How Nation Ford High School Uses the Spread No-Huddle Offense to Attack Various Coverages

We are a suburban school in South Carolina in the shadow of Charlotte, NC. We are also a high performing academic school that serves a diverse cross section of students and athletes. Our school began within the last 10 years and so we are just now establishing football traditions both on and off the field. The passing game at Nation Ford High School is basically an air raid drop back scheme with more modern adaptations of the spread offense quick passing and screen games. We have three quick screens, three slow screens, four quick passes, and eight drop back passes. We are also a 100% no-huddle team and take a great deal of pride in it. We feel that forcing the tempo to move up and down the field allows us to dictate the pace and style of play. We spend a great deal of time using a stop watch to push our athletes to achieve an ever increasing level of a fast tempo. As we run, literally, down the field it is important that the entire staff is on the same page as to what we will be looking for when we call plays. Therefore, we have built for ourselves three basic concepts that guide our thinking in the spread no-huddle offense.


What do we look for when calling plays?


Defenses are very complex in modern football and there needs to be some very simple ways to think of attacking them in order to give yourself a high probability of success. We have read progressions built into every route for our QB but we also have another progression that we have built to help us as play callers. When we call pass plays we basically look for three general items in order to attack a defense. These three things we look for when calling a play include:

1-Match ups



Match ups are the first thing we should look for as we assess how we will call plays to attack a defensive structure. We should see if we have a player that can beat their player simply because he is better. An example – we line up in Trips Right and Call Ducks 1-X Fade (Diagram 1).

Diagram 1

This is a bubble screen to the trips side and one man isolation fade route to the single receiver side. This is done when we feel that our X Receiver (who is our fastest player) is simply better than their corner. We can do it to the Z receiver’s side as well if we feel he gives us a match up advantage. We might even do this by calling Texas Tech Y Hawkeye (Option Route at 5 yards) if we feel that our Y (tight end) can physically impose his will on a smaller LB (Diagram 2).

Diagram 2


The point is to find the match up and exploit it. These are simple ways to attack a defense and do not require us to be better than the defense at every position but instead to use formations, motions, or tempo in order to find and exploit a one-on-one situation.

If there is no clear match up because of coverage or personnel, then we should move on to grass. This means to look at the defense and see where there is a giant section of grass that is uncovered and visualize where to put a route to exploit it. This is as simple as it seems. As we move down the field at high speed, we simply take note of where we continuously see large areas of space or grass that opens up. As a staff, we are talking on the headsets and reminding one another of where this grass is from play to play. A great example of this is if the defense is in cover 3, to call Hawaii – a slant/bubble concept – from a 3 x 2 alignment (Diagram 3). The slant will find a huge piece of grass behind the outside LB. Another example is to cal the bubble screen when the defense is in split coverage (Cover 2) because there is grass where the H back lin

Diagram 3


If there is no match up and no grass, then we should move to our third way of attacking a defense which is leverage. Leverage means that the defense is giving us something because of how they line up. An example is to call Texas Tech (4 verticals) and tag it with H when the outside LB is lined up with inside leverage to take away the slant or to help stop runs into the box. If the outside LB lines up inside the H receiver, then the H can use the inside leverage against that defender and work the outside of the field. The H receiver pushes up field for 5 yards, fakes inside, and uses leverage to get an open route to the sideline. Another example would be to call Texas Tech X In when the cover 2 corner is jamming from the outside-in to stop us from releasing into a fade route (Diagram 4). His leverage in this example is giving us the 5-yard square in route if we just take it.

Diagram 4

These three ideas should control the thinking of the play caller when he looks at the defense. The number one priority should be to find a match up, followed by grass, and then to a leverage advantage. Sometimes one situation fits one scenario best and many times it will be fluid throughout a contest. Below are some examples of route concepts that we use to attack specific defense as discussed in the new 4 DVD set produced by AFM Videos.


How to attack Cover 2?(Ducks 1/3 if allowed)

1st Tier: Alabama, Wyoming Shake, Texas Tech, Hawaii, Hoosiers, Y Corner

2nd Tier: Alabama Gut, Houston, Kansas, Kentucky


How to attack Cover 3?(Ducks 2 if allowed)

1st Tier: Texas Tech, Florida, Clemson, Wisconsin, Houston

2nd Tier: Wyoming, Kentucky, Hoosiers


How to attack man coverage?(Ducks Joker)

1st Tier: Kentucky, Hawaii, Kansas

2nd Tier: Texas Tech, Clemson, Alabama


Safe routes to call vs. anything?

Houston Texas Tech X/Z In Kansas (2×2) Hoosiers

Texas Tech Levels Texas Tech Y Hawkeye Hawaii


Routes for Goal line or short yardage?

Texas Tech T Under Y Delay

Kentucky (Switch)

Hoosiers Y Corner

Hawaii from 3×2

Texas Tech X Choice

T Kansas Y Delay


Rich Hargitt, Quarterbacks Coach and Passing Game Coordinator,

Nation Ford High School (SC)