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By Nick Coleman, Offensive Coordinator, Itawamba Community College (MS)

Like most two-high defensive structures, the boundary safety is asked to play both an exterior gap in the run game and a vertical threat in the pass game. It makes him extremely vulnerable in the RPO game if the QB can read his intentions successfully. Nick Coleman, the OC at Itawamba Community College (MS) combined one of his top run concepts, Counter Trey, to his most productive weak side vertical routes to produce a third level RPO which gives the QB five built in post-snap options. The Indians finished third nationally at the JUCO level in total offense this season, registering 563 yards per game. Read the report here.


By Nick Coleman
Offensive Coordinator
Itawamba Community College (MS)
Twitter: @QB_CoachColeman

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colemanMost RPO concepts involve quick game tags off of the run game. While these can be very effective concepts, we also wanted ways to stretch the field with RPOs as well. The offensive philosophy behind our Trey concept is to make the defense cover the field vertically. This not only gives us a chance at larger chunk plays, but it also serves to control the safeties that are looking to stick their nose into the run game.

Base Concept:

This concept is based out of 3x1 and allows the QB to have five options on any given play. We can run the play both towards and away from trips in this formation. The routes are as follows:

  • The #1 receivers on both sides are running 5 step glance routes on the outside.
  • The #2 receiver in trips runs a bubble route.
  • The #3 receiver in trips is also running a 5 step glance concept in the middle of the field.

While we predominately ran this piece away from the trips this season, there certainly are opportunities to be had running it trips and out of other formations.

We like to pair this concept with our inside zone, power, and outside zone with an RPO action. To modify the play for the RPO, we will use our back side tackle as a “lock player” instead of the full zone concept. This gives our QB more protection to make this throw.


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  • The post-snap option Coach Coleman gives to the QB based on the reaction of the reaction of the weak safety
  • The post-snap option Coach Coleman gives to the QB based on the reaction of the box linebacker closest to the #3 receiver.
  • The post-snap option Coach Coleman gives to the QB based on if the field safety leverages the number three receiver vertically.
  • Film and coaching points of the “Texas Drill” that Coach Coleman uses to drill the QB on making the right read.
  • Plus game film on this RPO concept.

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The philosophy we take on RPO concepts is to take strong points in the team’s pass game and match it up with the strengths in the team’s run game. This may be a combination of zone/power/stretch with stick/out/hitch. Whatever it is, we believe as coaches it is about matching the strong points of the team’s run and pass game together.

This concept allowed us to do just that by matching our top run concepts with safety reads that work the routes we threw effectively. They also gave us a chance at bigger chunks, which is obviously something we desired as well. I hope that this has been helpful and I wish you all the best of luck moving into this coming season.

Meet Coach Coleman: Coach Nick Coleman is entering his fourth season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at ICC. He spent three seasons at Faulkner University as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In his first year there, Coleman played a key role in the development of two-time NAIA All-American quarterback, Josh Hollingsworth, who led the nation in almost all passing statistical categories. In his final season with the Eagles, his offense was ranked among the top in all NAIA categories. At Itawamba he’s coached two QBs that have signed FBS football (Kwadra Griggs, Southern Miss) (Peyton Bender, Kansas). The Itawamba offense lead the conference in virtually every passing category in 2016.



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