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


Here is a detailed break down of how teams are using the Y/H as a sniffer in their gap scheme concepts.

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikekKuchar



The following researcher was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on “Spread Gap Schemes” Scroll down to read more on this report.

Alignment of Sniffer (Y/H):

To these Spread coaches, the alignment of the H/Y (or the player executing the kick out block) is crucial in the Power concept. For most coaches we spoke with, the H needs to be in a B gap alignment in order to get the kick of the defensive end executed correctly. While the consensus is that he needs to be at that point by the time the ball is snapped, how he gets there could be left open to the imagination. So, we polled only those coaches who averaged over 5 yards per carry this season on the power concept to ask them the verbiage they use to get the H in the right snap for the post-snap kick out. Their responses are recorded anonymously.

Reader Responses:

“We use the toe to heel of the offensive tackle and about a yard away from the tackle’s butt. He is two yards off the line of scrimmage.”

“We call him a butt sniffer. He needs to be so tight to the guard that he’s almost taking the snap from the guard. We talk about the sweat of his chinstrap to drop on the guard’s back. That’s how close he needs to be if we want the kick out.”

“We’re a little different than some guys might be. When we put you in motion, you need to end up where you need to be to execute the play. We have two motions for him. One that takes him across the formation and one that bring him into the edge. That’s it. He just needs to know where he is going to be. I don't think you need to tell them where to be. They will learn where they need to be. Don’t screw up your own play we tell him. We are more multiple than some Spread teams, so we sacrifice some tempo for that.”

“The sniffer needs to be no wider than B gap because he can’t get inside out on the defensive end.”

“Regardless of his alignment pre-snap, he will need to end up behind the play side guard at the snap to have a good enough angle to kick out.”

“We have a formation name to get the Y in the backfield. Axel means he is behind the right tackle and we align in a 2x2 set. If he is on the line it is Ace. Ram means he is behind the right tackle in a 3x1 set. If he is on the line the formation is Reo.”

“When we run power he is on the play side. When we run counter he is opposite.”

“Our pre-snap read precludes or affords the F, H or Y the opportunity to vary their alignment according to assignment. If H kicks out, we cheat foot-to-foot alignment with inside leg of tackle. If H, carries or reads the end, then he may align even with QB but must adjust first step on run route.”

“We would like to have the F/H with his toes a yard behind the offensive line, and we would like him to align behind the play side guard (vs. even fronts) or on his outside leg vs. odd fronts). We cheat him much wider when we are running perimeter runs, maybe two gaps if there is a tight end. When the F/H must arc to opposite side, he cheats slightly tighter there.”

“The tight end for us is usually off of the line. Depending upon whom we are blocking, our horizontal alignment will vary. If I know we can kick him out, we will be in B-gap. If the end is one that we want to kick out, but may just hook, we will shade the inside of the play side tackle. We rarely get the defensive end head-up or outside of an on the line tight end. In the one game we did, we put him on the line to widen the hole.”

“He goes to the play call side. If the defense keys his alignment we run counter. The Y/H and backside guard switch assignments. The QB and RB do the exact same thing either way - we can tag it QB Counter and QB runs power.”

“Same side as back, we run same side power, or can run Counter scheme with guard kicking opposite the back, and H/Y through the hole. With back opposite we can run power, as we do not run same side counter.”

“The H/Y aligns as wide as possible while still maintaining leverage for the kick out block. To help with some of that, we'll motion him across the formation or give him an in-out kind of motion. We especially use motion when working against a 50 front look. We like to send the tackle out to the 9-technique, kick the 4-technique, and roll the back side guard up to the front side inside linebacker.”

“His alignment is built right into formation call. For example, in Razor he aligns right behind right tackle in a trips alignment while in Rake he aligns in same spot in a doubles look.”

“When running the one back Power, our H/Y will be aligned on the line of scrimmage to the call or in a tight wing alignment off the tackle or tight end to the call side. In a two back look, where he will kick out his alignment will be in the B gap off the ball with his heels at 2-3 yards off.”

“We teach him who he is responsible to block, and give him several options he can exercise by communicating with QB. Even motion.”

“If we are running straight Power he is play side. If we add the weak call to the play he aligns backside and we can use the H to roll up in the hole as the pulling guard kicks out the end man.”

“H/Y will be opposite the power concept so that he can become the pitch man and QB read plays.”


