Bootleg Pass Series - Spread Offense

Bootleg Pass Series from the Spread Offense
Chris Meyers – Offensive Coordinator – Pequea Valley HS
My offensive philosophy is that we utilize our pass and screen game to set up the run.  This has worked well for us and we always outnumber the defense in the box.  Once we start running the football effectively, obviously our play-action is much more effective.  One of my favorite play-action looks in the spread offense is the bootleg.  The concept of the play is simple and you can run multiple variations of the play without changing the core concepts.
The bootleg compliments the zone read and tackle trap nicely.  I have diagrammed below a “naked” bootleg with both a zone read look and a tackle trap look.  This works very well against aggressive undisciplined ends.
In our pass game, we primarily use combinations for each side of the formation.  We are a no-huddle team so we signal in a front side combination and a backside combination.  This play however is what we call a full field combination.  In our terminology, a full field combination is where one word tells everyone what to do.  It doesn’t matter where you are initially aligned; you need to know what number you are in the combination. 
The number one receiver (the outside receiver on the play side) needs to get down the sideline and clear the corner.  It is imperative that he doesn’t “take a play off” on this route.  He needs to clear out the corner for the other routes to have a chance.  The number two receiver (play side slot receiver) needs to work inside to sell run action away.  The second purpose of him selling an inside route is to provide timing and spacing for the quarterback who needs to fake to the back.  You don’t want your guy in the flat standing on the sideline by the time quarterback completes his fake.  If you utilize a tight end, this is where he would “block down” for a count before releasing to the flat.  Number three (back side slot receiver in this case) has an intermediate crossing route.  He needs to get across the field and end up at a depth of approximately 12-14 yards.  Again, this would be another great route for a tight end.  Number four (the back side receiver) needs to work to the middle of the field and attract the attention of the safety.  We call his route a “safety control” route.  He needs to keep the safety from jumping the intermediate crossing route.  What you should end up with is a flood look.
As far the quarterback’s progression goes, we teach that he reads flat to the intermediate crossing route.  The receiver clearing the corner is not in the quarterback’s progression unless a coach up in the press box sees the receiver starting to run past the corner because the corner is starting to cheat.  After this starts to happen, it should be relayed to the quarterback to take a quick look at the number 1 receiver in this combination.
The first variation of this play is to provide your quarterback some extra protection instead of a “naked” look.  You can provide some pass protection by either leading a guard or a tackle for the quarterback.  I have both of these scenarios diagrammed below.
You may want to do this because even if the defensive end doesn’t bite on the fake, you still have a chance for a successful play because he is being blocked and you have an offensive lineman leading around for the quarterback.  This variation in the blocking scheme also works well if a defense is bringing a blitz off the edge.  This way instead of the quarterback rolling out, he still has a chance to set his feet and make a sound throw because of the lineman leading him out on the edge.
Diagrammed below is how we run the bootleg when we are in a Trips Set.  It is a bootleg to the left and the only difference is that the number two receiver in the combination is on the other side of the formation.  He still needs to be in the flat so he needs to work a shallow crossing route.  This is a great way to attack the back side of a trips formation.
I personally am a big proponent of leading an offensive lineman around for the quarterback.  By utilizing a combination based passing game; you can certainly experiment around with the run action that you are faking.  I have drawn up below a bootleg out of a trips set where the quarterback is faking with more of a veer look.
In my opinion, a sound play-action passing game is a benefit to any offense.  I feel that it is under utilized in the spread offense and I know that it’s something we are going to make a point of emphasis for us this season.
Please feel free to email me with any questions, concerns or comments at email: [email protected]

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