20 Personnel RPO Build-Ins to Access Leverage

By Zen Bliss
Head Coach
Prestige Sports Academy (FL)



In my two seasons as an Offensive Coordinator at the Post Graduate level, our Zone Schemes have been a versatile weapon. We used a lot of 20 Personnel. We are going to discuss a simple RPO scheme out of 20 personnel (inside zone with play side and backside glance route). Our RPO structure stays the same every week, meaning we will have game planned route concepts attached to our run plays depending on the defense of our opponent. It’s a simple one word play call. We may have a glance/shoot concept attached to our inside zone on the play side and the backside WR runs a 5-step glance, a hitch/wheel play side and an 8 yard in route by the single side WR attached to any of our run game. The combinations are endless.



What we do is have our RPO practice periods in practice where the concepts are repped 1st on air in an offensive group period. We will take our two QB’s and split the wide receivers and tight ends into two groups and with each QB throwing to each group, then we run scout period where we get to see the different defenses of our opponents, and finally in a live team practice. Except for 5 drop back concepts the RPOs  is our base passing game.

The majority of our run game includes an option component, we are always in search of taking advantage of specific defensive players by putting them in Run/Pass conflict. Our mesh drill has been critical in helping us achieve success in the area of ball security and gaining an understanding of which defender is in conflict for each RPO concept. The mesh drill will involve only the QB’s and RB’s at the base level.

Later we add TE/H’s and receivers as schemes become more complex. We prefer a high number of repetitions in our practices. The drill will allow us to focus on the QB/RB mesh and each player’s reads. We will work the mesh drill for 5 to 7 minutes per practice depending on the following variables:

  1. BASE RUN READS – limiting it to our base runs only. Coaching Point– Spacing is KEY in this drill. We use cones to maintain alignment and landmarks

* Quarterbacks will rotate from Center to Quarterback to Defensive End to out. The Running Backs will rotate from Running Back to Linebacker to out. If we have a TE/H involved, he will rotate from TE/H to Safety or Outside Linebacker to out.

Center – snaps the ball and gives a read to the RB by emulating the movement of a DT.

Running Back
Running Back – execute the called offensive play.
Linebacker – give the RB a read forcing him to use an escape skill.

TE/H – execute the called offensive play. Outside Linebacker – plays defensive force and gives the TE/H a person to fit up on. Once the players master the drill, to maximize reps, we will run two drills at the same time facing one another. We will work every run play in this drill with the main focus on option plays.

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Formation into the Boundary: Non-Traditional Packages that Stress the Defense

By David Weitz
Offensive Coordinator
Hamilton Southeastern High School (IN)
Twitter: @dweitz7



When taking over as an offensive coordinator for the first time one of the biggest problems isn’t finding what to do, it’s finding what not to do. In a world where we have access to so many different resources and tools for developing our knowledge, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. There are so many good schemes out there and all of them work.

When I first took over as an Offensive Coordinator four years ago that was definitely an issue for me. As a lifelong football nerd, I had studied and could talk about a variety of different schemes and offensive systems. I have coached in a Modified Wing T, Traditional Pro, and Up Tempo Spread under some of the greatest offensive minds in the state and arguably the country.

Through experimentation and a lot of bad ideas, I finally arrived at a way of thinking about offensive game planning that fit my brain. I have always been a fan of Flexbone’s systematic approach to attacking a defense. I loved the Up-Tempo Spread’s ability to thin the box out and adjust plays at the line. At the same time, I really enjoyed the misdirection of the Wing-T. We have worked to combine this into a way of thinking about attacking a defense that has been great for our players and coaches.


Why Series

One of the core components of our offense is that we want to make teenagers think. One of the best things I ever heard was from Jayson West who told me “I’m not trying to trick 40 year old’s, they’re smarter than me. I’m trying to trick teenagers.” That has become the foundation of our philosophy and how we approach game planning. The more variables and potential outcomes we can force players to think about before and while the ball is being snapped, the better we will be.

The other thing we really believe in is the idea that we want to have answers. If we are having success running a play a good defense is going to adjust and find a way to stop us. Well they only have 11 players so if they are going to adjust to stop one play, it’s going to open up another one. With a series we are able to exploit that adjustment.

