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fbst1By Saj Thakkar, Running Backs Coach, Fitchburg State University

Run Pass option concepts are becoming more and more prevelent in the game and this Fitchburg State is using the Run Pass option methodology to combine their quicks and zone read causing defenses to have to defend more of the field every play.  Find out more here...


By Saj Thakkar - @saj1726

Running Backs Coach

Fitchburg State University

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The Inside Zone read has become a staple offensive play across the country from the pop warner levels all the way to the NFL with quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, etc.

One problem with the zone read concept is that it exposes your quarterback to more hits and over a course of a full season and those hits add up. A problem we had to solve was keeping our smaller, true freshmen quarterback healthy while also being productive on offense. After researching offense from UCLA and Villanova, we knew our answer would be the run/pass read game. This concept is being used throughout the country and we do not want to take credit for being innovators, however, after using it we now know why this concept is becoming more and more common.

Our run pass combo game lead to us having the most productive offense our university has had in over ten years while leading to our quarterback winning the ECAC Division-III Rookie of the Year with 25 touchdown passes. We also had an all conference running back and had a receiver break the school single season touchdown record.

Formations With the Stick Read:

We installed the play out of our base trio (3x1 open) set. Although there are many formations we have used with this concept, this was the easiest to teach and install.


*Notice that the W, most inside receiver on the trio side is on the line of scrimmage. This worked out better for timing purposes.

RPO vs. 4-3 With Two-High:


RPO vs. 3-4 With Two-High:


Quarterback Reads:

  1. Look at the backside WR pre snap, if it is your #1 in a winnable matchup; get him the ball on an option route depending on the leverage of the corner.
  2. Run Inside Zone with the TB and read 1st LB in the box to the play side:
    • If the 1st LB in the box goes with the fake to play the run, throw the stick route.
    • If the 1st LB in the box is hesitant and takes away the stick window, give the inside zone to the TB and carry out fake.
  3. If the QB does not like the look he is getting in the box, run the play as a three-step concept.


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These are only a few variations of the run/pass combo scheme. The best part of this concept is that it can be adjusted to what ever you do well as an offense.  For example a slant by the #2 WR will end up essentially in the same spot as the stick. To use this successfully you do not need the quarterback with the strongest arm or with the most athleticism. You need a quarterback who is a quick decision maker with a quick release and a very unselfish group of backs and receivers around him.  I would like to thank X&O Labs for reaching out and asking me to contribute. If anyone has any questions or wants to talk more about this or any concept feel free to reach out to me at sthakkar@fitchburgstate.edu.





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