Every Play Tells a Story: RB Derrick Henry & Forcing the Counter


Eric Stoner’s latest episode of Every Play Tells a Story looks at an Influence Play involving Derrick Henry as football’s version Floyd Mayweather.

You’re a boxer.

You’re matched up against an extremely aggressive fighter. He’s not a reckless one, either.

He has a plan. He’s been taught well. He’s calculated. Most of all, he loves punching.


What are your options? You can go blow-for-blow with him. It might work if you’re bigger, stronger, faster, and more technically skilled. Your night could also end with fewer teeth than you started with. You can Micky Ward it – sacrifice yourself early in the hopes he punches himself out.

Or you can use his aggression against him. Don’t just avoid. Convince him to throw the punches you want him to throw.

“The best way to counter punch is not to wait for the punch but to force the punch. In other words, if you want to counter his right hand, don’t wait for his right hand, but force him to throw the right hand. Instead of learning a billion counters to the jab, just work on getting him to throw the jab. Learn how to move or attack in a certain way that always baits his jab. Once you learn how to bait specific punches, the counters will come easily.”

-Johnny Nguyen, ExpertBoxing.com

Floyd Mayweather uses the Pull-Counter to land his lead right with devastating efficiency in every fight. He gets within punching range, then leans his head forward to goad his opponent into throwing a jab. At the last second, he pulls his head back (while keeping his lower body in place to stay within range), and shoots his right hand over the top while his opponent is caught out of position from the miss.

He’s able to do this over. And over. And over. Why? Because he’s playing right into the rules of an aggressive fighter. He knows once he leans his head in and pretends to expose himself, the jab will come.

Football offenses have similar tricks with their blocking schemes. They’re called “Influence” plays. They’re most devastating against well-coached defenses that read their keys properly. You block the play incorrectly (for lack of a better word) in order to take a problematic defender and force him into the wrong area. The defender does exactly what he’s coached to do. The offense just uses his own rules against him.  They’re forcing the counter.

This entry of Every Play Tells a Story looks at how Alabama games the backside of the Florida defense. As designed, the play would get 4-6 yards. It’s a nice call coupled with solid execution. But here, Derrick Henry takes solid and turns it into spectacular with his second-level vision.

For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2016 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – early-bird purchase for April 1 download available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2015 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.

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