Sniffer Kick Out Technique:

Aligning that sniffer is half the battle, now he must execute his assignment of kicking out the play side defensive end. While various coaches use different techniques for this block, all of which are detailed below, we found some common coaching points with this technique. Many coaches teach that sniffer to step with the inside foot first in order to maintain an inside/out relationship on that defensive end. We also found various aiming points, most commonly the near hip or near number, for the kick out. Whichever aiming point is stressed, it’s imperative to keep feet moving once contact is made. We also will address how coaches are combating the squeeze and spill or gap exchange defensive ends who crash hard once a down block appears in front of him.

Reader Responses:

Jeff Conaway, Shiloh Christian High School (AR): “We use three-step footwork, in which our H will step ‘inside, outside then inside’ aiming at the inside numbers of the C gap defender. We will not tolerate anything less than a kick out. We do not allow the C gap defender to squeeze/spill the kick out. If our H cannot kick out, he will not play H. We put the pressure on the H to make sure he gets the kick. But if we are getting defensive ends that want to spill let’s make him look like we are going to kick him. Let’s let that tackle block down. As soon as he does that and the defensive end squeezes to be a B gap player spill player then let’s get outside and up on the force defender.”

Chris Scott, Ocean City High School (VA): “We talk about washing a spill with kick out defender and puller will log second level defender. We will read him and run load option with pitch, toss, bubble and various RPO routes.”

LJ Spinnato, Choate Rosemary Hall (CT): “When aligned in a sniffer, the H back is taught to dig out the C gap player with his outside shoulder. If the 5-technique squeezes, he must log and drive so that the pulling guard can get outside. The H Back should step with outside foot first six inches, then the inside foot will dictate his true angle. We need him downhill first. Can always adjust inside to outside as it is a downhill play. Unless game plan dictates, we want to be as downhill as possible. We used to be very ‘kick out’ oriented and that has never worked. On the second step, if you are inside of him, then you can work to kick out. But we are trying to be vertical downhill so we don’t get spilled. If teams are loose up field 9-techinques like Bear fronts, we will just work to get him kicked out. This way you can be powerful on your log block so that if he tries to wrong arm you, you can drive him downfield.

Mike Cofer, Desert Oasis High School (NV): “For kick out, scrape paint on down blocks and don't chase defenders up field. Position is more important than collision. Attack up field shoulder and allow nothing to cross your face. Widen your base at impact.”

Greg Lauri, Nassau Community College (NY): “Head must be on the play side V of the neck, one hand on the front play side number and one on the back to prevent to spin out.”

Andrew Mele, Watkins Mill High School (MD): “If the end man on the line of scrimmage crashes down then ride him inside. If he stays outside, then keep aim outside shoulder to defenders inside shoulder and kick out. Running back follows inside or outside depending on the block.”

Christopher Jackson, Perryville High School (MD): “Whomever the kick out, it can be a wing aligned on the other side or the fullback. If FB, we tell them to run to inside foot of the tackle and to veer out attacking the inside hip of the end. This allows for worse case scenario which is an end that is squeezing the hole.”

John Jensen, Crossings Christian School (OK): “The full back kicks out. We teach flipper technique. We block right, hit right. Block left, hit left.”

Mike Giancola, Westfield High School (VA): “Ideally, our kick out player is getting

to the up field shoulder of the man he is trying to kick out. Against teams that are very good at wrong arming, we adjust his angle to make sure he can dig and pry that up field shoulder out of the gap we are trying to run the ball.”

Doug Taracuk, Dublin Scioto High School (OH): “The kick out is the job of the tight end. We want to drive the man by attacking the inside hip/inside number area. Scouting will help your tight end. If he fears being hooked, we may drive more of the mid-line on approach and strong arm him out with the inside arm. With most of the defensive ends in our area, we have to give the tight end the option to hook him. This makes the play more of a quick hitter inside or a bounce play.”

Kyle Lowman, Bandys High School (NC): “Aim at the up field shoulder. Aiming point should present opportunity to ‘scrape defender off’ the down block. If no space, log the defender, pinning him in.”

Thomas Sugden, St. Joseph’s Prep High School (PA): “The head of the kick out man should be trying to bite the apple off the defenders inside hip. The H's path should be through the crotch of the play side tackle working inside out.”

