3 Variations of the Counter Play

Apr 11, 2016 | Offense, Run Game, Gap Run Concepts

By Justin Iske
Offensive Line Coach
Southwest Oklahoma State University
Twitter: @justiniske



Counter is a simple play that has been around for decades. However, there are multiple different ways to run it to make it fit into any offense. While we will not go into a game with more than one or two different ways to run counter, over the course of a season we will use most of, if not all, of the concepts discussed in this clinic report.

There are several reasons we like the Counter concept:

  1. Puts misdirection into your running game. With offenses running predominately one back (and often times four receivers) as their base personnel, zone concepts have become more and more popular. While we like to run Inside and outside zone as much as anyone, we feel like we need to have something in our running game that allows us to end up opposite the direction of flow a play starts with. It is also important to note that the counter can be run to the same side as the back’s alignment in the traditional shotgun.
  2. Gap Concept that you can piggyback on teaching of the One-Back Power. Power is a staple of our offense as we called some variation of Power over 200 times last season. Every run in our offense falls into one of three categories (zone, gap or man). We teach these as concepts before we get into particular plays. Counter is a gap concept just like power. So if our guys understand the power play, they are ¾’s of the way to understanding the counter play.
  3. Gives us another Weakside Run. We are a team that bases out of 11 Personnel and will run a fair amount of 12 Personnel as well. When you run Power 200 times a season, you need something to the weakside besides just zone and/or stretch weak. Counter gives us a great change-up that looks like zone strong initially, but ends up hitting to the weakside.


The simplest way to run the Counter play is by pulling the back side guard and tackle. This variation can be run out of 10, 11 or 12 Personnel. If your QB is an athlete, this is a great concept to read the back side defensive end to handle a six-man box. If your QB is not a dual threat, then running any of your existing RPO concepts is an option as well. This is a play that can be run from the Pistol or traditional shotgun.


Assignments for this play are very simple (and very similar to the One Back Power:

Front Side Tackle: B Gap to Second Level (look to double team at the first level

Front Side Guard: A Gap to Second Level (look to double team at the first level

Center: X to Y Gap (Fill for Pulling Guard) / May pull the Center against a back side three technique

Back Side Guard: Open Pull* and kickout the EMOL frontside