Episode 22 – Pistol Option with James Vint

The Pistol Option is the hottest offense in the nation today and we have one of the top coaches giving us a clinic on it in this episode of The Football Coaching Podcast. James Vint from Coronado High School in Lubbock, Texas.

Coach Vint has authored several books and videos on everything from running the Option to coaching the 30 Stack Defense. Here we focus on the Pistol Offense and learn why the Pistol provides so many advantages over the Shotgun. We talk about how to read… pretty much everything, and make the defense wrong no matter what they try to do to stop you.

Coach Vint has also provided a huge presentation which you can download here. Right click, and Save As… to keep the presentation on your hard drive.

Listen to the podcast below, or find us on iTunes – and be sure to leave a review!

Get more from James Vint on Coaches Choice!

Transcript of Episode 22 – Pistol Option with James Vint

Joe Daniel: Our guest today has altered 12 videos and 2 books on topics from option football to the 30-stack defense. He’s an option football guru and we’ll be talking pistol option with Coach James Vint today on the Football Coaching Podcast.

But first, if you enjoy the Football Coaching Podcast, we have good news. There’s even more football coaching talk that you can take with you on-the-go. Listen to host John Anderson interview some of the top football coaching personalities in the country on the Coach’s Corner Show. Visit copysportsradio.com to find out more.

Joe Daniel: Hi this is Joe Daniel from Football-Defense.com. You’re listening to the Football Coaching Podcast. Today we’ve got a guest with us who’s going to be talking about option football out of the pistol. We have James Vint from Conorado High School in Lubbock, Texas. Thanks for joining us Coach.

James Vint: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.

Joe Daniel: Certainly appreciate your coming on. First of all, just tell us about how you got to where you’re at today in coaching.

James Vint: Well, I started my coaching career, I grew up in the Midwest. My dad was a coach, grew up near Cincinnati, Iowa. But we moved a lot when I was real little and then we kind of settled in and I graduated from high school.  I had the opportunity to play for Hall of Fame Coach Craig Parkinson at Akron-Westfield High School. He’s one of the winningest coaches in the State of Iowa. He’s won a state title; phenomenal guy. And after college, I had gotten an opportunity to grab at Massachusetts and started there and kind of started off work with young kids. And then gradually worked my way up and I ended up in The Bronx, New York at Columbus High School as an offensive coordinator. And we took over a program there that opened up the school, opened in 1939, they’d never had a winning season. They’ve never been to the playoffs and they were in the middle of a 27 game losing streak. And something interesting that the principal said, “I don’t know why you guys want this job, you can’t win here.” I said “Well, you’re offering us a job, we’ll take it.” Our staff went in and we ended up going to the playoffs. We actually made it all the way to the quarter finals 4 times in 6 years, enjoyed great success, took advantage of an opportunity to move from there to the college level, spent a few years as an offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator at the college level. And while I was at Truman State I actually met my wife and she just finished grad school at Texas Tech, was teaching kindergarten in Welbeck.

You know how things work in the coaching business, the head coach gets fired, everybody gets  fired. And our head coach had a situation come up where his contract wasn’t renewed and I ended up coming down here to Welbeck and now I’m at Coronado High School. We’re working on building a program here. I got hired by one of the best men in the business, Ken Jackson, who’s one of the most well-respected coaches down in Texas. I’ve been really lucky, it’s been a long journey, but I’m lucky to be here.

Joe Daniel: Now when you first started out with option football, you were running a traditional option under center midline veer?

James Vint: Yes we were midline mode veer, iso, toss, trap. That was pretty much our entire offense. We didn’t throw the ball very much. We threw the ball 4 times in a game; that was a lot. We opened it up that day. We went to the playoffs in our second year. Our first year, we had our first winning season they never had. And in the second year, we’re going to fix in four, we’re going to the playoffs, and we played Wagner High School at Staten Island, Al Paturzo as the Head Coach, another guy over 200 cruel wins and they were number one in New York state. They really beat us pretty good.

We had experimented a little bit with the zone read. We got that from Jerry Campbell who has work on Mike Spratlen at Westwood High School down Round Rock, Texas. We started messing with it, we didn’t run it much that year, once or twice. And after that playoff game, we said wait a minute now, we need to do something to be a little bit more diverse offensively and spread the field. As you know, when you’re going to be in 21 personnel, two backs with a tight end, and you’re going to run the football, people are going to play you with a 9-man front. And we didn’t have enough dudes to block those 9. Against the teams that we are physically superior to, we brush for 350 yards, we throw for 75, and we’d win. Against teams that matched-up us or were stronger than us physically, we needed something more. So we started off in the I, we’re on a traditional midline mode veer, iso, toss, trap and then we started to evolve.

