See how Coach Fertitta has developed a comprehensive boot catelog that gives his QB / team options each week. Read it here...
By Gabe Fertitta
Head Football Coach
Catholic High School (LA)
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Boots and pocket moving plays have always been a very important part of our offense at Catholic. Each game, we try to have about 4 or 5 different boots in our game plan. Initially, in Spring and Fall camp, we will teach the basic boots that surely all of you have run in the past. These boots act as the starting point for the variety that we seek throughout the season. Over the last 4 years, we have averaged calling about 4 to 5 boots per game. We feel that boots accomplish a few things:
- They help to keep the defense honest in their run game/pass game conflicts.
- They act as great drive starters or ways to get the quarterback back on schedule.
- Boots also allow us to break tendencies and play with the eyes of the defenders.
- They help protect some of our mostimportant runs.
General Design Philosophy
When we look at designing boots for a game plan, we generally are looking to get the ball into the flats relatively quickly and put defenders who have run/pass responsibilities in conflict. We are not a heavy "post-snap" RPO team. We love the "pre-snap" RPO game and will run some very simple post snap RPO reads. We see the boot game as our way to conflict defenders with run and pass responsibilities and not ask too much of our quarterback in terms of quick decisions to hand off the ball or throw a pass.
Once we have figured out how we want to get the ball into the flats relatively quickly, we will then develop the rest of our triangle read. Typically this involves a deeper comeback type of route from an outside receiver and a crossing route from the backside of the formation.
In years past, we tried to come up with a steadfast rule for boots. If you were the #1 receiver to the boot you ran this route, #2 this route, etc. However, in getting creative with our boot game, we realized that trying to fit boots into this type of system was extremely restricting. Now, we simply call boots by a family of similar objects. The basic idea for us in calling/naming boots is to not make it complicated. Give the boot a name and call it a day.
Other areas we consider when planning to incorporate boots are tendencies by formation or personnel group. We know that we create some heavy tendencies when it comes to certain personnel groups or formations. As long as we know about these tendencies, then we can choose to break them when it benefits us. We generally try to add boots into our game plan out of formations and personnel groups that scream run to the defense.
For the purposes of this report, I will assume that you already are running some of the staple boots in your offense. Hopefully, the examples below will help you to add some variety into your boot game.
One of the popular ways for offenses to get the ball on the perimeter lately has been what we call “solid” plays. These plays are when receivers are blocking downfield and the ball is thrown on the line of scrimmage to a player in flats. You can see many offenses that utilize this in the zone read game. These plays allow the offense to read and control the extra defender that can play in the box and still relate to perimeter passing game. We teach these reads as pre-snap decisions to our quarterback. Here is an example of a “solid” zone run from our offense. Notice the extra defender outside the box that widens with the H when he runs the arrow route. The quarterback hands the ball off and we have controlled the extra defender.
This first example is the most basic way that we run the play. We pull both Guards toward the fake and slide the H underneath to a two-receiver surface. Notice that the officials threw a flag on us for blocking downfield. Remind officials in your pregame conference that you will be throwing these boots and catching them on the line of scrimmage. They eventually picked up the flag.
The second example is a great way to break tendencies in your offense. We use a wide variety of formations and personnel groups in our offense. Many times, we use unbalanced formations that cover up receivers. This makes designing passing plays problematic in these formations. One way you can still throw the ball in these formations is by utilizing solid boots in your game plan. We motion into a double H set with receivers covering each other up on the wide side of the field. Everything about this formation screams run into the boundary. We further use that tendency when we pull both guards and lead with the first H and fake the sweep into the boundary.
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- The Buck Sweep Boot Concept that Coach Fertitta uses to supplant Buck Sweep RPO schemes and how he prevents his alignment from going downfield.
- How varying tight end attached and tight end detached formations slow defensive reaction time in the boot game.
- The double flat Boot concept that Coach Fertitta “stole” from the New Orleans Saints playbook.
- How he adjusts his “pin” blocking scheme to combat hard squeezes by the boot side defensive end.
- Plus, game film on all these Boot concepts.
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When the boot pass game is packaged with varying route progressions by receivers and blocking angles by the offensive line it becomes very difficult to defend. Couple those progressions with a dual-threat quarterback on the perimeter, and it becomes nearly impossible for the defense to defend them.
Meet Coach Fertitta: Gabe Fertitta is the head football coach at Catholic High of Baton Rouge, LA. This season, Catholic High finished 11-3 and won their second Division 1 state championship in the last three years. This season included victories over nationally ranked Evangel and John Curtis in the state playoffs. In 2015, while Fertitta served as the Offensive Coordinator, Catholic won the Division 1 State Championship in Louisiana’s highest classification. Prior to arriving at Catholic, Fertitta was the head football coach at St. Stanislaus High School in Bay St. Louis, MS. While there, his teams made history by being the first team in Mississippi High School football history to go from winless in one regular season to undefeated in the next. In 2013, St. Stanislaus advanced to the state quarterfinals and lost to the eventual state champions. Prior to working at St. Stanislaus, Fertitta was the offensive coordinator at Itawamba Community College in Fulton, MS.