As two-high overhang defenses began to eliminate the wheel portion of Power Read PAP, something needed to be done to elongate the launch point and provide options for the QB’s read. So, WPI (MA) offensive coordinator Matt Kelly found ways to extend the play by fine tuning the seam route and getting “three” out to the boundary.
By Matt Kelly
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
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Every play action concept is understood to take advantage of the defense, focusing on the run action; being able to attack voids left by those displaced defenders. For us at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) we run a majority of Power Read and Buck Sweep (same backfield action, different blocking scheme). WPI installed a play action pass that essentially becomes a flood concept with an inside stem vertical; a wheel and a trail wheel to attack the support players in each defense that we see. This is not a common action, resulting in naming this “Power Read Pass” to simplify for our student-athletes, instead of naming each route individually.
The passing concept is similar to a flood type concept. Instead of the routes breaking out, they will all continue vertical. Although you may not think of it as a “flood”, plotting the points, where the routes end for a flood concept would result in the same end points in this concept.
At WPI, we have changed the reading pattern, making it as simple as possible for our quarter back. His progression is to read top down, but at WPI we instruct to read defenders. For this concept, we begin with the Corner, (Safety should not matter with how tight we run the #1 WR route) moving to the Overhand/flat player to the hook/curl player. Our focus is to hit the tight seam route on a line first, and then the wheel, with the trail wheel being a check down.
RB Route Rules:
Wheel routes are run differently within our offense depending on the alignment of the back. If he is in any position near the line of scrimmage, we teach the wheel as an arrow initially, with the RB getting width over depth and turning up once he hits the bottom of the numbers. When he is aligned in the backfield, we tell him to go right now, aiming for the bottom of the numbers. Once on the vertical part of the route, fade rules apply, no further towards the sideline than ½ way between the numbers and the sideline, to give the QB room to throw away from defenders.
QB Coaching Points:
Upon catching the snap, we will have the QB watch the boundary safety for coverage clues/identification. With our Play action, we have him peek during cadence, once he catches the snap for the blitzer that would make him hot backside. Once sure of that, he looks to the boundary or in this case his near safety. He will take two shuffle steps like he is reading the defensive end (RB/WR is responsible for the mesh, as he would normally be looking at the C Gap defender anyway). During his shuffles he should see what is happening in front of him and should align he feet/body to be able to throw the seam/wheel before having to change his stance arrow and body alignment to throw the trail wheel.
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- How placing the sniffer on the backside of the protection scheme elongated the launch point for the quarterback.
- Why Coach Kelly teaches the X to take three vertical steps before looking back for the ball on his seam route.
- The “trail wheel” route that Coach Kelly universally teaches to any skill player to run the wheel component of the concept.
- The “Taser Pass” variation of the concept that allowed for more solid protection on the backside of the scheme, which takes four weak rushers for the QB to throw hot.
- The jet sweep variation that Coach Kelly uses as part of the scheme.
- Plus, game film on both these concepts.
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This concept has become a staple for WPI in our passing attack. We find different ways to implement this concept every week during game planning. For WPI, we use this concept as a way to protect our base runs. With play-actions, run-actions passes, and Run-Pass-Options, your goal should be to “protect” your base runs. As an offensive coach, you should install and game plan with your best runs first, following with all the extra fun on the perimeter.
Meet Coach Kelly: 2017 was his first season as Offensive Coordinator after being on staff at WPI for three seasons, including the 2016 season as Passing Game Coordinator. This past season WPI as a team tied the record for most wins in a season (9) and won the first post season game in school history (New England Bowl over SUNY Maritime). Offensively this season WPI set the record for most points scored in a single season and Sophomore Running Back Sean McAllen set the single-season rushing record. After the 2016 season, Quarterback Danny Eckler set All-Time School records for most yards passing and most total yards of offense.