Previewing Flip’s Offense: The Shallow Cross with a Twist

Mark Richt has run a highly successful shallow cross series since his days as Florida State’s offensive coordinator in the mid-late 90’s.  He brought the play to Georgia and continues to run it to this day.  I love the play concept; I REALLY hope Flip brings it with him.

Here’s a diagram of the play straight from FSU’s playbook:

Click here for a look at some All 22 film of the concept.  You’ll also see Richt’s Y-Corner, Y-Stick, and Sail concepts.


Mark Richt’s shallow cross series is VERY flexible in that its routes act as both man and zone beaters and the play can be run from almost any formation/personnel grouping.  It’s easy to teach and creates a “triangle read” for the QB (horizontal AND vertical stretch of the D).  The shallow cross acts as a built-in hot route and the “bench route” can be (and usually is) converted to a backside post that can be used to hold the deep safety.  Finally, the frontside choice route from the #2 WR can be tagged to create different looks.  One very common tag is Y corner, creating a “smash” concept between the corner and flat route.  Against single-hi looks the flat route is often converted to a wheel when the RB is manned up by a LB.

On to the play…

Shallow Cros
The Route Combos…

Shallow Cross

-I’m tagging this “Y shallow” as the slot WR is running the crossing route

-Notice that the backside “bench route” is run as a post

-The reads are marked.  I’ve also marked the read man.  We’ll see how his action influences the progression in a moment.  The QB’s reads will change based on the D’s coverage shell.

-The really creative part of the play is the weakside TE running a “Choice” route based on the middle of the field coverage.  If he sees MOFC (Cover 1/Cover 3) he stays in the seam.  If he sees MOFO (Cover 2/Cover 4) he will bend the route inside and settle in the deep hole.  If the TE’s runs a different route here, the read goes 1. Shallow cross 2. Curl 3. Flat

The Coverage Shell…

-Cover 4 or “Quarters”

-SAM and WILL have the flats.  If the WILL doesn’t see any threat to the flat he will “zone up” the weakside hook/seam.  The MIKE will play the strong hook.  He must wall off any crossers and also be prepared to open to the strongside and carry #3 if he goes vertical.

The Snap…

-Both CB’s appear to be using a “scootch step” technique, which is very similar to a flat foot read.  The idea is to delay backpedaling while reading the QB through the 3-step route tree.  If the ball comes out immediately (like a slant), the CB is in position to break on the ball as he doesn’t have to shuffle or T-step to stop his backwards momentum.

-For an unknown reason (bad read, the TE’s inside stem, the defense’s rules for reading #2 in quarters) the weakside S does not read the TE’s stem as vertical

-Notice the SAM widening as he sees the RB threaten the flat.

Reading the MIKE…

-After identifying split safety coverage (MOFO), the QB’s read becomes the MIKE with this route concept.  If the MIKE jumps the crosser as he should, the TE will sit down in the deep hole.  If the MIKE allows the Y a free release across the middle, the Y becomes the first read as the WILL should carry the TE as he is attacking his seam (remember the WILL’s coverage responsibility converts to zone when no threat to his flat appears).

If the MIKE gets into position to break on the crossing route and the WILL carries the TE, the QB will dump to the RB who is matched up with the SAM in the flat.

-Not a good job by the WILL to force the TE to stem his route around him.  He gives the runner a free pass.

The MIKE Breaks…

-This is a high school level read when the MIKE break on the crosser.  You can see the TE sitting down in the deep middle (Cover 4’s weak spots are the flats and deep middle of the field).

-I can’t state who was at fault for the breakdown here, the MIKE or the WILL.

1. As the WILL’s coverage has converted to zone it is conceivable that he is expected to carry the TE here, leaving the MIKE to jump the crosser.

2. On the other hand, many defenses use a “RAT” call when they see a shallow crossing route, alerting the backside LB to the play (the WILL in this case) that a crossing route is coming his way.  Because he has the best view of the route/QB and can break into the WR, he takes the shallow cross.  If the defeense made a RAT call when Y stemmed into his crossing route, the MIKE needs to pass off the crosser and get depth as the TE is attacking his hook zone.

Easy $

-Go back to the GIF at the beginning of the post.  You’ll notice that after the play is over, the WILL is gesturing and pointing at the MIKE.  The MIKE was probably responsible for the RAT call, meaning he should have passed the crosser to the WILL and sunk to protect his hook zone.

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