the pinned defender and catch the ball onthe outside shoulder. By doing this, it real-ly does not matter how tight the coverageis, he uses his body to protect the ball fromthe defender.It takes a lot of time and practice to getgood at the skill of catching the ball overthe shoulder, which is why we came up withthe Over-the-Shoulder drill. If quarterbacksare available, it benefits them to get used tothe concept of ball placement, but a coachcan do the same for the receivers. We getthe receivers in close proximity to wherethere are at on the field, such as outsidereceivers on the numbers and insidereceivers on the hash mark and get themrunning in place around 15-20 yards upfield. The quarterback will be in the middleof the field and will place the ball over thereceiver’s outside shoulder a few yards infront of them (Diagram 6). This getsreceivers used to keeping their body insideand adjusting to the ball being outside. Youcan get a lot of repetitions in because thereis not much running involved.The one individual drill we work with thequarterbacks is the bucket drill. The firstpart of this drill is working on fade throws. Aregular sized trash can is placed approxi-mately 25 yards up field, half way betweenthe numbers and the hash marks. Thequarterbacks will take a three-step drop andtry to place the ball into the trash can(Diagram 7). This forces them to put airunder the football, otherwise the ball has nochance to get in the bucket. We want thisthrow in a game because it reduces howaccurate the throw needs to be. By puttingthe ball up in the air, it gives the receiver achance to adjust to the ball to make thecatch. The second part of this drill is on thegoaline. We adjust the quarterbacks toaround the five yard line and the bucket tothe back corner of the end zone. The quar-terback now takes a one step drop andagain throws the ball with enough air tomake the ball go into the bucket (Diagram8). Typically after practice, all the quarter-backs will get together and compete againsteach other to see who can make the mostthrows into the bucket.Most of the practices we have willinvolve a 10-minute, one-on-one periodwith the defensive backs. For the first fiveminutes, we work open field routes in whichwe encourage as much vertical routes aspossible. The receivers align as close asthey can to where they will be aligning in agame to get them comfortable with theirsurroundings (Diagram 9). The second fiveminutes, we move the entire drill to the fiveyard line to work on goaline routes. Theroutes typically stay the same, we just wanteveryone to get used to a shorter field.Again we encourage as many verticalroutes as possible.
Runningbacks Rolein the Vertical Scheme
The runningback at Texas Tech has tohave the ability to effectively block (passprotect), catch the ball and run the ball. On95 percent of our pass plays, including thefour verticals, our back has a protectionassignment and route assignment. Themost important thing to our offense fromthe back position is that he be able to iden-tify fronts, recognize blitz and use propertechnique to pick up the blitzing linebackeror defensive back. The back also has tohave the ability to see whether the defensewill blitz very quickly.The quicker he rec-ognizes that there is no blitz, the quicker hecan release and stretch the defense. Onour four vertical passing game, the backwill first check his assignment and thenrelease and run a five-yard option route.Since we are a team that throws theball, our back has to excel in pass protec-tion. Our runningbacks use almost thesame principles and techniques that ouroffensive linemen are taught. If a runningback uses the proper technique, it does notmatter how big he is, he can get the jobdone. There are five things that have to bedone in order to ensure that our runningback can pick up the blitz.1. Step up and get inside leverage.2. Keep head up.3. Use your hands.4. Keep a base.5. Move feet.If our running back can execute thesefive techniques, we feel that he can be suc-cessful in picking up the blitz.On the four vertical routes, if the backgets no blitz, he will release to a five-yardoption route. There are basically threethings that can happen when the backreleases. The defense will drop into zone,play loose man, or play tight man. Theback has to recognize what the defense isplaying because in each of the differentcoverage’s, the back has to make slightadjustments to the route. If the back recog-nizes zone coverage, he will release to fiveyards, turn back to the quarterback and sitdown. If he stays uncovered, he will notmove and wait for the quarterback to throwthe ball. If the quarterback throws him theball, he will tuck the ball and get straight upfield (Diagram 10).If the back recognizes man coverage (orthe backer just sits), he will run right at thedefender and try and step on his toes. Hewants to make the defender think that hewill run by him and hopefully this will loosenhim. As he breaks the cushion of thedefender, he will stick his toe in the groundand break either in or out. The back needs
Diagram 6Diagram 7Diagram 8Diagram 9