This flag football play has a tight I formation where there is a receiver on each side of the center and the running back lined up 5 yards behind the quarterback.
1-3: Any of the deep routes – Usually from right to left
4: Running Back
This flag football play can be effective against most defenses but does require the QB to avoid the rusher as the play takes a little time to develop.
A receiver lines up on each side of the center. The running back lines up 5 yards directly behind the quarterback.
When the ball is hiked, the receivers each run corner routes (7 on the passing tree). The center runs a go route. The running back will run toward the line of scrimmage at a 45-degree angle. The quarterback fakes the handoff and looks for one of the deep receivers.
After the fake handoff, the running back keeps running at a 45-degree angle until he crosses the line of scrimmage. Once beyond the line of scrimmage, the running back cuts back upfield similar to a slant toward the middle.
The running back is the outlet and will generally be open.
The major hurdle with this play is the time needed to develop, even for the outlet. If the defense is rushing, then the quarterback will have to avoid the rush and then make a throw.
The reward of this play can be big chunks of yards.
If facing a 2 safety defense, the two corner routes should take them out of the play, opening up the middle for the center’s go route or the running back coming back across the middle.
To make the throw to the center a bit easier, have the quarterback roll out a couple of yards to the right (if the QB is right-handed). This way the throw will not be directly over the center’s head.
While we tend to give our plays more creative names (this one is Tornado), using the passing tree, we could call this play 77 Angle Go since both receivers are running 7 routes. We call the running back route where he will run 45 degrees toward one side and then cut back 45 degrees toward the middle – an Angle route.
Other playbooks have different names for this route. If you’ve established a passing route naming convention, then use your existing one to be consistent. The Go route is the Center’s route. Substitute Fly, Streak, 9, etc … as necessary.
I’ve found that one of the corner routes will be open enough for a throw almost every time. However, the quarterback will be tentative to make the throw. Teach your quarterback to throw the ball deep and wide and allow the receiver to run under the ball.
Many times, the receiver will be “open” because the defense is playing just a step deeper and a step behind. The receiver will look covered, but if the quarterback can throw to spot out beyond the receiver, it gives the receiver a chance to make the catch.
One caveat to this is if the safety is a much better athlete (faster). In this case, the defense may be able to outrun the receiver to the throw. However, it will be a difficult catch.
3rd and Goal Timing Route
I also use this play when we’re facing a 3rd and goal of more than 10 yards. Here, in the pre-snap, I’ll call out the side the throw should be made. The quarterback will look at the opposite side until the receivers make their breaks, then look back to the called outside and throw the ball. No thinking, just throw. I even say in the huddle on the sideline, “I don’t care about an interception, just throw the ball” (Of course, I care about the interception, but saying this increases the chances of the quarterback making the throw even if the receiver is covered.)
Hurry Up Hand Off
Finally, I use this play as a hurry up hand off play where we have the ball just short of the No Run zone. On the previous play ends, I call out “Tornado, Tornado, quick, quick”. This tells the offense that we’re running Tornado but giving the ball to the running back. The receivers have to know to stop their routes after a few yards if your league is tough with calling penalties on receivers running downfield while a runner has the ball.
This quick-running option is more to catch the defense in an unorganized position rather than it being a good running play. It’s also hopeful if you’ve run the play a couple times before and connected on a deep throw once.