Duo has much more of an emphasis on the vertical push at the line of scrimmage. The scheme of the play allows you to accomplish this because it provides two double teams at the point of attack.
By Michael Janak
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
Cy-Fair High School (TX)
Insiders Members: Login here to access the full-length version of this report.
At first glance, many people mistake Duo for Inside Zone. There are no pullers, it is a downhill run, and the running back seems to simply take his time waiting for a cut to open up. However, upon further study, you realize that it is something different altogether. Duo has much more of an emphasis on the vertical push at the line of scrimmage. The scheme of the play allows you to accomplish this because it provides two double teams at the point of attack. The offensive line can focus on establishing push because they are not chasing linebackers, the running back is reading the linebacker (Mike backer) and determining his cut off that read. I feel that the title of the article really sums up what this play is: Power without a puller. It is a physical, downhill run with little chance of a result of a negative play. At times, it can be much more of a dynamic play than power simply because it gives the ball carrier more options in terms of which gap the play can hit in. We started running this play at the end of the 2015 season and we have seen it for big plays all across the line of scrimmage.
We like this play against the basic fronts that are listed in the article. 4-2-5, 4-3, and 3-4. When opponents start bringing in extra defensive linemen, lining up in a Bear front, or doing some unconventional things in the box I don’t really like the play as much because you can lose your double teams. I’d much rather run power or outside zone at that point.
In terms of where exactly it fits in our offense, it is our third most called run play. Number one is Power, number two is Outside Zone, and number three is Duo.
We really don’t see teams game plan to stop Duo against us as much as they do Power simply because it is our third most common run. However, one thing I have seen teams try to send the weakside LB through the backside A gap or B gap on a delay. If it is an odd front the backer will go through the weakside A gap, hoping the center gets buried off in the double team on the Nose. If it is a four-down front, teams will send the weakside backer through the weakside B gap on a delay, hoping the guard is buried off in the double team. We try to make our linemen aware of this and make sure that they are keeping their eyes where they need to be.
QB: It is especially important that the QB comes straight back without pushing the RB off his landmark. If the QB forces the RB off his track, it is exceedingly difficult for the back to be able to make some of the backside cuts that may be available. The RB has to attack in the inside leg of the play side guard.
RB: Now, when I say that the running back is reading the Mike backer, that is exactly what I mean. If the Mike scrapes over the top of the double by the tackle and tight end, then the running back knows that the play now needs to hit B gap strong to B gap weak. If the Mike backer plugs or fills the B gap, the RB knows that he needs to bounce strong or cutback weak, avoiding the B Gap.
The RB will take a slide step with his play side foot, get downhill on the second step while taking the handoff, and attack the inside leg of the play side guard. One of the biggest coaching points for the RB is patience. We line up the RB at 8-8 ½ yards deep in the backfield when we run Duo. The reason for this is twofold. One, it allows the RB longer to read the Mike backer since he is getting the ball deeper. Two, it allows the offensive line to stay on their double team blocks longer and vertically push the line of scrimmage. The RB must be patient, trust his read, and get downhill with square shoulders.
OL: An important coaching point on the double teams is the use of the “Gallop” or “High Leg” technique. We started using this technique in 2016 and it has undoubtedly improved our double teams. The outside man on the double team (versus an odd front the play side guard and the play side TE) will "Gallop" into the double team. During the use of this technique, the inside foot will move inside and up the field, gaining as much ground as possible while still maintaining a good, athletic base. Next, the outside foot will move in the same direction to reestablish the base and basically put the lineman in what I call a "coil" position, ready to explode into the defender. When the base is reestablished, the lineman will explode into the defender using the "flipper" technique with their inside arm, attempting to launch the defender, while staying hip-to-hip with their inside teammate. From there, the inside foot must stay in front of the outside foot so the lineman can stay square. Once the lineman feels his teammate leaves the double team, he will transition into a "drive" block or "fit and finish.” The easiest thing I can compare this too is fencing. If you have ever watched fencing, very often they attack with one foot constantly remaining in front of the other. This allows the lineman to stay square on the double team and climb to the second level with square shoulders as well.
Continue to the full-length version of this report...
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 adjustments on the “Gallop” footwork when first level defenders widen at the point of attack.
- The adjustment Coach Janak will make if the tight end gets beat inside by a 7-technique defender in 4-2-5 spacing.
- The “Quad Block” technique he’ll use from heavy personnel groupings, which accounts for three double teams along the line of scrimmage.
- How Coach Janak teaches his front to be identify and block weakside A gap run throughs in Odd fronts and weakside B gap run throughs in Even fronts.
- The Play-Action pass concepts married with the Duo run game.
- Plus, game film of the Duo concept vs. all of the fronts mentioned.
Join the Insiders today and get your FREE book(s)!
I can honestly say that Duo has made us a better offense. It has found a very useful niche in our system and gives us an additional downhill power run that we can go to if our power game isn’t working. The ability to focus on vertically pushing the line of scrimmage with two double teams and giving the back several options on where to take the ball is, in my opinion, the recipe for a successful play on offense.
It has been an honor to be selected to work on this article for X&O Labs and I sincerely hope that this has been useful to you. Please reach out if you would like any more information on Duo or the gallop technique.
Meet Coach Michael Janak: Coach Janak is starting his 10th year at Cy-Fair High School. Eight of those were spent as the offensive line coach and the last two have been spent as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Prior to Cy-Fair, Coach Janak was a graduate assistant for the offensive line at Texas State University. He also served a year at Texas Lutheran University as the running backs coach and a year as a student assistant coach, coaching the tight ends after his playing career ended.