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October 2006

October 2006


Missouri: From the Shotgun to the Shovel Pass

by: Dave Christensen
Offensive Coordinator and Assistant Head
by: Nick Otterbacher
Offensive Graduate Assistant, Universit
© October 2006

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In the past year of running the Shovel Play we averaged 5.5 yards per carry and it offered a great change-up to our inside zone play and our speed option. The Shovel Play is a great play for any shotgun offense because you can run it out of many sets and it forces the defense to prepare for the triple option. A common misconception is that you need a fast or running quarterback to run this play; this is not true. In our previous year at the University of Missouri our quarterback only kept the ball 26% of the time averaging 7.92 yards each time.

    This play allows you to use your imagination and fit the scheme to your offense. We have run this play out of a 2x2 formation (See Diagram 6), 2x1 formation (See Diagram 5), 3x1 formation (See Diagram 7) and 3x2 formation (See Diagram 8) with receiver sets using various motions. Also included is The Shovel Play against the 4-1 formation (See Diagram 1), the 4-2 formation (See Diagram 2), the 3-4 formation (See Diagram 3) and the 3-3 formation (See Diagram 4). The shovel also puts a lot of stress on defense with its three possible runners; therefore it opens up numerous play-action and counter schemes.

    While this play is great and can be run multiple ways it will take a lot of time and practice to install. This will not be a play that you can put in on game week and expect to do well. While the line blocking scheme is simple and similar to power, the time will need to be invested with your skilled personnel.

    When teaching the quarterback, it is important that he stays at his original depth with speed so that he forces the defensive end to choose between him and the shovel. A key coaching point is that if the quarterback is pitching the ball off of the defensive end he is wrong. He needs to be shoveling it because there is no one accounting now for the pitch key.

    For the QB the shovel’s time up is very important. He must stay behind the guard who is pulling and tight to the play-side tackle while leaving a window for the quarterback to get the ball past the defensive end.

    The pitch man, whether he  is in the backfield or aligned in the slot position must position himself five yards away from the quarterback and one yard deeper and move at the same speed as the quarterback. It is the responsibility of the pitch man and the shovel man to get into a good relationship with the quarterback. This will require many reps with these three players. We will often do a set up period without the offensive line to work on this.

The Shovel Pass Against Various Formations: (See Diagrams 1-8)


Diagram 1. 4x1 Formation


Diagram 2. 4x2 Formation


Diagram 3. 3x4 Formation


Diagram 4. 3x3 Formation


Diagram 5. 2x1 Formation


Diagram 6. 2x2 Formation


Diagram 7. 3x1 Formation


Diagram 8. 3x2 Formation

Here are the base assignments for the Shovel Pass:

QB: Align at five yards, take snap from the shotgun and immediately get width to the play-side. First read is the EMOL. If he takes you, shovel to underneath man. If EMOL squeezes to shovel then keep to option off next defender to show.

Shovel: Aim for the butt of the play-side tackle; if shoveled, stay tight to the pulling guard and get up field.

Pitch: If in backfield (See Diagram 5) – Get into 5x1 pitch relationship to quarterback. If in slot position (See Diagrams 6-8) – Shuffle back two steps and get into 5x1 pitch relationship.

PS-Tackle: Release to middle linebacker to backside LB. If the defensive end crosses your face block him down to the inside, stopping penetration. If 3 tech play-side, double-team him with guard to linebacker.

PS-Guard: If 3 tech, double with tackle to linebacker. If 1-0 tech, block down.

Center: Block back on defensive lineman, securing backside A-gap.

BS-Guard: Pull keeping shoulders square inside of the play-side defensive end to front-side linebacker.

BS-Tackle: Use a hinge block tech; B-gap out to backside defensive end.


About the Authors
David Christensen

Christensen has coached under head coach Gary Pinkel wince 1992 and has been Pinkel's OC since 1997. A 2002 and 2003 nominee for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award, Christensen is in his sixth season as Assistant HC. He has also coached at Western Washington, Spokane Falls CC, Washington, Idaho State, and Toledo.
Nick Otterbacher   
Otterbacher is now in his third year as part of the Tigers coaching staff. He assumed new duties as  offensive graduate assistant after serving on the staff as an administrative graduate assistant. A four year starter at center for Toledo, he graduated in 2002. Otterbacher then began coaching at Duquesne and later West Virginia Tech prior to joining the Mizzou staff.






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