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case3picBy Mike Kuchar, Senior Research Manager, X&O Labs

Find out how this simple concept has stramlined blocking on the backside of option concepts for option / pistol teams across the country...


By Mike Kuchar

Senior Research Manager

X&O Labs


Editor's Note:  The following article is a small portion of the complete Pistol Special report that is available to our Insiders Members by clicking here.  


Slip/Cruiser Concept

The slip or cruiser concept is the opposite of arc. In this situation, the read is going away from a Tight End (or three man surface) and another player is responsible for blocking the force defender for a QB keep.  This player can be a player from a backfield alignment (Diagram 14) or one from the other side of the formation who will get to a position post or pre-snap to handle that responsibility.  Nevada, under Ault, typically used borrowed a player from the backside of the formation to handle this responsibility (usually an H or Wing) which provided instant misdirection to the defense (Diagram 15) that looked a lot like the slice concept that was detailed in Case One.  According to Norcross, Nevada varies whether or not it wanted its QB to carry the ball.  “If we want to run lead option and leave the pitch man free we would tell him (slip player) to leave the force player.  He’d leave the first man past the defensive end.  If we want to run load option, we tell him to block him.  He would slip and we would block the pitch key and it turns into sweep.  It’s just a different variation.”

Norcross stressed the job of “covering up” when blocking the force player.  Remember, this could be a receiver handling a Safety, so it’s important not to try and set up as a kill shot.  “We would tell him to aim for outside shoulder of the defensive end (opposite of slice which is the inside shoulder).  “When we got to the second level it doesn’t have to be a kill shot.  Our QB will make your right.  We just wanted to fit him up and basketball screen him initially.  Once he chooses a direction now we can shuffle our feet and run him that way.  The QB can press and cut off of us. The one thing we didn’t want to do is turn out on him and have him squeeze us down into the hole.” 


Coaching the Cruiser Player

Below are some word for word survey responses from coaches on what they teach the cruiser in these schemes.  The responses are below, but when there were two main goals we wanted completed while conducting our research.

  1. Should the slip/cruiser player draw or make contact with the dive read?
  2. What visual references are given to that the cruiser identifies whom the force player is?

Responses include:

”We tell him to block the first second level defender in the box- Will, Mike, etc.  We will not touching anybody outside the box because that could be the pitch read when we run triple.  We go from Tackle and Tackle.”- Joe Osovet, Nassau Community College.

“We want him to attack him number to number and then block him in the direction he wants to go, allowing backs to make cut off block.”- Robbie Owens, High School OC.

“We coach our load blocker to attack the outside armpit of the force player. We want to trap that arm and pin him inside so that we can run outside of him. If the force player absolutely will not allow the trap of the armpit, the load blocker is coached to drive the force player to the sideline where we can run inside of him.”- Brian Adams, High School OC.

“Induce wrong arm from DE and escape and block the force defender.”- Ian Shoemaker, St. Cloud State University offensive coordinator.

“He comes across the formation post snap. So he needs to be even or in front of QB. He runs parallel to the LOS and should read the angle of the DE by his third step. He either loops wide or turns up field in the C gap, finding the Alley player. Through film, he should have a decent idea who that is, but he will not pass up an unblocked defender (after the DE)”- Jon Klyne, Offensive Coordinator

“Give the impression of blocking the D-End. If he comes up field then you will get inside of him and block first opposite colored jersey. If he squeezes then get around the End and block the force player.”- Kyle Schmitt, High School Head Coach.

“It depends on our formation concept. In our three back gun our front side offset back will arc to block the edge. His rule is edge to alley to stack. The backside back is our "load" player, who will adjust his path based on the player we are reading. If we are reading the EMOL and he squeezes to play the IS Zone, the "load" player will work off the OS hip of the EMOL blocking the first ugly jersey. He is expecting that to be the backer on a gap exchange. If the EMOL comes up field, the "load" player will work inside the EMOL to block the play side inside backer.”- James Vint, High School OC.

“Take a path to block the C gap player, eye him up. At the last second dip your inside shoulder and arc around him. He must think you're going to block him so that he goes into "spill mode.”- Curt Fitzpatrick, Utica College offensive coordinator.

“Open step with backside foot and take a path toward the backside shoulder of the backside end. Wrap tight off his hip and block first opposite color inside out.”- Justin Iske, Fort Hays State offensive coordinator.

To see video of Cruiser/Slip concepts, click on the link below:




What You're Missing:

Join XandOLabs.com exclusive Insiders membership program and gain full access to this Special Report, which includes:

  • Why 24% of coaches feel that gap concepts in the Pistol formation are the most productive, which includes single and double puller schemes.
  • The technique of the Slice Player in the inside zone concept including why 51.9% of coaches choose to use the fullback to carry out these assignments.
  • Why 24% of coaches feel that gap concepts in the Pistol formation are the most productive, which includes single and double puller scheme.
  • Why the mesh game in the option concepts is the baseline for usage, and the various ways in which coaches are teaching it.
  • Various ways to manipulate the dive read in zone read concepts, including new research on the “Arc” and “Slip” concepts made popular at Nevada.
  • A breakdown of the various advantages of utilizing Veer and Midline schemes from the Pistol formation according to the coaches we spoke with.
  • The distinction between “Zone Read” and “Veer Read” schemes and why both coaches are choosing to use both in their offensive system

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