Joe Daniel: Now, 1999, when you were moving into the zone read, you’re kind of ahead of your time at that point, aren’t you?

James Vint: Well, we stole everything we got. There were others that were ahead and we’ve seen it as all coaches do. It’s interesting because I have a video that I got back in the 90s and it was actually from Arizona University. Their coaching staff talking about the best running formation and best running play. And they were talking about how it would be great if you could get a running quarterback and read at the center but be in the shotgun to do it. And they were actually talking about that in the late 80s. They didn’t do it. It was really, really interesting. It was one of those things where after we were shown this concept, when we were sort of looking at it and I found that video, I kind of said wait a minute now alright there’s something here. And then we did some more research and I was blessed, coach in The Bronx, the guy that recruited our school was the guy I feel as you may have heard of in Chip Kelly.

Joe Daniel: Heard him, yeah.

James Vint: He was at New Hampshire at the time and he’d come down. At that time, he was just a regular guy who loved to talk football. He wasn’t Chip Kelly the Head Coach of University of Oregon and I doubt if he’s changed a bit. He’s probably just got more pressured. But he’d sit down and they were one of the first programs doing it. And he was unbelievable.

Now we went up there a few times. We started to implement the zone read. So now we’re running an inside zone read instead of running our traditional fullback trap play. Now we’re running trap as an option plays in the gun, reading the backside defensive end. And that’s how it all started, you go read the backside defensive end.

And then we figured out that we could run veer. So we started running a little bit of inside veer. It was really good stuff. And then the best part, I coach quarterbacks and I know that I don’t have to teach my quarterback the 5-step drop, I only have to teach them the 3-step drop, I can be a better coach. So that was the other advantage. All of a sudden now, instead of rushing for 350 yards and maybe throwing 3 or 4 times, now we’re able to throw the ball 18/15 times a game. So really an awesome thing.

Joe Daniel: So just moving in to the shotgun really opened up the offense but without really changing the basis of it. You’re still an option team, still reading, but just opened up your whole playbook.

James Vint: That’s right. And everything was pretty much a double option. And then we started to incorporate the triple option conceptS like we had in veer. We’re reading a backside end on our zone read but we started using our inside receiver to be the pitchman. And then from there we found out that we could run a bubble path with him. There were a lot of neat things we could do with it.

The thing our people started to do, we were just still doing chippings, we were still getting under center. We did under center to run our downhill run game. And we thought we were really diverse which is why they got to prepare for us to be in the I, they got to prepare for us to be in the power I and the gun. What defensive coaches taught us after that first year we’re doing it, they said “we really weren’t that tough to scheme you because when you guys were under center, you’re in the I, you’re basically running iso toss or trap. When you’re getting the gun, now you’re running some sort of zone read play. So we weren’t as diverse as we thought. They said “besides that fact we didn’t throw very much under center unless it was boot or some sort of play action. So that was the first element that we struggled with.

The second part was people started to game our zone read game. I know you’re a big defensive guy. You see, the back offset, you know which side they’re going to read. So then we started getting all the exchanges, the gap exchanges. We had to coach how we read it. Instead of reading the player, we read the gap. Because if that 5-technique crossed our tackle space, we told our tackle you just watch him down. And we told our quarterback you’re going to read the replacement player who was the guy willing to exchange, who took that gap on exchange. So now that’s a whole another set of teaching. Funniest thing is back in all four, our offensive line coach says “why would you put the back behind the quarterback in the gun?”. I look back and my suite can’t do that. We never were. How are we going to teach the mesh? We can’t teach the zone read out of that. So we didn’t do it. And then a little bit later in the year, he brought it up again. So we put it in and ran a few plays out of the pistol. Nothing crazy, we probably ran 3 and 4 5 plays a game.

And then my offensive line coach that I was in 2006. It was probably the 2nd week of spring he says “you know, I think we had to put the back behind the quarterback”. Same thing. Well we kind of done it, it didn’t work really well, he said let’s do it, so we did it. Chris Harris is a thing that bully college now. He said let’s give this a shot. We called it stack. So now he’s watching a Nevada game and he calls me and said “you got to check out whose game in ESPN on Thursday night, the second week of the season”. I said “yes, why?” He said “They got the back behind the quarterback and the gun they call pistol”. He said he thought he’d seen them do it a year before and that’s kind of how he thought about it.

