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Vol VII 2015
The Drive Series – It is critical for the QB to read coverage early for this series of plays to be successful.by: Kyle Derickson
Offensive Coordinator, Elmhurst College
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One of the pass series in our playbook that allows us flexibility and options vs. defenses is the Drive Series. The Drive encompasses concepts that can be successful against most coverages. The routes within the series also create some big play chances if the quarterback can recognize the coverage early. We install the three main plays of the series in the first two days of our August camp because, in addition to the fact that these plays are good for both first down and third downs, they also help our quarterbacks learn to read triangles early.
To make this series and all our pass concepts easier to learn, we give all the plays related names. All of these names have some association with driving a car in order to link the plays within this series. The three things we talk about you can do in a car are ‘Drive’, ‘Crash’, or ‘Cruise.’
The first play of the series to be installed is the base Drive play. The Drive starts in a 2 x 2 set and we designate one of our inside receivers (usually the boundary one) to be the Driver. A drive (or drag) route is an immediate crossing route that needs to be at five yards when the receiver gets to the offensive center and continues on that flat path without gaining any ground. It’s also important that the receiver takes an immediate angle across the field (or only a slight avoid step if it is a down TE) for the quarterback’s timing on the throw as the drive route is usually the first read.
In previous years, we gave the Driver the option to continue sprinting or settle down when the player gets to his depth at the opposite offensive tackle. With our team, we took this rule out of the players’ hands as the timing and demeanor of our quarterbacks and receivers was just too inconsistent. This option is, however, something you may want to use if your Driver is your best receiver and you are looking for any way to get him the ball.
The inside receiver opposite the Driver runs a dig route at 12 yards. Just like the drive route, a key coaching point for the dig route is to make sure the receiver does not gain ground once he has hit his depth. We like to tell our guys to lose half a yard coming out of the break, and naturally, be flat.
The outside receiver on the same side as the receiver running the drive route will run your best cover 3 five-step beater. We use the 12-yard out route but have also used a wide hook route as well. The route should be an automatic for the quarterback to take if the coverage is cover 3.
The outside receiver to the side of the dig route has a deep post. The post should not cross the closest hash and is the “home run” throw for a man-to-man matchup or a cover 4 situation if the deep safety bites on the dig route. When the post route sees cover 2, the route becomes a go route down the bottom of the numbers. Diagram 1 shows the TE Drive concept:
The quarterback’s options begin during the pre-snap read. Against cover 3, the boundary throw is automatic. If the defense starts running a cloud coverage into the boundary, the QB just reads his inside triangle starting with the drive to the dig to the tailback. The inside triangle is good against any coverage, but if you have a quarterback that you will allow to take chances, then giving him the option to throw the post route vs. cover 4 or man coverage is a great option. The other option our QB has is to change the boundary route when he sees man coverage giving him another great matchup route.
Specifically for the inside triangle, the QB needs to read defenders. His first look goes to the LB apexing the #2 receiver who is running the dig route. If the LB drops with the dig, the QB will deliver the ball to the drive as it comes across replacing where that LB was. If that LB squares up to take away the drive, the QB must find that next inside LB. If he drops vertical, the QB should deliver the ball to the dig right out of the break. If the LB drops to cover the dig, the QB should check down to the tailback.
Similar to the Drive play, the Crash play has options for different coverages. Man-to-man and cover 4 create an opportunity for the post route while cover 3 gives the QB his choice route on the backside (the out route in the diagram). When the QB is in doubt, the triangle read works for all coverages.
The quarterback reads are identical to the Drive play. With the TE ending up in the same place as he does when he runs the drive route from a 2 x 2 formation, it makes for an easy compliment to Drive.
The TE does not always have to be the Cruiser for this play. The play can be run with the #2 WR running the Cruise with #3 running the dig. The adjustment that needs to be made for this to work is that the #2 WR must run a whip route. The whip route pushes the #2 WR inside so that when he comes back out, he is at the same point where the TE is when he just cuts out. If the #2 WR were to run the same square-out that the TE runs, he would be too wide making for a tougher triangle read for the quarterback.
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