Smart Football has moved!

Please check out the new site, All future updates will be made there.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Runningback on the Shallow Cross Route

The shallow crossing routes have become very popular recently. A recurring question is how to use the running back on the play. Send him to the side the shallow is going, or where he came from?

For an earlier discussion of the shallow cross, see my article on how Mike Martz uses the shallow cross in various ways here. Martz is a pretty comprehensive guy and this covers most of the bases.

But here are some thoughts on how to use the runningback in the route:

Depends what you're doing on the play.

The Airraid (Mike Leach/Texas Tech, I think Kansas with Mark Mangino, Troy St., Hal Mumme) guys let him "leak" out to the side the shallow came from. This creates a nice "triangle" for their hunt route coming over the middle and works as a nice hi/lo read. They look at the shallow first.

Some other coaches will send a shoot/swing/wheel to the side the shallow is going. Petrino used to do this at Louisville a lot (especially with a no-back protection, shallow came from trips side, single rec side (TE or split end) would run a post or a square-in).

The reason is that the RB will pull the flat defender on that side out. That way the shallow will come open in the void he has created.

Another good option is to have the RB run an angle route to the side the shallow came from. Mike Martz often does this. Any hesitation by the Mike backer can create a nice void for the RB to get into. The "crease" concept is built around this.

Purdue and the Airraid guys will also send the running back on a full swing or shoot to the side the shallow came from. Both will usually have the outside receiver run a curl. (This also relates to the drive or "stem" concept but without the rubs.) The reason for this is that the curl essentially fits into the same void as the "leak" or "short hook" RB just outside the tackle, but obviously he's farther downfield. But it's the same passing window. There they just use the RB to widen the flat defender out.

So the point is there is no one right way, just different ways to attack the defense. This gets back to the notion of "concepts." In other words, the "shallow" is not a concept, it is a route to be used within those various concepts.

While a pro team may use each of these and more, a high school team may only have room for one. But each affects the defense differently so what you choose to do may depend on what you already do, what defenses you see, and what you can fit in well.


Unknown said...

you know their are a lot of "football" message board" with rather sizeable number of members. And supposedly a lot of info. But this is for all intent worth more than most if not all of those boards put together. Thanks. GReat info.

Ted Seay said...

Chris: Short, sweet, superbly illustrated -- masterly, as usual.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat off subject, but I have a question:

Why is everyone using the shotgun nowadays? A decade ago, the Cowboys, 49ers, Packers, Chargers, Redskins and other teams NEVER used it. The last two teams who didn't use it were the Buccaneers and Raiders in the Super Bowl.

Mr.Murder said...

The main item with using the shotgun is to hide QB mechanics, or lack thereof.

Big QB don't get from under center as well if the D is keying a pass. Shotgun gets them in position at the snap.

Smaller QB need the space to best see past the formation edge and develop depth for a drop or rollout. Shotgun arms them with a quicker edge view if done well.

The other reason is for picking up blitzes on the inside or across the formation offset.

The back can get to the middle and help block off a shotgun offset, similar tot he pro set. An item John Madden has referenced in games, it trends on time. Middle stunts and blitzes are best countered by starting with some depth from that spot.

Backs getting across formations, off the zone blitz sets seen this era, can effectively do so from a shotgun. The QB dropback lane is already taken care of.

Finally shotgun depth for the pass set up point means you can sell the screens to manage field position more since teams take less chances downfield as the defense has caught up to the rules changes in the new era.

More on the shotgun evolution to come. Two major coaching changes to the classic quick pass/West Coast Offense passing sets came to be.


Ted Seay said...

Chris: More on the shotgun evolution to come.

My goodness, yes:

Anonymous said...

I watched the Mizzou @ Kansas game last Saturday and I've to say that after that I kept thinking will we see those kind of offenses even some day in the all-mighty NFL? I hope we'll do 'cause I'm sick of watching those high scoring 9-6 games. The only problem that I see is that a NFL teams don't have the time and patience to make the spread work.

Anonymous said...

