In the last article we talked about 2nd level reads and RPOs. The principles of 3rd level reads are exactly the same as 2nd level reads and are always executed as a RPO. The receiver’s aim is to win leverage on the defender covering him and the QB aim is to read the safety that is supposed to help cover the receiver’s route. If the safety fills for the run then the QB will pull the ball and throw it, if he stays in his zone then the QB will hand the ball off. Below are some examples of 2 high and 1 high 3rd level reads.
2 High 3rd Level Reads
In my opinion 3rd level reads work better out of double TE/Wing formations because they force the safeties to be the extra defenders that fill for the run, opposed to spread sets where the “apex” LB are the extra run defenders (see below).
Outside LBs as extra run defenders:
Safeties as extra run defenders:
Using post routes is a great way to win leverage on the CB and is perfect for replacing the safety if he fills for the run. It is basically the same as using a slant on a 2nd level RPO read. Below are 3 different types of runs against 3 different alignments of a 4-3 defense. Each run targets a gap in the defense which the safety has to fill and they are all packaged with a post route.
Since the offense is in a balanced set, with a TE on either side, lets hypothesize that the defense wanted to align there strength to the Y as he is a better blocker than the H. Therefore, the defense aligns in a 4-3 under font based on the Y. In the first example the offense runs a counter play. Only the BSG pulls and kicks out the end as a second pulling blocker is not necessary because there is a TE on the front side of the counter. The QB will read the safety and give/throw the ball based whether he fills or not.
In example 2 the post is on the front side of the play and is packaged with an OZ concept. The read is the same.
In the final example the defense is aligned in a base 4-3. The post is on the backside again but this time it is packaged with IZ. The read is the same.
1 High 3rd Level Reads
1 high 3rd level reads attack the middle of the field, the FS is the read man. The ball is run to the weak side forcing the 1 high safety to fill more urgently than if the run play was run to the strong side. Rules stay the same for QB, if safety fills throw if not hand off the ball.
The first play is OZ packages with verts. Looking to hit the TE over the middle.
This example is exactly the same this time the TE stays to block and the QB is looking to throw to the H.
Here we have an Inside Mills (dig, post) concept with OZ. QB can throw dig to post.
These examples below are just some other blocking schemes that can have the same effect as OZ blocking just so I’m not always drawing up OZ.
Below is pin and pull down blocks for the shotgun bucksweep. Read stays the same. A disclaimer it’s highly unlikely the defense will align there DE in a 5 tech to the closed single side (Y TE). He would most likely be head up to outside the Y in which case the TE would have to block him regardless.
In this example it’s pin and pull down blocks on the front side only (from TE to G), the back side has OZ blocking.
When running these 3rd level RPOs against a 1 high structure it is important to identify how the backside DEs are reacting to the backfield action. Like we discussed in the 2nd level read article if they are rushing the mesh point or pressuring the QB it is best to “lock” the backside tackle to prevent that from happening.
If you have been following this series of articles on spread read option football then you now have a better understanding of the concept. You are aware that there are 2 types (run-run or run-pass) of read option which can be executed at 3 levels (1st, 2nd, 3rd). Regarding 1st level reads we covered reading the EMOL, on 2nd level reads we identified the difference between inside and outside reads, and for 3rd level reads examined differences between versing a 2 high and a 1 high defensive structure. You now know that reads can be attached to almost any play and the variations are endless. This article wraps up the principles behind conventional read option plays we will return to the read option in future articles and examine some more contemporary developments/wrinkles to the concept. In the meantime the next article in the series will focus on using a wing player and how this affects the read option game.
If you are interested in further developing your knowledge of third level defender reads then you should take a look at Power Read Variations and RPOs which is not only a great demonstration of how to implement a power read option scheme, but also provides several examples of third level defender reads which are quite effective and very easy to attach to your existing run plays. If you want your read offense to be a threat to safeties at the 3rd level, then this coaching video will provide you with the fundamentals and structure to make it happen.
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