I want to thank everyone for all the viewings yesterday, we hit an all time high in e-mail subscribers! Keep on making comments and contributing to this project we are committed to making this a great resource for football coaches & serious fans. I am continuing with the 3rd part of Seven segments on the Triple Shoot Offense…

Triple Shoot Offense – Run Game

This aspect of the offense is broken up into the Belly series, Trap series and Dive series. Our linemen work daily on their zone, veer, trap and double team blocks in order to maximize our consistency in rushing the ball.

The primary series of the offense is the Belly series, which is influenced by triple option (Hambone) and zone blocking. This was also complimented by a backfield action that I was able to glean from “Dutch” Meyers book, Spread Formation Football (albeit, he did this out of the shotgun) and some basic Wing-T concepts. The Belly series consists of the Pop Out (I have heard it also called the Jet or Fly Sweep) and the Belly Play. The key in executing each of these aspects of the Belly series is in the actual “ride” of the motion receiver by the QB and the subsequent fake or hand-off to the Superback, in order to draw attention to the potential Pop Out around the edge or the dive play to the back. Ideally, our Pop Out and Belly plays will look the same for the first 3 steps and then become the actual play called prior to the snap of the ball. There are various change-up plays that are designed to take advantage of fast-flowing linebackers and defensive line slants.

Here is a video of the Pop Out featured in a few games:

Here is a video of the Belly Play featured in a few games:

Next Up: The Play Pass Game!


Ok below are the scoring drives from the 2nd half of this game. Now what you won’t see is the back to back INT’s by Klingler that put TCU back in it. What you will see is why I feel Weatherspoon was the best Superback in the run and shoot. In many games I’ve watched him he was the difference maker in the Houston offense. When he graduated in 90, the decline of Houston’s run and shoot began because they didnt have that one guy, when things were going bad they could feed the ball to and he would make things happen. Enjoy!!


I have uploaded the scoring drives for this game. Here is the first half. On Houston’s first drive they threw hot to the outside WR twice, last time for a touchdown. Some really great stuff. This is the first half, second half I will talk more about tomorrow.


Triple Shoot Offense Defined

The Triple Shoot Offense is a systems oriented, no-huddle, 4 receiver, 1 back attack that is balanced in its ability to run or pass the ball at any time during a game. It is predicated on spreading the field and attacking a pre-ordered defense with blocking and route adjustments after the play begins. The TSO Quarterback is taught to run the system from underneath the Center as well as out of the Shotgun. There are games where the ratio of Shotgun to “Under the Center” can vary drastically, based on the feelings of the coach implementing the system.

Ordering Up The Defense

The concept of “ordering up the defense” is one that I learned from “Tiger” Ellison. His concept was to place a label on each defensive man (numbering), and from that to designate a specific defender that would tell his players what to do, either by the place he lined up before the ball was snapped or by his movement after the snap.

The Triple Shoot Offense took that information and decided to look at defensive alignments based on the way they matched up to a 4 receiver, one-back formation and designated defenses as either Nickel, Dime, Blitz or they were considered unsound. Nickel looks are based on six men in the box with one free safety, Dime looks have five men in the box with two safeties and Blitz is recognized when there are seven defenders in the box and no safety over the top. Anything else is an unsound defense that we hope a team is willing to attempt.

In order to keep defenses in these alignments we utilize a variety of concepts, from widening our inside receivers to calling specific plays that put a bind on any defender that tries to play both the front and the coverage. When we get to the point where we can do this, the offense is at its most optimum in production.

The Hot Pass

When the defense chooses to put a defender in a bind whereby he is playing both the front & the coverage the QB will execute a Hot Pass with his Uncovered receiver.

I learned the QB techniques to this throw back in 1991 from Ben Griffith I have seen them executed from the Youth Leagues to the Professional level. Once upon a time, David Klingler used these fundamentals and threw to what he considered an Uncovered Receiver from the old college hashmark all the way across the field  to the Z-receiver. He was compelled to do this because the wide-field Corner was playing 15 yards off the line of scrimmage!

Next Up: TSO Run Game Overview

This is the first of  Seven installments regarding the Triple Shoot Offense.

