Is The Bootleg An RPO?

This blog is an exclusive look at how Coach Holmes teaches his Bootleg concept.

I’m sure you have your own version of the bootleg and are quite familiar with it.

But part of Coach Holmes’s magic is his unique understanding of the play.

First, let’s talk about his philosophy behind the play:

  1. Run first, and pass second.
  2. Never run the bootleg into an inverted safety (check opposite side).
  3. Read the defender responsible for the deep outside 1/3.

Everyone seems to love a good RPO, but people forget that the bootleg is the original “RPO.”

And even though Coach Holmes tells his quarterback to “run first,” they are able to pass so well off this play because of that threat to run.

And let me share with you something very neat from the manual in the image below:

I find this helpful because it is so specific.

Often, your bootleg play will just be called “Boot Left” or maybe you call it “Waggle Right.”

But that doesn’t help your Offensive Line like Coach Holmes’ call.

And helping the big boys up front should always be a priority since they do so much.

And without further ado, here is Coach Holmes’s instruction to the backfield:

QB:  Reverse pivot on Left foot.  Take 1st & 2nd steps on the mid-line, sliding right hand to take a passing grip on the ball.  Do not fake to the fullback.  On 3rd step, make a ball fake to the Half Back. After that fake, put the football in the crease of right leg with right hand and swing the left arm and hand in a running action as QB clears the HB.  Path should be no deeper than 6 yards and must be executed with speed.  As soon as QB clears the HB, eyes are on downfield key, while feeling the block on the End.

FB:  On the snap, dive for the tail of the Right Guard.  As you pass the QB, make a token fake and maintain a tight relationship.  You are responsible for the LB if he blitzes.  If the LB drops, then run a 5 yard flat route.  After you get to 5 yards depth, stay parallel to the LOS.

HB:  Fake Buck action and block the first defender outside the tackle’s block. Important that the Half Back shuffles down to close the gap between him and the backside Tackle as soon as he makes his “arm swim fake.”  The defender he is blocking must be forced to go around the Half Back and cannot be given an inside path to QB.

Playside TE:  Get a 3-foot split. Release inside a 6 or 9 technique and outside a 7.  Run a corner route and get 15yds deep on the numbers.

Backside TE:   Run a cross or drag route, 12-15 yards deep, behind the LBs.  Avoid being covered by the backside inside LB.  Gain your depth as you go across the field.  Settle down inside the hash.

Playside WR:  Run Post-corner route.  When you break to the corner and a defender is high on top after your 4th step, then run an out route.  

Here’s a drawing versus a defense with 2 high safeties with motion away:

After ensuring the fake, the QB looks first to the Corner Route, second to the Flat route, and third to the Drag route.

The QB Read Progression

“The Triangle”

The Corner route needs to be thrown early around the 5th or 6th step. Do not throw this route late.

And if you are running the Bootleg to the TE side you need to teach your QB to run the ball if he doesn’t like what he sees.

Now that’s a real RPO!

Coach Holmes goes over this plus his entire offense in his new manual that you can get here


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