So now, we could take the advantage away from the defense of being able to tell which side we’re going to mesh in our zone read. It’s kind of a neat evolution.

Joe Daniel: Yeah and you’re right. The pistol has always been frustrating to me but when you’re in the gun, you’re playing a team that is a zone read team. You can really start to game plan that weak side. You know, the weak side games are bringing a backer, slanting the end inside or cutting in inside, having him bend, having him squat. You can mock up the reach pretty good for that quarterback. Like you said, you’re starting to have to teach extra pieces in that gun. So the pistol clears it up for you a little bit. Is that the primary reason for moving to the pistol?

James Vint: That was the first deal, yeah. That was exactly it. And the first time we did it, our opponent wasn’t prepared for it. So it was a real nice deal we were able to really run the ball. And I’m a big inside veer guy. I think inside veer is the greatest football play ever invented. And it has allowed us to run inside veer almost identical to how we did under center. So now we would run an inside veer, we were running all of our zone read game. And then they’re doing off one back and we still get in the I a little bit. In fact our first game of the year, our opening game at year ‘06, we were third and 14 and then on 1, and we’re in the I. We actually ran a counter boot out of the I and had a 60 yard play and  guys greeting up with a 99 yard drive and scored in 1. We didn’t want to be in the I than in the gun, in the I, in the gun. We wanted to stay in the gun. And then we started looking at the two backs. And we were game planning for a second game and said “You know, I think we could run iso from the pistol. I think we can run power.” And what we ended up doing was, over the last couple of years, for most six on, and then when I was in Truman State, of course we’re calling some programs down here, and that where we’ve got into a point where we feel like we can do great things with 4 blocking schemes, 4-1 schemes, be able to incorporate an option element into each blocking scheme as well as a downhill run component. And that’s what really makes this special. All of the things we can do by still keeping it simple at front.

Joe Daniel: Well, more coaches are doing it. It’s so flexible. It’s got so much available to the formation. Why do you think more coaches aren’t going to the pistol?

James Vint: Well a lot of guys, they want to stay under center. You’re going to have some other guys. One disadvantage is it’s harder to run a stretch read play, a wide zone play reading the back side player with the back behind the quarterback. And there are a lot of spread purist who want to stay on the one back, well then that’s completely understandable. But surprisingly, I probably get 10 emails a day from coaches who are looking at point of the pistol or dabbling in it. And again I told them it’s not an offense, it’s what you want it to be. You can adapt it to any system. You know, Nevada does one thing. You look at other schools, James Madison out East, they have their own way of doing things. You know we have our way. There are some schools that run basically the flexbone out of it. So there’s a lot of different opportunities to do what you want to do.

So I think more and more schools are going to it. And it’s been overwhelming seeing the number of emails sent to me each day from coaches asking questions. Just talked to a coach last night from a big high school in Ohio and they’ve made a move. They’re making a fulltime move to the pistol. They were a multiple pro-offense, multiple pro-style; lot of 11, lot of 12 personnel, a little bit of 20 and 21, running a traditional inside outside zone, tight offense, and a little bit of counter and power. And he said they wanted to go to the pistol because they didn’t have that, every year they have a divisional quarterback at 65. This year they’ve got a kid who might build a play D3 in 6 foot and they want to give him some depth. I need to run a little bit.

Joe Daniel: Is that another major option that the separation? I wanted to ask you about the margin for air on the read but it sounds like it’s also margin for air as far as the dropback that’s lessened the further you get away from the center.

James Vint: That’s right. It makes it a little easier to teach. What I really like is that, you know, our quick game, our catch and throw game from under center, your center once in a while get knacked  back into your quarterback. In pistol, that doesn’t happen. We are not one of these team that puts a quarterback up at 2 or 3 yards. He’s at 4 and a half yards. Our tailback tradition is going to be at 8, just like you would be in the I. Our fullback isn’t really a fullback, he’s an athlete. He’s an athlete who hopefully can lead blocks. So we can move him around a little bit based on a formation call. And the thing that I like, and this is for any offense, I like being able to go two-backs to empty with 21 personnel. We don’t  want to have to personnel change and be able to run any of our formations because it forces defenses to be a little bit more vanilla that way. And that doesn’t mean we don’t personnel change. But then these are elements of quarterback run element. The ability to have your quarterback because he has depth. In a 2 back or a 1 back pistol look, he becomes your second back. So it’s really, really a lot of fun. And the biggest thing is, boy, if you’ve got a good tailback and you’re off and he’s a downhill guy who’s a guy who can read the zone or he can read the power and he can get down one game yards, why have a moss set from the quarterback where he’s going to cross in front, why not have him in a situation where your quarterback can open up and hang the ball Just if you would if he would dot the I for you.

