By Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs
When conducting our research on the Pistol formation, we’ve found that over 30 percent of coaches choose to use a attached tight end when implementing the Pistol. While many believe the Pistol is most commonly synonymous with doubles and trips sets, the truth is that the Tight End is the most influential tool in the offense.
By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
When conducting our research on the Pistol formation, we’ve found that over 30 percent of coaches choose to use a attached tight end when implementing the Pistol. While many believe the Pistol is most commonly synonymous with doubles and trips sets, the truth is that the Tight End is the most influential tool in the offense. The benefits are various and are explained in detail below.
The Case for an Attached Tight End
As long as your personnel gives you the ability to do this, using an attached Tight End could cause a multitude of problems of the defense which includes: creating an extra gap in the run game, getting another talented threat downfield in the pass game, stretches out a defensive front and makes the defense declare their strength, being predictable in doing so. We’ve found the most common personnel grouping in the Pistol formation to be 11 personnel, which over 30 percent of coaches choose to use. One of these coaches is Paul Brown, the offensive coordinator at Blue Valley High School (KS) who will be in one-back Pistol formations more than 90 percent of the time. One of the reasons Brown does is to make defenses declare their strength. It almost becomes a guessing game for him as a coordinator. Often times he will put his Tight End into the boundary- just so defenses can set their front there- than run his zone option game into the field (Diagram 9). If a defense decides to rob to the field side, he’s got numbers in the zone read game back into the boundary (Diagram 10). We will detail Coach Brown’s option scheme more in Case Three.
Mike Hallett, the head coach at Heidelburg Unviersity runs his Pistol out of a base 21 personnel grouping, but will also be in 11 and 12 personnel depending on the year.
“Last season we were proficient being in 11 or 12 because we had Tight Ends that were both physical and can catch the ball,” said Hallett. “It helps us because it causes coverage issues. They have to account for extra guys in the run game but you still have players that can get out and catch passes. It forces defense to tip their hand, particularly Even Front defenses, which we see a lot off. We only see Odd Fronts in pressure situations. When you play 11 personnel, the Sam and Will have to remove and make them split the difference. We try to make that guy wrong and put him in conflict. If he wants to pack the box you have the bubble screen from an Ace formation (Diagram 11) and if you have a six-man box with six blockers you have match-ups in the run game. We see 4-2-5, that extra backer will not be in the box. You will have an overhang to the passing strength. So you can dictate by formation where that player is going to be than we highlight what we can do off of that.”
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Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders program and gain full access to the entire clinic article including:
- Why former Nevada offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis chooses to run power and isolation concepts from 21 personnel groupings.
- The four-play package our of his “Samari” package that Coach Klenakis used at Nevada.
- Why some coaches are using “jump” motion to trigger the full back or H-back on the front side of blocking schemes in the Pistol.
- Plus video on all these concepts.