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Sprint Option – A short yardage pass scheme By John Anderson The “Sprint Option” is a play used in short yardage

situations. This play is best utilized when facing a cover three coverage, or most man coverage schemes. The objective of this article is to establish how this seemingly simplistic play can provide a great short yardage scheme, and a punch to your passing game in certain situations. Though, this route still depends on two wide receivers to the play side of the formation, the variations can be as multiple as your imagination. This is not an exhaustive look into this concept, but this is the way we did it and were successful with it. There are a number of benefits for moving the pocket: 1) Gets the quarterback away from pressure, 2) Changes the launching point for the pass in that it is a unfamiliar angle for the defensive backs to defend, 3) Creating a soft edge in which the quarterback can get a better look at the coverage, and to run if necessary. Also, I wish to demonstrate how the blocking scheme is flexible to multiple formations and personnel packages. With the use of a few simple techniques and angles, we can disguise our intentions successfully.

The pass progression is simple. This is the same read as the “Denver” scheme, in that it checks the shoot route (flat) right away. If the slot defender runs with the slot receiver to the flat, the quarterback has the slant route quickly developing in the vacated area. This is especially true in a “jam” technique. If the slot defender is playing four or more yards off, and he still turns his hips and runs with the slot receiver, then this is still a valid open option for the quarterback. If the slot receiver is covered, and the slant is also covered, this may force the quarterback to scramble outside. The slot receiver should continue on to the

sideline and take his defender with him, while the outside receiver running the slant, breaks off his pattern at six to eight yards deep and breaks back to the outside to make an effort to get open. Its that simple! Of course, the quarterback has the option to throw it away if he doesn’t get what he wants. There is the other option of using a more mobile quarterback to try to run and break the containment of the defense. But, we will not be discussing that option here. When facing situations where you have two receivers matching up against two defenders, this scheme should be a completion every single time. With the exception of mental and technique errors, there is really no reason why this scheme should not produce results. It is a short yardage solution in an offense where timing, repetition, and high percentage passing culminate.

The “Sprint Shoot” has come along since the West Coast offense’s early days, and developed into a slightly different scheme within a scheme. It is now a scheme that can read and react to the different types of defensive coverage’s you may see. (Discussed later in the article). This is the type of Sprint Series you will want to use against defensive backs who are playing off of the receivers. You will want to take advantage of their depth. Quarterback drop/roll – Five step drop, on a 45 degree angle, putting the quarterback approximately 3-4 yards behind the called side offensive tackle. Follow reading progression. Primary – Slot Receiver, Secondary – Wide Receiver. Split End route – Route called (Option-Slant and break back, Shoot – Stalk CB or run Hook route, Y Corner – run the five yard hitch route angled to the sideline).

The split end is instructed on "Sprint Option" to run the slant route until he reaches a depth of 9-10 yards. At this point, if the ball is not there, he breaks off the route an runs directly back to the sideline on a flat course. He must fight to get away from the coverage along the back boundary. If he is running along the back boundary of the end zone, he has to expect the ball high. Flanker route – Route called (Option & Shoot route- run the shoot Route, Y Corner – Run the 12-15 yard Corner route).

Tight End Blocking Assignments – The blocking scheme is designed to create a soft edge to the call side. We will hinge the back side and wall everything off. The blocking back on backside of the play has to pick up any penetration from the "B" gap all the way out to the perimeter. We want to have a plan to block the seven and eight man fronts with our regular personnel. With eligible receivers on the back side, this sets up the possibility of a screen later to the backside. We use two different personnel groups with this play:

1) Regular Personnel – With the two backs blocking the front side edge
and the back side containment, incorporating a two wide receiver grouping in a slot to the play side,

2) Our "Posse" personnel grouping that carries our three wide receiver
package, with a tight end blocking the play side edge, and our running back filling the back side. Fullback technique – Seal backside. The fullback is responsible for any penetration from the weak side "B" gap all the way to the perimeter on the weak side. If there is no penetration, he scans for the first man who appears outside the tight end. (This assumes that the fullback is on the tight end side, away from the slot as there would be with a "Change" call). Halfback technique – Block the EMLOS (EMLOS – End Man on the Line Of Scrimmage). (This assumes the halfback is on the slot side). Pin the defender to the LOS and allow no penetration. (This assumes that the halfback is on the slot side, away from the tight end as there would be with a "Change" call). Backside Tight End Technique – Step with your outside foot inside, Slide with your inside foot, Protect the "C" gap and then turn back out hinging the back edge of the protection.

