For the final installment in my three-part series breaking down Oklahoma State’s new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson, I’ll take a look at what he likes to do in the passing game. The links to the other two posts in this series can be found below.
In his two seasons calling plays at Princeton, Gleeson utilized some Air Raid-type concepts that are similar to things we saw from Mike Yurcich the past several seasons. His Tiger teams utilized play-action and screens, and did a great job of attacking the defense horizontally with quick route concepts, which the Pokes haven’t always done well during the Yurcich years. Gleeson also used a heavy dose of run-pass options (RPOs), including some creative RPOs that will be a welcome addition to the OSU playbook. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in the two previous posts in this series, Gleeson loves to get the tight end involved.
Below I’ll go into detail on a few things that stood out to me in the Princeton passing attack over the past two seasons.
For an overall summary of the Air Raid, I would direct you to this article by Chris B. Brown on SmartFootball.com. With that said, I wanted to discuss some of the Air Raid-style concepts Gleeson utilizes in his offense.
One route combination I saw from Gleeson’s offense is the double-slant concept shown in the video below. The inside receiver is running a one-step slant while the outside receiver runs a three-step slant. The tight end runs a stick route and the jet motion receiver runs a swing route to the flat.
Give me Tylan Wallace as the outside man and Dillon Stoner on the inside and one of those two is going to create space on their route, sort of like this.
The other Air Raid-style concept Gleeson’s Princeton offenses ran in the film that I watched was Mesh. This concept involves a crossing “rub” route by two wide receivers across the middle of the field and stretches the defense both horizontally and vertically, see the image below for the basic Mesh route pattern.
Here’s a video example of Princeton running mesh out of a Trips formation.
In the clip above, the running back hesitated, then released to the flat on a swing route. In the next video, you’ll see the Tigers run the exact same play, but this time they tag the running back on a wheel route to the opposite side.
Play-Action and Screens
Play action is a huge part of Gleeson’s passing scheme and he found a lot of success with these plays. In the following video, you see the Tigers lined up in 11 personnel (one running back and one tight end) with three receivers. We see motion from the outside receiver to the Twins side of the formation. On the snap, the left guard pulls, helping to really sell the play-action, and the quarterback fakes the handoff to his running back. The Princeton QB then hits a wide open receiver streaking down the sideline for a touchdown.
Gleeson also found success with the play-action in his screen game. In the below video which coach Dan Casey pointed out on Twitter, Princeton shows off a nice screen concept that ends up in a huge gain for their offense.
As Casey points out, the Tigers line up in Trips to the top of the screen with a “nub” tight end (single tight end with no receivers) to the other side. They run a Power blocking scheme, which I covered in Part 2, as part of their play-action and then hit the middle receiver on a screen underneath.
The last video I want to show in this section is a play-action roll out. In the clip below, the Princeton QB fakes a toss to his left and then rolls out to his right. The passing concept here is a Flood concept, meaning multiple receivers are all running routes on the same side of the field, attacking all levels of the defense. I saw the Tigers run this play quite often in the film I watched, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Cowboys run something similar next season. Getting mobile quarterback’s like Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders moving on a roll out is something I know I’d like to see.
Gleeson uses a lot of creativity when it comes to run-pass options. One in particular I saw Dan Casey point out was the jet motion “pop” pass. We saw the Pokes utilize the “pop” pass at times last season, for example on this play to Cowboy Back Jelani Woods.
However, Gleeson’s offense puts even more stress on the defense by adding in the jet sweep fake. The pass also goes to the slot receiver as opposed to the tight end. In addition, the quarterback takes a few steps forward to give the defense a look like he’s going to keep it himself.
Gleeson also uses triple-option RPOs, which I discussed in a recent post, like the one shown below where the quarterback has the option to hand it off to the running back, keep it himself or throw the screen out to the wide receiver.
I wanted to show one more RPO that I really liked. In the clip below, the Princeton quarterback sends the receiver to his right in motion, which causes the Cornell safety to rotate over, creating a lot of open space out to Princeton’s right. On the snap, the line blocks for the running back to the left. The QB reads the defense flowing with the run play, pulls the ball back from the RB and hits his man on the right side for a nice gain.
My main takeaway is that Gleeson uses some of the same and some different concepts in his passing attack, but I really like his creative RPOs. I think OSU’s wide receivers are capable of learning and running the new route concepts, and I believe the offense as a whole can execute his run-pass options. It will be fun to watch how this Cowboy offense operates next season.