The result is a very systematic way of thinking about play calling. If they are going to stop our Outside Run then that should open up another play. The series based play calling style, made famous in the Tubby Raymond Delaware Wing-T, gives the coordinator answers. Which is one of the things I always loved about the Flexbone and the If-Then style call sheets that Paul Johnson made famous.

The thing that was the big breakthrough for us wasn’t the series system, it was the application of the series system. I had only thought of the series system as a Wing-T or Flexbone type of system. When we looked at the series based system and applied it to our spread formations, we made a huge leap as a program.


Why Formation into the Boundary

When considering different formations and motions that are going to stress the defense it’s always nice to be a little non-traditional. When you are able to get outside of the conventional box you force the defense to play and plan for formations they don’t always see. This is why we love the concept of going formation into the boundary.

With our formation into the boundary series we are going to put the passing strength into the short side of the field. This leaves the defense with a difficult choice, do they put their defensive strength into the boundary and leave open space or do they let us gain an advantage and risk dealing with our quick game.

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Quick Game Shot Concepts

By Scott R. Chisholm
Offensive Coordinator
Cushing High School (OK)
Twitter: @chisholm_scott



Our quick game concepts at Cushing are something that has been developed over the last 10 years.  With the help of many coaches over those ten years, we have developed a concept that we feel is effective going on a week-to-week basis. Much like every other OC I’ve ever heard speak, I have taken most of these concepts from other coaches or programs to fit our needs. One thing that I feel might make our quick game system different from other programs is our “double call” system. We double call our quick game passing; this means we are calling a concept on one side of the offense and another on the other side. Before I became an OC, I came from a system that mirrored quick game on both sides. This was effective but breaking down postseason film we saw situations where if we ran a different concept to the left (or boundary/field) it might be more successful. The overall philosophy of our quick game concept is to give us the best chance to be successful in every play. By double calling our quick game, allows us to attack a defense with different concepts. It also allows us to be extremely creative when making calls.


Double Call System:

First we teach our double calls system, we teach the receivers that we call the concepts left to right (like reading a book). For example, a basic call might be Rip 50 Fade-Stick. The receivers on the left know they are running the “Fade” concept (fade/out) and the receivers on the right know they are running the “Stick” concept (Fade/Stick). We teach all our pass game as “concept” bases. All quick game concepts have one-word names, This means all receivers learn what to do based on the one-word route called to their side.


In diagram one, this is one of our basic double calls. We are calling the Fade concept to the left and our Stick concept to the right. In all of our quick game concepts, the TB is in the routes, usually and the flat route to one side.


In diagram 2 we are running a quick game concept out of a trips formation. Again, left to right, running Slant to the left and our Corner concept to the right.


Quick Game Concepts:

We go into every season with our basic quick game routes. These are routes that everybody has in their playbook, Fade, Slant, Hitch, Stick, Spacing, and Corner. We start running these concepts with the players as early as 7th grade. Again, they all learn the rules of the routes based on the name of the route. Some rules change the routes when concepts are run from trips sets vs. 2 x 2 sets.


Quick Game Shot Plays:

Within our quick game concepts we have built-in some amazingly effective shot plays. A lot of coaches like to take those shot plays out of drop-back max protection formation, allowing for deeper routes. But we feel that we have a better opportunity to get the ball out quickly and attack a defense with quick shots and double moves. We create most of our quick game shot plays off concepts we already use in the quick game, we might just add a double move or wrinkle that makes the routes different.


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11 Build-Ins to Protect the Wide Zone

By Mike Kuchar with Nick Codutti
Head Coach
Fulshear High School (TX)



If you run the wide zone concept as long as Coach Codutti has, chances are you’re going to need to protect it. He self-professes that he “lives and dies” by this concept and as a Pistol and under center outfit, the wide zone is the bedrock of his offensive system. As he tells us, he doesn’t work any double teams or pulls in his system. Everything is based off wide zone. “We just get good at hooking (front side) and cutting (backside) defenders,” he told me.

Fulshear is not a tempo team, so he doesn’t track the zone. Instead, he relies on teaching a numbers system. “We talk about 1, 2, 3, and 4,” he said. “The offensive line is responsible for first linebacker weak if we’re running wide zone weak. If we run wide zone strong, the offensive line knows we are in charge of number two because the FB/TE is responsible for number one strong.”

