Having covered the two schemes that make up the bulk of the Drinkwitz run game, Inside and Outside Zone, along with the constraint system that protects them, it is time to turn our attention to Coach Drink’s passing game. We will analyze the pass attack in three installments: 1. dropback passes, 2. quick passes, and 3. bootleg passes and screens.
Today we begin with the dropback passing game.
While they are not the only dropback plays Coach Drinkwitz carries, let’s look at the three concepts that make up the great majority of his dropback package. They are Mesh, Shallow Cross/Drive, and Y Cross.
The purpose of Mesh is to stretch the underneath coverage of the defense with four low routes. The namesake routes are shallow Drags that cross, or mesh, at a depth of about five yards directly in front of the quarterback.
The meshing Drag routes cross the ball, then run to or settle into open grass against zone coverage. Against man coverage the mesh provides a rub to help the underneath route get open across the field. The Out route is also a good man beater.
Let’s look at some examples of Mesh from Drinkwitz’s 2019 Appalachian State team, watching the areas of the field the routes attack.
I’ll not say too much about the reads for these concepts. Different coaches teach their quarterbacks different reads, some very different from others. Some coaches have the quarterback make a presnap decision on the progression based on the defensive look. Other coaches relay the progression they want to the quarterback along with the play call. This means the same play can be read in several different ways snap to snap.
Having said that, it looks like Drinkwitz’s QB has the Out as his first option on most occasions. From there, I would guess the quarterback scans back across the field from the meshers to the running back. In the last example, the QB hits a deep route which suggests that perhaps the quarterback is allowed to take a peek at the Go route presnap or at the very beginning of his drop to decide whether to make it part of the read.
The Shallow Cross and Drive concepts are very similar, so I am combining them in this analysis. Both involve a shallow Drag route underneath a Dig route at ten or so yards. The only difference is the directional relationship between the two routes.
We can think of the effect of the Shallow Cross on the defense in at least two ways. The first is that it puts a vertical stretch on the inside linebackers who are caught between the Drag underneath them and the Dig behind. Another is that it catches the LBs in a triangle read between the Drag, the Dig, and the RB on the checkdown. If the spacing is right the LBs should be able to cover two of them, but not all three.
Let’s look at examples of the routes available to the quarterback on Shallow Cross.
Drive is just like Shallow Drag, but the Drag and the Dig come into the quarterback’s line of sight from the same side.
This play is a scramble, but provides a great shot of the routes on this Drive play.
RB on checkdown
Here’s a clip of the QB hitting a deep Go on a Drive play.
Y Cross is designed to be a more consistently explosive play than Mesh or Shallow Cross/Drive. The Cross route goes under the outside linebacker and behind the ILB, searching for an open area in the deep middle of the field. If the deep middle is closed the crosser pushes the route horizontally to the sideline.
In this example, the Out route is replaced by an Option route by the running back.
Play action Y Cross
Coach Drinkwitz frequently pairs Y Cross with playaction and max protection. The idea is to take a deep shot. My guess is the QB looks first for the Go or the Post, then reads down to the Cross.
Here’s a playaction Y Cross with both Jet and Zone fakes. The QB hits the Cross for a big play.
Y Cross Waggle
And here is a Y Cross off a playaction Waggle action. The Waggle is a bootleg where the backside guard pulls across the formation to protect the QB. We will look more at Drink’s Waggle plays in the sixth installment of this series.
When Drink wants to go deep, he tends to dial up some version of Double Posts. The read is usually the safety between the Posts. If the safety chases the inside Post, the ball goes outside. If he stays over the outside Post, the QB hits the other.
Here are a few examples.
Y Cross under Double Posts
Again, this is not an exhaustive look at Coach Drinkwitz’s dropback game, just a survey of his favorite concepts. One thing to notice is that this package seems capable of attacking every part of the secondary—a key to a successful passing attack.
In the next Film Room installment we will look at Drink’s quick pass package.