Joe Daniel: Absolutely. And you get that guy coming downhill like that, he’s certainly going to be able to pound the ball better. One of the things that I saw in presentation, and Coach Vint’s given us a presentation of about a hundred slides I believe that we’re going to have up with this on the FootballCoachingPodcast.com. After we get everything up, you’ll be able to download that as well and it’s really impressive. One of the things that was mentioned there was that you can run nearly any formation that you want. And again it’s obviously it’s just the quarterback move back a little bit and we’re running hours of 4 and a half, we’ve gone to the pistol, and everything that you’ve said so far are absolutely fits. What is your favorite formation to use out of the pistol?

James Vint: I love two-back twins open; huge fan of it. You’re fullback’s going to be all set right or left and then we’re going to have 30 athletes in the game essentially, 3 runningbacks. We’ll have our X receiver split our action, our Z split out wide. We’ll have our F offset. We’ll have our tailback behind the quarterback. And then we’ll have our 3rd back in the game, we’ll call him an H or a Y, letter designations doesn’t matter, he’s a 3rd back. And we’ll have him be the inside receiver. So we’re two-back twins open and that’s my absolute favorite formation because we can run all of our downhill stuff, we can run iso, we can run power, we can run counter.

Now we’re really inside zone, we’re a huge inside zone and zone read. We also run a two-back power, traditional two-back power, power down on the front side, we’re at the guard, kick out with the fullback. And  then we also run our one-back power and with the one-back power we were blocking solid on the front side, we zone up the front side, the center block’s back, and then we have the backside guard or the backside tackle wrap the thing that what we want to do.

And then we also run what we call counter trace scheme and read the backside at that a little bit. So what we do off with each of those is down from that two-back twins open. If we motion our third back from the twin to the backfield, and we usually send him away from our F, now we’re in three-back pistol. I love that three-back pistol formation. I don’t think it’s a full time set for anybody. I know some schools who are kind of looking at it, I think you have to build a break out of it like anything else; gives you an opportunity. If we see a defense, if we’re playing, for example, playing a 4-3 cover 2 team, we would want to see where they set their 3-technique and their Sam. Because their Sam’s going to be their boneless guy. So if they’re setting that 3-technique to our twin receiver, we’ll set our twin opposite that offset back. We’ll set their Sam to that side that’ll motion that guy and run away from the Sam. So it gives us an advantage. And the play that we like to run is that front side power read where we’re reading the defensive end on the front side. And what we do is power for the offensive line, that’s the greatest thing, it’s power. So they’re not going to block the front side end. We tell our fullback he’s responsible for the playside linebacker if the playside linebacker was outside. So if the Will works in to the D-gap, our fullback has in. If the Will steps up in the B, the fullback is going to continue on working to the next guy that shows the backside safety. The tailback is going to run right off the butt of the fullback front side and he’s got the corner. And our receiver to the playside will push crack the playside safety. So you got the playside safety, the backside safety, and the corner accounted for. We’re reading the frontside end. We’re blocking down with our offensive line. The backside guard wraps and if the Will steps up in the B-gap, the backside guard blocks him. If he sees Will shade outside, the backside guard has a backside safety. So in sense, we’ve got a 2 man game. If that makes any sense to you it’s a phenomenal deal. Our quarterback shuffle, shuffle, ride. If the end sits, squats, isn’t sure, puts his hands, steps down at all, we give the ball on the jet action. It comes up yield or widens, quarterback’s going to pull the ball. We don’t have to block him, we get an extra guy to the point of attack. And that’s where that three-back pistol is really nice. We can either line up in it or we can motion to it. And it forces the defense to have to make a determination. Where are we putting our Sams? We can take advantage of it. It’s really neat. If we put 3-4 team, it just bounces up, we can run it either way.