While the objective of this report is to present the solutions that Coach Codutti uses to protect against common defensive answers, we thought it necessary first to provide an overview on how he teaches the wide zone concept.


Front Side Blocking:


No Combination “Capture the Nipple”

Much of his frontside blocking premise lies in what he calls “capturing the nipple” of the defender.  This is used when there is no combination needed. The objective is to capture the play side of the defender and define the read for the ball carrier.


Play Side Covered Lead Blocker in Combination:

When teaching frontside combinations, the intent is for covered lineman to not get beat away from their help. The hat placement is still the play side nipple, but the emphasis is teaching a strong inside hand, which controls the defender from falling back inside. “We talk about locking the elbow and vice gripping the hand on the ribs.”


Play Side Uncovered Lead Blocker in Combination:

The trail defender in combinations is tasked with responding to three different reactions that a defender can present.


We talked about the importance of a strong inside catch hand in combinations. The strike comes from the backside hand and the screws of the helmet, not the frontside hand. “We have to make contact with backside hand,” he said. “If linemen know they have help on the backside, the backside becomes weaker because they don’t use the catch hand.” Either way the uncovered lineman must make contact in three steps.


Backside Blocking:

While some coaches shy away from cut blocking on the backside, Coach Codutti believes in a “cut at all costs” philosophy. The objective is to get the defender on the ground to eliminate pursuit and define the running lane for the back. The contact is the play side thigh pad of the defender (he calls it biting the apple of the play side knee).


In his system, cut block are so defined that he separated them into three levels:

Level 1– cut low right after the initial snap

Level 2– run and cut after initial snap

Level 3– Fireman carry. Run and grab the front side shoulder and drop


Determining which of these techniques to use is completely predicated based on the leverage of the backside linebacker. He talks about desiring straight lines to his targets. If a defense slows down, the offensive line should not.


Ball Carrier “5-Step Rule:”

Coach Codutti talks about the five step rule when teaching the ball carrier how to tempo the wide zone. He believes that footwork timing should put him on track to either give him a bounce read on the perimeter or a cut read upfield. “We see this play as a whole big dance,” he told me. “If there is no penetration, he will easily get five steps. If there is penetration, he will need to put his foot in the ground and get vertical right away. He will cut off that step every time. By then the gap has either been moved on that fifth step or someone has been hooked on that fifth step. Against a tight (Mint) front the ball will hit in the C gap, and against an Even front the ball with hit in the A gap.”


While some coaches preach an A gap entry point, Coach Codutti doesn’t for fear of the risk of pre-determining anything. “Most kids want to bounce the ball or cut it back,” he said. “If I tell them it’s an A gap play most of the time they will look to cut it back. We’re cutting the backside A gap anyway so the majority of explosive plays happen off Center.”


QB Rules:


Now that the bones of how Coach Codutti teaches the wide zone are explained, the next challenges come with working to protect it from the five common cancellers defenses will use against it.

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Motion Sequences in an RPO Offense

By Javier Cardenas
Offensive Coordinator
Eagle Pass High School (TX)
Twitter: @Coach_JCardenas



I attended a lecture where a college level defensive coordinator laid out key trends about defending spread concepts, including the RPO.  He said defenses have evolved adjustments to defend the spread game by developing defensive personnel and schemes.  He shared two points that resonated with me.

  1. The spread is simple to prepare for since it’s mostly 1 or 2 back sets.
  2. Just as a spread offense seeks to exploit space, the spread gives up much space a defense can attack.


He said the challenge for the defense is to assimilate the game speed of a spread offense in practice.  Finding creative ways to prepare for the speed of the spread game is crucial for defenses.  Essentially, speed stops speed.

The lecture made me reflect and assess the state of our spread game.  How can we enhance and evolve the speed of our athletes and spread concepts to yield maximum advantage and output?  How do we evolve ambitious offensive schemes while maintaining a tough and disciplined identity? Preparing to defend typical spread formations and concepts is simple BUT speed is a key factor in successfully executing the modern day spread offense.

