How to Get the Ball to Your Good Receiver

Alabama's Devante Smith won the Heisman Trophy with his great speed and ability to turn a short throw into a big gain. A study of his great season could help you learn ways to get the ball to your special guy that can do something with it. Here is a list of how Bama utilized him and some video to show how Steve Sarkisian used his skills to create big plays for the Tide offense.



1) Alabama used Smith on crossing routes to beat man coverage-shallows, meshes, and the famous Air Raid Y Cross concept. His speed and quickness made it difficult for defenders to stay with him against man coverage and created great runs after the catch to both the short and wide sides of the field.

2) Smith was a great deep double cut receiver. Sarkisian was able to hurt defenses with Smith on corner routes that turned into cop routes and post routes that turned into ups for multiple big plays and touchdowns.

3) Smith would use his speed to turn man defenders and then run comebacks/curls from the #1 and #2 positions. This was deadly against DBs who had only middle of the field help (man free) and must cover that kind of speed solo on the outside.

4) When Bama wanted to get him the ball and let him run they could just let him run quick out from either the#1 or #2 spots. He would easily beat man coverage whether loose or press and a cover 3 flat player had little chance. These again were opportunities for nice runs after the catch.

5) Alabama has been big into the RPO game and they matched runs with jailbreak screens, bubbles from #2 position and bunch trips formations, and slants and glances to Smith. This allowed them the best of both worlds- hand off on a good running play or get the ball to your speed guy against a promising defensive coverage look. Again, Smith got big yards as he was running as he caught all of these balls.

6) Using Smith at different positions in all of the different formations- including compressed sets, made doubling him difficult. Putting him in motion just created more issues. The defense never knew where he would line up.

7) Bama used Smith to run speed sweeps out of the gun as well as under the center. This put pressure on the defense away from his alignment anytime he went in motion. Bama could then fake the speed sweep and run counters and passes after so much attention had been drawn to Smith.

8) Sarkisian would create ways on the goal line to get the ball to Smith so he could use his speed to get the ball in the end zone.

9) Part of every Bama game plan was to have two or three new ways to get Smith the ball - maybe line him up in the back field and snap the ball and make the defense decide quickly who would cover him or motion him out again making the defenders make a quick pick up adjustment. Getting the ball in space to your good guy in never a bad idea.

10) Never underestimate the importance of putting that speed to return kickoffs and punts. This forces the opponent to spend extra time on the kicking game and make choices about kicking and punting.