An abbreviated version of this series was published a year ago on the blog – Smart Football. (This is the Un-rated, never been told version) So now, I have decided to take it to another level and share with you an Odyssey that I have gone through in this coaching profession….

It all started with a fascination of the 3 distinctly different offenses the Wing-T, Run & Shoot and the Georgia Southern Hambone. From there it evolved with specific influence and personal contact with the following coaches, Ben Griffith (Inventor of the Hambone), Glenn “Tiger” Ellison, Darrell “Mouse” Davis and Bill Walsh. As an additional note, Leo “Dutch” Meyer’s book, Spread Formation Football gave me an idea on how to create an explosive rushing attack (albeit, it was not the purpose of his book). Having started American Football Quarterly® in 1993, while waiting to take a job at Kansas State University, gave me access to all of the aforementioned individuals, except coach Meyer.

In the early 1990’s, I was working on my Ph.D. and while finishing my coursework I began a research project, which evolved into the Triple Shoot Offense. The title of the dissertation project was, “The History and Evolution of the Run & Shoot Offense in American Football”.

The climate of football was filled with wide-open offenses!

The Houston Cougars led by their maverick head coach, John Jenkins was at the forefront of college football. He was so secretive and full of himself that he had alienated so many coaches & administrators by his controversial nature. In fact, his actions got him fired at U of H! The Southwest Conference “led the charge” with offensive highlights that would make any defensive coach squeal. TCU was hot in their version of what Jim Wacker called the Triple Shoot. (Actually, he hired my good friend Ben Griffith to be his OC so that he could install an offense that was based on the run game of the Option & the Run & Shoot pass attack) Ben tricked him and installed a version of Dennis Erickson’s spread offense because he didn’t want Coach Wacker to know the secrets of what he had developed at Georgia Southern, commonly known as the Hambone. Even with this attack in place, TCU and Houston played in a prolific passing game that set the national record for total yardage by two teams in one game!

Here is my narrative of the Triple Shoot Offense

Development of the Offense

Researching the state of football and developing axioms and creating postulates based on those axioms created this offense.

My initial axioms of the game were as follows:

  1. The game of football has freedoms, purposes and barriers that give spread formation attacks a distinct advantage.
  2. A systems approach to football has the greatest potential for success over a period of time.
  3. When players are more knowledgeable about their system than the opponent is theirs they have the greatest potential for success.
  4. A balanced approach to offensive strategy has the greatest potential for success over a period of time.
  5. A system that appears complex, yet is simple to execute will stand the test of time.

These following postulates were the results of analyzing the previous axioms:

  1. Spreading the field with offensive personnel creates miss-matches and distinct angles to attack the defense.
  2. Utilizing a no-huddle attack enables an offense to control the clock and give the players a better understanding of the defense they are attacking.
  3. A 2-point stance by offensive linemen gives them better recognition and a lower “center of gravity” at the point of attack.
  4. A protection based on the principle of “firm: front-side & soft: backside” enables an offense to take advantage of any defensive front by keeping them off-balance.
  5. Run blocking schemes that combine Veer, Zone and Trap blocking enables an offense to run the ball versus any defensive front.
  6. Pass schemes that adjust routes based on coverage on the run will open up holes in the secondary.
  7. Quarterback decisions based on looks & reads give the offense the ability to release the ball anywhere from 1 to 5 steps. This will minimize the amount of time necessary for pass protection.

Alright, now that all sounds like some scientific approach to the game of football. You have got to remember the roots of this offense came from a doctoral dissertation project.

Enjoy my Odyssey….

Tomorrow we continue with – The TSO Defined!

Offensive coordinators today fall into two distinct groups: Smorgasboard Coaches & Systems Coaches. The Smorgasboard approach or “multiple offense” has characteristics of various systems and/or gimmick plays. The System Approach is one that utilizes a playbook that builds upon concepts which has answers to the particular defenses they face on game day.

To Be or Not To Be, or as a country music song once said, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.

So, Let’s look at the Smorgasboard Approach to offense. In this approach, the coach keeps changing up his system on a weekly basis or worse yet, when the opponent has come up with the answer to thwart his strategy. Have you ever seen books that expound the benefits of the 101 best plays? Some coaches actually buy these books in order to develop their encyclopedic playbooks. I remember my first year at K-State, Coach Bill Snyder tried to install his Iowa Hawkeye playbook and the results were a disasterous 1-10 season. Why, because he had every play in it that Iowa had run in the last decade and we tried to install that to no avail. After that season, we learned and simplified everything to go on to have more success.

Advantage to the “Smorgasboard System” is that you will keep your opponent off guard and you may even be able to have a significant game day performance that will make you look like a genius.

Disadvantages – Tough to get your rhythm. Difficult to call plays because it’s hard to guage how the defense will align to your plays. A constant change-up of your plays means you are always in install mode and rarely refining your system.

A Systems approach. On the other side of the spectrum are those coaches that find a system to install and in doing so they are in more control of the actual game day performance. There are quite a few proven systems in football today. One of the most important aspects of deciding on what system to use is to see if it fits to your personnel and also to your personality.

Usually the biggest mistake I have seen is when a coach has a particular personality and his personnel is opposite of his personality. I once saw an inner city coach that was a “mad scientist” type of coach and his players were confused almost every day at practice because his system was so difficult to teach – It happened to be the vaunted West Coast Offense. Nothing wrong with the WCO, but it just didn’t fit his personnel.

Advantages – Fundamentals build into each scheme and the results improve as the season progresses. The players are excited to know that they have an “answer” to whatever they face on game day. Coaches can spend more time on fundamentals and build their program. Easy to call plays on game day, because you can dictate how the defense will align to a formation or motion or a personnel grouping – based on what type of system you choose. The key to a systems approach is to gain more certainty on game day.

Now make a decision To Be or Not To Be a System Guy? Which are you? Do you see any other advantages or disadvantages to either option?

If you want to try the Smorgasboard Approach, here are some resources: Trick Plays, The Total Football Playbook.

If you want to take a look at some systems, here are some resources: Air RaidHambone, Run & Shoot, Wing-T, Double Wing, Single Wing and Zone Read are just a few to mention.

In the future I would like to take a look at the specifics of all types of systems that are out there in an attempt to help coaches to make informed decisions.

Good Luck!

Often times I have been asked how to best rate players performance during practice and the game. After two decades of coaches every level from high school to the professional ranks, I have noticed that there are so many ways to check performance. I believe that the simplest method that gives the player and coach appropriate feedback is often the best. I spent years researching different ways to do this from performance charts to plus/minus systems and as they say there are many ways to “skin a cat”.

The system I have used with great success is one that I found via Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska, albeit he might not be the inventor of this system. This system is based on giving the player one of four grades and each of these has a specific meaning:

Zero – Busted assignment.

One – Assignment is correct, but the technique used is incorrect.

Two – Correct assignment and technique is correct.

Three – Sellout or Special Play whereby the player got the job done and made something special happen. ie. Explosive Play, Touchdown, Sack, Tackle for a Loss etcetera.

Once each play is graded within these limits the coach can then accumulate the total positive to negative plays to come up with a percentage grade. A Zero or One is considered a minus and a Two or Three is considered a plus. The ratio of minus to plus will yield a percentage grade for the player.

For example: Johnny played in 100 plays and his results were as follows: 4 Zero’s, 26 One’s, 60 Two’s and 10 Three’s. Johnny has 30 negative grades to 70 positive grades. Therefore he comes out with a 70 percent grade.

The next step in evaluation is to cut the mental errors (Zero’s) and produce more Special Plays. A player that is highly explosive but produces mental errors can really hurt the Unit’s production and as a coach you can “fall in love with all that potential” but this evaluation system is a great tool to work with the player to improve his performance.

All in all, I have noticed that when you play the guys that grade out the best with this system, some pretty amazing things happen to unit production. Speaking of unit production, I have also used this system to see just how well my whole unit was working on each particular play. By grading out all 11 players on a specific play and getting a Unit Grade that is broken down in a scheme-specific way I have been able to improve my teaching method on each play.

As a test, go back and see how many plays in a game existed where all 11 players graded out a positive, you would be shocked at how few of these plays existed. By improving the Unit Performance Grade your production will be amazing.

As a resource, John T. Reed does make a brief mention of how to grade players take a look and let me know what you think. John T. Reed’s Grading a Teams Performance

Here is another video worth looking at that gives you some insight on how a college staff works on weekends to grade and evaluate players: