QB Run Game From Empty Sets

Oct 15, 2017 | Offense, Run Game, 10/00 Personnel Concepts, Draws and Isolations, Personnel

By Coach Matt Burleson
Head Football Coach
Telfair County HS (GA)


At Telfair County High School we are a shotgun, no-huddle offense. We will run a good amount of inside zone and jet sweep with the various passes off of each concept. Our personal philosophy about being in the shotgun is our quarterbacks have to be able to run the ball. They don’t have to be game breakers, but they do need to make the defense account for them in the run game.  This past season our quarterback, who runs in the high 4.7s, rushed for nearly 700 yards and 12 touchdowns.

One of our favorite ways to get our quarterback the ball is in our Empty formations. We have several different ways to get to an empty formation, but we feel this is a great way to thin out the middle of the defense. We can do this with our without our jet action, but we have two main variations that we use to run the quarterback up the middle to keep the linebackers honest and keep those chains moving: the dive and the trap. As you will see it is essentially the same play for our quarterback and it doesn’t cost us anything extra with our lineman as we already run these variations with our running back.  This approach is simple, but effective.

When we arrived here four years ago we were a Hybrid Double Wing offense primarily under center. Everything was built around the Jet and Rocket Sweep. Just as in every offense, you have complimentary run and pass plays off your bread and butter; ours at the time were play action pass, fullback dive and trap. As we have moved more towards exclusive shotgun formations we felt our complimentary run plays needed to change a bit for our jet sweep. In turn, we added the quarterback dive and trap. Year two, our quarterback was more of a pocket passer, but we would run him 3-5 times a game off of our jet sweep just to keep the defense honest. The young man was actually fairly successful when his number was called (averaging 6.8 yards a carry) and it made our jet sweep more effective. Years 3 and 4, we have been fortunate to have more athletic quarterbacks so we have been able to be more frequent with the QB Dive and Trap and with much success. In fact, our two quarterbacks combined for nearly 1000 yards this year off these two plays. In our playoff game, we rushed for over 300 yards with 200 coming from our quarterbacks.

QB Dive

The first variation of our QB inside run game is our bread and butter QB run play out of Empty.  We will use this play in any area of the field and in nearly every down and distance situation that we encounter throughout a game.   If we come out in empty and the defense is giving us some form of a 5 man box we typically will not even use motion as we have the numbers we like to run the QB Dive (Diagram 1). If we are encountering a fast flow defense we will run this play as a complimentary off our Jet Sweep action to widen the play side LB and DE, this makes for an easier block for our play side OT up to the LB. We will not block the DE to the motion side. We will allow the threat of the jet sweep take care of him. Now we are back to a 5 on 5 situation (Diagram 2).