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Clinic Talk: Spicing Up the Swing-Draw Pass-Run Option

Adding variety to a key play in Mark Richt’s 2017 offense

Capital One Orange Bowl - Miami v Wisconsin Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Mark Richt employed the swing draw pass-run option multiple times over the 2017 season with much success. To clarify, I call it a pass-run option in my playbook because the first read from the quarterback is to throw the swing, and then to run the draw. However, since RPO is the more known phrase I try to stick with what gets clicks. I wrote about the swing draw a few times on SOTU, but most recently for my post “The Impact of Run-Pass Options on college football.

While Richt and Art Briles used the draw in their run portion of the swing draw, Lincoln Riley had a different take. I believe using variations of the swing draw will help keep the play fresh for Miami and keep Malik Rosier from taking unnecessary punishment. As the season wore on teams were no longer fooled by the swing draw. The diagram below is from the XandOLabs article “Lateral Stretch & Swing RPO Concepts.”

The Read

In Riley’s offense, the quarterback (Baker Mayfield) made the exact same read on the defensive end that Richt requires of Rosier. Mayfield’s job was to read the defensive end closest to the swing route and either throw the swing or tuck and run the football depending on the actions of the defender.

Scenario 1

If the defensive end plays the swing route as shown above, the quarterback should tuck the football and run behind his offensive line.

Scenario 2

If the defensive end sees the pulling tackle and guard and “squeezes” or plays hard down the line against the run, the quarterback throws the swing route.

Swing Counter-Trey Pass-Run Option

The Oklahoma Sooners employed a counter-trey version of the swing-draw. Counter-trey means that the backside tackle and guard are going to pull to bring more blockers to the “point of attack” or where the offense wants to run the football. The guard will “kick” the defensive end which means he will drive him to the sideline. The tackle will “wrap” to the linebacker which means he will pull and run inside.

The play side guard, play side tackle, and center all “down block” or block away from the spot where the football is actually going. This creates an easy shot for the back side guard to “kick” the defensive end out making a huge gap for the quarterback if he reads run.

Cut-Up One

Above, you can see the defensive end squeeze down the line and make himself unable to defend the swing route. The wide receivers block the nearest man while the H-Back will attack and block the first linebacker or safety he sees. This creates a nice running lane for the running back after catching the swing. It’s an easy throw and catch with sufficient lead blocking.

Cut-Up Two

Above, the defensive end tries to fight outside to take away the swing and make a play on the football if it is thrown. The quarterback sees this and will run the football instead of throw the swing. Mayfield flips his hips and shoulders quickly, tucks the ball, and runs behind the “wrap” of the back side offensive tackle.


Mark Richt and the Hurricanes can’t rely solely on the swing draw play to be effective. While Richt may not use a counter-trey look, as Miami hasn’t really ran counter-trey, he could easily run a version that looks more like his power play against the defenders.