Jacob Knight, Waverly High School (OH): “When we kick out on Power, it is almost exclusively with the tight end. Our goal is for him to be taken where he wishes to go. If he wants to cross face inside, that is fine with us, we will move him down, and our puller will wrap around. Our backs do a nice job of getting on our puller’s hip, and following him into the line of scrimmage. We always tell our tight end to step with his inside foot on Power this allows him to gain leverage more often then not. We love using our tight end because this block doesn't have to be great, and it makes it very difficult for a defensive end to take on our kick out. We will have our tight end kick out from on, and off the LOS, we will also motion him from one wing set to the other and have him kick out the EMOL. When we do this we want the ball to be snapped once the tight end enters the B gap, so that he will have a good kick out angle on the DE.”

Jeff Setzke, Fenton High School (MI): “If they squeeze hard and you see their (defensive end) numbers, then use the log technique. If they come up field and you see shoulder, then kick.”

Charles Porterfield, Patriot High School (VA): “Whom ever the kick out player is, be it another lineman, the tight end, or an extra back, the key to the block is being tight to the last double team. A player can correct inside out, but not outside in. The aiming point of the kick out block is the inside shoulder of the defender. We want our kids to understand this is a crucial block and they should not try to destroy the defender. They need to be firm and solid on the point of attack. After contact they should drive they feet and attempt to expand the gap.”

J Step Technique:

Shane Zimmerman, Gunnison High School (CO): “We want our H or fullback to use a J block. Approach inside and then out. We want them to get the inside half of the defender and force the defender around the block.”

Nathan Stanley, Redmond High School (OR): “If we are balanced line, the blocking Back will ‘J’ block the defensive end. If he squeezes, we will log him. If we are running to a three lineman surface.”

John Settle, Sunnyvale High School (TX): “He takes a J step and kicks the first man outside.”

Spread Personnel Groupings:

Single and Double Pull Gap Runs


"We needed something different."

- Steve Addazio


By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs 

The vision is thought to have originated in Gainesville, Florida during the Tim Tebow era. It was then, when University of Florida offensive line coach Steve Addazio, found himself trying to concoct ways to separate dominant SEC front sevens without using the traditional Zone concepts that Spread offenses were employing. 

"I remember thinking that we didn't have the size up front to go toe-to-toe with some of the defensive units we faced in the SEC that season," Addazio recalled. "We couldn't just hang our hat on the Inside Zone play. We needed something different." 

The "difference" lied in utilizing down, down, kick schemes at the point of attack which provided for front side gap double team blocks (rather than Zone Combination blocks). This change, in turn, produced vertical displacement of down defenders. Problem was those schemes were tied more into two-back structures and Addazio and head coach Urban Meyer didn't want to sacrifice taking the Gators lightening fast speed off the field by changing personnel groupings. 

So the Gators began to creating angles and misdirection up front by utilizing ageless Gap schemes like Power and Counter from one-back (10, 11 and 12 personnel) groupings). 

Two national championships, and nearly a decade later, another viable run option continues to infiltrate itself into the playbooks of Spread coaches who previously hung their hat on the Inside and Outside Zone schemes. 

Now, programs like Auburn University, Urban Meyer's Ohio State University, Clemson University and the University of Mississippi (to name a few) have integrated these same Gap schemes, with the inclusion of another timeless classic the Buck Sweep, into their offensive arsenal. 

With these new trends, my team and I set out to research the single and double gap runs in spread offenses. 

We segmented our research into the following run concepts.

  • Single pull Power concept
  • Single pull Power Read concept
  • Single pull QB Power concept
  • Double pull Counter concept
  • Double bull Counter Read concept
  • Double pull Buck Sweep concept 

But we only wanted to study programs that were using these concepts from the following personnel groupings:

  • 10 personnel (one back, no tight end) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 11 personnel (one back, one tight end or sniffer) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends or sniffers) Gun or Pistol formations.
  • 00 personnel (no backs with or without sniffer) Gun formations. 

Some of the programs we studied included, but were not limited to:

  • Shiloh Christian High School (AR): Several staffers worked/played under Auburn University head coach Gus Malzahn, they've averaged 7.5 yards per carry on their single pull power concept and 7.2 yards on Counter concept.
  • Bryant High School (AR): Averaged nearly 9 yards per carry on its Counter concept.
  • Ohio Northern University: Averaged over 5 yards per carry on its Buck Sweep concept.
  • Ocean City High School (VA): Averaged over 12 yards per carry on its Counter concept and over 8 yards per carry on its Buck Sweep concept.
  • Nassau Community College (NY): Averaged over 5 yards per carry on its Power Read concept, finishing with a 9-2 record.
  • North Davidson High School (NC): Averaged 5.4 yards per carry on its Counter concept. 

