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

As the quarterback continues to be a focal point of an offenses’ run menus, it only becomes natural for defenses to find ways to reclaim the numbers game by committing more defenders to defend the run.

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 QB generated run/RPO system. More information on this special report can be found by clicking here.



As the quarterback continues to be a focal point of an offenses’ run menus, it only becomes natural for defenses to find ways to reclaim the numbers game by committing more defenders to defend the run. This leaves offensive coordinators with two options: have the belief, and faith, that the quarterback can beat that one defender at the point of attack OR devise a run/pass option to manipulate that defender. Choosing the latter could elongate the possessions, and consequently, the health of the signal caller. Whatever option an offensive coordinator chooses… one thing is certain, a running quarterback has more direct impact on the passing game than any other player on the field. In this case, we are going to present our research on the run/pass options that coaches are devising off the quarterback runs in their offensive menu.


Editor’s Note: Quarterback driven RPOs are run/pass options where the run action is based off a designed quarterback run scheme. While these can be combined with jet motion or a flash fake, there is no option of any other player carrying the ball.


South Dakota State University continues to be at the top of every rushing category at the FCS level every year and they do it by being equitable with the football. Even though the Jackrabbits had a 1,200 yard rusher at tailback this past season, the player taking every snap equated for just as many rushing yards the last two seasons combined. The Jackrabbits averaged over 7.25 yards per rushing attempt this past season, regardless of whom was carrying the football. So, offensive coordinator Jason Eck will package runs for both of these players each week.

In this case, we are going to feature two of SDSU’s most common quarterback driven RPO’s, the QB counter RPO and the QB power RPO.


QB Mechanics:

Regardless of the particular RPO, the quarterback mechanics will always be the same and are relatively easy to execute. He will begin by using the footwork to fit that particular concept with his eyes on the conflict defender. If the read defender dictates a throw, he will pop his feet to get in throwing demeanor.


Power RPO Concept:

While South Dakota State will utilize both power and counter RPO’s, there are several distinctions that need to be made within each in order to run these schemes effectively. One of those distinctions come in the form of read logistics for the quarterback. According to Coach Eck in order for the quarterback power RPO scheme to be efficient, the quarterback must stay inside the pulling Guard. “He can’t get too anxious to run out of there and miss the Guard,” said Coach Eck. “He needs to stay downhill.”

But the negative about power RPO it’s such a downhill play that you’re risking 300 pound defenders in the quarterback’s face. “We were more along the lines of let it be a red zone scheme than third down so we don’t get him hit too much,” said Coach Eck. South Dakota State bases off big personnel, both 11 and 12, so in the quarterback power RPO, there can be seven potential blockers (six offensive lineman and one running back). The quarterback is responsible for the eight defender in the box.


QB Counter RPO (with A Back Lead):

The counter run scheme may be a better option in long yardage or on base downs because it takes a little longer to develop. This provides more time for the quarterback to decide on his read. Here, the Guard is expected to kick out the C or D gap defender while the A back leads through as the wall puller.


In this concept, the numbers equation is still the same. The offense has seven potential blockers for the quarterback, while the defense has to commit eight to trigger the throw component of the play. But the addition of the A back in the blocking scheme provides for more double teams at the point of attack. Double teams can get pushed back. It’s essentially a two-back run scheme. In the clip below, the quarterback should’ve thrown the pop after the reaction of the outside linebacker, or extra fitter in the run game.


To discover more about this special report: Click here.





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