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Spread the Defense and Throw it Deep:
Using the Streak as Your Base Pass Pattern
By Darrell Snyder
Quarterback/Wide Receiver coach
Bishop O’Connell High School
The importance of base plays
A series of plays usually begins with a base play -- a play that all other plays in the series are designed around. For example, in the Wing-T Buck Sweep series, the Gut, Buck Sweep (base play), Waggle, and Criss-Cross are all designed to have the same look but attack different places on the line and different weaknesses in the defense (Figure 1). Having a scheme like this in your running attack gives you tremendous flexibility in adjusting to the opponents defense while maintaining confusion in the defense for as long as possible.
Figure 1: Wing Right, buck sweep series
Spread the defense
Bear Bryant said " our [defensive] objective is to limit the offense to as small an area as possible. By limiting their attack, we can hem them in and catch them"(Bryant, 26). On offense we want to do exactly the opposite and stretch the defense. We want to stretch them both horizontally (across the field) and vertically (down the field). Horizontally, we want to spread the defense out in order to open up running or passing lanes for our offense to operate in. Our players tend to be smaller than our opponents, and we feel that they can better use their talents in space rather than chest to chest with someone. We spread the defense through formation and motion and often end up with a linebacker matched up on either a slotback or a tailback. Remember, the defense has to spread out just as far as our offense does (Figure 2). To stretch a defense vertically, we have to have a constant deep threat. An incomplete deep pass early in the game is almost as good as a complete deep pass. From that point on, the defense has to deepen and respect your deep passing game. They have then been stretched vertically, and you have plenty of open space to operate your offense in.
Figure 2: 5-3 defense vs. a spread formation
Three goals in our offensive scheme
In addition to stretching the defense we also want to create confusion in them while maintaining flexibility in our patterns. We have made the streak our base passing pattern because we feel it allows us to achieve the three passing goals of our offensive scheme:
1.Confuse the defense (Do the opposite of what they expect you to do) 2.Stretch the defense 3.Be flexible
1.) Confuse the defense
We confuse the defense in part because we come off the ball every down like we are going deep. We teach our receivers to "sell the streak". If they do this well, the defensive man will not know if our receiver is going deep, hitching up short, cutting to the post, etc. We try to use the offensive advantage of knowing where the play is going to confuse the defense. If our receivers do not do a good job of "selling it," they will be easy to cover and our passing offense could be in trouble. For this scheme to be successful, we have to plant a seed of doubt into the defensive backs mind as to where our receiver is going.
2.) Stretch the defense
We want to stretch the defense downfield so that we can open up passing lanes for our quick, ball control passing game. We need to threaten to go deep on every play. We do this by running hard (selling the streak) at the outside shoulder of the defensive back. If we can get the defensive back to turn and run with our receiver then we should be able to break off the streak stem and throw underneath. Just as with a running series we have to make the defense respect our base play if our passing scheme is going to be effective. If a team does not give our base play respect by defending against it, we had better be able to take advantage of their miscalculation and score. More specifically, if a team plays us to take away our quick game and we can’t complete a streak, then we are in trouble. We have to make the defensive backs think that we may be throwing deep on every play.
3.) Maintain flexibility
Once we have acquired our deep threat and have stretched the defense, we are in control of the game. We can move into our quick passing game (all patterns still look like the streak for the first six yards) and pick the defense apart underneath because we have forced the defensive backs to back up and think about a ball that may go over their heads. When the defensive backs see our wideout coming at them hard and (hopefully) "selling the streak," they will give ground. Our wideouts will then break into one of our quick patterns (slant, hitch, out, dig) and hopefully pick up some yards with one of these "long hand-offs"(Figure 3).
Figure 3: Streak stem
We have designed this pass offense to attack the defense and make them react to what we are doing, rather than our offense reacting to what their defense is in. We believe this proactive style teaches our kids to be more aggressive on every down because as a team we are being aggressive with our scheme. We are trying to attack the defense on every play by utilizing our wideouts to stretch their defense. Using the streak as our base pattern has allowed us to achieve this aggressive style of play.