Joe Daniel: It definitely gives you a lot of advantages just like you talked about with the number of options you have when you have all of those athletes who you can move around to all those different places. You can get into what you want as far as match-ups. And then with the ability to read and looking through what you have here, almost everything has a read or at least have the ability to put a read element onto it. And that just one last person you have to block and it absolutely really makes things easier.

One of the things I saw was that you said you’d start with the midline. What makes the midline the easiest read for the quarterback?

James Vint: Well, we’re going to run midline and not every year do we run it. It depends on how we feel with our fullback. We have a kid who can run to the gut of the defense. We have a quarterback that can be a downhill B-gap runner on a proximity play like midline. What I like about it though, it’s the easiest read for the quarterback and it’s the read that’s closest to him. And from the pistol, we could run that on the midline just like we’d block at the same way as we do under center; exactly the same. For the fullback, he’s running right down the middle of the quarterback through the middle of the center. The depth has a little bit of a difference, we understand your quarterback’s going to step back a little bit on the midline, gain a little depth. We’d say push away step at 6. When on the pistol, he’s actually just going to sit to a side. And if they squib, he doesn’t have to gain any depth; which is kind of nice.

Under center, the hardest thing for those kids is to gain depth. In the pistol, they don’t have to and in fact, we’ve had situations where we’ve had a quarterback a few years ago, we’ve had him edging caught a snap. He would take a half step to the line of scrimmage. So the biggest reason we like the midline is it forces the defense to restrict their front, to reduce their front. Their going to have to move a 3 to a 1 through our strong side. And that opens some things up. But I like that because the proximity.

On midline, we’ve kind of replaced midline. And here’s what we’d replace, we play around a little bit this year, hope none of our opponents are listening, their working this year. But one of the things that we do every year, and I kind of talked about it, we started on the zone read we’d all read in 5-technique. We said, wait a minute now, can we read another guy? They were gap exchanging the playing games, let’s take a look. So we said, let’s read the tackle. Let’s read it. Instead of running. And one of the guys I was coaching he said, you know, this is high in North Alabama, I guess you’ve seen North Alabama do it. And they read the 3-technique. So we drew it up, we blocked it like zone except our backside tackle stayed solid in the end. And then on the front side we read the 3. It was a pretty good deal. So we started running. And that kind of replaced our midline.

The other one thing we learned on that, when you read a 3, you need to go at pass with the back. That was one thing we learned. That guy, he’s a good athlete like Nick Fairley. You saw what he did to Oregon. And that guy’s are very good athlete, you need to really have a wide action when you read him. Otherwise, he can sit, get his eyes on the quarterback, watch the quarterback give the ball, and he can quick run the heel line and make the play. So that was something fun. We needed a word for it. So a word for inside zone was Zorro. So we called inside zone “Zorro” and then we’d say “tuna”. That man will read the backside tackle. Real easy for our kids.

Now off of that, we said, okay, that’s pretty neat. And we started to read on 1-technique a little bit. And we said, alright wait a minute now, who’s the guy that always makes the play on your inside zone, the guy that suits up as 2 counselor? You tackle never get the backside linebacker; never gets him. I mean, weren’t getting there. Occasionally we would, we’d cut the backside leg, but not often. So we said why don’t we zone read that guy? So now we started, all our tackle would do is he’d step play side and then hinge or pass set to influence. Either technique, depending on who you are playing. To get that 5-technique that builds just a little bit and create a big space and we’d read the backside linebacker. Let the backside linebacker scrape, quarterback pulls the ball and runs to the B-gap. So it’s another way to get the quarterback through the B-gap but not have to be necessarily doing it in a midline fashion.

Joe Daniel: So again it cuts down on the teaching it. Again, you’re simplifying things, right?

James Vint: We’re running one play and getting 3 or 4 concepts out of it. And then we said, wait a minute now, we ran a lot of power. And what do you teach a real linebacker when he gets to pulling guard? Stack on the nose. You’re reading stack on the nose, run to the front dive, heat it over the top.

Well now we said, okay, and that’s what we were noticing when we were on a power game. Our downhill power is we were noticed in that Will, of course, is fast and he starts making plays. The fist time Will makes a play on our power, we read the Will. So now, we’ll block the center back on the one, we’ll pass at the influence at backside 5, our guard will pull, and we’ll read the Will linebacker if he escapes over the top to play the power to mirror the guard. Quarterback pulls in, it’s a B-gap run back side. And that’s the guy that stops the power. It’s the B-gap linebacker. So now we just read him. So it’s pretty neat.

