Ease pressure on the OL and QB with Empty Quick Passing

By Mark Solis

Offensive Philosophy

At Olentangy High School, our offensive philosophy is going to consist of five parts.

  • Attack the defense with our tempo!
  • Run the ball effectively.
  • Throw the ball accurately.
  • Threaten the defense with the quarterback.
  • Expand and contract the defense with formations and motions.

We want to dictate the tempo of the game and we will employ four different tempos.

  • Fast – Get to the ball, get set, look to sideline for signals. This is us operating as fast as we can — 80 percent of the game we operate within this tempo.
  • Freeze – Jog to the ball, get set, dummy cadence, look to the sideline for signals.
  • Steady – Jog to the ball, get set, first sound. Listen for code word (numbers).
  • Huddle Up (Sugar) – Huddle 3 yards from the ball.

We can, and will, use any tempo at any time to keep the defense on its heels. In a 25-second play clock, we want to snap the ball at 19 seconds. In practice, we do not script our offense’s team period. This allows us to operate and call plays based on down and distance to get a feel for the game.

Quick Passing Game

Why do we do it and what does it do for us?

In our offense, everyone has to be able to catch the ball. This is geared towards our tight ends and running backs. It allows us to stay in the same personnel packages while operating in our empty backfield with five receiving threats across the field.

We like empty and the quick passing game because it is a good changeup for us. It’s also a good drive starter at times. When pairing this with tempo, it gets really tough on the defense.

When you operate out of empty it is imperative that you have a run threat. If you pass every time you align in empty, it makes it easier to call the defense. They can drop eight, which allows the defenders to key on the receiving threats without having to key the run game.

The quick passing game helps us deal with pressure when it’s giving us problems. If we can’t block them up front, it gives us the chance to move the ball and possibly create explosive plays against pressure.

Formationing to empty allows us to identify matchup advantages. If we stick our quickest player inside to the two-man side and the defense walks a linebacker out over him, it gives us a matchup advantage. We can move guys around to create matchup problems for the defense.

Practicing routes on air is a practice tool we utilize. There’s a few reasons behind this:

  • It forms a good timing relationship with the quarterback and wide receivers.
  • Not everyone runs at the same speed.
  • Quarterbacks get a feel for how everyone will run a route (i.e. everyone runs a slant route differently).
  • Completing routes on air generates a confidence in the passing game.


We will utilize two main formations in empty: Empty Left and Empty Right.