The Clemson Shotgun Quick Game Passing Attack

Brad Scott Offensive Coordinator Clemson University Clemson, S.C.

Rick Stockstill Wide Receivers Coach

irst of all, let me say what a great honor it is for the Clemson offensive staff to speak to you today. On behalf of our head coach Tommy Bowden we would like to express our gratitude to the AFCA and the program committee for this opportunity. Rick Stockstill, who is our wide receivers coach, Burton Burns who coaches our running backs and our offensive line coach Ron West along with myself will each spend a little time with you this morning. As with any offensive system, several aspects must be executed with consistent precision in order to effectively move the ball and score points. One of the most important aspects that we feel is crucial to our success is the quick passing game. Because we run about 80 percent of our offense out of the shotgun, we must be able to execute the quick game out of the gun as well. As everyone knows, you must have crisp timing in your execution of the quick passing game. We feel our timing is often better in the shotgun than it would be under center. We will still go under center on occasion with the traditional quick three-step drop (one big and two gather steps), but we prefer to be in the shotgun and use a catch and throw with our quick game route packages. The components of our quick game include the following facets: The Snap One advantage of the shotgun game is that the zone dropping linebackers or secondary won't get as fast a read that a quick pass is coming as they would if the quarterback went under center and did his quick three-step drop. So instead of buzzing flat underneath routes, the linebackers/defensive backs must hesitate a little longer to clear the run or drop-back passing game. Another advantage of the shotgun is that the quarterback (especially if he is under six feet tall) can get a better pre-snap read of the defense because he is lining up five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Our pre-snap read will determine which side of the formation the quarterback will work after snap. If the snap is poor (extremely high or low) then the shotgun becomes a disadvantage because the quarterback has to shift his eyes completely to the ball and he will lose his pre-snap read. We want our centers to snap the ball firmly around chest-high and preferably to the right side of the quarterback's chest (if the quarterback is right-handed). The


important thing with the center snap is that it is firm and consistent. If the snap is consistently to the left of the quarterback, then you can move the quarterback’s stance to the left to compensate. It is also important that the centers work diligently on their snaps while taking their protection steps (either man or gap protection). It helps to have a flexible center and he must be able to sit on the ball to be effective. A high snap is often the result of a center's rear end raising up to soon. Our quarterback will line up five yards from the ball with his arms out (but elbows bent) to receive the snap with a slightly staggered stance (right foot to left heel) with the feet underneath the arm-pits. The Catch and Throw The quarterback will get a pre-snap read before the cadence and then prepare himself to catch and throw the ball as quickly as possible. We use the analogy that he is a shortstop in baseball preparing to turn the double play as he will move his hips and his feet while his hands work to get the laces on the ball. It is important that the quarterback work his hands and feet quickly and that he is surveying the coverage as he gets the laces. The quarterback (with a decent snap) should be able to catch and throw in 1.4 seconds or less. We work on this technique more that any other in practice and the best drill we do for this is when we feed a quarterback five balls from a bag as quick as we can and he must catch and throw them with accuracy. Because we will determine what side of the field we will attack with our pre-snap read, the quarterback's eyes can focus on the ball with peripheral vision on that half of the field as he readies his feet, hips, and shoulders for the throw. And we remind our quarterback's, timing and accuracy are more important than velocity. The Routes All of our quick game routes (except the fade) have pre determined steps so it is important that our wide receivers get in a good stance and do not false step. They must be physical and quick versus press man and they must attack the defender's outside shoulder on the snap (slot receivers will attack over their alignment in zone coverage). Alignment It is very important in our many formations that our wide receivers have the prop-

Burton Burns Runningbacks Coach

Ron West Offensive Line Coach

• Proceedings • 78th AFCA Convention • 2001 •

er alignment on all of our plays and spacing is very critical in our quick game. Our base alignment in our four wide receiver set has our outside receiver to the short side (X) five yards from the sideline; our outside wide receiver to the wide side (Z) is five yards outside the hash; our inside receiver to the short side of the (H) splits the difference between the X and offensive tackle; our strongside slot (Y) lines up one yard inside the hash. As a general rule, in nearly all of our formations the wide receiver will always have five to six yards between them and the nearest offensive player. Our receivers have their inside foot up in their stance. Our quarterback is five yards from the ball in the shotgun, with our tailback also at five yards directly behind the tackle. The Protections We will use either a gap or man protection-based on our formation. However, occasionally the protection will be based on the defensive scheme we are attacking if the formation allows for either man or gap protection. In both cases, our offensive line will be aggressive on the line of scrimmage and will attack the mid-section of the rushers to keep their hands down and not allow penetration. The Read Most of our quick game route packages are mirrored routes so we can work on either side of the defense. This allows our quarterback to have a helpful pre-snap read and to force the defense to balance their coverage from sideline to sideline. Our quarterback will always locate the free safety before each snap and then take a quick pre-snap read of the coverage before having the ball snapped. With the many disguises, rolled coverages and variety of coverages that are employed with today's defenses the quarterback must not rely solely on the pre-snap read to determine where to throw, it will, however, help him to pick a side to work. The post-snap read depends on the route package but most of the time it is the flat defender (a corner with a two-safety look or a Will linebacker/strong safety with a single look). Quick Game Route Packages We have four quick game route packages that we will use in every game. We like to use a multitude of formations with each package, particularly with all of our

spread formations. We feel that the execution of these packages is vital for us in order to have an answer for the many different defenses that we could face. T h e s e four packages include: Hitch