And then off of that, we said, what if they’d give us a 3-technique backside? The hardest block on power, especially out of a gun, is that backside 3-technique. So now we said, alright, whenever we run power read, we’re going to read the backside B-gap player. So if it’s a Will, we read the Will. If it’s a backside 3, we’re reading him. Whoever’s at B-gap. And that backside 3, 95% of the time, he’s going to hit pocket at the pore.

Joe Daniel: Now, when you’re making the determination to use the tune on, the bam, and these different reads as opposed to reading, speaking more towards the inside zone that we started out with but just in general, when you’re making a determination about who to read, is it always called from the sideline or is the quarterback given the opportunity or line calls in by giving the opportunity to determine from the line who needs to be read there?

James Vint: Typically, we’ll call it and it’s based on game plan. And we want to know who’s making the play, who from the backside is making the play, because that’s the guy who’s playing fast and ignoring his gap responsibility first. And that’s the guy that we’re going to read. Usually, we have a pretty good idea based on our game plan. But to give you an example, it’s a great question, there are time when we would give our quarterback the choice. And what he’ll do is sometimes we’re going to deal a team that plays our defensive end. If we don’t have a tight end in the game, we’ll play their ends to it with your 2 yards outside our tackles. Because we do throw the ball a little bit more now. So they want to be able to get a good pass rush. And they also want to be able to attack and they’ll come at a hard angle at the hip of our tackle. Well in that case, we’ll tell our quarterback if he’s wide, we’re not going to read him. We’ll go ahead and read the back and we’ll tell our tackle, pass set wall and get in deep. And that’s it. In that aspect, we’ll get our quarterback a little bit of choice. But as far as coming up reading the defense and say, I’d better read that guy, we don’t do a whole lot of that. We pretty much have at the game plan set. What we do like to do, the easy thing to do that we couldn’t do at an offset back, is we’re letting flip beside we’re reading. If they’re bringing 2 off the edge, we’re not going to read that side.

Joe Daniel: Yeah and that’s a good point. Something that we ran into last year running the zone read was if you got 2 off the edge, there’s not much of a read there. You don’t have much scent.

James Vint: We’d make a call on it. We had a word we’d use and basically just call blame all those garbage. Too much garbage out there, I can’t read it. And we turn it into a front side play. So now instead of running the read, he’d check it, and all he’s going to do is check and let us know, “hey I’m going to open up to the play side” and hands you the ball just like I would if we’re in the I. So that we’d probably handle that because then we’re not worried about 2 off the edge. Because our quarterback’s starting to hit them off on that.

One of the things that we really love about being in that offset I, or offset pistol rather, is that we can still run the wide zone, that wide action would be all set back and turn things into a triple option with our pistol back being the pitch guy. So that’s the other element of this thing, is we can have another player that the defense has to account for.

Joe Daniel: Define the defense giving you once they’ve kind of figured out if you’re audible on the one side of the other, any sort of tendencies that are going on. Define them doing any stemming to try to cut down on the advantage of being on the pistol.

James Vint: We will see some stunts. But I think people stay relative with vanilla. Because when you play an option team, you’ve got to make sure that your gaps sound an assignment sound. You could have a dive player or a quarterback pointing a pitch player. And with people start to blitz and stunt, they have the guy say, if you’re bringing them one of the things that what we call an easy stunt or an outside backer or blitz to B-gap. When you run an easy stunt, you got to have somebody ready to be the pitch player because your pitch player’s in the B-gap and he can’t play the pitch.

So we’ll see some things like that. And those really well-coached teams, they do a nice job. And what they’re going to do is take a guy that’s no in our count and put him inside. If he’s on the front side of our inside zone, that can score a read out. If he’s on the backside of the zone read and we’re reading the B-gap, we’ll see that. One of the things we started seeing is the backside wing. We don’t actually see a lot of 4-3 cover 2. At the college level, we saw a lot of 3-4 cover 2.

When we started reading the backside linebacker, they’re answer was we’re going to let the backside linebacker play fast. When the backside safety sees the mesh, he’s going to come up and hit your quarterback in the mouth. So now they’re in a 2 shell but they’re really playing a 3 concept; they’re really playing a 3 robber concept. But that safety coming down hard, and you know they did, and we faced, I can’t remember who did it just extraordinarily well back in ‘07. They started off pre-snap, their safeties be at 12 yards. Corners would 6 plain inside leverage, sphere corners will man. And the safeties, all they do is pop their heels, whichever side they saw our quarterback open through the read, that’s the safety at that side would become the middle player. And then we’ll them basically almost on 1 concept. And then the safety away from that would rock down hard into the B-gap and play the quarterback.

