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Montana State's Best RPOs (With Film)

Posted by Lucas David on

In this article we’ll see how coach Taylor Housewright from Montana State designs and coaches his players into one of the most efficient RPO offenses in the country. Who are the “read guys”? What are we aiming at? What do we want from the players? 

This article is taken directly from our video series: The Montana State Offense: The Complete Series

Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more.

Split flow, Tight Ends and Reading 2nd Level

Coach Housewright starts by explaining the FLOCK RPO, a tag out of Inside Zone in a 11 personnel package. The Tight End will move in a classic split flow motion, flowing into the backside C-Gap Defender, but only to bluff his block on him and work to the flat. Receivers are blocking circling the field and, like almost everything, there’s a little spice into it: your outside receiver should be running his defender deep, like a route. In case he gets tired across the game, remind him to block circling the field.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 1

By default, the Quarterback is always reading the C-Gap Defender for the give or keep decision, as highlighted in the triangle below.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 2

If the QB reads the keep, then how do we know who are we reading to throw the TE’s flat?

A good way of reading it is to look for the 3rd guy from the sideline in. If he crashes inside for the RB, it means the TE has no one on him to the flat and you’ll have a quick throw.

Can a mobile quarterback keep the ball and run north and south?

Yes, he can, but only if the 3rd guy crashes inside and gives you a clear path to the lane the wide receivers created. If he only flinches for a fraction of a second or you have a good tight end for open field situations, quick throw it.

And remember: if the wide receivers are blocking circling the field, the TE should also circle the field looking for space after he catches the ball.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 3

Quick reminder!

If the C-Gap defender mesh charges the QB, squeezes the gap or your QB doesn’t feel like he can outrun the guy, give it to the running back.

What if the Read Guy follows the route?

When facing modern defenses, with only 2 backers and a lot of defensive backs, you’ll also be facing Apex defenders. A way of handling with them is with physicality.

So, unless one of the safeties is dropping, you’ll have to deal with the Apex player.

This will probably happen after you hit one or two of those with success in a game, that’s one of the most common adjustments defenses will do. But the good thing is that the reads are still simple.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 6

If he follows, the quarterback should take off and run.

We teach the QB to never slide, he's expected to run over someone!

Condensed formations

And how does it work when the whole field is squeezed into a condensed formation?

Same reads, same flow, same results. We still block #1, block #2, and read #3. When playing condensed, your read guy will probably be playing inside the Give/Keep read, that hints your quarterback that he shouldn’t be in the hurry to outrun him before passing the ball.

As he gets more experienced, by understanding which gap every defensive guys is playing the QB will be able to read faster when he should be running and when he should be just doing a pull and quick pitch.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 7

Block #1, block #2, and read #3.

Understanding how the front is playing each formation is key to understanding the best ways of reading your RPOs.

It's still a numbers game

Sometime defenses will bring pressure on the Point of Attack of our RPO scheme.

It may happen because of a motion, or due to an in game adjustment, etc. If the C-Gap defender squeezes, it should still be a keep but there are still 2 defenders facing QB and TE. In other words, it’s still a numbers game.

What is the answer if the backer follows the Tight End and the Apex pressures the Quarterback?

The answer is: the QB must get vertical. You’re not always going to be right about the play call, so the QB has to make the play.

Montana State's Best RPOs - 9

Get vertical and you’ll be one missed tackle away from a big play.

Versus Two High Safeties

When the offense is throwing a lot of RPOs, defenses will be facing a lot of different things to answer to. They may adapt in the most different ways and, one of them, may be playing 2 high.

In this case we’ll need to remember the rules once again: Block #1, Block #2, Read #3. But we are not blocking #2 if he’s at the 3rd level. All the rules apply for 2nd level guys.

Want More?

Watch more clips from this presentation from Montana State Offensive Coordinator Taylor Housewright HERE.