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Sports >  WSU football

Breaking down four Mike Leach plays from his famed Air Raid offense with former Washington State QB and current analyst Alex Brink

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

“What has really made the Air Raid effective, especially at Washington State the last three or four years, is the ability to make adjustments off these base plays.” – Alex Brink


“A really good example of the progression is you’re always going to start with the out route, and you look at what the corners do. If the corners are off, that tells me to throw the out route. … When your eyes go back across the field, look at the mesh that comes to you, and if that’s not there you look at the other routes. Your eyes (go) to the out route and then work back across the field. It really matters what the defenders do.”

All Verticals

“The all-verticals concept is an interesting one. … In a traditional sense, I knew 4 verts as vertical stretch. That’s true in the Air Raid, but there are also variations. If the corner is playing off, the receiver might cut his route short, and that’s what makes 4 verts so good. If (former receiver) River Cracraft is going over the middle, he runs that inside vertical and wraps himself into a window, the quarterback sees that same window and is able to throw it. It’s a vertical stretch but it’s also a zone beater … (the receivers) sit down in those windows.”

Y Cross

“That’s a play that is similar to mesh in the pure progression principle, in that you’re looking at the out route and the go route first, and then you have that cross route coming across, and then backside dig or a post. The idea there is, where in mesh you’re working a little bit shorter down- and distance-wise, that’ll get you 4 or 5. That Y cross is really effective when they get behind the Mike linebacker. The simplicity is, I’m looking at the out route and the go route, and if the go route is pressed and there’s no safety over the top, you throw it … if not, look for the out route for a guy like (Travell) Harris, Calvin (Jackson Jr.) or (Renard) Bell, the guys who are really gifted runners in the flat … the Y could be right over the ball, or wherever that zone is.”

Double Smash

“What has really made the Air Raid effective, especially at Washington State the last three or four years, is the ability to make adjustments off these base plays. Double smash is pretty classic with your outsides running those whip or smash routes to hold the corners down, and we’re trying to run the corners out of the slot. You pick a side and go with it … where they’ve taken it to the next level, where the running back checks down, what they’ve added and had a bunch of big plays, now we run that double smash concept, and instead of (Max) Borghi sitting down (by the middle linebacker), he leaks out and then runs a go route down the middle of the field, and he may end up 1-on-1 with the middle linebacker.”

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