Any time an offense can get its A-back matched up on a linebacker or safety, it’s a win. While Fort Hays State University (KS) has several of these in its offensive menu, the most productive one has been a Spacing route with a RB wheel complement. Over the last three seasons this concept has yielded a completion rate of over 70% with 10 TDs and 0 interceptions. In this exclusive clinic report, pass game coordinator Philip Vigil details the modifications he uses with the scheme by packaging it with different formations, motions, and protections to keep the defense guessing.
By Philip Vigil
Pass Game Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Fort Hays State University (KS)
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Any good offensive mind will tell you that finding mismatches on the football field will give you a clear advantage. Here at Fort Hays State University we have found success using this motto by getting our running backs matched up with either linebackers or safeties. There are several concepts that we use to get our running backs out of protection and into a route, but one of our best has been a Spacing concept that includes a running back Wheel Route. We have run this concept for the past 3 years and it has become a staple for our offense with answers for every coverage. We have been able to modify the concept by using different formations, motions, and protections to disguise what we are doing and to keep the defense guessing.
Coordinator Coaching Points
- We will only call this play on a hash. We have found that this concept is not as good when ran in the middle of the field. This also makes the landmarks for the route runners consistent throughout the game and therefore removes excess thinking.
- We will use 5 and 6-man protection for this concept. We usually only use 6-man protection if we are facing a heavy blitzing team. By doing this we will allow the QB extra time to get the ball downfield to the RB.
- Once you get good at this concept defenses will begin to key on your RB when your RB is aligned towards the boundary. We have found it helpful to move our RB right before the snap.
Coaching the Routes
- Snag Route (#1 WR to concept side)
- Align at the bottom of the numbers.
- Press vertical for 2 steps then work inside at 45 degrees to find a window at 6 yards.
- If you pass a defender on your way inside then sit down immediately and get your eyes to the quarterback.
- If you see man coverage pre-snap run your route to sit directly in front of the defender who is covering the running back. This essentially becomes a “rub route” for us in man coverage. We coach them not to make contact with the defender, but to merely get in the way. If we get the defender in man coverage on the running back to work under our #1 wide receiver on the Snag route, then we should be able to outrun them creating a big play
- Shallow Route (#2 WR to concept side)
- Attached to LOS or Wing (TE/H) – work vertical for 2 steps and get across the formation as quickly as possible. No more than 5 yards depth.
- Extended WR – Work across the formation as quickly as possible at no more than 5 yards depth.
- Get your eyes to the QB as you run your route and expect the ball.
- We can allow the #2 to sit in an open window across the middle or continue to run on the shallow, depending on the game plan that week.
- Stick Route (#3 WR/TE away from concept side)
- Work vertical for 5 yards pivoting, away from inside defenders and sit in open space.
- Quick Out Route (#2 WR away from concept side)
- Work vertical 4 steps and speed cut outside.
- Get eyes to the quarterback as soon as you start to turn outside.
- No option to sit in space, he has to keep moving outside.
- Vertical Route (#1 WR away from concept side)
- Must outside release to protect the quick out by the #2 WR.
Continue to the full-length version of this report…
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- The details behind the RB Wheel route, including how Coach Vigil drills the RB to adjust his route based off coverage.
- How Coach Vigil teaches the QB drop and progression based on the following: zone look pre-snap, man look pre-snap, zone look post-snap and man look post-snap.
- What tells the QB to do when the defender in man coverage on the RB works over the top of the number one receiver.
- The formation variations Coach Vigil will use to put the running back in a more advantageous situation.
- Plus raw and narrated game film of this concept.
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I hope that this article can help give you another idea of how to effectively involve your running back in the pass game. This concept has been a one of our best here at Fort Hays State University. Thank you for your time and thanks to X&O Labs for creating this forum for us to share.
Meet Coach Vigil: Philip Vigil currently resides in Hays, Kansas with his wife Melanie and their three children Peyton, Ava, and Olivia. Coach Vigil is the Pass Game Coordinator, Recruiting Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at Fort Hays State University under Head Coach Chris Brown. He has been at FHSU for 3 years and has recently wrapped up the best season in Fort Hays Football history going 11-1 and winning the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association Conference (MIAA) Championship. Before coming to Fort Hays State, he was the Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at Colorado Mesa University. Prior to Colorado Mesa he was a graduate assistant at Northwest Missouri State University; coaching running backs under legendary Coach Mel Tjeerdsma and Coach Adam Dorrel. Coach Vigil got his start in the coaching profession under Coach Bob Stitt at Colorado School of Mines. Coach Vigil played quarterback at Colorado Mesas University where he received All-Conference honors.
Key Statistics: This concept has been a staple in our offense the past 3 years since we have installed it. To date we are completing just over 71% of our throws for 773 yards with 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.