Golly, that thing was tough. I mean, you know, so we have to have answer for. One of the things we did was we’d read with the offset back, we’d go ahead and mesh with the offset back,  the quarterback would still read the backside B-gap. But now, on the mesh our tailback is exploding downhill through the B-gap. Hence that was a block to backside safety.
So now we try to come up with an answer for that and that’s something we do out of the 3 back pistol. We’ll ride the back. For example, we’ll run zone to the right. Zone read but we’ll make a bam I call to read the backside backer. We’ll run zone read to the right, our front side back leads, he’d cut the front side backer, our quarterback reads the backside B-gap. Our tailback on snap of the ball, he’s going to work right off the butt of the back being meshed with and he’s going to run to the B-gap. So being in the 3 back pistol gives us the opportunity to have that extra guy that can help the quarterback out. If the quarterback makes a wrong read, it also gives us an insurance policy. So that was kind of our range.

Joe Daniel: There’s a lot of cat and mouse games with the option there especially if you’ve got teams that are really well-coached. Just like you said, if you’re not going to take care of the gaps, then the option’s not going to, you’re not going to be able to do anything different. You’re going to have to stay base, and stay very vanilla. But if you got a really well-coached team that can do some movement, can do some things like that, rowing to the turn of the quarterback, or doing some stunting where they’ve got another guy looping to our plays, a really well-coached team that can give you some problems with it, correct? We’ve got to come up with some new options.

James Vint: That’s right. And that’s the great thing about football. The last one with the pin that day might win. All these schemes are great but what we’ve found over the last 18 years that I’ve been coaching, and 15 years of coaching football, the X’s and O’s, they always say it’s not about the X’s and O’s but the Jimmies and the Joes and it’s also about how much of a team you can build, how tight knit your guys are, what kind of leadership you have, what kind of character your players have. And that takes time to teach. So that’s one of the reasons why we’ve stayed relatively simple with our concepts. It looks like we’re doing a lot but we’re really not and I know everybody says that but I really think we are relatively simple. But it gives us time to do those other things that help get our players ready when things aren’t going well. And that’s what it’s really about. And that’s our job, it’s to get them ready so that when they face the adversity of life they can handle it. And they can do a lot more, do way more than they ever thought possible.

Joe Daniel: Great point Coach and that’s absolutely true. And as far as the simplicity, if you look at what you’re doing, there’s a ton of different things, a ton of different tags, but what I see is an offensive line that has just a handful of things that they do. The backs are always going to remember which direction they go to get the football. That’s easy for them, “hey, there’s the football”. If they’re going to get the ball, they’re going to figure it out.

James Vint: The guys getting the ball always seem to know where they got to be. It’s those big guys up front. And I’ll tell you, you got to love them up, you got to love those big guys up. Coaches, players, we tell our quarterbacks, we got to get those guys cheeseburgers. Tell the running backs, when you rush for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns, you don’t say anything about how well you ran, you talk about how well you lineblocked. Because they’re not going to get their name on the paper.

Joe Daniel: Absolutely. And those are the guys that are working hard. One of our big things is just like, it looks like what you’re doing, is keeping it simple for those guys. Everything else will work itself out. Coach, it’s been a pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed everything that you’ve given us. And now we’ve probably gone a little over the time. I’m sure you’ve got some other things to do. But I really want to thank you. I want to remind everybody that there’s a presentation what we’ve been talking about . It’s going to be available on FootballCoachingPodcast.com/Vint. It will be on there. And when the podcast is up, you’ll be able to get it from on that page. I really enjoyed it Coach. Thanks you so much.

James Vint: You bet. And I got to put one little plug in. I’m not a big self-promotion guy. I’ve proven that anybody can write a book. And Coaches Choice published two books on the pistol. They came out about a month ago. “101 Run Plays on the Pistol” and “101 Pistol Option Plays”. A lot of the stuff we talked about is in there. It’s really been kind of a neat deal to see that in print and go through each concept of formations. A lot of guys said they loved the formations because we simplified how we call our formations and move people around. But the other thing is they like each chapters have different concepts that we go over the rules. And then we actually diagram a bunch of different ways to run that particular concept. So fill that up, there’s guys who won over that, and it’d be good. And also we get some Twitter critics going. Everyone’s walk our last question and, bam, for an hour and a half we’ll be tweeting back and forth a bunch of great coaches. They happen to let me participate in that once in a while. But if you want to go on Twitter at Coach Vint, any coach that follows me I follow them right back and we get things going.

