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Kentucky Football: The Air Raid and Downfield Passing Attack

The screen game sets up the downfield passing. Patience is needed before throwing deep.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Earlier discussion was on the screen game within the air raid. If the offense can establish the screen game and move the football, it can test the discipline and technique of the deep defenders.

Last season West Virgina, and presumably UK this season, used a route combination of  a deep in, or dig, and a post route.  This combination has its origins in the playbook of Steve Spurrier while running the Fun N Gun at Florida.

To be an effective offense, and not just a collection of plays, each play needs to build on the other, or be an answer when a defense employs a particular technique.  In this shot, the LSU defense is playing what appears to be quarters coverage. The safety and the corner will be reading the route stem of  a particular receiver.

On this snap, Kentucky sent the running back in motion and threatened a running back screen.  Based on this reaction, the safety came down and locked on to the slot, and the outside linebacker was widening with the running back. This would indicate the cornerback is all alone on the outside receiver running a post.

Upon getting a very similar look and defender reaction against Baylor, West Virgina called the post and dig combination with the running back swinging to the same side.  They ran this multiple times and were able to connect on the post, the dig, and the running back swing.  What makes this combination so effective is the route stems appear just like the running back screen to the defenders.

After getting the defenders conditioned to the screen, the offense can attack that momentary lapse to gain the route side space needed. Notice, these take accurate and well-timed throws.  The idea is to have the safety to take the dig and open up the post behind him.  Typically the middle linebacker will be able to get underneath the dig enough to either prevent the throw, or cause a throw with more air. A ball over the middle with more air will allow the safety time to play over the post and break on the dig. However, the dig running in front of the safety can be some tempting candy.

The middle linebacker is the yellow circle and the safety is chasing the dig. The post route from the outside receiver has inside space and the quarterback placed  it in his hands.

There are several adjustments off this concept to attack the middle linebacker and the corner if the defense changes how it chooses to play its quarters coverage. Even though screens can cause hand wringing, they serve a valuable purpose in air raid offense.

Below are some clips of West Virginia running this Ole Ball Coach concept.

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