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October/November 2014

October/November 2014

Updating the Pistol-Flex Offense - Five new enhancements make this offense even more effective.

by: Paul Markowski
Assistant Coach, Army Sprint Football, and Shane Ziats, Assistant Coach, Mansfield University
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In our continuing effort to enhance the Pistol-Flex offense, this season we’re adding new plays, variations, drills and pass protection schemes that will, we think, make this offense even harder to stop.

One of the improvements in the Pistol-Flex offense is the use of different variations of the base Triple Option play depending on what the defense is showing prior to the snap. An example of this is our “LB” call variation of our Triple play (Diagram 1). The LB tag is called when the QB (or offensive coordinator) believes that it is time to change the identity of the Pitch Key defender in order to confuse defensive calls. Instead of the QB reading his normal Pitch Key versus a 4-3 defense (the OLB), we will have the playside A-back block (load) that OLB and have our QB read the SS instead.

Diagram 1: 12/13 Triple (LB Call)

Another in-game adjustment that we now use is for our Speed Option play. Normally, we have our QB read the end-man-on-the-line-of-scrimmage (vs. a 4-man front) and have our playside OT veer release to the second level. However, a defense sometimes tries to confuse the QB by walking a LB up onto the line of scrimmage prior to the snap of the ball. When this happens, the offensive line makes a “Gonzo Call” (Diagram 2). This call will tell the OT to block man-on and allow the new Pitch Key defender (walked up LB) to be read by the QB.

Diagram 2: 8/9 Speed Option (“Gonzo Call”)

One of our newest plays is the QB Dive (Diagram 3) utilizing one of the best athletes on the team – the quarterback. The play must look like our tiple option play from the snap of the ball. Both A-backs, the B-back and the QB must fake the triple option in order to fool the defense. However, once the QB and B-back get out of their “flash” mesh, the QB should follow his blocking B-back into the playside B-gap unless that hole becomes blurry. If it does, he will then look to the playside A-gap. If that gap is blurry, he then cuts back to the backside A-gap. The O-line blocks the play using pure zone blocking techniques.

Diagram 3: 22/23 QB Lead Dive

One of the newest and most effective changes in this new version of the Pistol-Flex Offense is a very easy way to learn an effective protecton scheme. Our 6-man protection scheme is used on all our play-action, drop back and quick passes. Once again, this makes things very easy for your offensive linemen to learn and execute. One of our quick passes, Hooks, is a very effective way to control any blitzes that the defense may throw at you. The QB simply takes the snap and immediately throws the ball to an open receiver (Diagram 4).

Diagram 4: Hooks (Quick Pass)

Our Sprint Out play has a run/pass option (Diagram 5). We teach our QB that, as he sprints toward the sideline looking for a receiver, if he sees that he can definitely gain at least 8 yards by running the ball, then he should just tuck it and run. This play works because we have our athletic QB moving out of the pocket instead of being a sitting duck. This helps the O-line out tremendously since they know that the QB can buy more time simply by using his agility.

Diagram 5: Sprint Out Pass (Run/Pass Option)

What makes the Pistol-Flex Offense stand out from other offenses is how easy it is for any football program to implement in a very short period of time. This is due to “keeping things simple” so that your players will play with both confidence and aggressiveness. If any player on offense is “unsure” of his assignment, the play is doomed from the beginning.

Whether you coach at the youth, high school, or collegiate level, the Pistol-Flex Offense will offer your team a great way to move the ball effectively, and with confidence. When your players truly “know” their assignments on any given play, they are sure to execute it to the best of their abilities. Is there anything else a coach can ask for?
About the Author: Paul Markowski is the running backs coach for the West Point Sprint team. He previously coached at both Mansfield University and Simon Fraser University. Markowski also completed a series of DVDs on the Pistol-Fex offense that is available at His revised and updated manual on the Pistol-Flex offense will also be available soon at

Find more articles like this:

Option Football: Few Plays, More Ways – February, 2014
The Double Slot, Triple Option Offense – June, 2012
Hybrid Power: The Pistol-Flex Triple Option – May, 2011

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