Diagram 3

Diagram 1

Diagram 4

Diagram 2
Quarterback: Pre-snap read the coverage; post-snap read the flat defender. Catch and throw (you may need to squeeze the trigger and hold the ball for a fraction of a second if it is Cover 3 and the flat defender sits in the throwing lane). Notes: We like to throw the slant versus a two-deep safety defense and we will sometimes have the back fake a run play before he protects to hold the outside linebackers. Fade/Bow

Wide Receivers: Run five step hitch (sell the fade); inside foot is always up it the stance; snap head and elbow back to quarterback on fifth snap. Tailback: In backfield, block protection in no-back formation, run hitch. Offensive Line: Man or gap aggression protection. Quarterback: Pre-snap read for softest coverage; if the coverage is equally soft, then work the shortest throw; post-snap read the flat defender to the side you pick. Catch and throw as quickly as possible. Notes: We like to throw the hitch package out of many formations and the wide receiver's will not convert their route on the run if the corner squats or lines up in press. We will, however, change to another package (slant or fade/bow) before the snap if we think it is a hard, two-deep corner or if we like one of our match-ups in press coverage. Slant Wide Receivers: Run three step slant (attack outside shoulder of defender) and in at about 45 angle. NEVER go behind the defender. Inside (slot) receivers should break flatter verses press coverage. Tailbacks: Block protection of play fake in front of the quarterback. (Diagram 4). Offensive Line: Man or gap aggression protection.

Diagram 5

Wide Receivers: Outside receivers (X & Z) run a fade route (must outside release); inside receivers run a four-step speed out. (We call this a bow route) The X & Z must fight to stay at least three yards in bounds. Tailbacks: Block protection or play fake. Offensive Line: Man or gap aggression protection. Quarterback: Pre-snap read the coverage; post-snap read the flat defender or find the best match-up versus man coverage. Catch and throw as quickly as possible. Versus hard corner two-deep stick the ball in the hole to X or Z. When throwing the

• Proceedings • 78th AFCA Convention • 2001 •

fade DON'T throw the ball out-of-boundsDrop it in the bucket about three yards from the sideline. Notes: We put an orange line on our practice fields three yards from the sidelines so our wide receivers and quarterbacks will know their landmarks on the fade route. Skinny Wide Receivers: Outside receivers (X & Z) run a five-step skinny post. Attack the outside shoulder of the defender and give him a good "stick" move on your fifth step and then break in at about a 60 angle. You should not cross the hash mark. Inside receivers (Y & H) will shuffle for width on the snap and slightly turn your numbers to the quarterback for easier target.

Diagram 6

Notes: It is obviously a better route verses a single safety defense and we will sometimes check out of the package if we know they are playing two-deep. The quarterback may squeeze the trigger, like a slant route, if the flat defender is playing in between the skinny and shuffle routes. Conclusion As previously mentioned, we feel that the efficient execution of our shotgun quick game is one of the most important components of our offense. We devote a lot of practice time to each area of the quick game and feel we can put a lot of stress on the defense by using the route package out of many formations.

Tailbacks: Block protection on play fake. O-Line: Man or gap aggression protection. Quarterback: Pre-snap read the coverage; post-snap read the flat defender. Versus a single safety look be prepared to throw away from middle safety if he cheats to one side (see him with your peripheral vision as you get the laces).

AFCA Districts
District 1 Division I-A: Sun Belt Conference Division I-AA: Atlantic 10 Conference, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Hofstra Division II, Division III: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. District 2 Division I-A: Big East Conference, Navy. Division I-AA: Patriot League, Northeast Conference Division II, Division III: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia District 3 Division I-A: Atlantic Coast Conference Division I-AA: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Southern Conference, Charleston Southern, Liberty, Wofford, Elon Division II, Division III: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and District of Columbia District 4 Division I-A: Southeastern Conference, Central Florida, South Florida Division I-AA: Ohio Valley Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, Samford, Western Kentucky Division II, Division III: Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia Louisiana and Florida District 5 Division I-A: Big Ten Conference, Notre Dame Division I-AA: Pioneer Football League, Gateway Conference Division II, Division III: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan District 6 Division I-A: Big Twelve Conference Division I-AA: None Division II, Division III: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska District 7 Division I-A: Conference USA, Mid-American Conference Division I-AA: Southland Conference Division II, Division III: Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri District 8 Division I-A: Western Athletic Conference Division I-AA: Big Sky Conference, Southern Utah Division II, Division III: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana District 9 Division I-A: Pacific 10 Conference Division I-AA: Cal Poly-SLO, St. Mary’s Division II, Division III: Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska

• Proceedings • 78th AFCA Convention • 2001 •

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