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madisonBy Mike Martin, Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, Madison High School (OH),

By pairing of four verticals with a QB draw element the Blue Steaks finished 10-2, averaged 35 yards a completion and five scrambles that netted 13.5 yards per carry with four of five resulting in first downs. Coach Martin details this concept here.


By Mike Martin
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach
Madison High School (OH)
Twitter: @MikeMartin98

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madisonThis past season we really needed to look at the factor of efficiency. We are a 65% run game team, mostly from 11 personnel out of shotgun formations. It was critically important for us to take a look at the time we were investing into pass concepts and make sure that the time put into teaching and improving was yielding proper results. So what we implemented was a time saving, simple solution to increase productivity that turned our 4 verticals into more of an every down play by pairing it with our QB draw.

In the end, the results spoke for themselves. This past year we called 25 reps of 4 verticals. Of those 25, we had 12 completions that averaged 35 yards per completion and led to 4 touchdowns. In addition, there were 5 read progression scrambles that averaged 13.5 yards with 4 of the 5 resulting in first downs. The remaining reps resulted in 3 called pass interferences, 4 incompletions, and 1 interception. So when looking at the play, we are very happy with an efficiency rate where 25 reps resulted in 19 first downs or scores. My offseason breakdown tells me that we should have run it more.

Route Progression:

In 4 verticals, we are a landmark team running vertical release routes outside the numbers on the outside and on the outside of the hash marks up the middle (we call it the barrel). 2x2 sets make that easy (Diagram 1).


The only time we really change the basics of the route is if we are in closed trips, which is a favorite formation for us. When we are in closed trips we turn that attached receiver’s route into a corner route to get to his landmark shoulder turned back that way.

In the past, I have taught various route adjustments against to two high coverages. We have used “benders” and “sit downs” at times, but we have found that these options were not comfortable for anyone. The end result was just wasting a lot of time.



Read Progression:

The read progression for this play is where the efficiency of the play has escalated. For those that are not familiar with R4, it is based loosely of a route timing/QB footwork combination that is in sync. The read progression moves from a rhythm route, to a read route to a rush route. It’s a one, two, three progression obviously. As I said before, to get four routes that are all basically the same route to break on different times is a difficult thing. Which, according to the football textbook, you should empty out and put the running back into a drive or angle or sit route of some sort to create that third layer. This is where we changed the concept and designed for efficiency over convention.

Constraint to the QB’s Read:

Pre-snap, the QB is making a decision to read either the barrel (hash mark verticals) or the outside vertical to the barrel. That pre-snap decision will give him a 1-2 read. When we are dealing with the barrel, we want the QB to choose the barrel vertical that will give us the best opportunity for a quick completion as our 1 or rhythm read. If that route is collisioned, he should move on to his second read (read route) which would be the other vertical hash route. He will need to locate and decide if that vertical tube in the field is capped.

Protection Adjustments:

In our base drop back game, we have several protections, but we most heavily rely on a man/slide protection. All we really did was incorporate man/slide into this concept, but make the man side of the protection is extremely aggressive. In this concept, the man side changed to isolation blocking instead of traditional pass protection blocking. With them accounting for down linemen, this did not at all become a problem with offensive linemen down field because they were engaged on the first level.

Game Film: 4 Verts With QB Draw RPO

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders (an exclusive membership-based website) and get the full-length version of this clinic report. Here’s just a small list of what Coach Martin reveals in this powerful report:

  • What route adjustments Coach Martin choose to use against two high coverages, which was different than traditional benders or sit downs routes.
  • How the draw element of the concept is built into the quarterback’s progression.
  • How Coach Martin adjusted the concept for “coming out” scenarios, backed up inside his own ten yard line.
  • How the footwork progression of the quarterback is tied to his read progression.
  • How changing protection from a man/slide concept to an isolation concept helps the rhythm route by putting the play side linebacker in a bind.
  • VIDEO: Watch Coach Martin’s game film on this concept.

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Most modern offenses have instituted some sort of version of 4 verticals. This is just the way we have figured out how to help our offense become much more efficient with the play. By increasing output and explosiveness without getting too expensive from a time spent in practice aspect. Once we got the teaching points where we needed them, it really proved to be a very efficient part of our overall pass package.

Meet Coach Martin: Mike Martin has been an assistant coach at Madison High School for 17 years. He has been the QB coach and Offensive Coordinator for the last 10 years. His offense has averaged 43 ppg game the last two years and the program has three playoff wins in the state of Ohio the last two years.



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Here's a complete list of all the RPO concepts available on video:

▪ Stick Draw 
▪ Stretch Stick Draw
▪ Empty Stick Draw Concept 
▪ Free Access Throws
▪ Vertical Settle 
▪ Zone Seam 
▪ Bolt 
▪ ROW 
▪ Outside Zone/Seam 
▪ TFS Trips Pop 
▪ Zone Cup Pop 
▪ Horn
▪ Double Pop Out 
▪ Power Double Out 
▪ ISO Read 
▪ Power Read 
▪ Power Hitch 
▪ Quads Bubble 
▪ Smoke Screen 
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