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By Matthew Bishop, QB Coach, South Johnston High School (NC)

When defenses put 8 defenders in or around the box, or send an extra edge rusher, adapt your pin and pull system to an option-based system.

By Matthew Bishop
QB Coach
South Johnston High School (NC)



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At South Johnston, we were primarily a run-first, power-based offense. Originally the head coach’s offense called for a sniffer/H-back to handle the defensive end and a WR to handle the extra man in the box. Due to base personnel, teams were able to put 8 defenders in or around the box or send an extra edge rusher. These two things forced the offense to adapt. In doing so, we progressed to handle the extra man and pressure by adapting the pin and pull system to an option-based system.

Originally: What gave us a lot of trouble as an offense was the inability to handle an extra defender in or near the box.

Diagram 1


Slot receivers were never our best blockers, nor should they be in the offense. To think that they would be able to dig out an alley defender to help us pick up another run threat, run great pass patterns, and catch passes was not something we believed slot receivers could do. If they were great run blockers, they wouldn’t be receivers.

In order to help get us an extra offensive threat and not another run blocking liability, we used Kirk Ciarrocca’s ideas from his time at Western Michigan.

The cornerback is counted as 1.

In my opinion, it’s far easier to begin using this concept with a right-handed quarterback if the receivers are on his left, and vice versa for a left-handed quarterback. The reason for this is that by having a right-handed quarterback throw the blaze route to his left, he doesn’t have to change his feet or flip his hips around. I had the quarterbacks, all right-handed, simply step laterally and throw down the line when throwing the blaze to the left. By doing this, it allowed the running back clear their throwing lane and allowed a quick release out the QB’s hands.

If the QB was throwing to his dominant side, he would stagger his step with his dominant foot behind his non-dominant. This would allow him to roll his hips over as he stepped across to throw. Again, the purpose of this was to speed up his release and not have him take an exorbitant number of steps.

This was not a run-pass option. If the quarterback liked the count before the snap, he would throw it. If he did not like the count, he would not throw it. The goal is to reduce as much of the guesswork for the quarterback as possible, especially for a high school QB who doesn’t spend hours upon hours watching the film for tendencies and practicing.

Can you tell the quarterback to be aggressive or conservative on his alley defender count? Of course, you can. In fact, I think you need to. The less indecision you give your QB, the better. Also, adjusting the aggressiveness of the QB can give you a quick in-game adjustment if the alley player is giving you trouble.

Regardless of the aggressiveness of the week, our QB could not be wrong running the power read play and not throwing the ball.

Can you add a single side WR pre-snap option? Again, yes, you can. I am not in favor of it. I think it adds one more layer of thinking for a high school QB.


Coaching Points:

Regardless if it was power or power read, the offensive line and the running back’s rules never changed.

The offensive line was still responsible for calling out their blocking assignments and tags.

The running back, who was lined up 1-yard x 1 yard from the quarterback, still took his lateral step then vertical step to reach his run path of the front-side A-gap. The reason who this lateral step first was that it gave the QB space to secure the snap before the back reached him. If the back is too close to the quarterback, then a bad snap (anything outside the cylinder of the QB) is going to cause the mesh point to be off. The RB’s path caused him to essentially run through the quarterback's near shoulder.

After securing the snap, if he wasn’t throwing the blaze route, the quarterback would pivot on his back foot and flip his hips and move his front foot on his midline. The quarterback’s elbows should be tight to his body and his weight should be on his back foot. As the running back progresses through his path, the quarterback shifts his weight as he makes his read of the defensive end (or the outermost 1st level defender outside of the offensive tackle). The QB must make his decision by the time the running back reaches his front knee. At that point, the running back is going to clamp down on the ball-regardless if the QB means to pull it.

If the quarterback is unsure if it is a give or pull, then the base rule was for him to give the power. Our reasoning was that since we were a power team, then even if the read player can make the play, establishing power was never a bad thing for us.



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  • How Coach Bishop applies his bash concept to this identification system.
  • Plus, narrated and raw game film of these concepts.


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If you’re going to install power read, then the option game must be the base of your offense. It can’t be a “play” you’re going to run as a changeup. By allowing your QB to be confident in the option game and to have a few unknown factors as possible it allows him to play at a much higher level.

Adjusting formations is also beneficial for the offense because it forces the defense to decide what’s more important: taking away the blaze by removing box players or being susceptible to over the top passes by rolling safeties down and maintaining a solid box.



Meet Coach Matt Bishop: Matt began his coaching career as an assistant at Wilkes University. While there, he assisted with the linebackers and safeties. For the last three years, he has been the quarterback’s coach at South Johnston High School.





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