By Blair Hubbard
Lutheran High School (CO)
Since learning the under center Jet Sweep at a clinic in 2003, I have been a believer in having some sort of speed sweep in our offense. The threat of hitting the perimeter at full speed with lead blockers in front, forces defenses to thin themselves out somewhere, either by alignment or as the motion is happening, to get enough defenders in pursuit to the perimeter. Identifying where the defense is vacating or leaning is key to knowing where to attack next.
Through the mid-2000’s, we evolved from UC-Jet, to UC-Rocket Sweep, to now attacking with Gun Rocket Sweep. We transitioned to gun in the winter of 2009 to be able to involve our QB more in the running game. When we started in the gym with our QB reversing out in gun and making a toss like we would under center, the ball was all over the gym, and we could not get complement runs into the los with efficient timing. I told our QB, a basketball player, to simply front out and make a basketball chest pass. The pitch was crisp, quick, and on target, and now in an instant we had the ability, from a shotgun set, to hit the perimeter very fast with our Rocket Sweep. We were also still able to get our complement runs: Powers, G-Schemes, Traps, and Counters into the los with efficient timing.
From that day in 2009, we have worked hard to build our offense utilizing complement gap running schemes, conflict-creating blocking schemes, screens, quick passing and play action passing, and just enough option to force teams to play assignment defense. The offense is perfect for coaches looking to utilize their QB in the running game without the heavy investment in the option game. In this article, I will share with you how we execute our Gun Rocket Sweep including blocking assignments and techniques by position. I will also share our blocking variations and some of our manipulators.
Advantages of the Gun Rocket Sweep over the Fly Sweep
- It hits the perimeter faster than the fly/jet sweep. With the fly sweep, when the snap hits the QB’s hands, the sweeper is on the back side by 2 to 3 steps of where you want the ball to go. With the rocket sweep, the sweeper is at least even or 1-2 steps beyond the QB at full speed: width is the goal. This gives the rocket sweep a 3-4 step advantage over the popular fly sweep, forcing defenses to play that much faster to defend the perimeter.
- The rocket pitch is easier to handle at full speed. It’s a catch vs. a hand-off. Therefore, it’s no new skill/technique for your players to learn and for you to rep in practice.
- It’s less mesh point critical. Timing issues and bad snaps can easily be overcome by your QB. Timing issues or bad snaps can be disastrous with the fly sweep.
- The speed of the sweep, faster than the fly, forces defenses to decide faster, stem or rotate, or simply play unsound defense. This can be taken advantage of through complement runs and play action passes.
- Play action and quick passing are enhanced because the QB’s eyes can be downfield seeing any back-end rotation. Because of defensive movement, the screen game can be enhanced.
- Pass protection has been enhanced due to softened edge rushers and less blitzing. Defenses have realized that blitzing defenders lose them necessary sweep pursuit.
Rocket Sweep Breakdown
Quarterback - Aligned with heels at 4 yards, the QB secures the snap and opens with the play side foot to the sideline then crosses over with the backside foot. This will position his shoulders completely perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. From here, he simply makes a fundamental basketball chest pass (thumbs down) to the sweeper, hitting him in the hands.