FWIW if you're interested...the Kaepernick remark makes sense now that I've read the below. Sounds like a O created for what a college team like VT values. Cam Newton would be good with this O too I imagine.
3) What are the advantages of the Pistol formation? What advantages does it provide to VT’s style of offense?
My opinions on the Pistol may differ from others. I have never been a huge fan of it because I see it as a high maintenance, high precision offensive system – I have never viewed it simply as a formation. If an offense wants to use it, then they better commit to it and dedicate a substantial amount of practice time to it.
Having said that, I can see why it appeals to VT. VT’s offense has always been built on a foundation of a strong, physical, power running game with the goal of hitting big plays through play action and the vertical passing game.
Over the years, that philosophy has remained the cornerstone of the offensive philosophy, even with the introduction of shotgun formations, spread formations, counter packages, the short/quick passing game. Most recently, we have seen more spread option, flex formations and combination run/pass packages. However, Frank Beamer has never drifted too far away from the “punch them in the mouth”, middle-drill refined, tough physical running game.
Now, let’s introduce the Pistol – not as a formation or a one-off package, but as an offensive approach that fits the core elements of the philosophy – both the traditional core elements that have been at the foundation for years AND the more modern elements that track the on-going evolution of spread offensive concepts.
The Pistol can do just that – at its core the Pistol is a scheme and style of offense that strikes a balance between the power run game and the concepts of the spread / shotgun. Let’s break that down a little bit further:
The old power run game was based in tighter formations/alignments, the QB under center and a fullback leading the tailback into the hole. It is the very definition of “downhill” football – everything is moving forward at the snap.
The spread game is more horizontal in nature. The QB is in shotgun with the RB typically aligned to one side of the QB. First steps are usually horizontal to the line of scrimmage – there is a delay in the ball moving toward the line of scrimmage. It’s far less downhill in nature – it’s a read oriented, side to side / angle driven running game. It’s great in open space and has proven to create many big play opportunities, but the spread running game is generally ineffective in short yardage / goal line situations.
The Pistol provides the ability to do both – from the same package and same set of formations. I think that is the primary attraction – the offense can still run the bread and butter power game while adding more spread concepts to take advantage of Logan Thomas’ skill set. It’s aligned vertically and, just like the traditional under-center I-formations, the tailback’s footwork is always forward at the snap. An offense can run the exact same plays from the Pistol that it runs with the QB under center. For VT, that is a very attractive possibility considering the philosophy and culture of the offense.
Likewise, the Pistol allows an offense to run a wide array of spread-game plays. The spread option, zone read, zone read triple option, inside/outside decide plays – all can be run from the same Pistol formation that is used to run traditional power football. And because it’s a balanced formation, the spread game can be run to either side of the ball with the play-side decision made by the QB at the line of scrimmage during pre-snap checks.
The passing game is equally matched. An offense can still run the same play-action vertical passing game and a standard shotgun-based passing attack. The biggest challenge is the drop depth and launch point for the QB and the adjustments in route timing and passing lanes – back to the point of committing to it in order to become proficient at it.
Overall sounds pretty good right? Well, I’ll admit that I like the thought process – it could be an excellent move and I would agree that the Pistol is well-suited to match VT’s goals and style of offense. However, although I’m not from Missouri, I’m firmly in the “show me” camp on it. Will the VT coaches commit to it, dedicate the practice time required and stay patient with it? Time will tell. Does it suit the strength of this set of players? I would say it’s a good fit for Logan Thomas and perhaps that’s the main reason the coaches are strongly considering it. On the other hand, with the question marks upfront, does the Pistol make sense this season? I don’t know the answer to most of those questions, but I’m willing to wait and see. I do know that it won’t work if it’s used as a low-priority package that is run only 4-5 times per game.
Good is the Worst Enemy of Great