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sfilBy Will Cinelli, Assistant Coach, University of Saint Francis (IL)

Discover how St. Francis has meshed the Power Read with the trap to address various fronts they see throughout the season.



By Will Cinelli

Assistant Coach

University of Saint Francis (IL)



sfilIt is astounding how universal the Power Read play has become in such a short period of time. This new innovation has changed the run game at every level of football and has become one of the most trusted weapons in the arsenal of many offensive coordinators. For a long time, it was almost like stealing every time an offense called this play. The defense couldn’t be right! Of course, the guys on that side of the ball are good coaches, too, and have started to catch up. Defensive coordinators have lots of new tricks to stop this play, especially if offenses become over-reliant upon Power Read. That is why we at the University of St. Francis (IL) now utilize the complementary Trap Read play.

Philosophy of Concept:

At St. Francis, we had become a big Power Read team. Our quarterback was an excellent runner and we felt the play fit our personnel. Our main two ways of running the play were out of 20-personnel or with some sort of Jet motion. For the purpose of simplicity, my diagrams will be mostly out of the 20-personnel set. We prefer to run the Power Read to an open side (with no tight end attached to that side of the formation), so that we can read someone who is closer to the quarterback. We feel that this makes the read easier and quicker for the quarterbacks and reduces the “gray area” of the play. We have always had the rule “give… unless” for all of our read game, whether in Zone Read or Power Read. We want the ball to be handed off unless the quarterback is sure that his read will make the tackle. Then, he can keep it (Diagram 1).


Why the Trap Read Instead of the Power Read?

We had tremendous success with this play for a long period of time. As I mentioned in my introduction, though, defenses began to understand the play better and now do things to take it away.The biggest problem was when the defensive end would tackle the dive (in this case the quarterback) and the play side linebacker would scrape over the top and chase down the give. This requires tremendous discipline by the defensive end to always do his job and come flat down the line every time. But, as the Power Read play has become more popular and defensive coordinators have dedicated more time to practicing their defensive responsibilities, they have also become better at this defensive technique. This was especially problematic whenever we would run Jet motion, a crucial component of our offensive system. The linebackers would already be moving naturally with the flow of the motion, which allowed them to get a running start. As long as the defense had a good athlete at the play side linebacker spot and correctly executed their responsibilities, they could limit the amount of success we had with this play. We would “crack” the box with our receiver to that side. This enhanced the effectiveness of the play (Diagram 2).


As we continued to run the play, linebackers got even better at shooting the gap and attacking the outside give. Sometimes they would scrape so tight to the edge of the box that our slot receiver could not get there. There were times where we did block him but it would happen so close to the runner that it would bounce the play outside and allow the rest of the defense to rally and make the tackle for a minimal gain.

Our offensive staff at St. Francis is not one that likes to call plays based on a hunch, though. Our philosophy is that the defense does not have to do the same thing the next time you run the same play. The solution to our problem had to be one that was schematically sound, but provided us protection against teams that were overplaying the outside give. Additionally, we like to keep things simple for our players. We didn’t want to teach a multitude of new techniques or schemes if we didn’t have to do so.

That is when we learned about the Trap Read play. It’s based on the old “Long Trap” play that has been around for a long time. It only changes the responsibilities of two people, the quarterback and the pulling guard. (Diagrams 3 and 4)


Problem Solving the Concept:

Problem #1: Sometimes this play happens too fast. The guard can’t get to the end in time and the backer stays in the box. You’ll get a give read for the QB, but the DE is in the way because the guard hasn’t made his block yet.

Solution: Your guards need to be pretty athletic to pull this off. If you have a statue there, he’ll end up being in the way more than anything. We have actually widened the splits of our running backs to help the timing of this play. If we were running Jet motion (Diagram 5), we would rather snap the ball too early rather than too late. This forces the QB and ball carrier to slow things down and allow the blocking up front to develop.


Problem #2: QBs will miss reads.

Solution: This is unavoidable. This is actually one of the reads that our quarterbacks have the least trouble with. Some of the best advice I’ve heard, though, in running these types of plays is that if your quarterback is getting the majority of his reads correct (above 75%), you’re going to have a pretty successful day. We are constantly reminding ourselves as a staff that we can’t get discouraged when a read is missed. If a play is schematically sound, we must come back to it later in the game.



Your Next Steps…

X&O Labs Insiders members, please click here to login and get the full-length version of this clinic report. Here’s a short list of what Coach Cinelli reveals:

  • Why this concept produces far more QB keeps than traditional power read.
  • Why Coach Cinelli varies the pull technique of the back side guard.
  • How the quarterback identifies and reacts to the movement key.
  • The #1 thing you should do when the defensive end wrong arms the trap block.
  • What to do if your back side Guard is not quick enough on his pull.
  • VIDEO: Watch Coach Cinelli’s game film on the trap read concept.


Get Full Access: Join X&O Labs’ exclusive Insiders membership program and gain full access to Coach Cinelli’s clinic report and game film… Click here to join now.




I want to thank you for taking the time to read my clinic report. I think this is an exciting addition that will be a big part of your offense should you choose to implement it. If you have any questions or suggestions, please post in the comments section below.


Author’s Bio:  Will Cinelli returned this year for his second stint as a member of the Saints’ coaching staff after spending the 2013 campaign as an assistant coach at Montana Tech. From 2009-12, Cinelli coached running backs, tight ends and offensive linemen during his initial tenure at St. Francis.





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