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Published by: Michael Schearer on Jan 19, 2012
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The Spread Offense:
Four Receivers Pt.2
By Rich Rodriguez,
Head Coach, West Virginia UniversityExcerpted from "Football Offenses
Plays" with permission fromHuman Kinetics.
o thidw the football effec-tively in the spread offense,
team mast plan what exactlyit wants to accomplish. We wani
make sure that our passing game com-plements our nmning game. Whetherwe run or pass, we want to play fasttempo. We achieve this with
passingsystem that consists of a quick, inter-mediate, and a deep pa.ssing game,coupled with sprint-ouLs and play-action passes coming ofl our base run-ning plays. We want to tiiauge up ihe{[uarterback's launch points.
When we refer
our quick g"ame(figure 8.8), we mean
tlirec-stt-p(hop by the quarterback or. iJ we're
the gtm, the quarterback is in catch-and-lhrow mode. The breaking poinisof tlie routes are ai five yards,
besuccessftil with the quick game, wemust have great rhythm and timing.
Figure 8.8
Quick passing game.
doubles hitch
trips hitch
The offensive line blocks aggre.ssiveliirn-back gap protection, not allow-ing any penetration. Again, the line-men mu.si be aggressive and come offthe football. We want to create clearvision for the quarterback.The running back aggressivelyblocks the edge away from llu- lurii-
back protection, protecting inside-out.The nmniiig back must take a greatpath off the tackle's hip lo get theedge secured.From the gtm, once the quarter-back sectires the snap he drops, catch-
and throws. If
go under center,the quarterback t;ikes a three-step(lrn|>. We really stress rhythm aiul tini-in^f with the hildi game. In terms ofihe quarterback's reads and progres-sions, he'll tliink shortest ibrow, soft-est coverage. He wants lo take the easi-est throw—we want completions! Withthe progression of the route, once theqtiarlerbac
has tletcrniined whichside to attack, he'll work inside-otit,working off the flat defender.The receivers nuist explode off theball. We want lo create a deep feelingin oui' routes. The leceivers will sellthe vertical. I'lie outside leceivers rimihree-step hitches, while the insidereceivers run five-step hitches. We dothis for sp;u ing and to create clear[iictures for the quarterback. Once thereceivers gel to their routes, theysquare tlu ir niinibei"s to tbe quartcr-t);u
and make themselves big. Againthis is a rhyihni- and timing-orientedthrow. Wr really stress tlie rim altertlie catch.
Tlie next passing package we use inlhe spread offense is what we call ibcsmash or liitcli-corner coiice|)l (figure8.9). This concept qualifies as an inter-mediate to deep thruwing play—wehave a deep throw with ihe cornerroute and an intermediate thiow withilif bitch route. We want to put aliigh-low stress on tbe flat player oribe coiner versus rolled coverages. Werun this concepi from dnip-back andalso from sprint-oul; eiilier way, themechanics of the route package staytbe same. Only ihe protection and tbeqtiarterback's mechanics are adjusted.The offensive line works with therunning back in a six-man drop-backpinU'cliou scheme. The offrnsivr line
Figure 8.9 Smash.
oo e o o
a doubles smash
trips smash
is responsible for tbe four tl()wn line-men and tlu' ba( ksific liiu'l>acker.The running back works witb tbeoffensive line to block tbe six defend-ers in ibe Ixix. The rtmning bat
pro-tects inside-<)Ul lo ;i route of choice.We game plan tlie lunning bark'sroute from week to week, biised onthe coverages we're seeing.From ilie gun. ibe quarlerhacksecures tbe snap and fakes a lliree-stepdrop with a hitch. He takes his readsoff the flat defender, reading it highto low or from corner to bitcli. Ifwe're in a 2-3-2 set with a single highsafely alignineiu. we work opposite tbealignmeiil of ibe free saiely. We con-stantly remind our quarterback not toforget his lamning back.Tlie outside receivers run a five-stepbitcb witb a landmark at the bottom oftlie numbers. Tlie inside receivers runa
to 12-yard corner route, initiallytaking a high angle. Spacing on thisplay is crilical to jis succes,s. Versus analley presence on tbe corner rouie, weprefer the inside receiver to take anoulside release, getting
bac k
veriital.and running tbe route off the doublehigh safety. When we lain smash froma
set, tbe number three receiveriiins a vertical seam.
Tbe crease package (figure 8.10) isbased on our sprint game. We Hoodthe outside area of tbe field while put-ting stress on the defense by changingtlie quarterback's launch point. We puta high-low stress on tbe flat defender,while keeping a built-in shot or oppor-tunity for an explosive play with thevertical clear route.
Figure 8.10 Trips sprint.
