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Coaching the QB in the No Huddle No Mercy Offense

Posted by Alex Kirby on

Running the no huddle can create a lot of problems for a defense, but if your quarterback is not prepared, it won't matter what plays you call during a game. 

You need a plan, and that's what this article is about.

Coach Shawn Liotta explains how he teaches his quarterback to operate in the no huddle offense, from practice, to film study, to game night.

Watch the video above, or keep reading to learn more about how Coach Liotta coaches his quarterback in the No Huddle No Mercy Offense

Expectations of the No-Huddle Quarterback

Film Study 

Practice, Opponent, Self Study. We require more out of the quarterback position in this area. YOU as a coach must facilitate.

I don’t expect my quarterback to go home and watch a ton of film. It’s fine if he does, but we facilitate that during scheduled team time and meetings.

Scanning Defenses Pre-Snap 

Your quarterback needs to be able to understand the structure of the defense, how they’re lining up against your formations, whether they’re leaving certain guys uncovered, and things like this.

They have a quarterback school in the offseason that gets them in this mindset, but every rep in practice is an opportunity to build the habits that you want to see from your quarterback in a no huddle attack like this.

Expectations of the Quarterback in the No Huddle No Mercy Offense

Make sure you stress this with your quarterback (and the rest of your players): If you’re just out there on the practice field running a play and not practicing these other habits, you’re wasting reps. Every play is a chance to scan a defense and get in that habit of recognizing what they’re trying to do, and that’s important.


In order to have a great offense and continue to grow as a player, a quarterback must have consistent and never ending improvement in his fundamentals.

Understanding of the System and how it applies to the QB position

QB Responsibilities Pre-Snap

  1. Quickly get us aligned into the formation
    1. The quarterback needs to be like a drill sergeant, making sure the skill guys are lined up as quickly as possible in the formation called, and getting everyone set and ready to go run the play.
  2. Get play call related to the offensive line one time in each direction
  3. Pre-Snap scan of Perimeter, Box and Cap
  4. If motion - Ensure all players set and give the motion indicator
  5. If perfect conditions exist, ball snapped within 5 seconds of ready for play

Two Types of Reads for the Quarterback

Pre-Snap Look - Numbers, Leverage

This is where Coach Liotta stresses to look for numbers and leverage. They define a “look” as a pre-snap picture that can change. For example, is the defense giving us an uncovered slot receiver to the boundary.

Post-Snap Read - Reaction

The reaction is where things can change in an instant, and when Coach Liotta starts to get into their multiple-adjusting routes and the choice packages (like the deep choice route) that make up such a big part of the No Huddle No Mercy Offense.

How we Drill the QB While Playing Fast Every Day in Practice

How we Drill the No Huddle Quarterback

  • Each Period has a focus
  • QB is the conductor - We Want to Play Fast. The Quarterback is the one who is leading the way.
  • Teach off of Film - Mental Reps
  • Force QB out of his comfort zone. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this, but we want to give him some bad snaps, and give him some bad balls and see how he handles it.
  • Must take care of the football.
  • Any turnover involving an INT, a running back to quarterback exchange, or a snap is the QB’s fault, whether it’s his fault or not. That being said, if the snap is low, the quarterback is going to get with the center to get that corrected, and tell him it needs to be fixed. Still, he’s going to accept responsibility in front of the team for these things as it comes with being a leader.

Quarterback Indy Period

QB Footwork/Drops/Play Recognition - Coach Liotta will call out a play, and he wants to see the quarterback’s feet and eyes, and how he works through a progression. For example, if they call the “slide” route in this offense, and the quarterback is reading the outside area defender, Coach Liotta wants to see him progress through all of that.

    Quarterback Escape Drill

    Quarterback Escape Drill - No Huddle No Mercy Offense
    A lot of coaches use some kind of drill like this, and this is Coach Liotta’s version. They’ll use the stepover bags that you can find in a lot of places. They work the drop, weave, through, coming to balance, and getting the ball to the receiver.

      Throwing on the Move

      During this period we also work throwing on the move, including circle drill and scramble drill. Anything you can do to get your quarterback used to throwing on the move and using his lower body is useful.

      Rapid Fire Screen Drill

      This is a great drill that involves taking all of your receivers during the last five minutes of individual periods. As you see in the diagram, they’re going to line up and they’re going to run that screen out wide.

      Rapid Fire Screen Drill - No Huddle No Mercy Offense

      The one thing you’ll find as a coach, if you want to get good at throwing the football, you need a lot of footballs in practice to be able to use in drills like these, so work with your athletic department or your booster club and make sure you can afford to get as many footballs as you need. This drill is a good one, but you need a lot of footballs at your disposal.

      The other alternative is to keep some of the older footballs around that you may not want to keep in a game any longer, but are still able to be used in practice. Also, as Coach Liotta mentions in the video, Wilson makes “practice balls” that are usually cheaper and can save you some money if that’s what you’re looking for.

      The drill is set up with a coach standing in front of the quarterback and he’s going to rapid-fire snap the ball to the quarterback. It’s a great opportunity to give your quarterback high snaps, low snaps, and put the ball all over the place. Basically your quarterback has got to catch it and rip it. They like to practice not getting the laces and throwing it.

      For the quarterback they’re emphasizing getting the ball out in a hurry, throwing without the laces, and the accuracy of it. During this whole time the coach is mixing up the snaps so that the quarterback can’t feel too comfortable about where the ball is going to end up.

      Now for the receivers, they’re going to run the now screen route and then burst up the field for ten yards, then they’ll jog back around behind the drill as you see in the diagram, and drop the ball in an empty ball bag, and get to the back of the line. If you have a lot of receivers and running backs in your program this can take time, especially the first time you do it.

      Still, this can get a lot of reps for your quarterbacks and receivers in a hurry, and is useful, especially if you’re trying to practice going fast.

      Want More?

      Check out the entire No Huddle No Mercy Offense Series HERE from Coach Shawn Liotta