Homer Smith’s If-Then Playcalling


I got the inspiration for the title of this post from an article about  Paul Johnson’s if-then play calling methodology.  I was a big fan of that article and felt the format was easy to understand and gave a lot of good info from Paul Johnson’s perspective.

So, while reading a section in Homer Smith’s book on ways to attack defenses I came across what looked like his version of the if-then play calling methodology. These were general guide lines for attacking defenses that were around in the 1970’s.  There are still some similarities in approach by the two and is interesting to compare.

1.  IF Defensive Lineman  is stunting inside THEN:

a. Attack the outside. Qb sweeps are good because they limit backfield rotation that is encouraged by an HB sweep


2.  IF Defensive Lineman and linebackers are playing opposite offensive linemen THEN:

a. Widen the line splits and run straight ahead

3. IF Linebackers are rushing inside THEN:

a. As when the lineman are stunting inside, you should attack the outside with Qb sweep type plays

4. IF Five men are committed to defensive line positions THEN:

a. Vary the formation and use motion.
b. Attack both flats quickly
c. Attack the outside and try to make the defense play with a single high safety
d. Throwback pass

5. IF Three defenders or less are outside of the tackle’s block THEN:

a. Run/ pitch option

6. IF A DE is playing contain on move out passer THEN:

a. Attack off-tackle to the side of the tight end or slot

7. IF its a rotated defense THEN:

a. Get in a balanced formation
b. Attack with drop back passing and throwback game


8. IF  there is a good 4 or 5 man pass rush THEN:

a. Draw play
b. Wide splits and with backs leading

9. IF  there is a inverted rotating defense THEN:

a. Attack the post with a spread receiver
b. Crack the invert player
c. Run out routes vs. single coverage

10. IF Defense is rotating on flow toward spread men THEN:

a. Bootleg passes away from the rotation with a flat and deep route

b. Curl routes to outside receivers


11. IF 4 under Cover three THEN:

a. Spread receiver to both sides
b. Throw passes in the seams and middle of the field
c. Flood passes to a side
d. If the outside receiver can draw a double deep from the corner and safety to his side attack with run/pitch option

12. IF  four deep coverage THEN :

a. Attack the middle with the post and outside with out routes

13. IF Man defense THEN:

a. Post and out routes from outside receivers
b. Pull two defenders deep and run a back in the flat underneath
c. Pull two defender deep with TE and WR and attack with run/pitch option

14. IF Goal line defense THEN:

a. Spread defense with formation and pass routes. Motion can help
b. Run pitch option with belly fakes, and the passes off that
c. Qb sweep to bottom corner of end zone with Wr running pattern to top corner.


I slightly edited some of the wording as to not copy word for word. I also added pictures from the book on a few points that might be harder to understand without a visual aid.

I did take pics of the guidelines. If you want the unedited version they are posted below.

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