We strive to make motion an integral, meaningful part of our offense rather than using it solely as eye candy. Motion, of course, is not a new idea.  However, we have evolved and personalized motions to fit the strengths of our athletes while aiming to gain speed and space advantages throughout the field.  We want to shed all forms of offensive finesse; this is evident in ALL we do, including using motions.

As part of our RPO identity, using motion to maximize offensive output is the main idea addressed in this report.  But motion is not a stand-alone idea in our offense.  It is part of a broader goal we strive to instill in our athletes through our culture and core values; we will be the best program in ALL we do academically, in the community and in competition.  It is important- at the very least- to mention our core values since it guides ALL we are and ALL we do- including something as simple as preparing our kids to use motion.   Our Core Values: Toughness, Respect, Honesty, Integrity, Sportsmanship and Servant Leadership.



  1. Protects and disguises our base offense identity through our alignment as we try to exploit the space a defense is willing to give up as we build up motions in a game.
  2. Allows creativity and simple progressions.
  3. Displaces base defensive alignments. We try to gain numbers advantages throughout the field by mixing in motion with other concepts to protect our base RPO concepts.



  1. Instills Toughness: Inside Run, Full Speed Motion and Perimeter Blocking (sets up pass progression).
  2. Communication: A silent offense is a dead offense. All are communicating; alignment, adjustments, cadence, motions, corrections and positive reinforcement.
  3. Constantly improve speed / conditioning: Our kids run their best 40 when in motion to give consistency in timing.  It’s amazing what kids do for the program and themselves when we purposely instill a culture of high expectations in ALL we do- even if it’s simply teaching the motion.
  4. Ownership: This one is personal to me. Great teachers are great coaches. Surround yourself with coaches who work to develop the kids we have rather than complaining about the ones we don’t.  Great coaches know how to give kids ownership that aligns with the vision, culture and expectations of the program.  Kids will support what they help create.  Kids work together on cadence, timing of snap and motion progression. Their confidence and football IQ increases.  More importantly, they’ll learn to work together to “figure it out”- which in turn prepares them to overcome unpredictable and strenuous situations encountered in competition.  This is an invaluable skill our athletes will take with them.
  5. Discipline: OL not fazed by shifting defense. QB knows his read progression even with shifting defense. RB knows how his alignment and role within the motion concept. Receivers understand how motion affects defensive alignment and how this affects blocking / passing responsibilities.
  6. Mix, match and switch motions: Start by giving motion concepts to playmakers. Then incorporate others in motions as we work on getting creative throughout the season. Very few changes to what OL does. A few skill guys handle the motions.
  7. Simple adjustments: Motion can be tagged to any menu run, pass or screen. Protect the motion concept by making weekly tweaks via formations, alignments and personnel.  However, the base concepts do not change.
  8. Value and create ownership in getting faster, better conditioned and stronger. Opponents will not be better prepared than us. This process begins in the offseason through personalized speed /lifting/ nutrition/ hydration and rest plans, character education, accountability, fierce competition and purposeful planning that develops the character and maturity of everyone in our program.  This is further enhanced through our track, junior high, after school lifting and conditioning programs. Everything we do works together for the good of our program, our school and our community.
  9. Motion concepts are simple to grasp, fun for the kids and yield great results, including low error rate, reduction in hesitation and explosive plays.


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Game Planning 12 Personnel Nub Side Pop RPO’s

By Justin Vorhies
Head Varsity Football Coach / TE Coach
Cloverleaf High School (OH)



We may all have grown up using the Pop Pass in youth or middle school football, it was my first touchdown pass ever as a QB.  To many coaches, it may seem like a simple concept that can only be used at lower levels.  However, with the right attention to detail to both sides of the ball it can be used as an explosive compliment to a run driven offense.

When you are a run driven offense many teams will stack the box to try and stop the run.  This is especially true when you have a QB who is a run threat.  Teams may also ask players in the secondary to have quicker run responsibilities than they normally would.  This can cause problems in your blocking scheme, it may leave in the box defenders unblocked, and cause frustration among your players and coaches.  Yet over the past few years at Cloverleaf we have come to welcome this defensive adjustment by other teams.


