Ack's Virtual Playbook

Have you ever wanted to put on the headsets or get inside the huddle and call the plays? Now's your chance! In the first installment of my virtual playbook, we examine the shallow cross.

All plays will be out of the West Coast formations and principles with the Y being the tight end or a third receiver. The H is a half back or a fourth receiver and the F is a running back. The F is not a big blocking back but receiving running threat. When we diagram later with the F and T then we will have a true blocking fullback and a tailback.

1. Reads: Where the Quarterback wants to progress and find the open receiver.
2. Hot: The open receiver when his man blitzes.
3. Check: A quick look to see if you have to protect or run the route.
4. Free Release: You leave immediately on your route.
5. Delay: You hold your stance for one count before releasing into your route.
6. Landmarks: Destination of the route when run properly.
7. Window: Place in a zone defense that is uncovered.

*Note: We will add to this list as we move through the season.

Defensive Coverages:
For an explanation on the different defensive coverages referenced in this edition of The Playbook, click here.

The Shallow Cross:
The shallow cross has been part of the passing game for many years. It's origin was actually the drag route in the early days, but with the advent of the spread offense shallow cross became a vogue term. It is a safe throw that any of five receivers can be the benefactor of on any particular play and formation. The design is one that challenges the defense to be honest in it's drops and reads. Teams that blitz could be chasing a speed receiver from behind if they do not adjust to the crossing route. This week we show you the Y cross which became very popular with FSU in the Charlie Ward days.

The Formation

Offense: Split Right Flex
Defense: 4-3 Cover 3
Play Call: Split RT 90 Y Shallow "Gun"

The "Y Shallow" is very simple and it is similar to a curl flat read. The differences is that the Y delays at the snap of the ball and then replaces the middle linebacker on the play. Secondly, the "Swing" route by the tailback is a free-release with no blitz pickup responsibility. 

The quarterback will take a three step drop in the shotgun to time up with the fifteen yard curl by the Z receiver. If the Sam Linebacker runs right now to the F on the swing then the QB will read Z to Y. If the Sam hesitates or gets lost on the crossing route in front of him then the QB throw right away to the F. The curl by the Z should always be there versus a zone coverage and the QB and protection must be patient to allow him to find the open receiver. If the zone coverage is real tight the QB may find his Y open on the opposite numbers. Y can continue his route to the sideline if he sees green grass in front of him, if not he settles in the open window.

The Shallow Dig vs. Cover 3

Play Assigenments:
Z - run a 15 yd. curl working to open window
Y - delay for one count then drag at 5 yds across
F - free release at snap for swing on numbers
H - check WILL linebacker for blitz than run seam
X - run deep post curl from 18 yds back down stem

QB Reads:  Z to F to Y
*work the curl-flat vs. zone (Z 1st / F 2nd)
*then find Y on drag as third read
*backside read is X on deep comeback curl
*vs zone QB takes 3 step drop in Gun

What Happens vs the Blitz?
The beauty of this play is that you do not have to change the routes versus a blitz. There are built in "hot " routes by design. For example, each receiver has a hot read assigned to him. The F has the Sam Linebacker, the Z has the corner and the Y has the SS. If any of the three guys blitz that receiver becomes the primary receiver immediately. There is one adjustment made by Z, who runs a slant on a corner blitz. This is easy for the QB to see as it develops because by being in a spread formation (H is in the slot, not at a running back position) the defense can only bring six. The two blitzes are drawn up in the diagram below. Other wrinkles such as X running the go route and H the flat are two more variations of this one play.

The Shallow Dig vs. the Blitz in Cover 1

Play Assignments:
Z - inside release to 15 yd curl
Y - look quick after delay 1 count for ball if MIKE blitzes
F - free release at snap for swing on numbers
H - check WILL release on seam to clear out - aim at hash mark
X - inside release and run deep post curl

QB Reads:  Y to F to Z
*anytime "MIKE LB" blitzes Y becomes 1st read
*F becomes 2nd read if SAM jumps Y
*H must block WILL blitzer - if he does not, release vertical
*vs blitz QB does not drop

Key Reminders:
1. By running this play out of split backs you keep the defense on it's heels because you still have the look of a running formation.
2. You can exchange both Y and Z's responsibilities on any play and also motion them to a particular spot.
3. You can take H and run him on a flat route to widen the weakside linebacker if you want to throw to X on the backside.
4. The formation allows you to protect "Big on Big" with your five on their four.
5. Alignment is important and spacing is key to success. Players cannot get on top of themselves and must reach their landmarks.

Teams that used this route the most in 2003:
Texas Tech
NC State

Keep in mind that in this virtual playboook I am only diagramming a couple of options off of one base play. Any one of these plays or formations can be changed depending on the situations.

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