc2f5ed96d540ea.png

Here we can see that my opponent runs a West Coast Offense. Referencing the DD106, and referencing the opposing Depth Chart we can see that their starter is a Balanced QB, so he does not receive a bonus or malus running the offense. He should be able to pilot the offense adequately and is a young QB with B OVR. It’s good info.

What do we know about our Opponent’s RB?

The opponent’s RB is an  A- and a stud, but his receiving archetype is the same situation as the QB. Not a bonus or malus. We just need to keep an eye on his elite ability to catch the ball since he’s an A+ in catching at his position and a B+ if playing as a WR. (We’ll cover that here in a sec)

What do we know about our Opponent’s WRs?

image.png.a080fde9cd6d2058681b7bd29a530162.png
The opponent has two problem children at WR which are an A OVR Route Runner and the RB. When you move a player out of position, depending on their archetype they’ll incur varying amounts of penalties from small, medium and finally large. The RB is a Receiving RB playing the #4 WR in 4 wide sets so we know he’ll take a small penalty but still be great since all his attributes are almost as good as their A OVR WR who’s a traditional WR. We also need to be aware that their A OVR WR is #2 on the depth chart and this could influence our CB matchups.

What do we know about our Opponent’s CBs?

The entire CB room is extremely young and he’s swapping from formerly running Man cover guys to Zone. Thery’re all B OVRs but nothing jumps out at me.

SARGE. WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS INFO?

Glad you asked. Set it aside because we’re going even DEEPER.

I referenced a tool Nebraska/Denver Broncos Coach alexfalls produced. He released a rough copy, but it may have gotten lost in the ether. He’ll be releasing a full updated version soon. This application isn’t an advantage, it’s just digesting the information from Play-By-Plays for you and making it into easy-to-read trends so that you’re not going line by line in the Play-By-Play of old games (like I used to do).


STEP 2
Let’s navigate to the Schedule page. Then keep the schedule filter on “Team”. We’re going to select our opponent.

Now, I’m only going to look at the last game for the sake of this guide and build my gameplan using its information.

First, I’m going to export the game results and then open it using Alex’s tool. The only thing I’ve been referencing lately is the opponent’s offensive trends since I run my offense a particular way and I don’t look at the defense TOO much.

image.thumb.png.4c4699f437f0677285bafa01e1f67e50.png

My opponent has a tendency to favor Right side Outside runs but that’s not the big eye popper for me. It’s the Pass to Run tendency. He passed ~75% of the time. That’s good info. Additionally, lots of play action because opponents don’t want to get burned by their A- RB.

STEP 3

Now, we’re very much deep into the season so I’m not tinkering with my depth chart as much. The biggest note I’ll give here is pay attention to your defensive schemes and who’s getting a bonus/malus.

Thoughts you should be having as you make depth chart changes for a specific matchup:

  • Is the trade off worth it? Lets say my defense is a BAD SCHEME FIT for a Run Stopper OLB, but my opponent runs the ball a lot and his Run Stopping ability is the highest in the LB room. Is the trade off for him taking a slight malus in performance worth having a guy more effective at stopping the run?
  • Should I try to get a better matchup for my WR against weaker CBs? How does that affect target share and how much that WR is on the field? i.e. – If you move your best WR to WR3 to try to matchup with a weaker corner, not every formation runs three wide receivers and you could hamstring yourself.


Additional depth chart notes: Try to cater your scheme to your stars. If you have an A OVR QB/RB, they will essentially elevate the rest of your team if they’re getting a scheme bonus on top of them already being an A OVR player. Or, on the flip side, if your QB for example is young and a C or B OVR, try to give them a boost by running them in a good scheme fit offense. This can be applied to all positions if you like, not just the flashy ones. Gameplan/DC to your strengths or do it to cover your weaknesses!!

STEP 4

Time to address our gameplan.

I’ve redacted a lot of information from my gameplan because I’m releasing this mid-season but fear not! I will give you a lot of what I use for guiding principles.

4A. Offensive Formations
image.thumb.png.c6ca379825dfb5ee6417d2b6e2378b0f.png
Every scheme has specific scheme fits for player archetypes whether they be good or bad. Something else to keep in mind is the min-max for play-types you’d like to run. If you have a stud running back, you’re going to hamstring his ability to have the ball in his hands often if you run Air Raid or Verticals for example.

The biggest thing in my opinion we need to keep in mind is how do I get as many of my best players on the field at the same time? You can run up to as many as all five formations or as few as two and split the ratio 50/50. If you do only run two formations, they both must be evenly split. You cannot run any formation higher than 50 so there’s also that.

I highly suggest if you want to run a player as the focal point of your offense, whether it be a stud QB, RB, WR or even TE, you tailor your scheme to fit them.

