The Pistol Offense and You (CLA)

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

Hey everyone, I have been working on this idea for a while, and here is my guide to the Pistol Offense ("revolver formation) at UCLA:

Credit: Fat Chucky Eats Again

The basis of the Pistol Offense has been covered plenty of times, but here is a few main bullet points for its structure:

  • The Quarterback lines up 3 yards behind the center
  • The Running-Back lines up 3-4 yards behind the Quarterback

What is the main benefit of running the Pistol Offense?

  • The Offense retains the basis of the Pro offense, but adds the Quarterback to the running game

In numerical terms, a Pro, or I-formation offense has 10 players on the field on running plays (The quarterback turns his back to the plays and hands the ball off), but a pistol offense has 11 players (The Quarterback only has to rotate to his side on some plays, therefore making him a viable option to run the ball).

Some key plays... after the jump

(Videos courtesy of Chris from, and various users from YouTube)

1. Read Option

Everyone knows how Oregon runs the ball; deceptively, smoothly, and effectively. In the Pistol Offense, that deception and quickness can work between the tackles. Check out Nevada's read offense in these videos.

As you can see, this play leaves one man unblocked, hence the "read." If the defender goes upfield, the quarterback hands the ball off to the running back. If the defender tries to cut off the running back and runs down the line, the quarterback keeps the ball.

Some more "complex" or "new age" forms of the read option allows UCLA to use their newly found speed and athleticism in the open field, as shown by these cut-ups. The concept of the triple option in the spread option is one in many forms, but the bubble screen option is something that is starting to make strides in College Football today (it has been covered here before if you want to check out that article).

The triple option with a bubble screen uses the concept of a defensive end read, then the Quarterback will read the defensive back covering his weak side receiver: if the DB flows towards the QB, the QB will throw the ball to the "bubbling" receiver, if the DB stays at home, the QB cuts it upfield.

While this play is not shown in the pistol in this video, the concept is the same.

2.  Play Action 

The next benefit of running a pistol offense is that a play action play takes less time, and stays loyal to the typical Play Action flow. Check out Nevada running the bootleg pass. On the second play, Kaepernick keeps the ball off of the bootleg.

Keep in mind, the running game can also reflect the typical Pro Style, Off-Tackle/Stretch Running play, as shown in the video below.

As you can see, the bootleg pass is going to be a huge part of UCLA's passing game this year. 

A couple of thoughts:

In a typical Pistol offense, the Quarterback and Running-Back are about equal in terms of carries and yards. In other words, having an effective balance between the traditional off-tackle running plays, and read option plays will make this offense really click. If one element is removed (for example the quarterback running game in the scrimmages), the entire offense is effected.

On a less aggressive note, UCLA isn't "changing," or "moving" to a new offense. UCLA is adapting their offense to fit the talent and personnel for the 2010-11 season. As Coach Neuheisel has said before, the offense is just a new formation, all the plays will be the same.

This subtle change should help the offense loads right off the bat, and as the offense starts to "click" within the new formation, UCLA should start making major strides Offensively, both in statistics and in the Win Column.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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