This concept/play simply started off as us calling it a pop pass (i.e. Pro Pop Right).  We found that it did not work as well or as often as we wanted it to.  The adjustment we made was to attach the route to a run play (i.e. Pro Iso Right Pop).  This helped us, but we still felt limited in what we could do.  Since then we have evolved to calling our run play and tagging a single receiver to the route (i.e Pro Iso Rt Y-Pop, Pro Iso Rt. Z-go, Pro Iso Rt. X-Slant, etc.)  This has allowed us to take advantage of any defender in conflict or a space on the field that is not being covered.


Above is an example of how we would block and run our basic Iso Pop play.  Note that everyone except the QB and TE are running their normal Iso play responsibilities.


What to look for:

We are a run concept, gap scheme oriented offense. We will use many formations to take advantage of or best run concepts. The first part of our game planning consists of our staff finding favorable formations to run our best 4-5 run concepts (Iso, Trap, Counter Trey, Sweep/Jet, Power/Power Read).  Once we establish this we now look for big play opportunities off our run game.

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Best Practices: Game Planning the 12 Personnel Run Game

By Paul Callahan
QBs/Offensive Coordinator
Ocean City High School (NJ)



We have been running Sweep (Pin & Pull) from the Shotgun since 2002, initially Q Sweep and over the years we have expanded it to RB sweep with an RPO. We run it from Pro (12) personnel with a TE and H-Back. We do not huddle and run a variety of formations, including unbalanced. Over the past 7 years at Ocean City (NJ) High School (a Group 4 school) we have built our offense around Sweep. In 2020 and 2021 we ran Sweep an average of 11 times a game and were 64% efficient (our goal is 60% and consider 55% good). In addition, we have run inside zone 14 times a game and have been 70% efficient running it in the past two seasons.


Game Planning 12 Personnel Runs:

When game planning, it starts with Sweep. The first questions we ask ourselves: How will they defend us and what are our best looks to run Sweep? We are no different than anyone else since Amos Alonzo Stagg: we are looking to outflank the defense. Initially, we look at the TE/H side formations (Wing & Trey) and try to predict how teams will defend those two.


If a team plays a defender inside of the TE and just a force player outside the H (as in Diagram 1), then we will run Sweep there until they stop it. When we RPO from those formations, we instruct our QB to give the ball to RB every time when there’s a weak side alley and Free Safety, since they do not have enough defenders to stop the sweep (great LBs or 7 tech being the equalizer). To protect Sweep from Tight End/H formation, we run inside split zone, or bluff/raise to split end side forcing the defense to have numbers on the weak side. Additionally, we run Counter-Gap away from Tight End/H and Trap to Tight End/H.


Finally, from strong backs we will run Inside Zone (Duo with a read and our most efficient play over 7 years), Toss, QB Sweep to Tight End/H and away we run zone opposite, Trap, Counter-Gap and at times Power Read.


Of course, we have to throw the ball to keep a deep safety in the middle of the field and a DB over each WR. All of these plays are essential in our planning to protect Sweep and to compliment the play. Years ago, I read the book Vince Lombardi on Football and discovered the ways Coach Lombardi ran the complementary plays to Sweep but as he stated so well at his first install in Green Bay “Gentlemen, if we can make this play work, we will run the football.”

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Ferris State’s In-Season Methods to Universally Train Offensive Lineman

By Sam Parker
Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator
Ferris State University (MI)
Twitter: @coachparker



Ferris State University is a division two football program in western Michigan. We do not have the bells and whistles of other programs. We do not have the same staff size as other schools, so there have been times where I have the offensive line, tight ends, and even running backs by myself. So, out of necessity, I had to learn and teach multiple positions at the same time.

The product of that challenge became an efficient way to train offensive linemen. Streamlining block types and techniques allowed our unit to get a full day of individual work done in ten minutes. It forced me as a coach to trim the fat on our technique, and make it simpler. This allowed players to learn faster and make an impact sooner.

Best of all, I now could have my best five on the field regardless of position. For example, we went into the playoffs, and I moved one of our starting tackles to guard because of a matchup and it was the best offensive line we fielded.


