It was December’s Orange Bowl between Clemson and Oklahoma that helped to reaffirm the productivity of the Lead Draw/Spot RPO concept that Robert E. Lee (VA) head coach Scott Girolmo had been developing last season. While Clemson QB DeShaun Watson diced the Sooners with this concept, Coach Girolmo had similar success using the very same concept by posting a school record 475 points per game. In this exclusive clinic report, Coach Girolmo details the blocking technique of the offensive line, including how he blocks problematic fronts, the wide receiver route progression as well the QB post-snap read progression in this concept. Read the report here.
By Scott Girolmo
Head Football Coach
R.E. Lee High School (Staunton, VA)
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The following article will outline several of the variations of second level run/pass option plays that you can utilize to provide your QB with multiple weapons to exploit defensive vulnerability. Each of these variations is in and of itself a peripheral adjustment of one of our core schemes, and serves to both protect that scheme and also to exploit defensive aggression against it.
It is important to note that this is part of a greater offensive thought progression that started with optioning down linemen and LOS defenders, and has moved to optioning second and even third level defenders in space. Conflicting the eye progression of those defenders who are both run and pass responsible is done by utilizing both surface and backfield reactions. We will highlight how we hope to accentuate these reads for the defense, and then how we put the players in space to attack defensive reactions.
Optioning Sideline to Sideline: QB Lead Draw + Spot Route + Read Screen + Quick Game
This is our version of the R.P.O. “Stick-Draw”, and serves as a multi-faceted fast-break play requiring very quick and very accurate decision making by our QB. This scheme can be quickly adjusted to better accommodate your quarterback’s skill-sets by improving the run aspect or pass aspect respectively. We like this particular combination play from a 3x1 set with our RB set to the 3 receiver side [Diagram 1].
During the installation process, I have found it beneficial to marry as much of the teaching of our lead draw scheme with our basic ½ slide protection as possible. In addition, if this is to become a primary play for us next season, we will need to mimic many of the techniques we show in our pass blocking. In our ½ slide protection, we pass set man on man at the play-side, and the first uncovered offensive linemen will slide to the back-side to help combo. The same blocking rules will be used for the Lead-Draw.
Our play side guard is the primary coach on the field for the Lead-Draw scheme. He will dictate to the other linemen to the back-side how we will handle the interior cylinder of the play. The guard chooses what to do based on the defensive alignment. He is either “covered” to the play side by a defender, or “uncovered” and has a free gap.
When he is “covered” by a defender, his assignment is simply to “Stick” on that defender, one on one [Diagram 5]. You can have him communicate that with a call, such as “Stick”, or by tapping the center at a specific location on his leg. For example calf tap = covered. If the play side guard identifies himself as uncovered he now becomes a zone combo player with the center, and he will be “hunting” the first Linebacker back side off of the mid-line of the front [Diagram 8 & 9 Below]. He will indicate that he is helping with a verbal call such as “combo” or another tap on the center for example his hip.
I believe it is vital that you have contingencies in place to protect against a few additional fronts, however if you have a pass protection scheme and corresponding communication system in place, you should be able to seamlessly integrate them.
Running Back Iso Block
The RB in this scheme is responsible for identifying and blocking the first ILB who is head up or play side of the center [Diagram 6 Above]. We want the initial steps to look just as they do in his normal protection. The initial steps should be subtle and he should accelerate as he gets to the line of scrimmage. In the event that he is set to the back-side of the play call, he will need to pick up speed to close the distance.
In teaching the Iso block, we emphasize choosing the best angle to our leverage and blocking half of the LB. Typically this will be at an inside-out angle, as we want the QB running if the LB drops out to cover the Spot route. However, depending on the position of the LB and the angle of the drop the RB should do his best to establish a one way cut for the QB.
To teach the contact for the RB, we practice coming to balance as the space cushion closes, and sinking our hips, staggering our feet and striking with the near peck and shoulder pad. Optimally, when he strikes it is at an upward angle, bringing the near forearm and far hand through to the chest of the defender. We are much more interested in a shoulder-chest strike and obstruction block than we are with our RB laying out LB’s. Put another way, if he sets a good pick, and keeps the LB occupied we can gain yards and move the chains.
What You’re Missing…
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- Coach Girolmo’s top concepts to the one-receiver side and three receiver side against cover zero and cover one, two of the most used coverage structures to defend RPO’s.
- The details of the route progression of the spot route and two-man screen combination.
- How he uses “covered” and “uncovered” blocking rules for his offensive line and how he blocks problematic fronts including double A gap structures and Bear fronts.
- How he trains the QB to make the right post-snap read progression based off the movement key.
- Plus game film on these concepts.
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The second and third level RPO’s that the Lead Draw + Spot and Power O + Slant provide are great additions to a play sheet. Though expensive, they provide the necessary options you want and need in the dreaded third down and medium scenario. If practiced and perfected, this scheme can be the keystone play for any two minute package. Finally, it empowers the quarterback to play fast break football.
Meet Coach Girolmo: Scott Girolmo finished his first season as a Head Football Coach at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, VA with a 9-4 Record, a Valley District Championship, and Coach of the Year Award. The Fighting Leemen made the school’s first ever appearance in a 3rd round state quarterfinal playoff game, and scored a modern school record 475 points for the season.