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Inside the Clemson Offense: Dart Play

The Dart play is an isolation play, but without using the FB to make the isolation block on the Linebacker. It is referred to as a "tackle iso" as well. In some cases it can look like a trap, and indeed those who are familiar with the Wing-T would find it analogous to a FB Trap.  It is a complimentary play to the Power and Counter, run to the opposite side and using the Tackle instead of the Guard


  • Run to the side of the 1-technique/NG vs a split look (5-3-1-5 front with 2 true LBs)
  • Back follows the pulling Tackle
  • QB reads the DE the same as in Counter Trey
  • PST takes a pass set to induce the DE to come up the field
  • BST pulls and wraps for the playside LB

The key to success here is that the C and PSG double the NG, then the Center pulls off the double-team to take out the MLB. If they cannot move the NG, then this play will not work.  The BSG takes the 3-technique to turn him out, and the BST pulls out and charges into the B-gap on the other side to take out a threat to the inside of the play, using what is called a skip pull or buttcheek pull technique.  The skip pull is a drop stop back and across the body with the outside leg and a crossover run up into A or B gap depending on the front. This will allow the tackle to keep his shoulders square to the LOS and read the Lber and the hole if it opens up tight.

As in the Counter, there is the bubble screen checkdown on the backside, but there is a "check with me" call by the QB that tells the playside WRs to bubble screen as well. If there is no check, they bubble by default on both sides of the formation when its a regular doubles set. If the play is checked on that side, the WRs both block to the inside as before.

The PST takes a pass set and quickly hinges: he wants the DE to charge hard into the backfield and expose his inside shoulder to the block, then he can really seal him off to give the pulling tackle a clear hole to get into.

What is the QB doing? Same as before in the counter play, he reads the DE. If the DE sits, he gives the ball to the back. If the DE steps down and turns his shoulders to the ballcarrier, the QB pulls the ball back. If he pulls the ball back, he reads the LB/SS to that side next, and if he comes down hard to cover the bubble screen, the QB takes it himself.

The Dart Cross is a variation where the 2nd back, which can be either, blocks the backside DE. In this case there is no read of the End/LB. The 9 can either stalk the CB or try to get inside the WLB in the below diagram.


Also, we can orbit motion the 2-man in the above play and have it come to an inverted wishbone formation, or have him option fake. This would be very useful against a good DE on the playside. Morris also uses speed motion to accomplish the same thing, but the 2-man must get the timing down to hit the mesh area at the right time.


And Morris does often use the Dart speed motion and give it to the 2-back on a speed sweep when the defense begins to overplay the Dart.


As in the counter, there is a Wheel Dart where the 3-back motions into the backfield to take the ball in the same place as the 4-back does. If the play is Wheel Dart 4, the 4 gets the ball, and the 3 continues his motion and becomes a pitch back. Recall Morris tells the back that if you motion and the ball doesn't come to you, then you fake option pitch backside.


The QB reads the DE as before, and if he doesn't give the ball to the 4, he pulls it back and can either hit the bubble screen or take it himself. As he approaches the LB/S in that event, he can option off him and pitch to the 3-back following.

Next we'll revisit the Power play.