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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Pistol Or Not Do The Pistol Offense

As I have been looking at different offensive systems one there's been one that is increasingly picquing my interest. I have been thinking I need to learn more about the Pistol offense that was started at Nevada.

In the last few years this seems to have become an increasingly popular offensive formation amongst college and high school teams across the country.  Based on what I have read, proponents of this offense say it has an advantage of being the best of the spread and under center offense since the back is aligned right behind the QB. 

I have read that by having the back aligned this way it prevents a defense from knowing what side the run play is going.  In essence the run game is similar to what you would do if you were wanting to run all your plays out of I or single back formations.

The argument I constantly hear is that in the spread the defense knows which way the run play is going.  I disagree in that if the defense cheats to one side it allows for cutback lanes with the inside zone.  Another way to keep a defense honest you can run a counter.

I guess the biggest thing I would like to learn more about is my favorite play out of the spread which is the Zone Read.  To make this play work it seems that you would need to have the back cross in front and then bend the play back into the zone blocking like below.

I don't see as much a chance for cutbacks since the defense could be reacting to the backfield action and work more to their right.   Compare this to the zone run out of the spread with the back aligned to the side as shown below and how it can lead to cutbacks for the running back.  Below are illustrations on what I mean.

Back is able to hit the hole playside
Defense cheats, is washed down the line opening up a cutback lane for the back
The zone run from under center you will see the same chance for a cutback.  The difference is that the QB isn't reading the end on whether to pull the ball or not.  This makes me wonder if because you might not get as good a cutback with the zone read in the Pistol that the veer has become more prevalent among teams that want to run option.

Other questions have come up as I have looked at this offense when it comes to the run game.  With a counter you can read the end and if he chases the tackle then pull the ball.  Is that still something that can be done out of the Pistol or because it might take longer to develop something that is negated in that play.  What about with the QB counter?

One of the best things is that I am in Portland and so today I will be stopping by Portland State and speaking with their offensive staff.  But I would love to hear from other coaches on the strengths, weaknesses, and experiences with this offense.  Should I look more into doing the Pistol or not for my future as a coach.

Update:  I wasn't able to meet with them today, the pro day got moved up.  But I will probably be meeting with them next week.

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