I’ve found this plan is accomplished using a five-step method:



The Pre-Requisite: Identifying what you Got, Want and Need:

It’s important to training multiple positions for offensive line to make these identifications. You must look at the system you run, and how you can benefit the team. Always must be honest with yourself, staff, and players with the following: where you’re at, where you want to be, and where you need to be. If you had all the resources and support you could ever dream of, what would you look like? What do you need? This here is the most important, because it is the very line drawn in the sand to determine a win from a loss. What does your unit need to function? Those needs must be met in order to not only win games, but to develop multi positional offensive linemen. It will also streamline and personalize your individual and practice time.


The Spot-Blocking Philosophy:

At Ferris State, we are an up tempo, no huddle, multi-personnel, multi-formational operation that relies on motion, defender reads and mis-directions to manipulate defenses. Because of this style of offense, we do not want to waste time in making identification calls or pointing out defenders. We also find a lot of teams like movements and blitzes against our offense.

The unpredictable movements of the defense and the pace we practice at allows us to have periods where we’re on air and its applicable.

Because of this, we are committed solely to “spot” blocking all of our run schemes. We talk more about landmarks then defenders. There will always be defenders in locations, and if they are not there we are scoring a touchdown. We don’t talk much about LB’s -they have enough problems with defending RPO’s from sideline to sideline and being consistent tacklers in the box. So, we don’t care about where they are pre-snap we care about where they line up. At the end of the day they have to defend six gaps.

Using spot blocking is tremendous for the players. It is not coach friendly. It is player friendly. Especially if you are asking players to move to multiple spots on the offensive line. It is a universal language that everyone can speak. Terminology is the same for center, guard, tackle. There are small details for each position, but the bulk 85% is transferable.

Using spot blocking, you will not have to worry about a player’s capacity to only know left guard or right tackle. All five players will know exactly what the other one is doing. They will operate as one. In turn, because they know what everyone is doing due to the simplicity of the system, the game will slow down!


“Call Side” vs. “Run Side” Methodology:

In order to understand how we teach spot blocking, it’s important to know that our entire call system offensively is based on two divides: a “call” side and a “run” side. For us, it’s difficult to have front side vs. back side (as most offenses do) because we read the backside of G/T counter but we read the front side of veer so it can be confusing to the offensive line.

  • The Call Side is where we are telling our offensive linemen where the play is hitting
  • The Run Side is where the ball carrier can essentially run the ball. We don’t call it backside because of how we read things.


For example, the quarterback in our scheme will get to LOS and will say “zone right” which is backwards than anyone else in the county because when we say zone right, the offensive line is blocking left. The quarterback is identifying who he reading. Zone right means the QB is reading the C gap defender on the right. That makes it the call side. The run side is where the ball side can crease. Essentially, our system is fit for the QB- whatever is easiest for him. Everyone else adjusts. We needed a unique way to teach it to those guys.

In all of our run concepts, we separate the second level into the following divides:

  • Run Side LB
  • Call Side LB
  • Run Side Edge
  • Call Side Edge



In everything we do, we work the A gap out. We treat the A gaps and B gaps the same way on every play. That way we can protect the QB from any downhill actions. Then we concentrate on C gaps. So, whatever games defenders play on the interior we have a focus on it and we work our way out. The only times our OL calls out things when we have two C gap defenders. Then we let our guys know that there is a blitz or stunt coming. If we talked every time someone came into the box it would halt our tempo. It’s really difficult to be a tempo team and to do motion and shifts. That is a lot for an offensive line to decipher.

The defenses we play are not stable or stagnant. In fact, only 30% of plays defenses are in base alignments like 4-3 or 3-2 or 3-3 looks. The rest of the time it’s goofy fronts and movements, so you waste time working on blocking those stagnant fronts that you never see in during game week. Our offensive line is responsible for seeing what it in front of them, what is behind them and who is on the edge. Essentially, I teach my offensive lineman to look at three things: is there an edge defender, a B gap defender or a C gap defender? If there is a C gap defender and an edge defender chances are the C gap defender is going inside. We are able to make predictions by looking at glances.


Start teaching your schemes with six defenders on the line of scrimmage in each gap. Then move two or three of the defenders back to linebacker alignment. Then add your most common stunts, and blitzes in between base alignments. You will find details that will help your guys be protected and safe. We have plenty at Ferris State that support our scheme, and should never slow us down.

