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mankotaBy Eric Davis, Head Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator, Mankato East High School (MN)


As the RPO game continues to perpetrate offensive play menus, more coaches are pairing single and double pull gap concepts with RPOs in order to manipulate second level defenders. When we first conducted our research on RPOs last January, the majority of concepts came in the form of zone runs. Now the prevalence of gap schemes, like buck sweep, has added to the diversity in designing these concepts. Eric Davis at Mankato East High School (MN) used his buck sweep RPO to average over 10 yards per attempt this past season. In this exclusive clinic report, Coach Davis details his QB’s read progression with the single, double and triple receiver route complements that are paired with the scheme. Read the report here.

By Eric Davis
Head Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Mankato East High School (MN)
Twitter: @davismn6


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Like many programs, one of our off-season tasks as offensive coaches is to conduct a thorough efficiency analysis of every scheme we run. Our definition of efficiency is not revolutionary, but here is our definition:

  • 4+ yards on 1st Down
  • Half the needed yardage on 2nd Down
  • Conversion on 3rd Down

Following the 2014 Season, we realized that one of the plays we installed late in the year, the Buck Sweep, was by far our most efficient play at 86% (albeit a small sample size). Since anything over 50% is good and anything under 40% poor, we were ecstatic to see the numbers on the Buck Concept.

Entering the 2015 Season, we made the Buck Sweep one of our staple plays. Thanks in part to some ideas we picked up from xandolabs.com, we added a Run Pass Option (RPO) component to the play and this is an idea we will definitely be expanding upon in 2016. The case for running RPOs off the Buck Sweep include:

  • It creates tremendous horizontal pressure on the defense with full flow, including pulling linemen, one way and a potential pass being thrown the opposite direction. Also, we have found that the QB is able to get into a throwing position much easier after faking to a back running a horizontal path on the Buck Sweep than on some of our more vertical run schemes.
  • It should NEVER result in an ineligible man downfield if it’s run correctly, due to the fact that your linemen are either pinning or pulling and not (with one exception on one scheme) heading directly downfield for a LB.
  • It is a great concept for a program (like ours) that is better at run blocking than pass blocking. Due in part to an increase in RPOs on several of our run schemes, we reduced our sacks allowed from 32 in 2014 to 8 in 2015, including no sacks allowed on RPOs. The concept also allows us to package 2 plays together, which allows us to repeat plays with multiple attack points in our no-huddle and limits the number of plays we need to carry into a game.

One note on the following schemes and concepts: Last year we were inexperienced at QB, so we made the run/pass decision from the sideline, but we may look to put that on the QB in the future.

Basic Buck Sweep Schemes

Some of the position labeling in the following diagrams may be confusing. We don’t use traditional X and Z designations. Instead, we have Field (F) and Boundary (B) receivers. We also use what we call Big Field (BF) and Big Boundary (BB) receivers in our compressed formations. These are hybrid players and could be bigger receiver types or extra TEs. It’s a great place to put basketball players who might not be burners, but aren’t afraid to mix it up a little. Our H receiver is a traditional slot type who is our primary fly sweep runner.

What You’re Missing…

Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report – including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:

  • The QB post-snap read progression and player assignments in his single receiver buck sweep RPO concept.
  • The QB post-snap read progression and player assignments in his “shave” RPO concepts, which is used in two receiver sets.
  • The QB post-snap read progression and player assignments in his “stick” RPO concept, which is used in three-receiver sets.
  • Plus game film on all these concepts.

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We believe we have only scratched the surface of this concept. When we ran the flexbone 15 years ago, one of our game plan tasks was to identify defenders with dual responsibilities and find ways to place them in conflict. We see many similarities in RPO packages. The possibilities are limited only by our imagination as offensive coaches and our ability to teach these concepts to our players.


Meet Coach Davis: Eric Davis began his football coaching career as the Quarterbacks Coach for the Mankato East Cougars in 1996. He became the offensive coordinator in 1997 and Head Coach in 2003. He remained in that position until 2007, before spending 3 years at Minnesota State University-Mankato where he coached Tight Ends and Running Backs. He returned to high school coaching in 2011, serving as the Offensive Coordinator at Mankato West, finally coming back to Mankato East as the Head Coach in 2012.

Key Statistics: Good News first: The Cougars ran some version of the Buck Sweep 55 times for 585 yards and 5 Touchdowns in 2015. That’s an average of 10.6 yards per carry. Full disclosure: our starting RB had a great feel for this play and runs a 4.54 forty, so there’s a number of long runs represented in those statistics, which is one of the reasons we weigh efficiency more than average yards per play in our analysis. We completed 5 of 7 RPO throws off the Buck Sweep for 63 yards.
Bad News: Our efficiency number on the Buck Sweep declined from 60% at the halfway point of the season to 49% by the end of the year, partially due to us losing our top two RBs, and partially due to our opponents loading up to stop it. We probably got a little stubborn at times, and we hope an expansion of our RPO package will enhance the effectiveness of the Buck Sweep as well as our overall offense.



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