Four Ways to Get the “Spray” in the Duo Play

Nov 27, 2023 | Offense, Run Game, Gap Run Concepts, Compressed Formations, Tight Zone Run Concepts, Formation Structures

By Mike Kuchar with Ryan Olson
Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
South Dakota State University
Twitter: @CoachRyanOlson



We’ve worked enough times with the South Dakota State staff to know how they communicate their calls at the line of scrimmage. Coach Olson calls it “waterfall communication” and it’s something you’re going to have to understand if you want to run the Duo play like the Jackrabbits do. And why wouldn’t you? They are continually among the nation’s best in rushing year after year and this season has been no different. The Jackrabbits currently sit at number six with over 233 yards produced on the ground per game. And the Duo concept has been its “go-to” for several of those seasons.

Waterfall communication means that identification is communicated from the front side to the backside. Why is that important as it pertains to Duo? Since the play cuts back continually, the backside is essentially the front side. Duo is grouped among the gap scheme families in the Jackrabbits menu, so the identification is rarely even identified in gap schemes.

“That way we are never short at the point of attack,” said Coach Olson. “If we’re going to be short we will be short on the backside.” The ID always starts with the first linebacker in the box and works back. And against four down fronts, you’re going to have two communication blocks (double teams) because that is the easiest way to teach it.


Vertical vs. Horizontal Combination Blocks:

One of the unique teaching points that Coach Olson uses is to distinguish between vertical and horizontal combination blocks.


He defines them as the following:

Vertical Combination- If there is meat on the bone for both linemen, that is a true combination where we both take half. The post player executes what we call a “skate” technique. Set a vertical track as the inside man and tee the ball up for the Drive blocker. The Driver- steps to crotch like down block. Gain ground at LOS with a two-hand punch and work vertical together.


Lateral Combination- This is an open gap combo with no color between linemen. The Post-Player down blocks with no help. The Driver either works a gallop or true angle drive technique, looking to snap the hip of the defender. Coach Olson prefers a gallop for the squattier type players, whereas an angle drive (or snap the hip) is the block of choice for longer lineman.


If there is no color in the gap,  the goal is to create some type of displacement. The worst thing in the world is no displacement. According to Coach Olson, at least lateral displacement will create a nice wall where the back can run off. In either case, the goal is to create displacement and get vertical fast. “You can’t get vertical movement if you’re not getting any color in the gap,” said Coach Olson. The Driver must stay square. If he turns his body, he can’t climb. And if the LB flies over the top, we can get on his inside shoulder and run him out. As long as we get on him, the RB will make him right.”


Problem: Linebackers Flowing Over the Top:

But when you run Duo as much as South Dakota State does, you’re going to get linebackers that are “plussed” over to the backside (or play side in Jackrabbits terminology) in order to protect against the cutback.


So, the onus is on the back to press the ball vertically as much as possible to get linebackers to fill to get explosive “spray” runs.


We’re going to take you through the four solutions that Coach Olson uses to get the “spray” needed to have the ball puncture backside.