ALSO ALSO, make sure you check your QB’s Shotgun rating/preference. DD#108 covers information on QB Shotgun ratings. https://www.simfba.com/topic/6000-108-simfba-scheme-changes-part-2-new-attributes/#comment-20919

4B. Offensive Distributions
image.thumb.png.038c720747db6363ec652e050aae2d21.png
Here we can see all our players and how they stack onto the field by way of our depth chart.
Things to note:

  • If your TE is also lining up at WR in a particular formation, you MUST make sure their target distribution is the SAME. i.e. TE1 Billy Joe you have for 5, you must set WR Billy Joe also to 5.
  • Make sure you are selecting a route bonus for your pass catchers and CATER them to the types of routes they run the most.. i.e. – Speed receivers have specific attributes that are checked for LONG passes, so you’d want to specify “Long” for your Speed WRs typically. Running Backs aren’t running elaborate pass patterns out of the backfield so Quick or Short would generally be used for them.
  • Running distributions are BEST CASE SCENARIO. Just because you’ve elected to run the ball 50% of the time in your Offensive Formations and set your RB to a high carry share doesn’t mean they’ll always get that because of game flow (if you’re down), injuries, stamina, etc.
  • Run Type Distributions super important! Each type of run is catered to RBs of specific archetypes. Additionally, if your best run blockers are on the outside, you likely want to run to the outside and vice-versa. Sometimes it’s wise to play a SLIGHTLY worse RB whose archetype fits your OL layout AND run types.
  • Option Distributions (I am readily admitting I’m not smart enough on it yet and need to sit down and talk with people who run option offenses.)
  • Pass Type Distributions are IMPORTANT. There’s no sense in running the max amount of long passes if all your WRs are slow as hell like Red Zone Threats or Possession guys. Additionally, if your QB doesn’t have the arm it doesn’t make sense to force the issue either.
  • Screens are your blitz beating tool and Play Action is incredibly helpful for obvious reasons.
  • RPOs are a great tool if your QB has an excellent FBIQ because it is a PART of what determines if your QB made the correct read or not.


4C. General Offense Notes
Try to find the weakest part of a defense and try to attack it. I know it sounds obvious but I think we tend to forget about it when gameplanning. If a team’s left side of their DL is weaker than the right, run at them. If their LBs are the worst part of their defense, get your TE to abuse them.

4D. Defense
Defense is one of the things I love the most and I consider it my strong suit as opposed to running an offense. While we don’t have as many fine details as the offensive side of the ball, the tools we have are all pretty powerful.

Things to consider when gameplanning Defensively:

  • Defensive Scheme should benefit your position group that you treasure most. So if you love your DL and LBs, cater your scheme around it. If you think your secondary is generational, run a scheme that benefits it OR buff your weaker DL and LB to make yourself more balanced.
  • CHECK YOUR OPPONENT’S OPPOSING OFFENSIVE SCHEME.
  • Make sure your formation provides enough dudes to cover the opposing WRs! If they’re running 12 personnel, there’s no sense in lining up in a Dime package.
  • I TYPICALLY aggressively blitz obvious passing formations. I understand that there’s inherent risk in that but it’s just something I do. If you send out 3-5 WRs at me, I’m sending the house at you. A great guide that breaks down blitzing and how many blitzers are sent can be found in @Rocketcan's old gameplan guide https://www.simfba.com/topic/1926-simcfb-gameplan-guide/#comment-6206 Ignore most of the early stuff because of updates to the sim and skip down to Blitzing.

RUN TO PASS. THE LOWER THE NUMBER MEANS THE MORE YOU WANT TO DEFEND THE PASS
RUN TO PASS. THE LOWER THE NUMBER MEANS THE MORE YOU WANT TO DEFEND THE PASS
RUN TO PASS. THE LOWER THE NUMBER MEANS THE MORE YOU WANT TO DEFEND THE PASS
RUN TO PASS. THE LOWER THE NUMBER MEANS THE MORE YOU WANT TO DEFEND THE PASS
RUN TO PASS. THE LOWER THE NUMBER MEANS THE MORE YOU WANT TO DEFEND THE PASS


- Focus Plays:  1 play gives you a large bonus to the one play with no maluses. 2 plays gives you a small bonus to those two plays and no maluses, and 3 plays gives you a small bonus to those 3 plays, but maluses to all other plays (UNLESS YOU ARE COMING OFF OF A BYE WEEK)


- Pitch and Dive focus I don’t have enough experience on personally. Best advice I can give is if you think a QB is going to keep the ball most of the time in an option offense, turn up the Dive and vice versa if you think he’s gonna pitch it to the RB more often.

-Double Team I don’t use because I don’t think it’s worth allowing other WRs to run rampant and break the game open. Other coaches are too good at gameplanning AND recruiting to allow the WR2 or WR3 to kill the defense. It’s not worth the risk to me.

- Don’t be afraid to blitz safeties and corners! You especially need to reference the defensive formations you’ll be in. For example, 4-3 Heavy runs an extra safety inside the box instead of a linebacker.
- Obvious last thing but make sure your coverages for your Linebackers and Corners match their archetype. If you have a Ballhawk CB/SS/FS or Field General/Speed LB just check what coverage they are best at in their attributes.


STEP 5
Look at your gameplan, cry, tweak, cry some more, pray if you want, cry, tweak, look at gameplan. 

STEP 6
Save and hope.

//////////////////////

I'll try to keep this updated as the game updates! Please feel free to post questions in here or @ me on discord. Also feel free to discuss gameplanning philosophies here and I hope this guide was helpful to someone! Let me know your thoughts!

- Coach Sarge

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