Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Clinic: Choice/Naked Concept from the Gun

The second in our new Clinic articles features our first guest writer, with Coach Rich Worsell from the University of La Verne talking to us about his Choice-Naked concept.
Coach Worsell, making the Choice not to be Naked...
Rich Worsell has just completed his first season at the University of La Verne, serving as Offensive Coordinator for the Leopards. The Leos finished tied for the 3rd in the SCIAC and had three different All Conference players and one national player of the week in his first year directing the offense. 

Prior to his arrival, Worsell spent three seasons as Offensive Coordinator at Illinois College.  During his first season at Illinois College, the Blueboy squad set 14 school records and five Midwest Conference Records.
He previously spent three seasons as the pass game coordinator at Millikin University and during the three years he produced three different All Conference receivers.  

Prior to coaching at Millikin, Worsell spent two years at Lakeland College in Wisconsin. During this time Lakeland won a share of the IBFC Championship and was ranked #8 nationally in scoring Offense (2003) scoring 40.1 points per game.

Born and raised in England, Worsell is a 2003 graduate of Aberystwyth University during which time he served as the Head Coach for three years, in addition to serving as the Great Britain Bulldogs Offensive Line coach. In 2003 he was the Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator for the Sussex Thunder.

Quick Passing Game made easy – The 3 step boot game

In writing this article I wanted to put together something that has been proven at multiple levels of football. The 3 step boot game currently has been a staple of offenses I have been a part of since 2003 and has spread through the ranks in the US. I learnt the play from Jim Zebrowski when we coached together at Lakeland College (Zebrowski is currently the Quarterback coach at Minnesota).

Choice Naked from 3x1 in the gun
The basic concept of the play is to have two pass plays in one. Lining up in a 3x1 formation with a tight end to the three receiver side you have the single receiver run a choice route into the boundary. The QB (positioned in the gun) catches the snap, sets his feet to throw the boundary pass, if he doesn’t like it then nakeds out of the pocket to the field with another route concept going on.

The pass protection scheme is simple as the offensive line slides to the boundary, with each man blocking the gap to the side, the running back aligns to the field, on the snap of the ball he steps for the width and pins the outside shoulder of the defensive end.

The reason for it being a great play for most offenses is that you can isolate your best receiver and give him great freedom. It was a big part of our passing game when at Illinois College and we were a top ten passing team in the nation. 

When we gameplan as an offensive staff we look for boundary numbers or soft defenders. In a 3 by 1 formation if we get a corner on an island or a soft corner with a flat defender trying to help defend the run and the flat then we know that this play will be in our gameplan for that week. We feel that we can be more aggressive in calling this play since if the QB doesn’t like what he sees he can naked back to the field to his next progression.

When we first started running this play the Receiver into the boundary always had a hitch, as we developed we started to give them freedom to run any route they wanted. They would communicate via hand signal to the QB what they were going to do. This became the choice route part of the play.

To the field in a 3 receiver set we start with a general flood concept. The #1 receiver runs vertical, #2 has a deep banana route and #3 slams down and then runs to the flat. Most teams have a flood concept in the playbook so it’s easily reused from earlier teaching. If we feel this route combination will be ineffective then we change this up to another sprint out route combination.

Coaching the QB
The play is fairly easy to teach to the QB, we only ever run the play from the Gun. The QB should catch the ball and snap (a small hop to set his feet) to the boundary side. There is no drop because the first part of the play is a quick concept. We tell the QB if the choice route is open, throw it. If its covered or there is a chance a defender can make a play on the ball then pump fake and work back to the field. 

When throwing the choice route to the left its fairly easy for most right handed QBs just to open their hips and sprint back to the field. However, when throwing the choice route to the right some QBs prefer to flip their hips and come back around the long way to get back into a good throwing platform. Then naked part of the play is always thrown on the run. The key parts here are not to fade away from the receiver and attack downhill the later you get in the progression.

Coaching the Choice Receiver
If you have an inexperienced receiver then just have him run a 5 yard hitch, if there is a push from a flat defender (not the corner) then we have the hitch gain some width so that the throw is a little wider. If there is a hard corner then the hitch would convert to a fade. Early in the season we tell the QB to bypass this throw as its low percentage, as we get better at it we can work the back shoulder fade.

Coaching the Offensive Line
We have the OL slide to the choice receiver, the teach them not to give ground as the QB is not taking a drop. I emphasize being aggressive and keeping the hands down of the DL. The tackle to the field side has to not touch the Defensive End as this is the running backs man so he has to slide and angle his shoulders away and protect his inside gap.

Coaching the Running Back
The running back has the hardest job when blocking this play. He aligns to the field and no the snap of the ball wants to gain a little width so he can influence the defensive end inside on a direct course for the QB. He then pins the outside shoulder of the defender allowing the QB to escape back around this block.

As with all plays you can create variations with ease, you can run the play from a 2 by 2 set just by crossing the #2 receiver across the formation as he would on a naked play-action pass. 

Choice Naked from a 2x2 set

The hitch naked series is a simple concept and a great way to get a quick passing game without a lot of teaching in terms of reads and progressions for the QB. If you would like more information then please feel free to contact me at any time.

Go Leos!

Rich Worsell – Offensive Coordinator – University of La Verne –

If you liked this check out last weeks clinic article on the Double Wing here. If you want to write a clinic article for us please email us at and we can send out our guidelines! 


  1. Excellent information, loads more things to think about and how I can add something extra..

  2. Thanks Rich. Do you have any film of the next stage (if the choice is covered?)

    Simon H


    1. thank you

      Simon H

    2. Coach Worsell: What else do you run from your gun trips and 2x2 formations, and how do those plays/concepts complement, or how are they complemented by, your Choice/Naked concept?


      Ted Seay


Popular Posts