Discover the most common and most successful naked concepts that are being used across the country from the FBS to high school powers.
By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
Perhaps there is no other topic more universal than the Naked or Boot pass game. Regardless of the offensive system you run, chances are you have some form of Naked, Boot or Waggle action off of your most productive run schemes. This could be the reason why we had so many coaches respond to our survey on this topic. Below we present our findings on this concept- focusing mainly on different kinds of pass routes that can be employed with this scheme. But before we get into the specifics, there are a few items of research we’d like to share:
- 48.7 percent of coaches use the boot or naked pass between 10-25 percent of their offensive schemes.
- 43.9 percent prefer running the boot in early downs (1st and 10)
Editor’s Note: While we realize that many coaches classify Boot and Naked concepts into two different plays, we asked our readers to select their most productive scheme between the two and elaborate on it.
Because the Naked or Boot scheme can be used off of various run actions, we figured we wanted to present our results on which run actions were most favorable (based on our readers) to use the boot action off of it:
- 28.1 percent of coaches prefer an inside zone run action and boot or naked away from it.
- 22.7 percent of coaches prefer an outside zone run action and boot or naked away from it.
- 21.5 percent of coaches prefer a gap scheme such as a counter or power run action and boot or naked away from it.
- 8.2 percent of coaches prefer a fly or jet sweep run action and boot or naked away from it.
Case 1: Protection
* For the purpose of this report, "back side" refers to the offensive line AWAY from the run action- which is the side TO the boot action.
We all know that nothing works in the pass game without the proper protection, so we’d figured that would be a good place to start our report. It’s important to note that we decided to combine both the Naked and Boot concept for the purpose of this report because they can be so similar in nature in terms of the route progression. But, we did find that the protection in these two concepts could be totally different and in fact where split down the middle in our research. Here is what we found:
Research on Protection
- 37.4 percent of coaches prefer to use zone protection away from the run action with ONE backside puller (Diagram 1).
- 35.8 percent of coaches prefer to use full zone protection away from the run action with NO backside puller (Diagram 2).
- 21.1 percent of coaches prefer a mix of both man and zone protection.
Coaches that swear by the full zone protection do so because the hard zone action causes a freeze in second level defenders such as linebackers or safeties, allowing intermediate routes to clear behind them. Dale Sprague, the offensive coordinator at Allegany High School (VA) teaches his offensive lineman to take a bucket step to block one gap away from the boot side. Sprague calls it a "hard reach" step while pulling the backside guard. "Our backside puller pulls flat until he crosses the center, at which time he gains depth to find the first defender outside the play side tackle and/or Tight End. There are some boots where we will pull the Center if need be, especially if he is uncovered."
Doug Taracuk, the offensive coordinator at Dublin Scioto High School (OH) felt that he just didn’t have the offensive lineman who can zone block, so he went more to a gap scheme protection up front- which he calls his "Gut" scheme. In his Power naked scheme, Taracuk will have the backside tackle block any B gap defender (to simulate Power) while the backside guard pulls. He tells his Tackle to stay on the double team and if there is no B gap first level defender, to sift hard, stay low and get to heels of defensive lineman- which he calls "Nebraska"- a term to remind his lineman not go up field. "We leave the End unblocked, and try to get the QB out and around," said Taracuk. "It screwed opponents reads- because they read tackles and get run reads."
To see detailed breakdown at Coach Taracuk's gap scheme, click here to join the insiders.
Matt Yascko, the head coach at defending state champion Carteret High School (NJ) prefers to pull his front side Guard to the boot action-, which is more common in Waggle type offenses. He will have him make a call alerting the boot side Tackle of his responsibility, while every other lineman will use a full-zone protection, securing inside gaps first with the purpose of getting the defensive end to chase the play away. Against Odd fronts, Yascko will full zone the boot side (Diagram 7) while against an Even front, he will use what he calls a "down and around" concept where the Guard will get some depth and attack the DE’s up field shoulder (Diagram 8). "We try to log him," says Yascko. "But if can’t we will ride to sideline and have QB step up inside it."
Another option in protection to block "B.O.B" which means big on big protection, more synonymous with a drop back style pass game. This is the concept Jim Renzelmann uses at Sheboygan high school in Wisconsin.
"When we run our boot scheme, we would protect Big on Big, and the fullback would release through the B gap to pick up any LB blitz," said Renzelmann. " If there was not a blitz, he would run the flat route. The boot side Guard and Tackle determine who pulls. If there is a man head up on the Guard, the Tackle comes down on him and the Guard pulls. If the Guard has an inside gap threat, he blocks down. The TE will also block down on the man head up the tackle and the Tackle could pull which is rare." (Diagram 9)
For more diagrams and film of the frontside guard pulling scheme, click here to join the insiders.
