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"playbook" For Serious Football Fans Only.


We Are Still Going To The SB
May 24, 2002
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Hole Assignments and player numbering are critical for this offensive play system. The numbering is used to assign who will be the main ball carrier and where the play will go. The following rules apply to this play system:
Even numbered holes are to the RIGHT of the center.

Odd numbered holes are to the LEFT of the center.

The 1-Back is the QB.

The 2-Back is Halfback (or Tailback)
The 3-Back is the Fullback and lines up on the strong side. Again, there are exceptions to the rule, such as an I-formation, where the 3-Back lines up behind the Fullback

The X-receiver is always on the LEFT side of the field. The Z-receiver is always on the RIGHT side of the field. There are exceptions to this rule, such as , trips formation, where both the X and Z are on the same side.

The Y-receiver lines up depending on the play call. The Y receiver can be either a slot back or a tight end, depending on the coaching style.


The Passing Tree is the number system used for the passing routes. All routes are the same for the X, Y, and Z-receivers. The route assignments depends on the coaching preference. This system uses has all EVEN number routes towards the center of the field, while ODD number routes are towards the sidelines. Below are the routes used in this playbook:

#1 - Quick Out. Drive out 5 yards then 90 degrees and drift to sidelines.

#3 - Deep Out. Drive out 10 yards then 90 degrees and drift to sidelines.

#5 - Flag Route. Drive out 8 yards, show hand fake and look back at QB, then sprint to deep flag. (out route)

#7 - Shoot Route (Chair Route) Sprint up to 4 or 5 yards then 45 degrees (or 90 degrees) for 2 strides then straight up the field. DO NOT drift to the middle of the field!

#9 - Streak Route (Fly Route) Can be a straight sprint "go" route off the line of scrimmage or can be incoporated with a one stride 45 degree "chair" after 8-10 yards. See Shoot Route above.

#8 - Post Route. Drive out 8 yards, show hand fake and look back at QB, then sprint to deep post.(in route) Opposite of Flag Route above.

#6 - Curl Route. Drive out 12 yards, slow and gather yourself, curl in towards QB, establish a wide stance and frame yourself. Find an open or void area.

#4 - Drag Route. Drive out 3 strides then drag on a 45 degree (or 90) angle to the opposite tackle.

#2 - Slant Route. Drive out 3 strides then slant 45 degrees. This is a timing route, Expect the ball immediatley!

#0 - Quick Hitch Route. Drive out two strides then come back to QB on a 45, establish a wide stance and frame yourself.

The playname uses the the number system of the Hole Assignments and/or Passing Tree to call the play name. It is very important for players to understand the format because this play name format allows coaches to combine any formation, play direction, motion type, blocking scheme or whatever the coaches desire in their offense. Below are examples of a typical run playname and pass playname.


1.FORMATION - how the backfield lines up, such as a PRO. formation, "I" formation, or "Ace" formation for example.

2.ALIGNMENT - the side on which the "Y" receiver lines up. (The HB lines up OPPOSITE of the ALIGNMENT)

3.The FIRST number is the MAIN BALL CARRIER.

4.The SECOND number is the HOLE ASSIGNMENT.

5.The PLAY TYPE is the type of play that will be used.

6.Variations of run playnames can include special blocking schemes, Motion, or other instructions


1.FORMATION - the alignment of the backfield.

2.ALIGNMENT - the side on which the "Y" receiver lines up. (The HB lines up OPPOSITE of the ALIGNMENT)

3.MOTION - motion called, when necessary.

4.The FIRST number is the "X" receiver route.

5.The SECOND number is the "Y" receiver route.

6.The THIRD number is the "Z" receiver route.

7.The "BACKFIELD ROUTE" is for the backfield routes, when necessary.

The play may also include the type of pass protection for the linemen when necessary (such as on a rollout or flood play for example).

Other calls or play variations can be added to the end of the play name, such as a rollout, flood, or sprintout for example.


