QB Off-Season Mental Development Part 2: Sprint and Deep Route Design

Jan 5, 2020 | Offense, Quarterback, Pass Game Mechanics, Pass Game, Vertical Pass Concepts, Position Groups, Sprint Out Pass Concepts

By William Clay and Charles Steward
Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach
Halsom High School (TX)
Twitter: @brandonclay88 @coachstew06



In the previous report, Quick and Intermediate game, we identified four areas we want our QB to be cognizant of in the passing game:

  1. Pass Protection: How am I protected, and where are the threats?
  2. Pre-Snap: What is the defense showing me, where can I attack based on alignment NOW?
  3. Post-Snap: Is what I saw Pre-Snap true? Does my attack change?
  4. Game Situation and Match-Ups: What is the down and distance? Is my guy better than their guy?


If you have not read the previous article and would like more in-depth information on what each entails, please refer to Part 1: Quick and Intermediate Game.  These areas apply to every passing situation that we may face in a game.  In this article, we will discuss Vertical and Sprint Out/Play Action passing.  While very similar, each presents a different set of challenges for QB’s, yet by adhering to our four areas of focus, our QB’s can be successful regardless.   Together with my quarterbacks’ coach, Coach Charles Steward, this is how we teach our QB for each segment of the passing game.



Our Vertical game consists of a three-step drop (out of shotgun) and passing routes 12 yards or more.  While Fade is considered a vertical threat, it falls under our Quick game and is discussed in the previous article.  

Pass Protection:  Our pass protection consists of man/slide, the QB will relay to the offensive line the man side, which depending on the type of front will designate a three or four-man slide side.  The RB goes to the man side.  As with the quick game, the QB knows he is responsible for any “+1” defender from the man side. 

Pre-Snap Reads: With our Vertical passing game the QB will ID the box as previously mentioned, however now the Safety count is the primary concern, as well as, cornerback leverage.  Our Vertical passing game is not mirrored, and we are calling the concept to the field or boundary, so we have a playside, the QB will be primarily concerned with the Safety and Corner (and any LB) to the playside. 

Post-Snap Reads:  As Coach Steward mentioned in the earlier article, the QB will have an idea of where he wants to go with the ball based on his pre-snap analysis of leverage and safety alignment. 

For our analysis we have three popular concepts that we use:

HI: A Post and Dig combo

Wheel: Double Post with a Wheel Route

Scissors: A vertical switch route, with a post and corner.


HI: Post and Dig Combo

PRE-SNAP:  The QB has identified the box and sees that pre-snap there is no “+1” defender to threaten him.  His protection is adequate, and he can move on to identify the safety alignment.


The QB has identified a 2 High Safety pre-snap alignment.  The TE to the BS will hold the safety in the middle of the field, the QB knows he only must read the safety over #2. 

As you will see in the clip below, the QB has an easy read and throw.

To study game clip of this concept, click on the video below: