Bubble as a Pre Snap and Post Snap Answer

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Quick Hitter d brown.001

Everyone seems to run the bubble, but Coach Brown has done a solid job in creating a thought process for how to attack an alley player in their read game.  Having 4 different ways to account for the alley defender, they are able to put a defense in a bind and make them work on a lot of variations of what is really the same play. The key is to make it as simple as possible for the offensive players to execute through their teaching and terminology.  Coach Brown shares the concepts and illustrates the variations with video.  32 game video cut-ups are included.



It’s amazing to me to see all of the interest in the Pistol Offense, and the amount of creativity it has sprung at all levels of football. When I first started working at the University of Nevada in 2006 I had no idea that the seemingly simple alignment change that we made in our offense would take off the way it has. Being in the middle of that expansion has proven to be a tremendous tool in my development as a coach, but I’ve also started to realize that it has caused me to look at attacking a defense in a completely different way.

Throughout my time in Reno, we had countless visitors from all levels of football, and one thing that Coach Ault was great about was getting ideas from those staffs in exchange for opening our doors. As a young Graduate Assistant I was able to clinic with some great offensive staffs from every level of football and from every corner of the country. One of the ideas that we started exploring and was of particular interest to me was the different zone read concepts we kept discussing with Spread staffs who were making the stop through campus. There was a lot of potential there, but we had to find out a way to incorporate it into the Pistol.

One of the biggest misnomers I notice when people ask me about the Pistol Offense is that they tend to almost exclusively relate it to Zone Read schemes and a mobile quarterback. In reality, that element of the offense was really something that evolved with our personnel. One of the biggest advantages of the pistol set is that defenses have to defend both sides of the formations. We do not tip any of our plays by the alignment of our backfield. So to me the most interesting part of our expansion in the offense was figuring out how to incorporate Zone Read schemes into the Pistol Set to keep our philosophy.

During the spring of 2007, we started playing with the mechanics and timing of how to run the Read concept from a Pistol backfield set. We played with a few different actions, alignments, and timing. Since everyone was doing this out of an off-set backfield we had no film to study, and had to work through it ourselves. There was a lot of work put into adjusting our run-timing and the mesh between the QB and RB. Through this trial and error we realized that it would be possible, and now we just needed to commit to it. Once Colin Kaepernick took over as our QB it was very evident that we needed to utilize his physical tools to really stress the defense. That off-season the full commitment to the Pistol version of the zone read took off. Once we had this down, then we also needed to figure out the next step to expand again to stay ahead of the defensive adjustments.

Answers for the Force Defender

One of the first issues we needed to address once we dove into the zone read game was the perimeter blocking element of the play. We were a very efficient team when it came to running the inside zone, and because of this, teams committed a lot of their efforts to stopping the interior run game. A lot of times this simply forced the pull read and their answer was to run linebackers and safeties into a force position to account for the QB. The answer we needed to find was how to protect what we termed the alley. At the time there were three different answers we had to combat this problem. We could send our read side TE to the force player, or we could bring a WR or Wing from the opposite side of the formation to either block the defender or to use as a pitch man creating a triple option type look. These are still the answers that I utilize the most in our offense here at Fort Lewis.

The “Force Block”

The first answer that we had was a simple force block by the TE. This really helped us in two ways. First, it took care of the SS that had been hurting us in the alley. The TE was able to become a perimeter lead blocker for the QB doing a block that he had already been doing on other plays. This also allowed us to read the closed side of the formation and hide our read side even more than the Pistol backfield set already did.

About Dave Brown

Offensive Coordinator Dave Brown joined the Fort Lewis College coaching staff prior to spring practice in 2013 after spending the last seven years coaching at the Division I level, at the University of Nevada and Portland State. During his career, Brown has been on the coaching staffs of teams that appeared in seven bowl games.

While at Nevada from 2006 to 2010, the Wolf Pack ranked at or near the top of the NCAA FBS leaders in rushing offense (first in 2009 and third in 2008) and total offense (second in 2009 and fifth in 2008). Brown coached Colin Kaepernick, who was the 2008 WAC Offensive Player of the Year and the only player in NCAA history to throw for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000. In 2010, Brown left Nevada to join former colleague Nigel Burton and to assist in installing the pistol offense. At Portland State, he helped the Vikings lead the Big Sky Conference in rushing (203.3 yards per game) in 2010 and improve their total offensive output by 95.7 yards per game over the previous season. In 2011, Coach Brown returned to Nevada during the 2011 and 2012 seasons before joining the Skyhawks.

Brown has 12 years of diverse experience in three different levels of NCAA football, with emphasis on every offensive skill position. Most notable is his experience with the pistol offense, which was actively involved in designing, teaching and adapting at both Nevada  and at Portland State.

My Newest Project: 101+ Read Game Plays

In 2013, I released 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays.  This interactive book is the first of its kind, blending the information you normally get in a coaching book-text, diagrams, and coaching points, with the information you normally get on a DVD – video and game film.  The innovative format is able to go way beyond what you get in a book or DVD, giving coaches a depth of knowledge well beyond the other coaching products on the market.

I released my second interactive book in March 2014 – The Zone Offense Create a Structured System.  This utilizes even more capability of the technology, loading the book with 167 pages that included 662 interactive slides and 51 total minutes of video.

My new interactive book which will be released soon is 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays:  The Read Game.  This includes the details on running zone read variations, zone option, veer, power read, play action off of the read game, and gives ideas for developing other types of read plays.

It will be available soon.  In the mean time, check out my other two books.

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On AFM: Pairing Zone Read and Power Read to Attack Across the Defensive Front

Get my new iBook, The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System

The read game allows the offense to attack the defense where they become weakest based on post snap keys. The power read allows for a gap scheme read concept that attacks inside and outside in one direction at the same time. The zone option allows for an A-Gap to A-Gap inside run that can hit front side or cutback as well as attacking the perimeter opposite the inside zone. The personnel we use gives us a fullback, running back and a hybrid receiver/running back in the backfield along with a dynamic quarterback. As seen in the diagram below, just two play calls allow us to attack the entire front.

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Read more

Read about developing an offensive system in my new iBook The Zone Offense: Create a Structured System. Learn more about our pistol offense in 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays. Both are full of dynamic content – diagrams, animations, presentations and game video and are available for the iPad or Mac on the iBookstore. 

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Pro Style Pistol Offense

There are many versions of the pistol offense.  The primary reason is that the pistol, in and of itself, is a backfield set.  Because it offers the advantage of having the quarterback in the shotgun with the view of the defense and the ability to be a runner as well, it’s been adapted into many offenses.  Pistol is used in pro style offenses, spread option, and wing-t.  I’m sure there are several other classifications of offense types that utilize the pistol set as well.

We have been running what we refer to as a pro style pistol offense.  We consider it “pro style” in that we utilize multiple personnel groupings with an emphasis on tight ends, h-backs, and fullbacks.  The preferred run game in our offense is a downhill type of run game featuring zone and gap schemes.  The run game helps create a very effective play action passing game.

The system is created with a flexible structure that starts with having the ability to align in any formation that can be imagined.  However, the system uses a minimal amount of language with the majority of it using only 12 words and the digits 0-9.  Players really only need to learn the components that apply to them (either words or digits, bot not necessarily both), further limiting the amount that must be committed to memory.

The inside zone establishes the basis for the running game with the techniques and teaching of gap responsibility carrying over to each position.

Outside zone is the other zone scheme used within the offense.

The gap schemes begin with the installation of both one back and two back power which are taught with essentially the same rules.

The counter play provides a flexible run concept that can be used from multiple personnel groupings and formations.

Pin & Pull sweep concepts provide a run to get to the perimeter with a show of force.

With a strong run game, play action becomes an effective way to move the ball down the field.  Our unique, reverse out footwork hides the ball from the defense and helps the quarterback and receivers out leveraged the defense on the flank.

Drop back play action is effective in creating big play opportunities when the defense aggressively keys the run.

Finally, receiver motion creates misdirection and an effective way to get a dynamic receiver touches in the run game.

The details and coaching points for each play in this system are detailed in 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays.  The interactive, multimedia book presents the offense in a very dynamic and easy to understand way.  Get 101+ PRO STYLE PISTOL OFFENSE PLAYS for your iPad or Mac from the iBookstore


The Pistol Veer & Resources

The pistol veer provides a great complimentary play to the pistol zone read.  The zone read typically is a play that will hit from the frontside of the play all the way to a cut back on the backside.  The veer looks like the zone initially in many ways, but the running back is never attempting to take the ball across the midpoint.

The offensive line on the play side(which appears many times to the defense to be the backside of the play, is now down blocking aggressively rather than zone blocking.  We basically maintained our zone rules on the backside of the play.

Many times the gun or pistol veer is misidentified as zone because of the similarity of reading the defensive end.  For the quarterback, there really is no difference in the read of the end man on the line.  The footwork will vary slightly, but his decision remains the same.  If the end closes, he will keep.  If the end sits, he will give.

I suspect that the play is being run in the NFL as well.  In 2012, the Redksins ran a read option play in which the offset back next to RG3 received the hand off and never looked to attack across to the other side of the play.  The TE (aligned as a tackle) arced up to the linebacker, which definitely tells us that it was not zone blocking.  RG3 and the pistol back ran a pitch course.  The play is illustrated below.

redskins veer

While the play does not hit as quickly as the traditional under center veer, it does seem to hit a bit quicker than the zone play because the back is going downhill immediately after receiving the ball.  Here is a video from a one back set:

It seems that the pistol veer is being utilized more on every level and is gaining popularity.  Here are a list of resources that give more details on the play:

UCLA – two explanations of difference between zone read and veer

Identifying the Veer

Pistol Running Game

Mazzone Offense Protecting Base Concepts-Discussion on how the Bruins protect their base runs with constraint plays
Pistol Veer Teaching Video-shows the play being run against shields
Hokies Pistol Veer Play-diagrams and explains a veer type of ply with a lead blocker for the qb with an h-back.  This is a great way to handle gap exchange, but it isn’t drawn vs. a gap exchange in the article.
Pistol Zeer – combines zone and veer concepts
James Vint – Coach Vint is a great resource on the Pistol Veer 
Coach Vint- Veer Variation from 3 Back – Vint show the veer from a diamond pistol set. This is a great way to handle the gap exchange.
James Vint-Marrying Downhill Run game with the Spread from the Pistol; Power Point explaining midline and veer installation
My iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays provides concepts that can be utilized in any offense, not just the pistol. I have received some great feedback from coaches who adapted all or some of those ideas in 2013. Get 101+ PRO STYLE PISTOL OFFENSE PLAYS for your iPad or Mac from the iBookstore

On AFM: Key to Successful Power Read-QB/Sweeper Mesh

Having a week one bye has allowed me some extra time to watch both high school and college football for the last few weeks. A play that I’ve seen numerous times is the inverted veer or “power read.” It’s a play that puts major stress on the defense as it is an option play that can attack inside or outside. For teams that have an athlete at quarterback and some speed from either a receiver or tailback, this is a play that with practice and repetition can put some explosiveness in an offense.
In studying some game film of this play, the different scenarios of what can happen can be minimized. In setting up drills or practice reps, defenders can be controlled to give the offense a look at the possibilities that need to be taken into account. Film study also revealed some key coaching points to make this an effective play.

Read more here.