Author: Ted Seay
Originally Published: June 23, 2008
THE 20 SERIES: Z Fly Motion, QB Half-Spin
The basic mechanics of the 20 series are similar to the 10 series, but this time it is Z coming in Fly motion and QB doing the half-spin footwork. If your QB is not the Tim Tebow type, you don’t need to make him run the Counter play off-tackle to succeed with this series — but a good Counter Boot from time to time will keep backside defenders honest.
The Spread Tackle must Reach the man on his outside; if he is too wide, we will either find a different way to block him or else run a different play. The rest of the line blocks on tracks through to the second and third levels. Step through the playside gap and find the most dangerous shirt of the wrong color to block downfield. Cut off enough pursuit, and the 6-8 yard Fly Sweep will turn into a big play.
X and H have similar assignments, releasing deep to keep the secondary in doubt about whether the play is a run or pass, then stalk-blocking the first defender to cross their face. Y takes an Outside Vertical release and tries to take a defender or two with him. F passes in front of the QB at the snap and provides additional deception — is he carrying the ball on an inside Trap? He makes it harder for the defense to see the Fly exchange as well.
QB takes the snap while stepping forward with his Spread-side foot just over the midline, simultaneously pivoting on his back foot and turning his shoulders toward the approaching sweeper while keeping his eyes fixed on the Bunch Tackle’s butt. If any defender comes screaming off Bunch Tackle’s backside, we will ask the QB to slow him down, either by blocking him or by faking Counter Boot away from the sweep.
Z goes in Fly motion and will be behind Bunch Tackle’s outside leg, and just deeper than the QB, when the ball is snapped. He will Reach and Take the ball from the QB, then head for the hashmarks, numbers, and sideline. This is not a cutback play — he should not think about cutting back unless X completely whiffs on his block on the cornerback.
Not only is there a fourth way to block the play in the 20 series, but the backside blocking also changes from 16 Counter. Spread Guard pulls and kicks out the first wrong color past Bunch Tackle’s butt (or Y’s in Counter Trey), but now the “funnel player” is H. Spread Tackle blocks as though he were Hinging on the backside of a sprint pass — he steps to protect his inside gap first, then pivots backside, drops and forces defenders to go the long way around if they want to get to the ball.
When double teams are used, they remain conditional in this sense — if a defender shoots hard for the gap inside the double team, the inside (post) blocker must protect that gap and block down on the stunting defender. If that happens, the outside (power) blocker will come down on the other defender by himself, and the blocking will adjust to Counter Gap on-the-fly.
Once again, both Z and F need to carry out their fakes with enthusiasm — if Z accelerates into his Fly Sweep fake, he can take three defenders out of the play without laying a finger on anyone. That’s the power of good faking.
This is a valuable addition to (or substitute for) the Counter play for your QB. It offers a play-action passing threat, and if he has any speed at all he can make some yards outside of containment (rather than off-tackle as with 24 Counter, where you may not want to risk your QB on a regular basis).
Spread Guard will pull and try to log the EMLOS defender to the Bunch side. QB will give a good Fly Sweep fake to Z, who must really accelerate out of the fake to give this play credibility. The F back fills for the pulling Guard.
Y releases as cleanly as possible, inside or outside a tight defender, then vertical to about 10 yards, and cuts to the Corner from there. H runs a Shallow Cross route, while X has a Post on the backside. QB looks for Y, then H, then runs for the first down marker. We will only look for X on this play by pre-determined decision. In that case, he can be given a Post-Corner route for a “transcontinental” throwback play.
The Passing Game
The Run & Shoot pass route packages made famous by Mouse Davis and more recently June Jones work very well from the shotgun, as Jones has proved in recent years at Hawaii. Motioning Z across the formation to create Run & Shoot Trips (3×1) causes problems for many defensive coverage systems which are designed to defend 2×2 receiver formations. The pass route packages and complementary plays included in this series (61 Short is an example of what can be done using Run & Shoot motion) are designed to exploit those problems.
Z goes in motion until he’s about 6 yards from X, then runs a Slant; H runs a Seam, and X runs a Short — he ends up over the spot where Z was located at the snap, at a depth of +3 or so. Y runs an Outside Vertical. QB reads the first underneath defender inside X. If he drops back to cover the Slant route, hit the Short route; if he hangs in place or moves up to cover the Short route, throw the Slant behind him — quickly.
QB takes a quick two- or three-step drop, reading the underneath defender over Z (in C3, the strong safety). If he hangs in place or squats on X’s Short route, drill the ball on your third step to Z as he breaks in. If the SS runs with Z, deliver a firm ball to X, allowing him to cut downfield after the catch (do not gun it — X is running toward you). H’s Seam keeps the next underneath defender inside from gaining too much width. As the C3 DBs drop, the Spread side should open up to give the QB a clear read.
Techniques for defeating man coverage differ for some routes. First, X will work hard to gain separation at the LOS with a quick “shake and bake” — out-in-out steps in fast succession, followed by a hard cut inside once X’s defender turns his hips out. X will continue to fight for separation, right past Z’s position at the snap. Z and H run their patterns much the same as against zone, but they are looking for quick separation and a quick pass. QB should lead X with the ball if he decides to hit the Short route. This throw requires practice, but will pay big dividends.