Texas A&M Football: 5 wrinkles to help the Aggies’ struggling offense

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Run it or throw it

Run/Pass Options, or RPOs or “packaged plays,” are the newest trend in college football. They’ve even made their way to Sundays. Even more surprising, teams run them under the lights on Fridays. They can be difficult to teach, but modern quarterbacks have seen them more and more often as they have grown up. The simplify the game for young quarterbacks to focus on one or two defenders. Think about Auburn with Nick Marshall. He was a converted cornerback, who made it to the SEC Championship Game running these kinds of concepts. It doesn’t take Peyton Manning to get good at RPOs.

A lot of passing concepts, especially in high schools, focus on reading one guy, and are scheme dependent. You can’t throw certain routes against certain coverages with consistency. That’s why teams try to establish running games, so that they can force the defense to be more aggressive and have fewer guys in coverage. In our RPO, we’re going to target the defender usually responsible for the quarterback on keepers. Our goal is to make him choose wrong.

Simple reads, easy throws

The quarterback has two reads. The quarterback (this just screams Kellen Mond), looks to the defensive end (5-pointed star) first. He runs a zone read, as discussed on the previous page. Then, if he keeps it, his eyes move to the nickle back (the six pointed star). If the nickle back runs to cover the slot receiver running a bubble route, there will be a huge running lane for the QB to run through. If he’s good, a pump fake makes the defender commit.

Mond in open field is already dangerous, and can gain serious yardage. If the defender is tired of eating Mond’s dust, he will look to make sure the QB doesn’t run. Then, he can throw the bubble screen. Since it’s behind the line of scrimmage, linemen and the receiver to that side can block with no penalty.

The last part of this is the home run ball. It would have to be called on the sideline or a look that gives the defense away, so that the offensive line doesn’t go downfield. If the corner and nickle are tired of seeing the screen go for yardage, and tired of Mond gashing them they may combine to cover the bubble and the quarterback run. That leaves a deep pass open, as no safety this side of Earl Thomas can possibly get over there in time. This is a throw that is more difficult, but should be open if the play idea is run enough times.

There is a defense for every play, and this is no exception. It can be covered or blitzed away. But the defense doesn’t know the playcall and doesn’t always dial up the right plays. If they consistenly stop something like this, they put themselves at risk somewhere else.