The key element of this play is the use of a pulling lineman or linemen. The play creates a deception that a defensive player will be unblocked as he penetrates the line of scrimmage. The play unfolds when the pulling lineman blocks, or "traps" the player to open the hole for the running back to run through. The Pulling lineman can include a guard (on either side of the play direction), the guard and tackle, or even both guards. (For simplicity, this playbook will utilize 1 pulling guard.)

Typical blocking for a trap play includes a double team at the hole where the ball will go, the pulling lineman or linemen, and the block on the playside linebacker. The double team helps to create a large hole for the running back(s). This double team, coupled with the trap block, can create quite a large hole to run through, provides that the blocks are sucessful. The block on the playside linebacker will determine where the back should run. The following rules apply for the pulling guard:
For inside traps, the guard block the first man past the center.
Example: If the defensive player lines up in the A Gap, then the pulling guard will trap that player. Similarly, if a linebacker stunts between the Nose and Tackle, then the pulling guard will trap the linebacker.
For outside traps, the guard will block the first man past the tackle.
Example: If a defensive tackle lines up in the B Gap, and the Outside linebacker is in the C-Gap, then the pulling guard will trap the linebacker.

The other important aspect to the trap is the ability for the back to read the block on the inside linebacker(s). If a linebacker reads the play correctly and reacts fast enough, this play can easily be shut down. However, if the linebacker hesitates or does not step into the hole, the offensive tackle will have a clean block. Thus, the ball carrier must be able to "feel" the block on the linebacker and choose the inside or outside path. The running back can make a lot of yardage once he gets into the secondary.

The trap is a "bread and butter" play for this playbook. Trap plays can easily turn into a touchdown, provided good up front blocking and the ability for the back to find the open hole.


The option play creates uncertainty as to who and where the ball will go. Seen more often on the high school and college levels, this play works well with a quarterback that can run the ball like a running back. The option allows for flexibility and the ability for the quarterback to control the running attack - the quarterback can be hand off to the fullback for a dive, turn the ball upfield for the end sweep, or pitch it out to the half back. The quarterback reads the defense and decides the direction of the ball. The offensive line battles with straight ahead blocking.

The blocking scheme for the option is straight ahead blocking. In some situations where the play is a dive, the center and guard will double team the nose guard to help clear out a path for the full back. The outside linebacker or defensive end is left alone. The action of the outside defensive player will determine the direction of the play.

The job of the full back is to run the dive portion of the option. If they do not get the ball, they must do their best to sell a fake to the defense. Making the defense bite on that fake will help the quarterback and half back beat the defense to the outside corner. The role of the halfback is to run to the outside and be ready to receive a pitch from the quarterback. Their path is ran in a "questionmark" type shape to give the quarterback a better angle when the ball it pitched. It also allows the halfback to run in a forward direction when the ball is pitched.

In order for the option to be successful, the quarterback must first check the defensive line to see if the dive play is available. If the quarterback decides If the quarterback identifies a defense formation that the offensive line can open up, then ball goes to the full back. If the quarterback does not hand off the ball, then he must sprint along the line of scrimmage and read the outside linebacker.If the linebacker maintains outside containment and covers the half back, then the quarterback must turn the ball upfield. If the linebacker tries to stop the quarterback, then the quarterback must pitch out to the half back.

It is critical for the quarback to make the correct decision as the play develops. An incorrect read can result in a big loss of yardage. An interception can also result if the quarterback makes the wrong decision and pitches the ball.

The option play requires good running skills from both the backfield and the quarterback. The quarterback MUST be able to read the defense and decide when to pitch or keep it upfield. Due to the uncertainty of the ball direction, all the line can do is block straight ahead. However, the line must make sure that they continue driving for the entire play, as a pitch to the outside takes longer to develop than a dive play.

Many high school and college teams like the option play because it gives an opportunity for the quarterback to make decisions on their own. This play can cause a lot of trouble to some teams because the uncertainty of the ball direction does not allow a defense to predict the play. Likewise, a bad decision by the quarterback can easily result in loss of yardage or a turnover.


