The post-snap RPO game places a significant amount of stress on the quarterback to make the right post-snap read. Even if your system is just dabbling with post-snap RPO concepts, it’s a process that takes thousands of reps to get right. For Albion College (MI), whose entire system is over 70 percent RPOs, quarterbacks coach Stephen Wasil organizes his drill work around four main components: getting the ball out quickly on screens, reading LBs on screens and quick game as well as reading the secondary for third level RPOs. According to Coach Wasil, these four drills have enabled his QBs the ability to shrink the RPO game into smaller segments and afford them the opportunity to concentrate on 2 or 3 defenders in key areas on the field. Read the report.
By Stephen Wasil
Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers Coach
Albion College (MI)
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The concept of this report is to provide a handful of drills that I use for our quarterbacks to help keep them consistent with their RPO techniques. I believe these drills help train the quarterbacks eyes, rhythm, and delivery during our called RPOs. In our system, the quarterback’s eyes must first take him to the correct area on the field with the defenders for him to read. At the same time, he must get into the rhythm of the play and mesh point with the running back. From there, the defenders will tell him when and how to deliver the ball.
We have general rules for the delivery of each RPO, but all are subject to change based on the leverage of the defender. Any routes thrown as timing routes to the sideline (hitch, quick outs), we want delivered as possession throws towards the sideline. We will take the 5-7 yards and move on to the next play. If the receiver can break a tackle or make a defender miss, that is a bonus for us on these types of RPOs.
In a similar fashion, routes that work off the LBs or make a more aggressive path towards the tackle box must be looked at as possession throws with a chance for an explosive play. With more defenders in the middle of the field (linebackers, strong safeties, drop-down safeties), we want these throws delivered as body throws. We want the ball in an area on the receiver’s body so he can protect himself if needed, but also helps the receiver catch the ball with confidence in both the QB’s read and the opportunity to turn this into an explosive play.
We us a systematic approach to setting up our RPO read drills. During the early stages of fall camp, we will install the basics of our offense as well as going against basic looks from our defense. So, I try and use individual time to work on some of the throws I have seen our quarterbacks make in the past and adjust the individual drills from that point. During the season, we will only work the RPO reads and defenders we are trying to manipulate based on the game-plan for that week.
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- Coaching points and film of the Rapid Throw Screen Drill, which helps the quarterback understand how fast the ball needs to be thrown in situations where leverage dictates the throw.
- Coaching points and film of the Reading LBs on Screens Drill, which helps the quarterback identify and react off of blitzing, expanding and indecisive LBs.
- Coaching points and film of the Reading LBs on Quick Game Drill, which helps the quarterback identify and react off of box, edge and apexed LBs.
- Coaching points and film of the Reading Secondary with RPO Concepts Drill, which helps the quarterback “set the mound” and make multiple post-snap reads based off the reaction of third level defenders.
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Using RPOs can be a difficult task for an opposing defense to try and defend throughout a game. However, if you do not have a QB that is confident with what he is looking at, the offense can make life easier on the defense.
Every year, I have a crop of freshman QBs come in who are wide-eyed and generally overwhelmed with the post-snap decision making process. That doesn’t even mention all while trying to feel the running back’s mesh point, watch the defenders, know where the receivers are going to be, throw an accurate ball and so on.
These four drills have enabled our QBs the ability to shrink the RPO game into smaller segments and afford them the opportunity to concentrate on 2 or 3 defenders in key areas on the field. It also helps them see the movements of the defenders and tells them when, how, and why the ball should be delivered to a certain offensive player without the threat of the defensive line.
Some form of these drills will be used at a minimum, once during our individual period. During the special teams’ periods in practice, I slow it down even more and I am able to get more in-depth with some of these drills.
The base of each drill is very similar, but they teach and train the QB to see and feel different parts of the offense and how everything fits together. I believe if our players understand “the why” behind what they are doing which gives them ownership and confidence in running our offense.
Meet Coach Wasil: Coach Wasil has been the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater Albion College (D3, Michigan) since 2013. He was part of the offensive staff that installed our current Up-Tempo No-Huddle System using multiple RPO concepts in 2013. Prior to that position, Wasil served as a volunteer assistant (2011), played area ball (2007-2012), and student assisted at Albion (2006).