Scaffolding option routes are based around accessing spacing, but in order to access space, the offense must create it. This is why University of North Dakota wide receivers coach Danny Freund chooses to utilize his option route concepts from both stack and bunch formations. It gives the QB a chance to get the ball out quickly and allows receivers to get open against different coverage looks. In his clinic report, Coach Freund details how he attacks the common defensive coverage checks he sees against these looks.
By Danny Freund
Wide Receivers Coach
University of North Dakota (ND)
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We will detail our 5-yard option routes and concepts from the wide receiver position in this report. The option routes give us a chance to get the ball out quickly and allow our wide receivers to get open against different coverage looks. We will talk about some of the details we teach in reading the coverage and how to run the route to maximize yards after catch.
We had success running the option routes out of a stack (2 WR) and bunch (3 WR) alignments. We will discuss the concepts and adjustments against zone and man coverage. The first thing we ask the receivers to identify pre-snap is man or zone coverage. Determining man or zone gives them a good idea of how they will best run their routes.
In a stack or bunch set, they think man coverage if there is press coverage on one of the receivers. Another thing to look for to determine coverage is number of defenders – if it’s three defenders defending a 3 WR bunch look, then it’s most likely man coverage. If it’s two defenders versus the 2 WR stack, then it’s some sort of man. If the defense plays four-on-three against a bunch or three-on-two versus a stack, then we assume zone.
In our option route concepts, reading the zone coverage is important because a Cover 2 or “cloud” corner in the flat will adjust the option route. We typically ask our option route to read an “open” or “closed” flat versus zone coverage. A “closed” flat would mean the receiver sees a zone corner playing Cover 2 or Cloud technique, taking away our access to the flat.
Stack WR Option Route Concept
This concept we run from 2x2 or 3x1 formations. Our inside wide receiver in the stack runs widen departure Dig route at roughly 12 yards. He needs to stay flat at the top of the route. We widen departure for three to four steps based on our tighter alignment. If the concept is coming from the field side, we prefer the Dig to be caught around the hash.
If the ball is on a hash, we want the split of the Dig receiver to be 1-2 yards inside the hash. If we put the “stack” into the boundary, we want the split of the Dig receiver about 2 yards on top of the numbers. The split is critical because it helps spacing and throwing windows for both routes.
The outside receiver in the “stack” alignment runs the five-step option route. We want him to execute a small lateral “skip” release on the snap. The skip release allows the Dig route to clear and get the two routes on different levels. After the skip release to the inside, the option runner will push vertical for five steps in the “vapor trail” of the Dig runner. We want the skip release to the inside, as it creates a mini “switch” release between the two receivers.
After five steps he will break out, break in or “hitch up” in the zone. We give the option route a few general rules to simplify his read. Against any coverage, if he sees an “open flat” we want him to break out at five yards. If he sees a hard flat defender where the “flat area” is closed, he will settle in the zone and he basically run a hitch. We give the wide receiver the option to break in and run in if the middle opens up completely. An example would be a blitz where both inside linebackers are on.
We prefer to break out against man coverage on the option route. We think it is a cleaner throw for the quarterback and a greater chance for yards after catch. We want to make sure the quarterback and wide receiver are on the same page so we anticipate throws and get the ball on him out of the break.
Bunch WR Option Route Concept
This concept we run from a 3x1 bunch formation. The bunch can be “tight” or extended out to the hash. The three receivers’ routes from outside in are: Dig, shallow, option route.
Continue to the full-length version of this report…
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- The split rules he uses for receivers based on boundary and field divide.
- Why Coach Freund widens the departure angle on the Dig route.
- Why Coach Freund uses a “skip” step for the five-step option route.
- The “open flat” vs. “closed flat” rules he gives his option route receiver based on coverage.
- Why the shallow route is a viable alternative to solicit space for the dig route.
- Plus, game film on all these concepts.
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Thank you for letting me share thoughts on our wide receiver option routes and concepts. I think we will continue to improve and add to these concepts. They have become staples in our playbook and we can be more efficient with certain coaching points and details against different looks. We can also add different personnel to the concepts and keep the coaching points similar.
Meet Coach Freund: Coach Freund currently coaches wide receivers at his alma mater, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. He has coached at UND for seven seasons and worked with the running backs and quarterbacks prior to taking over the wide receivers the last 4 seasons under Coach Bubba Schweigert. Freund’s first college coaching experience was as a graduate assistant QB coach at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.