The Blast and Power are almost the same with respect that these plays utilize a lead back. The main difference is that a Blast is more towards the inside of the line, while the Power is more to the outside. As their names suggests, these are "muscle plays" that require a dominating offensive line and tough runners. These plays are common in goaline and short yardage situations, and can be run in any offensive set. This playbook will illustrate these plays with a Split Back formation and an I-Formation

The blocking scheme for Blasts and Powers are typically head up, with a double team block at the hole for blast plays. Depending on the defense, the offensive line may change their blocking scheme to a fold or cross block instead of "head's up" blocking. The success of the blast and power is dependent on how dominating the offensive line will be.

Blasts and Powers use a lead blocker (usually the fullback) to clear the path, and the ball carrier to follow the lead block. The lead back typically picks up a linebacker or safety, but the general rule is to block the first defender in his path (which is straight ahead).

The key for the ball carrier is to follow the lead block up until the initial block. The ball carrier must pick the correct path, depending on which direction the blocking back goes. Blasts and powers are tough running plays, and the ball carrier must work to gain yardage. If the ball carrier can break through the line and get into the secondary, they can either continue running straight ahead or bounce to the sidelines to streak downfield.

The play name "Power" and "Blast" accurately describe these plays - straight ahead running with a lead block and a powering line. This play requires the offensive line to push to dominate their blockers in order for these plays to gain big yardage. Although these plays are made for the middle of the field and are short yardage plays, there are certainly opportunities for the ball carrier to break free and make a big play.


Sweeps and pitch plays are run plays to the outside. The major difference between the two is that the quarterback hands off the ball on a sweep where as the quarterback must toss the ball on a pitch. A major advantage of a sweep is that it allows a ball carrier to search for an open hole and can turn the ball upfield very easily. A pitch allows the ball carrier to get outside much faster and the play develops much quicker.

The basic blocking scheme for the offensive line is straight ahead blocking. The fullback can serve as the lead blocker or can be used to fake the counter play. A "sweep trap" can easily be incorporated - the blocking becomes similar to an outside trap, except the pulling lineman also sweeps to the outside to become the lead blocker.

Preventing an outside linebacker from maintaining outside containment can be useful to help get the back into the open field. This can be accomplished with the use of a "crack back". A crack back is where the X or Z receiver crashes down on the defender, resulting in a "blind side" block. The receiver can be in motion or can crash from their inital position. In other situations, the Y receiver can block down to create a double team at the outside corner.

The goal for the ball carrier is simple - get to the outside as fast as possible and turn it upfield. In some cases, the back will see a hole and turn it upfield before getting to the outside. This is more common with sweep plays. In other situations, the ball carrier will string the defense out as far as the sidelines before turning upfield. The rule of thumb (which applies to ALL run plays) is to try and up and down the field instead from sideline to sideline. It becomes a waste of effort when a back runs 25 yards along the line of scrimmage to gain only 3 yards towards the end zone.

The ball carrier must have great running vision to find the opening. In many instances, the back will actually cut back inside once they get outside into the open running area. This happens when a defense over pursues the play. If the ball carrier recongnizes this and cuts back, he will find that there will be a lot of open field available.

Sweeps and pitches are successful when the ball carrier is able to turn the ball upfield to gain positive yardage. Although running to the sideline can gain extra yardage, it sometimes becomes more work than for what it is worth. The ball carrier must keep their vision open and look for areas to cut back. In terms of blocking, the offensive line must sustain their blocks and keep the defenders inside. In addition, the offense must stop the outside linebacker (or defensive end) from containing the outside. This can be done by double teaming the end with the Y-receiver or by using a crack back.



Short yaradage pass plays are very quick and involve a lot of timing between the quarterback and receiver. Many short yardage plays happen so fast that the defense cannot react fast enough. These plays are high percentage pass plays - the quarterback should be able to complete the majority of these passes. Although most yardage gained will be less than 10 yards, a receiver can easily turn a short yardage play into big yardage if they can evade the tacklers.

Since short yardage plays can happen so fast, it is important to create an open view for the quarterback to see. Often times, "chop blocks" are used to effectively take the feet away from under the defender. This will bring the defender to the ground, thus giving the QB a better view. On other plays, such as a screen, the line will fake very poor pass protection. The purposely allow the defenders to penetrate very deep. When the ball is flipped out to the back, these players will be to far upfield to chase down the ball carrier.

