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The Georgia Tech Play Action Game


Georgia Tech passed on 20.6% of its offensive plays in 2016. In addition, the Jackets converted 152 first downs on the ground and just 52 through the air.

QB Justin Thomas presents explosive play problems for opposing defenses: 10.8 yards per pass, 20.8 yards per catch. Comparatively, Kentucky averages 8.1 yards per pass and 14.9 yards per catch.

This KSR Football Glossary post addresses Tech’s most common play action passing plays as we continue our flex-bone indoctrination.

First, let’s review basic formation and position identifiers:


B-Back: Feature running back.

A-Back: Inside receivers/running backs.

Both X and Z receivers aligned on line-of-scrimmage.

3-foot splits (distance) between offensive linemen.

Midline Option Play Action Pass

-Quarterback and B-Back execute midline option/run fake.

-A-Back goes into motion to become option pitchman but eventually acts as a pass blocker.

-Play side A-Back and both WR’s run vertical routes. Presentation of multiple vertical routes places a tremendous amount of stress on safeties that are called upon for immediate run support.

-Both the linebackers and defensive backs overly commit to run. QB identifies over-pursuit and connects with open A-Back for explosive play completion.

Midline Veer Play Action

-Same QB/B-Back, and A-Back action.

-Routes are same as above as WR’s and play side A-Back run vertical routes.

-Backside WR finds vertical “gear-down” or soft spot vs. 2-deep zone. QB delivers the football behind the cornerback and in front of the safety.

-Notice the cornerback cheating inside for the run. Safety is unable to cover enough ground to circumvent CB’s error.

Rocket Sweep Play Action

– “Rocket Sweep” play action pass play.

-Notice WR aligned closer to widest offensive lineman/tackle than in normal formation. Could act as an indicator that a “unique” play is forthcoming.

-A-Back and WR run combo vertical routes.

-Cornerback and strong safety bite on Rocket Sweep run action which leaves WR one-on-one vs. free safety. WR vs. Safety is a favorable matchup in the Georgia Tech play action passing game.

Rocket Sweep Play Action; Wheel Route

-Same action as above.

-WR runs a post route as the play side A-Back runs a wheel route.

*Wheel route is when receiver runs horizontally towards the sideline then cuts up field in a vertical path towards end zone

-Georgia safety bites on Rocket Sweep run action. Based off his error, post route is open for explosive completion.

PIC BY Yellow Jacked UP

PIC BY Yellow Jacked UP

Rocket Sweep Bootleg

-Rocket sweep action. Quarterback bootlegs as the B-Back (fullback) and A-Back combine for a vertical combo route.

-MTSU secondary and linebackers caught completely off guard as it over-pursues sweep run.

-Nobody’s home, easy pitch and catch. Plays in which pass catchers are this wide open are considered “Gotcha” moments for run-heavy offenses.

PIC BY Gainesville Times

PIC BY Gainesville Times


Leading Receivers

 WR Rickey Jeune: 6’3, 212-pound redshirt junior. 22 receptions, 368 yards, 16.7 yards per catch, 1 TD, 30.7 yards per game.

WR Brad Stewart: 6’1, 197-pound sophomore. 17 receptions, 372 yards, 21.9 yards per catch, 0 TD, 31 yards per game.

A-Back Clinton Lynch: 6’0, 187-pound redshirt sophomore. 16 receptions, 490 yards, 30.6 yards per catch, 6 TD’s, 40.8 yards per game.

A-Back Qua Searcy: 5’11, 174-pound redshirt sophomore. 9 receptions, 147 yards, 16.2 yards per catch, 0 TD, 12.2 yards per game.



– QB Justin Thomas: 5’11, 185-pound redshirt senior. 73/134, 2 INT’s, 54.5%, 1454 yards, 8 TD’s, 132 yards per game.

-Thomas’ strength is experience. There are not many defensive variances that he has not seen in his five years in Atlanta.

-Kentucky will have faced Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, and Tech’s Justin Thomas in its final 3 out of 4 games. All are highly dangerous, running quarterbacks.


One of the most noticeable flex-bone advantages is the immediate danger of 4 vertical routes from the combination of A-Backs and receivers. This threat is presented by formation.

While Tech does not often pass, when it does there are normally 1-2 vertical routes that accompany play action. In other words, when the Jackets pass there will be at least 1 homerun, field-stretching threat. Paul Johnson’s offense is simplistically complicated and beautiful in a X and O way.

We’ll have two more KSR Football Glossary posts between now and game day. Hope you enjoy and this helps a little.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

2 Comments for The Georgia Tech Play Action Game

  1. jwill003
    7:35 pm December 19, 2016 Permalink

    I have a feeling Lamar Thomas won’t appreciate that screw up. He is definitely a Cat!

  2. sulasi
    9:57 am December 20, 2016 Permalink

    Freddie doing work!! this is seriously the type of serious football analysis I want to read. Football as science. Football as chess. Freddie’s improving at it too. Watch, his analysis is gonna draw the attention of national outlets.