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

Check out this sneak peak inside our Spread Gap Schemes special report. Read the report.


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


Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of X&O Labs special report on “Spread Gap Schemes.” To access the full-length version of this report, please login here.



The location of the offset back in the run game can be a viable tell for defensive game planning. In many situations, defenses can access the location of the run by his depth off the line of scrimmage and his width from the quarterback.  This is why so many pressures are designed away from the back in the run game and to the back in the pass game to attack protections. So it’s important now for offenses to design their run game to attack the same side that the back starts on.

Mark Holcomb, the head coach at Oak Grove High School (NC) is in the minority of coaches who actually prefers to put the ball carrier on the same side of the Counter scheme. His base alignment is splitting the guard and 2-3 steps behind the quarterback. According to Coach Holcomb, Zone should look the same as Counter and Isolation because they are all downhill schemes.

“All these downhill plays should look the same. When we run Pin/Pull and Outside Zone, we will flatten him out even with the quarterback pre-snap. All we do is tell him to take a step across the quarterback’s face and get to the midline of the quarterback’s body. As he is doing that, he is looking at the backside linebacker. All he is doing is fitting in the back pocket of the pulling tackle and making him right. We tell him it’s just like Zone. We tell our running back do not move until the QB opens the ball. When the QB opens the ball, it’s just like Zone. It’s Zone and then you run to the backside.

For example, if you’re running Counter to the right, and you are aligned to the right, you are stepping left, right and then plating that left foot in the ground and pushing off of it to get back across. It’s not difficult to do. We have our freshman and JV players doing the same thing. It’s not that difficult to do in terms of footwork.”

The clip below best illustrates this coaching point:


This research was conducted as part of X&O Labs Special report on “Spread Gap Schemes.” Join the Insiders and access the full-length special report. Go here.



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