Don Smolyn’s Belly Keep Pass

National Wing-T Clinic 2016 Don Smolyn Belly Keep Pass

The last talk I saw from Don Smolyn was on the Belly Keep Pass (this is ISO pass in my playbook). It was a brief talk but contained some great points worth sharing

Belly Keep Pass

Above you'll see an example diagram for this play. This is my diagram and there's at least one key difference in how Don runs it. So stay tuned.

Why Run Belly Keep Pass?

Don runs it because:

  • It has the best chance for a big play
  • It is his best goal line play
  • It is his best 1st down play
  • It is the easiest pass play to protect

Key Coaching Points

Don's key coaching points are:

  • It must look like Belly. I would argue this is true of Belly Sweep as well, so practice that belly ride and ball faking.
  • Sell the fake. We tell the fullback to keep his arms wrapped across chess as he runs through the hole. As he is picking up the player at or inside the guard, don't bring out hands to block him – instead, have him run into the defender.
  • The quarterback sets up behind the guard. This is a difference from how I've run it as we would have the QB roll out after the fake and throw on the run.
  • QB should keep his eyes downfield as he is riding the fake so he is prepared for his reads.

Coach Smolyn will run several different pattern packages off this play, but will often put the backside WB into jet motion then run his route from there. I prefer to have the Belly Sweep threat so don't change the WB path, and I'll keep him in for protection.

They have the QB read short to deep – I suspect this is usually the WB to the playside halfback to the WR. They also run a screen to the TE on the backside.

Protection Scheme

The blockers must know where the QB is setting up – right over the playside guard. They need to stay between the QB and defender and must stop the initial charge. Don't have two guys blocking one.


Coach Smolyn runs a trick play flea flicker where they complete the handoff to the FB but he then tosses back to the QB after the handoff.

Finally, we had some fun talking about his Belly Naked play. It is blocked just like the keep pass, but the QB will boot away after the belly fake (and possibly after an proximity belly sweep fake as well). The TE is the primary receiver and will stop down like he is protecting and hold for three seconds before releasing on a 5-7 yard banana out route. The WR should run a post.