Houston and the “stick” passing concept

“Stick” or “y-stick” is one of the most recent passing concepts to have gone totally viral such that basically every passing team uses it — it’s only about twenty to twenty-five years old. Everyone has their spin on the play, but basically it is a quick, three-step route play, where the offense puts the flat defender in a bind by sending one receiver to the flat while another hooks up or “sticks it” at five to six yards. Below is a good video showing the concept and showing an example of the Houston Cougars running it.

Note that it looks like Tulane is in man coverage, though it is the defensive end who drops off to cover the running back. In any event, stick also serves as a very good zone beater, as well being a great, quick zone play.

  • Aaron Lewis

    You have very good contacts if you can get a program like Houston to send you their actual game footage.

  • CoachHump

    I love this play. My friend who learned the Air Raid from Franklin said this play was his favorite to run.

  • dr

    The DB who is covering the Y seems awfully deep. I’m guessing that UH warmed them up with a bunch of vertical routes to back them off. It seems that just about any short route would have worked against that defensive play since all of the LBs were in pass-rush.

  • Homyrrh

    Does this work if that LB ends up not blitzing?

  • AndrewC

    Is this the same thing as the two-man concept?

  • WK

    Love the Stick. We call it Turn and run it from about 6 different formations. We run it from both two and three man formations. We like to run it from Trey where we have number 2 in the slot run a 5 yard speed out. It’s been very good to us.

  • James

    Looks like Tulane was in Quarters which opened up the shallow part of the field. Sticks is a great play to audible to when a QB recognizes any type of blitz, especially zone-blitzing.

  • ko49

    I love the route as well. Like WK, we run it from a variety of two and three-man looks. Once we’ve run it a few times we’ll call “Stick-Corner” and send the slot receiver on a corner route while the outside receiver runs his vertical and #3 runs the swing/flat. This is a nice variation because the deep defender runs off with #1 and the OLB/alley player sits inside anticipating the slot running the Stick. At 6 yds, rather than hooking up, he plants and runs to the corner. The QB releases the ball just as the slot comes out of his break and hits him at about 12 yds. He usually has room to run after the catch, so if you have an athletic kid in the slot it’s a nice way to get some YAC.

  • Shaz

    Love this play. Nothing better than taking what the defense gives you. The trick is staying patient enough to keep taking it even when you want more.

  • Snibb

    ko49…great tag to this route..nice idea

  • WK

    I like that Corner tag KO49. We’ll have to take a look at it next year. We’ve used an Angle tag occasionally when we run to a trips TE/Tight wing alignment. The wing who usually runs to the Flat will take four steps to the flat and then work back underneath to replace the MLB if he is overplaying the TE. I had a QB who didn’t like waiting on the throw but most love it.

  • ko49


    Speaking of waiting on the throw, our QB often waited too long on that corner route I mentioned. The result was the slot would end up 15-18 yds downfield and get covered up by the safety or the corner peeling off of the #1 receiver’s vert route. He got lit up pretty good once and let our QB know how he felt about it. We hit him at 12 yds every time after that.

    Thanks for the heads-up on the angle route. We’re predominantly a spread team but we do use a heavy group with 2 TE’s in short yardage. Sounds like something we might want to try with that personnel.

  • Co-ach

    Isn’t the corner route adjustment basically just “sail”?

  • Co-ach

    I mean I know the quick corner is different than an out, but the pattern is essentially the same. #1 is on the vertical, #2 is in the deep flats, and the FB in the flats.

  • Coach Tuna

    Oregon ran this play tonight out of trips right. The number 1 receiver ran the stick route as QB roles out to right.

  • Mr.Murder

    Have seen Y stick listed in two ways, the first where you settle after stemming a slant route release. It gives you a better view of coverage rotation and allows you stay distant from inside/out coverage.

    The other is a quick out to five or six yards depth, where you “stick your foot in the ground, plant it to drive off” the route. It is basically reading a quick out, to settle or take it upfield along the seams vs. aggressive rotation or a safety playing the line hard on run situations. You have to settle on what you see before making the first cut, or drive upfield seeing people drive on your route.

    Preference is to use the slant/settle look from outside in, since that target can always run away from the corner. That compliments being a rub on the route for a back on a swing route to the flat.

    The Gruden variety stick route is designed to attack a linebacker or underneath player that jumps initial moves quickly. It should work well on blitz rotations or impatient zone defenders, in addition to defensive backs that come down hard in run support mentioned. Diagnosing you stick route is a bit harder on a straight stem, the extra step in six yards probably helps that.

    Zone under with really loose safeties, likely to help on outside speed, the stick might work that seem greatly. It seems to one of Gruden’s main routes to use in the red zone and against “pattern reading defenses”(cover 8 or 9, those being the most prevalent in football when he was coaching, using two safeties and zone or man under by five underneath).

    There was another reference made in that playbook that matched what I thought as well, it was tagging certain protection calls against certain popular tactics by adding extra spacing to double read blocker duties. The next time you discuss the zone blitz we’ll detail it closely.

  • Mr.Murder

    *seam route(/usage)

  • Z28guy30

    Nice first down concept

  • John Butler

    WK, what is the QB read on your Y-Stick from TE trips? Thank you. 

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