Joe Daniel:  Yeah absolutely. You know what Coach, I have that sitting right here. So I’m glad you brought that up. You have the books that just came out, right? Those just came out. And you have 12 videos that you’ve done with Coaches Choice?

James Vint: Yes. A couple of them on the 3-3-5 defense, four of them on some gun stuff that we had those videos on the zone read and things like that, a game planning with preparation video, and then a whole series on the pistol that goes through everything from the run game, option game adapted it to multiple offenses, pass protection, quick pass game, and then immediate pass game.

Joe Daniel: Yeah, our offensive coordinator, I was talking to him today and I told him we had an interview this evening and he said he has about 6 of your videos. So that’s why our offense looks so familiar. I wasn’t involved in the production of the offense because I’m the defensive coordinator, but apparently it came from you so I appreciate it.

James Vint: Oh that’s good.

Joe Daniel: I’m glad you’ve made it really easy for our offensive linemen. Like you said, we move from the gun to the pistol and just kept it simple for them. We started putting things in and we pretty much are done in 6 practices really as far as the run blocking was all in, done. They’ve been very consistent, very impressive. We’ve been really pleased moving into the pistol this year and I recommend anybody who’s looking for come change on their offense. I think we’re going to be really happy with it this year. So thank you very much for that, Coach.

James Vint: You bet. And if anybody out there is listening or has any question, I have very many answers on that. I know a little but about a little bit. But this business is about helping each other out. Go on Twitter at CoachVint or email at coachvint@gmail.com and we’ll talk ball all day long. My wife gets little disappointed from that when I come home and I’m talking ball all night. She went to Coaches’ Wives; so they’re out having tea.

Joe Daniel: (Laughing) Perfect timing.

James Vint: One thing about Texas, Joe, it’s football here is unbelievable. And I’ve never been anywhere like it. And then the Bronx, we hardly had any coaches and it’s crazy. Here in Texas, our stadium is undergoing an $18 Million renovation. We have about 300 kids in our program. We have our coaches medium, just have started. We have 31 coaches in the program. So all of them teach. We have 15 in our middle schools and 16 on our campus. We have 3 middle schools, each with 5 coaches. And all of the fulltime teachers, it’s quite a production, it’s a really neat thing. And the most important thing is the faith for kids. I can tell you this, they learn a heck of a lot by playing sports and being around other people. We’re in a staff development, there’s somewhat differentiated instruction and co-teaching inclusion. I said all you guys got to do is come out to the fieldhouse.

Joe Daniel: Yeah, no doubt about that.

James Vint: We don’t have any modifications.

Joe Daniel: No doubt about that. We’ve always had to sit back and every teaching turn that they teach, monitoring a just, and differentiate. We do it everyday. We’ve got kids from, I don’t know how young you all start, we got 8th-graders in our program. They work out with us, 7th-graders going into 8th grade, going all the way upto pretty much grown men. You can’t differentiate any more than that.

James Vint: That’s right.

Joe Daniel: I appreciate it, Coach. I’m a little upset that you had to close out with telling me about Texas because we’re still looking for coaches from somewhere in the building. We have some good ones but we’d love to have more. So if those 31 ever, any of them decide to move out to Virginia, send them our way.

James Vint: Will do.

Joe Daniel: Appreciate it, Coach. Thank you so much for being with us here on the Football Coaching Podcast. Have a great evening.

James Vint: Alright, thank you, appreciate it.

Joe Daniel: Thanks for listening to the Football Coaching Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes to get the latest episodes and leave a review for us as well. You can find out more at FootballCoachingPodcast.com.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] not running Pistol Option, which is a style of offense that I talked about with Anthony Pratley and James Vint in separate interviews on The Football Coaching [...]

  2. […] is the base play in our offense, and it is one of my favorite plays. An interview with James Vint for The Football Coaching Podcast got me thinking about reading the Power, and just about anything […]

  3. […] But you can do a lot more than just read a Defensive End for the give read and an outside linebacker for the pitch. In fact, you can read anyone on the field. […]

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