Our research found using Gap run concept from these personnel groupings has several advantages:

  • It loosens the tackle box and provides for optimal angles at the point of attack.
  • It separates the defense by employing down, down, kick blocking concepts to the front side of the scheme.
  • Its constant use of double team blocking angles at the point of attack provide for vertical displacement of down defenders.
  • It eliminates defensive gap integrity by the constant moving and exchanging of gaps centered on down blocks and pulls. 
  • It provides for extra blockers at the point of attack by using single and double pullers.
  • Its malleability of using different pullers (either based on formation or defensive personnel) disrupts the continuity of defensive run fits.
  • It expands running lanes by employing crack blocks on the perimeter and seal blocks through the alley. 

Our research also found many new trends in using Gap schemes in the Spread. That is why we've have put all of our research into a brand-new special report... 

The Spread Gap Scheme Study

I'll show you how to access this exclusive research in just a second. But first, let's take a look a closer look at this powerful new study. 

We published The Spread Gap Scheme Study in four cases... 

Case 1: Teaching the Fundamental Block Concepts in Gap Schemes 

If you run all or just one of the Gap concepts mentioned above, you are going to need to teach your offensive line how create movement at the point of attack by producing devastating down blocks and double teams on the front side of the scheme. Regardless of the defensive scheme you are facing, you will need to make certain types of blocks to achieve maximum efficiency in these concepts. 

In case one of our special report, we studied only those programs who had a winning percentage of .500 or better and averaged more than 5 yards per play on these concepts and asked them the following:

  • How they teach the down block at the point of attack.
  • How they teach the back block of the center on a 3-technique.
  • An analysis and coaches perspective of the "flat step" methodology on the back block.
  • An analysis and coaches perspective of the "angle step" methodology on the back block. 
  • Why some coaches are using more Zone blocking schemes in their gap runs.
  • The distinction between various aiming points on the back block including distinctions between the "V" of the neck aiming point or the near hip aiming point.
  • Research on the double team block, including why some coaches prefer not to use gap double teams at the point of attack in these schemes. 

Case 2: The Single Pull Power and Power Read Concept

The single pull Power concept was the most utilized run concept out of Spread personnel groupings, with 89 percent of coaches using this scheme. What's more is that over half of the coaches that responded to our survey have averaged between 5 and 6 yards per play on this concept alone. 

While the Power scheme may be one of the eldest run concepts in football, how these Spread coaches are formationing the scheme to reach maximum efficiency continues to be of interest. The Power concept is the truest form of a Gap scheme because it produces the "down, down, kick" component that these Gap concepts employ. 

Some of the research uncovered in this case includes:

  • How coaches are formationing the Power concept to generate positive run angles at the point of attack.
  • Analysis of the Stack and Slant formation, two of the most widely used formations to run the Power and Power Read concept and what benefits these produces in blocking angles.
  • The exact verbiage Spread coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer (Y or H off the ball) to achieve optimal blocking angles.
  • How coaches are teaching the kick out block of the sniffer, and what they are doing against "spill" teams who will gap exchange at the point of attack.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Power and Power Read concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to make the scheme more fluid.
  • Why not all coaches are teaching the Power as a pure A-gap concept.
  • How coaches are blocking problematic fronts including a backside B gap defender (3-techique in the even front or 4i-technique in the odd front).
  • How coaches are formationing the Power Read concept and using it to get +1 on the perimeter.
  • The Power Seal concept that coaches are using to handle C gap exchanges or roll down safeties to the read side of the concept.
  • The Power Crack option that coaches are using to alternate the blocking assignments of the sniffer and slot receiver.
  • The Power Arc concept, which is a pre-snap adjustment that coaches are using when a defensive presents four defenders to the read side. 

Case 3: The Double Pull Counter and Counter Read Concept

Chances are if you're an offensive coach that utilizes the Power concept, you also have the Counter concept on your menu. It makes sense, particularly if you are using sniffer formations. While some offensive coaches feel that the Counter concept is the stepbrother of the Outside Zone scheme, formationally it marries up with the Power scheme because of the positioning of the sniffer in one back offenses. 

In the Power scheme, that player is responsible for kicking out the C gap defender to the play side whereas in Counter schemes, this same player is assigned as the lead puller to the backside. We found that nearly 67 percent of coaches use the single pull counter concept in Spread personnel groupings. 

