Shot with his own gun.

Smart Football has as good a look at the evolution of the shotgun QB as I’ve seen in a while. Take a couple of minutes to read it.

As an example, here’s a list of things that are downsides to running your QB out of the shotgun. Keep some of them in mind as we head up to the bowl game with an opponent that operates exclusively out of the ‘gun.

Disadvantages of the Shotgun

– The QB has to take his eyes off the pass defense and has to watch the ball into his hands. This effect also somewhat reduces the QB’s ability to see the coverage and read changes (Cover 2 to 1, etc.) until after the snap. This is particularly acute for 3-step passes, where you have to catch and throw almost immediately. The read becomes almost exclusively pre-snap.

– The Shotgun alignment makes some lead-plays more difficult. I also would argue that the “gun-option,” as such, is not completely structurally sound in the way other veer plays are. Some gun teams have tried to develop the veer from the gun. Time will tell whether they are successful. (This requires more discussion than I have space for.)

– It becomes a crutch for the QB and an easy way to avoid improving footwork and play faking. I think this is an underrated problem. Footwork in the gun is (a) easier, because it is less, but is (b) prone to getting very, very sloppy. If there is any knock against “spread gun” QBs who go to the Pros, this one of the few viable ones, but can be simply overcome with good coaching.

– It retards the notion of a power run game and shifts more towards deception based delays, options, or draw type run plays. This is not a bad thing, though true.

– It can amplify your QB’s athletic skills, in either direction. If they are very athletic, it can improve their ability to make plays, but if they are not athletic many traditional QB plays – bootlegs, play action, and certain lead-option type run plays – are almost entirely out of the question.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

2 responses to “Shot with his own gun.

  1. ATLDawg

    Love the blog senator!!

    I played QB for 6 out of my 12 football seasons and disagree with the 1st of this guys remarks. Any good QB nevers takes his eye off of the
    d when taking a shotgun snap. It becomes natural, that is why a consistent snapper is so critical.


  2. Thanks for the praise, AD.

    Your point about taking the snap becoming natural is a good one, provided there’s been enough time and repetition for that to occur.

    There’s a post up at USC Trojan Football Analysis that goes into this.

    Florida’s offense coordinator Dan Mullen put out a coaching video on running and passing from the spread option with the QB at shotgun. He cautions that it took about 1,000 snaps in practice before the center to QB exchange was worked out to the coaching staffs satisfaction. Even then in game situations there were quite a few bobbles and turnovers the first year. By 2004 however with practice they had worked it out to where Alex Smith did not have to remove his eyes from the defense and the ball hit is hands almost 100% of the time. The year Utah went undefeated there was only one bad center to QB exchange resulting in a turnover.

    Seems to me that’s a pretty strong argument that programs that make heavy use of the shotgun in their offensive schemes have a greater need for stability at the center and QB positions in order to hone their efficiency with the exchange than do programs that rely on the more traditional under center arrangement.