Case 2: Routes of Number 1 Receiver Play side
Editor’s Note: In cases 2-5, we will focus on the types of routes that are most commonly used by receivers in the boot/naked pass game. These routes are based on a four-receiver route structure. Of course, you may not have four options in your boot pass game (we’ve found many coaches don’t). But, for the sake of this report- we will classify these four receivers as the following:
#1 Play side= first receiver to the side of the boot pass. #2 Play side= second receiver to the side of the boot pass. #3 Play side- third receiver to the side of the boot pass (may come from the backside of the play. #4 Play side= fourth receiver to the side of the boot pass (may also come from the backside of the play).
Our intent on the following sections is two fold:
- To provide you with the most common routes run by these players- based on our research.
- To offer other solutions coaches have provided.
- 34.8 percent of coaches use either a post corner or corner route.
- 32.0 percent of coaches use a vertical or clear-out route.
- 18.7 percent of coaches use a comeback route.
Regardless of what route you decide on using for your number one receiver, we found two constants in our research:
- He must be able to run the top off the coverage
- He must look the same in run or pass by quickly getting into his stem and keeping his pad level down.
The Case for Comebacks and Post Corners:
While often times, this player may not be the number one target in Boot or Naked concepts, we’ve heard from many coaches who think otherwise. David Kilpatrick-White from Bothell High School (WA) is one of those coaches who feel as if the number one receiver could be a viable target for the QB. He’ll have his number one receiver stem to seven yards before bowing out (as if on a fade). But once he gets to 14 yards, he’ll throttle back with an outside break to 12 yards (Diagram 10). Kilpatrick-White says if it becomes a scramble drill he will shallow out to 10 yards and works to the back shoulder of the QB.
Taylor University (IN) will use a comeback and break it at 17 yards, with the intent of drawing Corners or Safeties into the middle of the field. "The point is to drive his corner deep and threaten the post," said Greg Wolfe, the offensive coordinator. "Ideally we would like to get the corner's hips turned to the inside before making his comeback break at 17 yards. We work a lot on getting him to come back to the QB as steep as possible." According to Wolfe, if he is going against a Cover 2 Corner he works to threaten the safety over the top and anticipates the ball in the hole of the cover 2 between the Safety and Corner (Diagram 11). "The ball ends up being thrown to the same spot, but the route doesn't look exactly the same," said Wolfe.
To see additional content on the unique angle comeback concept, click here to join the insiders.
Case 3: Routes of Number 2 Receiver Play side
Now, we’ll start to address which usually is the main target of QB’s in the Naked and Boot pass game- the number two receiver play side. This is the receiver that can come from anywhere in the formation to get in the eyesight of the QB. In fact when we asked coaches where their number two receiver will come from, we found some interesting responses: 46.1 percent of coaches will use him as a tight end or H back, 30.3 percent will use him as a slot receiver while 23.7 will use him as a fullback.
Since the naked boot is a concept, that number two receiver can come really from anywhere, but when he gets there these are routes we found to be the ones he’ll execute the most.
This Report Continues Below...
What Coaches Are Saying:
"I just spent the last five days doing nothing but studying the research from X&O Labs' Insiders website. I print the reports and place them in notebooks. I read and re-read them and write study notes. Then I start adjusting what I have learned to add to our system for spring ball. Thanks for all you guys do to make football better."
- Dr. Dean Boyd, Athletic Director/Head Football Coach, Marlboro County High School
Report Continued From Above...
- 53 percent of coaches prefer to use an arrow or flat route.
- 19 percent of coaches will use a square or speed out.
24.6 percent of coaches use other concepts by their number two receiver- such as what Whinery calls a "whip" route (Diagram 13). "It’s two to three hard steps inside to simulate a cutoff block (like a slot would do on run away) than plan on their outside foot and reverse back out," said Whinery. "Our aiming point is 4-6 yards deep."
To see how some teams are running a follow / comeback route with the #2 receiver, click here to join the insiders.
We have found that many coaches are not adjusting their routes by number two based on the following indicators:
- What the number one receiver is doing.
- What coverage they are seeing.
According to Matt Duffy at Willoughby South High School (OH) the number two receiver will work his stem to 10 yards and read the number one receiver. If the number one receiver is vertical (based on coverage- such as cover three) he will snap off his route off to a 15-yard out (Diagram 15). If number one ran the comeback (based off cover two), number two will run post corner at a depth of 27 yards (Diagram 16). Jere Adcock at Decatur High School (AL) will also have his number two-receiver work off the route of number one. "We will usually run a post with him to clear or occupy the safety," said Adock. "But if we want to get him in the route we change the route concept to a sail route concept on that side- where his is really working to the sideline (Diagram 17)." Against a Cover three look, Bruce Fleming, the former OC at Prep Charter High School (PA) will utilize a Curl/Wheel combination (Diagram 18). Against two deep looks, he prefers the traditional Comeback, Corner combination.
