The Backside Guard Pull Menu in A-Gap Power

Mar 19, 2024 | Offense, 12/21 Personnel Concepts, Run Game, Gap Run Concepts, Personnel

By Mike Kuchar with Tim Shields
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
University of Wisconsin Whitewater
Twitter: @CoachTShields



One of the beauties of the A-gap power concept is that the backside linebacker can never be right. If he gets downhill in a hurry, he’ll get picked off on combination blocks front side. And if he hesitates or backfits, the play is going to hit inside him directly in the A-gap. The A-gap power needs to be run correctly, not necessarily perfectly. As Coach Shields will often say, it’s the operation time, the path of the ball carrier, and the tight insert of the pulling Guard that makes it so hard to defend.

Wisconsin Whitewater runs its A-gap power tighter than most. It’s tight. Really tight. And when you watch the film on them, it’s recognizable how many defenders are often caught outside the insert block making them irrelevant in the fit.

The rules of the concept are below:


Whitewater relies on horizontal double teams to crease the A gap. The emphasis is to eliminate run through lanes and make the minus one (or backside LB) make a quick decision. The focal point is the A-gap.


Play Side Combination Blocks: How Backside LB is Not a Factor

Coach Shields teaches a prototypical post man/drive man combination block fundamental play side. The post-man is responsible for the inside half of the defender and uses either a load stab or down block technique with the purpose of lifting him. “We want to create extension in the knees and hips of the defender to stop vertical movement,” said Coach Shields. “If you cannot keep your hip in front of the 3-technique anymore you cannot be part of the block.


The drive man (or PST Tackle) will use an angle drive or hip skip vs. a 3-technique defender. For any defender that is not a 3-technique, he will use a gallop. “We talk more about reinforcing the A-gap defender,” said Coach Shields. “We have to be flat enough to handle any run-throughs.”