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“Push Player” Role in the Snag Concept

By Johnathan Ramey
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach
Queen City High School (TX)
Twitter: @CoachJRam



Our primary intermediate passing attack revolves around the “Y-Corner”, “Snag”, or “Spot” passing concept as it is more commonly called. For our purposes at Queen City, we use “Houston” as our concept word for our players. We incorporate variations of this concept in our Screen, RPO, Blitz Checks, & Intermediate passing game. As many do, our purpose of this play is to be able to get into the concept many ways while keeping it simple for our players and QB to make the reads and complete the pass.

The main role of our Houston concept is to create a horizontal stretch on the flat defender. It becomes a 3 man scheme on the front side where we are identifying and throwing off the conflict 2 on 1 defender. Our Z is our outside WR that runs the primary route for the play. He is taught to read the hips of the 1st defender inside of him towards the ball. He is often running his route to get behind that player. The Y WR is our “push” player. His job is to push the top off the coverage and make a read off the Safety/Corner structure. We teach the push receiver to run vertically at the flat defender’s shoulder to draw his eyes away from our outside receiver that comes in the middle.

He very rarely is a target for this concept but like all players his job is very important. Arguably the most important job on the field belongs to whoever becomes our #3 WR in the concept. Sometimes that is our Sniffer/TE, our RB in fast motion or screen sets, opposite side WRs in motion or in a formation that places them with the Z&Y. Houston becomes a zone and man concept and the backside complements it based on the weekly matchups and coverages we expect to see.


Before the play is ever thought about being started the WRs are all looking for their reads. In the Houston concept they all know the flat defender is the guy we are looking to expose. The Z is seeing that the flat guy is down low and he knows that we have a motion. Those 2 things indicate to him that this will be a faster throw. Our guys also know that the protection is having our QB half-roll so this should speed up the primary throw (the Z). The Z’s job is simply to get to the far hip behind the flat defender.

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Chris Creighton (Eastern Michigan University)

By Mike Kuchar with Chris Creighton
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Creighton talks about player ownership of culture and how he treats the leaders in his program just like he does his staff. He allows them to run meetings, organize workouts and provide input that can continually adjust or reinforce the culture of the program. “The more invested all of us are, the more we’re going to care about it, the more we’re going to own it, and try to defend it, and make it the way that we want it to go.”

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Herm Edwards (Arizona State University)

By Mike Kuchar with Herm Edwards
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Herm Edwards talks about the distinctions between rules and standards and why he believes in standards not rules. Players are willing to accept standards because the standard tells you something you need to live up to. When you give players rules it basically tells you I am denying you this. Players don’t want rules.

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Pete Shinnick (University of West Florida)

By Mike Kuchar with Pete Shinnick
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Shinnick talks about the methods he uses to understand potential stressors in each of his players so that he and his staff can go about alleviating them. This comes with getting to understand where they come from, what their background is, who’s important to them, and who’s influenced them. How do they handle emotion? Are they an introvert? Are they an extrovert? Are they a problem solver? Are they a visual learner? He and his staff goes into that extent and then just try to find out how they handle conflict.

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Sean Lewis (Kent State University)

By Mike Kuchar with Sean Lewis
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Sean Lewis talks about the importance of creating an atmosphere where players can fail and learn from failure. He says you only fail, or you only lose when you stop and when you quit. The key is to learn from it, you take a lesson from it, and you keep pushing forward and you’re a great success if you’re able to do those things.

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Dave Clawson (Wake Forest University)

By Mike Kuchar with Dave Clawson
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Dave Clawson talks about the importance of teaching successful behaviors and the fact that successful people leave clues, and their clues our behaviors and habits and routines which allow successful people and organizations to continuously be successful.

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Building a Player Driven Culture Interviews: Coach Mack Brown (University of North Carolina)

By Mike Kuchar with Mack Brown
X&O Labs Exclusive Interview



Coach Mack Brown talks about connecting your program with your community and the importance of an all-in process. If you’re not connected to your university, your faculty, your Grass Roots fans, your very wealthy fans then you’re not doing your job because they’ve got to buy in.

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