Jeff Steinberg, the head coach at Santiago High School (CA) who authored a DVD on the boot pass game which can be found here, typically will have his number two receiver play side use a flat route if there is no number three receiver play side but run a clear-out route if there is a number three receiver (trips) to the play side (Diagram 19). This is used when the flat defender is located inside the number two receiver. Similar to a protection- release, the goal is to take the top off the coverage and allow a backside receiver- usually on a drag- to get free access in throwing lanes (Diagram 20).
To see detailed diagrams of a Slam Release Technique, click here to join the insiders.
Case 4: Routes of Number 3 Receiver Play side
We’ve found the second most productive receiver in the Boot and Naked pass game is that number three receiver, who most commonly comes from across the formation to get in the line of sight for the QB. While getting the ball this receiver may take some time, it is often this receiver who sneaks behind second level defenders into an open area in coverage. In man coverage circumstances, this receiver will often outrun a defender and in zone coverage’s, he will sit in a hole.
To see detailed diagrams and film of how coaches are using the backside TE/H to become the #3 option in boot plays, click here to join the insiders.
Similar to this concept, Matt Keumpel the head coach at Oelwein High School (IA) will always have his third receiver run directly at the Safety as a clear-out route. He’ll mainly like to do this out of trips because it opens up the route of number two (Diagram 24) on the seven route. Keumpel will often have his number three come from the other side of the formation in motion to get the coverage to roll (Diagram 25). In any case, his rule is to clear out the top off the coverage so the ball gets to number two.
To see video of Keumpel’s boot pass game, click on the link below:
Case 5: Routes of Number 4 Receiver Play side
Finally, the number four receiver to the play side of boot is often the most neglected routes in the pass concept. There were many coaches in our survey who plainly "forbidden" their QB’s to throw the backside route- which 64.9 percent of coaches choose to run a post or skinny route. In fact, when we asked coaches what the fourth option was in their boot concept was- nearly a quarter of them responded…RUN! While we do realize that the boot concept is a run/pass option for QB’s- we did want to profile some routes that can be effective as a fourth choice.
Jake Olsen at Dubuque does feel like that fourth receiver could be a viable option in the boot pass game. As detailed in Case 3, Olsen calls his fourth route a "COL" which is an acronym for "Come Open Late" route- which is what Olsen says is a deep post/dig combination which he has them carry 15-18 yards starting to round at about twelve (Diagram 26). Olsen tells them to take their time and "come open late" by stressing the third level of coverage and finding the hole.
To see 3 additional backside over and drag concepts and video, click here to join the insiders.
Reader Request: Boot and Naked Concepts out of Gun
Many of our readers wanted to learn more about utilizing the boot pass game out of shotgun formations. For whatever reason, many times the gun formation doesn’t present the same play action fake that it would under center. So we wanted to ask some coaches that use the boot game out of shotgun formations how they best make it look deceiving for defense. Many of them now are using the Pistol as a way to fool linebackers, but we’ve talked to others like Kreg Kephart who uses what he learned listening to Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly while Kelly was at New Hampshire seven years ago. "We have the QB hide behind the back of the offensive line as the mesh point with the running back develops," said Kephart. "We tell him to rock forward once the mesh occurs and rock backwards as soon as the back passes him. It really gets the linebackers to flow with him. Doug Taracuk uses the old Navy QB technique from his Pistol sets. "We tell the QB to kick off midline, reach ball back on midline and ride from front hip to back hip on the mesh. Once the mesh is made we tell him to pause with ball on front hip before he gets around."
Like we mentioned earlier, the boot and naked concept can be implemented into any offensive scheme or structure. Regardless of what system you run, you will have a flat component, a drag component a deep component and a back side deep ball. Our intent was to show you the various kinds of routes that can be used to fill those components.
What You're Missing:
Right now, members of X&O Labs' Insiders website are reading the full-length version of this report with all 10 videos - that's 43 minutes of game film. Join the Insiders today and you'll get access to the entire report on the Naked and Boot pass game including:
How Dave Schramm, the OC at Fresno State University meshes both man and zone protection in his Boot concepts.
How changing the break points of the number one receiver’s play side Post Corner route can influence Corners and Safeties.
The "follow" concept by the number two receiver play side which is productive against any coveage.
How Damian Wrobleski, the offensive line coach at Rutgers University teaches the "slam release" technique of the Tight End.
The technique of the "read drag" by the number three receiver backside in Boot and Naked schemes.
Teaching the number four receiver to use the "stair post" technique to get into the vision of the QB backside of the Boot and Naked.
Various types of Naked and Boot concepts submitted by our readers including those out of Pistol formations and out of Jet Sweep action.
Plus game film!