The offensive line protects with areacli tecbnique. The line works inunison, aggressively reacbiiig lo iliepoint of attack.The ninning back protects thefnint-side edge of tlie spriiit-oul protec-tion, working oui.side-iii, Tlic runningback must be aggressive and in anattacking, downlilll mode.
want toget ibe edge for the (juai terback.Tbe quarterback works bis spriiumechanics. Once tbe snap is scciued,he liuerally attacks the defense, look-ing to hreak contain. We want thequarterback lo he a dual threat, ableto run or throw tbe football. Helooks to tbrow off bis Hfth or seventb
throwing no later than hisninth step. His tliotiglit process is tbesLune as in a drop-back—we reallystress rhyilnn nnd liming of ibe play.Tbe quarlerbat
reads and burstswith a slight bubble wben readingtbe flat defender. He ibrows tbe flatroiue off liis fifth step or the creaseoff his seventh step. He also takes apeek !o tbe vertical clear for tbehonierun siiot. The ([uartci back mustreally work to get his shoulders, hips,and feet in proper throwing positionlo execute lhe llirow.
FOOTBALL The Spread Offense: Four Receivers
The outside receiver runs a verticalclear, with a mandatory outsiderelease. Versus rolled coverages, wetake a niandatoi*y outside rele;Lse toget the comer's eyes off the number-two receiver and allow the quarterbackto throw the hole shot. The number-two receiver nms a
to 15-yard roll-out. We don't want any signs of break-ing down on tlie route. If the flatdefender has expanded with width,the receiver throtdes in the openingas he will not run to get covered. Thenumber-three receiver runs a 5-yardflat roulc, looking to stretch the cover-age immediately. Wlicn number threereaches the top of the niinibers, hethrottles down. If lie gets
yards fromtbe sideline, he siis down and sho\\fsbis numbers to the quarterback.
You need to be able to use and exe-cute screen plays in the spread. Wewant to be able to throw multiplescreens to different players and posi-tions. We want to get the runningbacks and receivers involved in thescreen game.
Dual Read Screen
screen that has heen effective forus is what we call a dual screen (figure
We call it a dual screen becausetwo different screens occur at thesame lime. A running back screen or aswing screen occurs on the front sideof the formation, while a receiverscreen or jail-break screen occurs onthe back side of the fomiation.Sometimes we put the running backscreen on the back side of tbe forma-tion and tbe receiver screen on tlie
Figure 8.11
Dual screen.
front side of the formation. The dualscreen has developed into a universalscreen that's good versus man or zonecoverage teams.The backside offensive tackle passsets the defensive end. The backsideguard sets, punches, and relea.ses outto the flat area. The center sets,punches, and releases down the lineof scrimmage to tbe alley. The play-side guard sets, punches, and releas-es down tbe line of scrimmage to theinside. The playside tackle pass sets,flashes, and releases down the line ofscrimmage to the alley. It's importantthat the offensive line works flat
their landmarks on the field.Tbe running back opens quick andfast, looking to get an immediatestretch to clear the defensive end.The running back executes a swingroute, or wbat some people call aflare. The running back doesn't wantto lose any ground, .\fter tbe catch,he finds tbe alley and gets verticalupfield, reading the blocks of thepulling offensive linemen.After securing the snap, tbe quar-terback takes a quick three-step dropwith bis eyes on tbe rushing defensiveend to the running back's side or tbeswing side of tbe screen. If the defen-sive end bends or the quarterback hasa clear picture of the running back, hethrows it to tbe rimning back. Ballpositioning is crkical becau.se we wantthe ball to skim the running back'sbreast plate, turning him into a run-ner. We don't want the rnnning backto bave to reacb back for tbe football.If the defensive end hugs or peels tocover tbe Rinning hack, die quarter-back stops and throws back to theother side, where we're executing Lhereceiver screen or jail-break portion ofthe dual screen. Again, ball positioningis very important to Lbe play. The quar-terback needs to put tbe ball in ihenumbers of the receiver, right tliroughhis chest.Tbe receivers opposite lbe ninningback or swing side of tlie screen runtlie receiver or jail-break screen. Theinside receiver (number two) executeswhat we call a trap block, blocking tbedefender over tbe number-one receiv-er (the receiver who's catching thefoothall). The receiver performing tbetrap block must force tbe defender lowork underneath and not over the topof the block. The outside receiver(number one) pushes upfield forthree steps, then retraces his steps toget in position lo be
yard bebind theline of scrimmage. The tighter tliecoverage, the wider the receiver willwork upfield wiib bis three steps. Wepush up tbe field for three sleps fortiming purposes. This gives the quar-terback dme to read tbe backsidedefensive end. If the ball is throvm
the receiver, he reads the alley and theblocks occurring on bis side of tbescreen. Once he makes liis read, hewants to get vertical up the field.The receivers on the runningback's side of tlie fonnation swingside, block base, or man over. Theymust do a great job of pulling them-selves in the proper body position tosustain their blocks on the perimeter.As a change-up versus man coverageteams,we employ a crack scheme tothe running back's side of the screen,in which tbe inside receiver (numbertwo) cracks ihe frontside inside line-backer, and the offensive tackle stillruns tbe alley
(figure 8.12).
Figure 8.12
Dual screen with crack
Bubbie Screen
the screen family, the staple ofthe spread offense is what's commonlycalled a bubble screen, or an uncov-ered screen (figure
The bubblescreen is tlirown to tlie slot or inside

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