Skins threw a TD to Betts like this against the Bears, shallow cross start side, off a play look at Urlacher(start inside crease) to anticipate his aggressiveness in a red zone running situation for shorter yardage.

Ran them a nice Mash before going plus 20 as well. Trend away from going with the mash plus 20, get it before then. Teams appear more likely to sit outs and blitz before you get safe field goal range.

Anticipate the demand to set an offense back with aggresive defensive calls, and tweak those MASH and crease reads for those exact plays.

Before the red zone mash, and on true run conversion downs crease in it, especially going into close margins in the second half.

Zennie said...

Nice to see you're posting again Chris. Also, great to read your comments, Ted.

Say, as I live in Oakland, thanks for the Piedmont High A-11 Tip. It would make a great video-blog. As to the other question about the Shotgun's increased use, I think it's simply because in the NFL there's been almost a reactive move to more downfield passing at the same time that we're seeing faster, bigger defensive linepeople than in the past.

It's simply not possible to effectively throw 7-step-drop passes all game long. The 49rs are esssentially force-feeding their QBs this system, and with tragic results: sacks, injuries, and interceptions. All from a team who's legendary coach created the foundation for effective short passing.

Anonymous said...

If that team in the piedmont spread has almost identical physical characteristics, start drilling them in the use of laterals. Teams start trying to work around a blocker in space(we did) and by anticipating that in the adjustment calls as part of the constraint theory.

If the players match up almost identical in the physical comparison(a big reason you said the spread was used)then start using a lateral to the other linemen who can curl off the line behind the nearest slot receiver.

Only the QB cannot make the throw, he's already set at depth. Either motion your nearest wing to slash snap under center as called from the huddle, or add this checkdown that I think maximizes the communication between linemen.

Have the center call a hot adjustment off the line lateral when he can key or see a signal down the line. The wing can be determined his signal relay man by calling a hot when he sees the hand signal off the lineman wide or the outside receiver.

The Arkansas Razorbacks did that off a fake FG. They ran a swinging gate and the center(may have been the backup QB) got over the ball, called the count and threw a lateral down the line. It was done so quick the D almost thought it was a busted play. Some players simply sat there in a daze, not accustomed to having seen the traditional snap.

Since the D would have to be keyed, and the double shotgun sets up a a good bit of kickscreens(you may call them bubbles) and slants, the bubble lateral to the interior T can be keyed as teams start loading up inside on the flats. LB inside the T, and corners hard inside shoulder to stop the slant release. Suddenly the angles are right to swing a player not accounted for around that. Do it on the short side of the field, since you expect the T types to throw off that read(look at his smash/run and shoot adjustments). Short side can give you room to scoot the ball out of bounds in the event that the play isn't timed properly. By limiting the space you maximize the execution need, and as they improve, the T(who basically match your other players in physical style and development) can actually be receivers and QB, along with your C.

Then you was set up a lot of trick plays off that once the D starts widening out further. the slants become more effective again, and the C can do statue of liberty type plays utilizing fellow linemen, h back, and the two QB offset.

It should work best against teams starting out loose on the outside/wide reads but thick in the center of the field, the lateral. As teams start spreading out, splitting two safeties, flaring OLB and nickle DB, etc. you can go back to the counters on the interior.

The ability to take what was a supposed weakness(many players with similar attributes, lack of dominant size) becomes a strength because you have made every players into a skill set player, and every player into a fundamental blocker.

The Huey boards have some interesting concepts about that Texas Tech spread, and teams taking that a step further. Going to three yard T splits off the G, and the G off one to two yard splits, etc. That spread out Piedmont variation can be brought back down within those parameters at key times(clock kill time, red zone, short yardage) or other such situations. It seems like teams got used to your scheme going into the next season. Finding ways to incorporate the predominant style and scheme into different forms can help you hide certain situational needs and enable mismatches to greater levels.

Finally, people with Piedmont film can share a lot of ideas for the fake punts that can develop from the spread out punting formation. They're very much alike.


Anonymous said...

*not accustomed to having seen the non-traditional snap.