By Cole Kristynik
Cypress Springs High School (TX)
A trendy offensive phrase is to “play in space.” To many, that could mean bubble, smoke or swing screens. At Cypress Springs, we use all three of these at times when the defense gives us luxury looks to do so. Our sense of space or the holes we want to puncture tends to be further down the field. We are members of the RPO group and they have been a big part of what we do for a while now. We use the 3x1 Stick/Gift Concept, Glance Routes, Screens, among others.
That said, the WIN Slant/Fin route combination has taken us to another level in the past few years. A big component of this is our constant evolvement of this route combination. One of the first additions we made was to not just attach it to a run but to also use it off a hard Half Slide play action. This allows the Win Slant route to find more depth, space and pierce a hole in the defense in more areas. This is what frustrates defenses, along with our ability to get the ball out of our hand with lightning speed and a confidence that our WR’s will find the space.
There is no doubt that some defenses know what we are trying to do, but they do not always account for the multiplicity and options of the routes. At times they try to overplay and rotate coverage where they think the routes are designed to hit. The truth is we do not always know where the vacated space will be pre-snap. In some instances, we have not executed upfront picking up a blitz or our undersized OL may be overwhelmed and allow penetration with defenders on a path to our QB, but the mesh freezes enough for a quick pull and deal of the ball. The RPO version is our best way to run option.
Rules and Coaching Points
When we RPO this concept we use Locked Zone (Diagram 1) about 70% of the time. We have also have used Split Zone, Double Fold, 2 Back Iso and G/H Power. We prefer the latter with our Single WR tags and 3rd level reads, another piece of the RPO and Play Action route Family.
Offensive Line Notes:
This article is more about the multiplicity of the route concept and pairing it with a leverage beating Gift side as a RPO or using Play action. However, in Diagram 1 we will see the highest percentage RPO scheme. Some call it Tight Zone, we use the term Locked Zone.
RPO version with Locked Zone in 2x2.
Called Side: Gift
The gift side has been key screens, option hitch routes, and other quick leverage beaters. Note that when we do bubble it is a small step controlled crawfish to get corners to trigger outside of #1 while our slot pushes for the space vertically. We use multiple splits, stack, adjustments, or whatever helps us gain leverage for the Gift or to hold that half of the field.
This is the same concept in place whether it’s the play action or RPO scheme, it keeps it simple and allows us cheap yardage on proper down and distance even on play-action call.
If on Mesh Side: Win Slant/Fin.