Some of the research included in this case includes:

  • Various blocking philosophies to the front side of the scheme, including Nassau Community College's (NY) "leave two" methodology and why Bryant High School (AR) chooses to use sprint out protection.
  • How coaches are formationing the concept to get numbers in the box, including analysis of formations from 11 personnel, 10 personnel and 12 personnel groupings.
  • Why Nassau Community College (NY) uses and "Even" formation as to not tip away ball carrier tendencies based on formation.
  • The backfield numbering system that Shiloh Christian High School (AR) uses so defenses won't get a beat on which type of scheme is being run.
  • The exact verbiage that coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer as it pertains to his blocking scheme.
  • How coaches are teaching the wall pull block of the sniffer, including "2 to 1" blocking concept that Bryant High School (AR) uses to identify "bluffing" second level defenders at the point of attack.
  • Analysis of the lead puller (guard or tackle) including research behind the skip pull fundamental, the square pull fundamental and the jab away fundamental.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Counter and Counter Read concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to make the scheme more fluid.
  • How some programs, like North Davidson High School (NC), are using same side alignments with the offset back and the footwork that goes along with it.
  • Research behind various ball carrier aiming points and how North Davidson High School (NC) is teaching the ball carrier to read the backside linebacker for cutback.
  • How coaches are blocking problematic fronts including a backside B gap defender (3-techique in the even front or 4i-technique in the odd front).
  • Contributions from various programs on Q Counter and Counter Read concepts, which can be used as both play side and backside read schemes. 

Case 4: The Double Pull Buck Sweep Concept

One of the more popular Double Pull run concepts that has been gaining traction among Spread coaches is the ageless Buck Sweep. It first originated in the days of Tubby Raymond and his University of Delaware units. What once was purely a two to three back run concept, has found itself into the menus of many Spread-based systems including Auburn University head coach Gus Malzahn who has been using the run since his days at Shiloh Christian High School in Arkansas. 

 At its core, the Buck Sweep toes the line between a Gap and Man run schemes that combines crack and down blocking at the point of attack with the pulling of both guards. 

According to our research, we found that 41 percent of Spread coaches run the Buck Sweep as part of their run game. This concept continues to gain popularity due to the success of programs such as Auburn University, Clemson University and the University of Mississippi, each of which use this scheme frequently as part of their offensive arsenal. 

In case four, we present our research on the varying blocking assignments of the scheme, how coaches are formationing the concept to attain optimal results, the preferable QB/RB alignments and mesh points, the technique behind the crack and pull blocks as well as the Read concepts that coaches are using off the base run. 

Some of the research uncovered in this case includes:

  • How coaches are formationing the concept to get numbers in the box, including analysis of formations from 11 personnel, 10 personnel, 12 personnel and empty/compressed formation groupings.
  • The exact verbiage that coaches are using to correlate the alignment of the sniffer as it pertains to his blocking scheme.
  • Analysis of how coaches are teaching the crack block technique of the H/Y off including research on the flat step methodology, vertical burst methodology and why some coaches say it's not necessary to get a knockdown block. 
  • Analysis of how coaches are teaching the play side guard block including the various distinctions between whether or not it needs to be a kick out or log block.
  • How coaches are blocking what can be problematic fronts including an A-gap defender play side in the form of a shade nose or 2i-technique.
  • An analysis of the most preferable A-back alignments (Offset and Pistol) to run the Buck Sweep concept successfully and the various mesh points coaches are using to marry it with Outside Zone schemes.
  • Research behind various ball carrier aiming points and why coaches are now teaching their backs to "be patient" when running this concept.
  • The various read concepts coaches are using to the backside of the Buck Sweep concept, which influence the weak side linebacker. 
  •  Video, Video and More Video 

This brand-new special report, The Spread Gap Scheme Study, includes over 37 videos. That is over 2 hours of game film provided by the programs featured in this study. 

So now, you'll be able to read about the concepts, see the diagrams, and then watch the concepts in real-game situations. 

The Spread Gap Scheme Study is available right now in our exclusive membership-based website, Insiders. 

When you join the Insiders, in addition to The Spread Gap Scheme Study, you also get 100% of every special report, research report, clinic report, drill report, game film and interview we've ever published in our five year history. 

That's literally hundreds and hundreds of reports and videos on virtually every offensive, defensive and special teams topic trending in the last five years. 

Join X&O Labs' Insiders. Go Here.




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