The Playbook: Boise State’s Shallow Cross Concept

Week Two of the season already. As the Broncos gear up to head down to Provo and play a very good BYU squad, I thought I would shed a little light on one of my favorite concepts that Boise State runs and its called the shallow cross concept.

Before I get into the Shallow cross concept itself, I think its important to discuss what concepts are and how they are used in an offense. These days you have offenses that operate on a passing tree and some who are concept based and yet some will use both.

When you hear commentators refer to concepts within the passing game they are usually referring to a bundled pass play. With concepts, each receiver has rules to follow for any given concept unless a specific receiver is tagged to run a different route. Where as a passing tree receivers are given a route to run based on the number called off of a route tree.

With concepts, an offense is trying to attack an area of the field such as vertical or a horizontal stretch meaning a hi/low type concept.  For many a concept based pass game is easier to employ because it can be easier to grasp (not always but in most cases).  In an article written by SB nation, they do a good job of explaining a little more in depth about concepts in the passing game

Now that we have a little background on what concepts are, we can dive into the shallow cross concept.   The shallow cross concept is a hi/low concept which means the offense is going to put a defender in conflict and in this case a linebacker.  The idea is to send a route underneath the linebackers and a route over the top of the linebackers and under the safety putting the linebackers in conflict.

The rules for the receivers running the complimentary routes may vary from program to program but running a hi/low on the linebackers remains constant.  In the diagrams below, you can see how the concept works.

SC 2X2


Here in the diagram above, we are in a 2 by 2 formation which means 2 receivers on each side.  With this set, the QB will want to read the backside outside linebacker.  If the linebacker tries to wall off the Dig route, the shallow cross will be wide open for an easy completion.

If the linebacker lets the dig route(BS#2) go, the quarterback should be able throw a nice and easy completion to the dig route above.  This concept works because the offense is putting the linebacker in conflict. It is important to remember this is versus a zone defense.  This concept will work versus man coverage as well but not all concepts are good versus every coverage.

Below are few different examples of the shallow cross concept being run out of different formations. The nice thing about being able to run a single concept out of various formations is it gives the appearance of running multiple plays when it is actually one play.

SC 3x1 TE


3 by 1 (3 WR on 1 side and 1 on the other) formation with a tight end.  In this scenario, the QB will be reading the front side linebacker and the crossing route will be thrown quickly depending on what the linebacker does.

SC 3X1

Another example of a 3 by 1 formation with no tight end.

The diagram below will illustrate the video clip of Boise States shallow cross concept.  Note the Strong Safety has a circle around him and he is who Hedrick is reading.


The video below is from Boise States Fiesta Bowl game last January.  On the first play of the game you see the Broncos run the shallow cross concept for a nice 12 yard completion on the dig route.

In the video, its hard to see the dig route but you can see the crossing route underneath. Arizona is in a cover 3 defense with the strong safety running down the alley for pass coverage(the backside read for the QB could be a safety or an outside linebacker depending on coverage).

Hedrick makes a nice read seeing the strong safety rotate down and makes a good pass to Sperbeck for a first down.


About Aaron Rodney

Aaron Rodney
Aaron Rodney will be entering his first year on the Corner Canyon coaching staff. Coach Rodney comes to Corner Canyon from Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home, ID where he served as the head football coach for three seasons. Prior to his arrival in Mountain Home, Rodney served as an assistant football coach in various capacities at the NCAA Division II and the NAIA level for 8 years. Some of Coach Rodney's stops include small colleges in Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Dakota. A native of Mountain Home Idaho, Rodney is a 1994 graduate of Mountain Home High School. After high school, Coach Rodney attended Boise State University and Ricks college as a football player and later the University of Utah as a student where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. Coach Rodney also holds a Masters degree in Organizational Management from Concordia University in Saint Paul Minnesota. Coach Rodney has taught social studies and business education at the high school level and is married to the former Sarah Larsen who is a graduate of Brighton High School. Coach Rodney and his wife Sarah are proud parents of two children Chance (11) and Marley (8). In his spare time Coach Rodney enjoys being a husband, father and spending his down time with his family. The Rodney’s are very excited about being part of the Charger football family.

Check Also

Boise State Broncos

Boise State to play in the First Responder Bowl vs Boston College

For the 17th straight season, the Boise State Broncos will be bowling. Projections had Boise …