Play Side Tight End techniques (Posse) – We use two techniques for the edge blocking. We teach the “reach”, and we also teach the “long reach”. They are actually the same technique, but exercised at different angles on the snap of the ball. We also have an additional block installed upon bringing the tight end in motion across the formation to seal the containment player on the corner. We call this the “rolling chip”.

Sprint Option from our "Posse" personnel package From our single back formation, we still use the same blocking scheme , but we are disguising the play by bringing the tight end in motion from the back side and giving him the half backs blocking responsibility to give us a soft edge. The running back now has the fullbacks responsibility of containing the back side. We have extended the third wide receiver from a tight position to spread the secondary coverage. In our one back formations, we want the running back to assume the fullbacks job on the back side to stop any penetration. Just as we wanted to have a plan to block the seven and eight man pressure packages with our regular personnel, we want to have a plan to block the six and seven man pressure packages from our Posse personnel. We use the "rolling chip" technique when using a one back formation. The “reach” and “long reach” are the techniques used when the tight end is lined up on the play side. When the tight end is aligned on the back side, and brought in motion is where you will use the “rolling chip”. He is instructed to seal the EMLOS, just as the halfback would in our two back formation. If he doubles down on a 5 technique with tackle help, the tackle has to watch for any linebacker coming up in to the "B" gap. This two-on-one to the 5 technique "Trey's" anything from the "B" gap out. The "trey" being a blocking term in our zone blocking scheme for the tackle and tight end double teaming #3 into the next level.

If a blitzer shows up in the Wide 5 technique area, the tight end must pin him to the line of scrimmage, and the tackle will pin anything from the 5 area inside. The tight end will let him skate down the line of scrimmage, but never allow him to get up field and get penetration.

Overall Blocking Responsibilities
Off Tight End Off Tackle Off Guard Center Play Side Guard Play Side Tackle Play Side TE H-Back (FB/U) Running Back "Hinge" Protection Rules – Back Side "C" Gap Must set a tough edge & kick back "Hinge" Protection Rules – Back Side "B" Gap "Hinge" Protection Rules – Back Side "A" Gap "Hinge" Protection Rules – Front Side "A" Gap Block "2"/"1" Technique – Post Block "5" Technique then fill "B" Gap – "4" If Chip is on Stand up EMLOS (End Man on Line of Scrimmage) Allow No Penetration!! Stop any penetration from Off Side "B" Gap to the back side perimeter. Attack EMLOS (End Man on Line of Scrimmage) if on slot side. Fill back side "B" gap if in I-back or back side of the formation. Sprint Series Action Pattern Called Pattern Called

Quarterback Split End (X) Flanker (Z)

Notes:
Play side tackle seals the inside gap versus any reduction. "Hog" any "2" technique to the open side. This is similar to a "Gang" call we may use versus a stacked tilt set. "1" call any "1" technique look to the play side without a tight end. May use "Gang" call versus the stacked tilt set with the tight end on the play side. Backside uses "Hinge" protection principles.

Since this is a cutoff type of block, allowing our quarterback to get to the perimeter, we have to stop and sustain the containment player in this scheme. We don’t want this player gaining any penetration at the edge. We will allow the tight end to ride him down the line of scrimmage if need be, but we really like to have him sealed if possible. Now, we use the “reach” and “long reach” when the tight end aligns on the called side. Reach – Reach hat to the outside number. Lead step with the near foot. Engage- Square up and sustain. (Used if tight end is on the strong side of the formation, as the EMLOS or “End Man on the Line of Scrimmage”). Long Reach – Reach hat through the outside number. Lead step with the near foot to get outside position. Try to hook the defender and sustain. (Used if tight end is on the strong side of the formation as the EMLOS or “End Man on the Line of Scrimmage”). Rolling Chip – This is a seal block on the end man on the line-ofscrimmage. We call the rolling chip block to seal the man who is aligned in front of the tackle, when he is the “end man”. The tight end comes in motion and squares up as he approaches the backside of the tackle. His purpose is to chip the end man and maintain the edge, while he is scanning looking for blitzes from defensive backs or linebackers aligned wide. He must also be be wary of looping stunts coming from the inside-out. The objective is to seal him into his tackle help inside. But, initially we want him to look for the 7 technique who may be aligned wide outside of the offensive tackle. If the tight end aligns on the backside of the play, he may be called upon to either hinge block, or run the shallow crossing route coming across the formation into the eyes of the quarterback.

