College Football Bowl Season: A Time of Offensive Malapropisms

If you’ve been watching the college football bowl season, brought to us almost exclusively by ESPN, you’ve probably heard a few phrases more often than others during the broadcast- and I can guarantee most weren’t accurate. I’m here today to explain those misused phrases and what they really mean for the casual fan or up and coming coach.

Zone read and read option should not be used interchangeably with each other. The main reason is that latter is the root of the former. All option plays are read option, because there’s a read that the QB is going to option off of. The zone read on the other hand is combining the phrase read option with the blocking scheme the team is using- a zone scheme.

IZ 1

The image above is an inside zone read play (with a package of stalk/bubble and slant included). There’s zone blocking, the play is inside or between the tackles, and there’s a read option involved with the Q reading the back side defensive end.


However, your typical announcer will also call dive option “zone read” too. Now in the image above, he/she wouldn’t be wrong. Some people (we do) run dive-option with a zone blocking scheme and there’s a QB reading the front side DE, so you could say it’s read option, and zone read.

Dive option veer

Then again, most of the dive option you see during a CFB game will have veer blocking as shown above. The difference is the combo gap blocking on the defensive tackles. Instead of a zone scheme where it’s lead/scoop blocking here we have lead steps guiding our OL to their aiming point.

Jet sweep

Another misnomer is jet sweep. As seen above, jet sweep involved a non-backfield runner that will come in motion and take a handoff from the Q. There’s no read here as it’s a straight give. The scheme is to get the ball on the edge as quickly as possible.

Jet sweep is often confused with two or three other plays, some how some way since all of these announcers claim they met with coaches, watched film, etc. The one we will discuss is power read which is the image below. Power read jet

Power read (above) has a jet motion, so sure, it looks like jet sweep. Except for the fact that the O-Line isn’t all reach blocking, and there’s an option read, and a guard pulling to wrap.

Our other common mix up is the phrase “end around” which is often confused with jet sweep and sometimes a reverse.

End aroundPicture above is an end around. Here, the z is in motion. There’s a fake to the backs, and the QB gives directly to the Z.


A reverse (above), is when there’s multiple hand offs on a play (ex. in the Wing T would be criss-cross). Here the Q gives to the S on a pitch, and the S then hands off to the Z who REVERSES the direction of the play.

Lastly, the phrase QB Keeper is just inane. Many times I hear it during a Georgia Tech game where Paul Johnson loves to run midline with a double lead.


Pictured above, midline is also an option play. It’s a double-option between the b-back and the QB. The QB reads the front-side 2 technique in the image above. If the 2 sits, the QB gives to the B. If the 2 crashes inside on the dive, the QB pulls and follows his lead blockers (the two A Backs) into the b-gap. This is midline, not QB Keeper… and Lou Holtz ran the option at Notre Dame!