Many of the short yardage routes include 5 yard in routes and out routes, along with the slant pattern and the curl route, where the receiver comes back to the quarterback. Some plays incorporate a deep route to help open up the short passing lane. The timing between the receiver and quarterback is crucial. The receiver should expect to see ball and adjust to make a catch as soon as they reach the first break in their pattern.

Backs utilize swing patterns and routes into the flats. Passes to the running backs are very high percentage and often used as an outlet if all receivers are covered. Because short yardage pass plays happen so fast, the backs that receive the ball usually have an opportunity to break tackles and move the ball upfield.

Timing is everything for the quarterback when short yardage plays are executed. The quarterback should know there the receiver will be every time. It is common for the quarterback to throw the ball BEFORE the receiver makes their break. The quarterback can take either a 3 step drop or 5 step drop depending on the play. For screens, the quarterback will keep dropping back and release the ball just before they get sacked.

The key to making a short yardage pass play work is TIMING. Without timing, the quarterback will never get the ball to the intended receiver. Likewise, the line must make sure that they "chop" their defender down, to clear a viewing area for the quarterback. Consistency in completing short yardage passes will help your team move the ball fast and effeciently.


Long yardage pass plays use medium and deep receiver routes, with the expectation of the receiver to gain signicant yardage in one play. Long yardage pass plays have a lower pass completion percentage compared to short yardage pass plays, and also have an increased chance of an interception or turnover. On the other hand, a successful long pass can lead to a first down conversion, or even a touchdown.

Blocking for deep pass plays is critical because they need to give the quarterback enough time to set up, find the open receiver, and throw. Many times, the offensive line will block man to man, and a running back will pick up the stunt, blitz, or any leak through the line. Zone blocking can also be used, depending on the defensive front seen. Depending on the play, the line blocking will form a "pocket" or a protected area created by the lineman for the quarterback to use. The pocket will collapse in split second, but it is usually enough for the quarterback to work with. A sucessful line will give the quarterback at least 4-5 seconds to throw.

Running backs will typically stay at home to add with blocking support. Their main goal is to ensure that the quarterback has enough time to throw. On some plays, a back will stay in and hestitate a block, then flare into the flats as a safety outlet. This is an "out" for the QB in the event that all the receivers are covered. On other plays, a back (usually the half back) can run a streak, or H-FLY route, to get a 1 on 1 match up with a linebacker.

Receivers are the stars of long yardage plays, but they must work for their glory. For each long pass play, the receiver must be able to fight through a cornerback jam, run their route, and get open, all within a few seconds. At the same time, the receiver must continue to move and find an open area in case the quarterback has to scramble. The receiver must be able to sense when the ball is thrown and look just at the right time, adjust their position to catch the ball, then brace for an impact with the defendor and/or ground. The stardom of being a receiver does not come without hard work.

Quarterbacks need to be very tough and face a lot of pressure on long yardage plays. They must wait long enough for the receiver to get open, find the open receiver, and release the ball while various defensive players are looking to bury him into the ground. A 7-step drop is typical for long pass plays. The quarterback can gain more time by stepping up into the pocket, or by rolling out to the left or right.

The success of a long pass play is dependent on the decision making of the QB. If the ball is thrown to the right receiver and is thrown just right, it can easily go for a touchdown. If the QB makes a mistake and throws the ball into a crowd, it can lead to an incomplete pass, or even an interception for a turnover. The QB must also know where the receivers will run to if the play breaks down. It is critical that the QB knows the tendencies of a receiver so that he knows where his receivers are at all times.

Long yardage pass plays can make or break a game. The success of the a long pass starts with the line giving the quarterback enough time to throw. The quarterback must be resourceful enough to use that time to find the open receiver and release the ball. Once the ball is thrown, it is up to the receiver to make the catch.

Long yardage pass plays are not as successful as short yardage plays, but the stakes are much larger. There are larger risks involved, especially with the risk of an intercepion. The rewards, if successful includes large yardage gains, and possibly a touchdown strike. These types of plays can dictate the momentum of a team through a game, and can easily change the outcome of a final score.

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