By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of XandOLabs.com special report on “The Pistol Offense,” which can be accessed in full by clicking here.
Perhaps we found the most success in play-action man protection concepts off the Veer and Midline option run-action. James Vint at Cornado High School (TX) wrote an entire piece below about his play-action pass concept off his Midline scheme from the Pistol formation.
“Our play action game is designed to attack areas the defense is vacating to play the run. With all of our play action concepts, we want the pass to look like the run. On midline, our offensive line will use an aggressive gap set protection. They will attack the near jersey number of the down defender. If you are covered, you will block the defender covering you. If you are uncovered, you will work inside to outside. We keep our protection very, very simple.
Our tackles will typically be blocking the 5 techniques. Versus an odd front, our guards will be uncovered, and they will work inside to out. We always want to block the most dangerous man first, and the inside linebacker is a more dangerous player than the outside linebacker. Versus an even front, our guard to the side of the 3 technique will have him man. Our guard to the shade will work be our dual read or inside to outside player. The center is going to base block the nose. If there is no nose, the center will work inside to outside.
I call it a gap-punch protection because we are going to step and protect our inside gap first. It’s based on B.O.B. concepts. The only difference between our gap protection and our Big on Big protection is the first step. In our gap protection, our first step is to protect inside because we’re not worried about and edge guy- our back and QB handle that. In B.O.B. our footwork is going to be predicated on the alignment of the defender. If the defender is head up to outside shoulder, we will power step inside and kick. If the defender is on our tip, now we are kicking. If the defender is a man removed, we are kick, kick and we read from there. This protection is a gap-punch, Big on Big combination.
The backfield action must look exactly like midline to the defense. Our pistol back will run down the brown spot on the center’s backside and sell the dive fake. He is responsible for “swallowing” the mesh point. He then is responsible for any A gap run through. We would essentially like for him to get tackled. The quarterback will push off the midpoint and flash the football. We teach the quarterback to bend his knees on the fake, and shuffle one step. As the back gets to the mesh point, the QB will pull the ball back in and bend his knees as he shuffles one step. The ball is not ever going to be in the belly of the dive back. We put a premium on ball security. We let the action sell the fake. After his shuffle step, the quarterback will then take a 3-step drop. He should end up at 6.5 to 7 yards on his drop.
Our play action off the midline is built off our four verticals concept. Because the four vertical concept is versatile, it gives us the opportunity to be versatile with our play action game. Any of our 4 vertical tags can be run off our midline play action.