Sprint Y Corner – This play is in the playbooks of many teams. This play tries to make a play using the width of the field to force a single coverage situation on the wide receivers. The key is the play of the outside cornerback as to whether he turns and runs with the corner route behind him, or squats on the short hook route that is trying to widen. This is a simple frontback read on the corner. A high arching pass to the cone is a must in this pass pattern. I added this route into this article to demonstrate the multiplicity of the pass protection.

Sprint Shoot – This is a multi-purpose type of play in the scheme. The Sprint Shoot is designed to take advantage of any scheme that tries to use multiple coverage’s against the slot formation. Different defenses will try to confuse the receivers as to what coverage they will see on a given down. Usually, the defenses will play inside or a head up technique on the slot receiver. The outside receiver will more than likely pick up a number of looks from the cornerback in front of him, and probably a safety lurking in the area. You will want to use this play against most zone coverage’s. But, you can use this play

to also screen out the outside defender in man coverage.

On the above play, the outside defender is playing as part of a Cover Three zone. He gives too much ground to the split end, and is no threat to the shoot route underneath. The split end will push outside for five-six yards, then straighten his route. The split end will straighten his route up and execute a hook route at 10-12 yards. For a defense, it is a futile exercise to line up 8-12 yards off the line of scrimmage while trying to defend this play in a shorter yardage situation. But, you can utilize this play to pick up a easy gain if you have a speed mismatch versus the slot defender on first down. But, you will normally see the outside corner up much tighter than that on a shorter yardage situation. The quarterback reads the second defender inside as to where to go with the ball. In this case, he will get Cover Three. He looks at the reaction of the second defender to the shoot route. What he looks for is to whether the second short defender chases the shoot route, or drifts back into the hook route that is developing behind him. This is a typical front-back option that reads the second short defender. Since the outside corner is in the line of sight area, we also want to make sure this defender turns his hips and runs with our split end, and doesn’t squat on the slot receiver.

Beating Cover Two Corners
Versus two inside techniques by the cornerbacks give a good indication of man coverage on the outside. In the case of man coverage, we teach the split end to look for two different possibilities: either a fade route, or a stalk technique to screen the first short defender from providing support for the shoot route. We try first to get the corner to turn his hips and run with our split end, and run himself out of the play. If he tries to break it off and give support to the second short defender, then the split end must break down and stalk block the corner from getting to the sideline. The reason for this is to provide

a running lane for "run after catch" yardage or "RAC" yards. The quarterbacks read in any man coverage is to go to the shoot route, where the slot receiver is trying to run away from the defender in front of him. He must believe that the split end will do his job.

When facing teams running two deep zone coverage, you can be flexible enough to take advantage of the seam route open up behind first short defender. Since we were a strong running team to the tight end side from a slot formation, we could see the safeties begin to cheat over to the tight end side of the formation. This created an opening for us to hit a big play several times. One of two things is going to happen if you try this against a cover two defense. The defense will either check to a coverage that gives them a better chance of success, or leave that seam area open down the sideline. We saw many times, that a defense had an audible call to a cover three coverage, in which as noted above we already have a plan for. In conclusion, we have examined how to use a simplistic route combination, while adding variations to disguise our intentions, and get the maximum results from a short yardage scheme, We demonstrated the multiple variations of the blocking scheme to show how flexible the scheme actually was, and still stay fundamentally sound.

(Published February 2001, Re-Released March 2009)