The Pistol Offense is another variation of the Spread Offense with an old style running attack and is a hybrid of the Shot Gun and Single Back formations.
It was invented in 2004 by Nevada Wolf Pack head coach Chris Ault and his OC Chris Klenakis. They say their inspiration came from the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers who ran the option from a Spread Offense.
Beginning with the base alignment, this article will focus on the advantages this offensive formation offers over the more traditional Shotgun formation.
The eleven personnel group is its basic package which is the quarterback one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers. The advantage this package brings is that over thirty formations can be run from the eleven personnel group.
Starting with the line, the linemen have splits between two and two and half feet. The strong side or right side of the line has a tight end while the weak side or left side wide receiver will line up about 12 yards off the tackle. A yard or two off the inside shoulder of the weak side wide out is and about a yard off the line of scrimmage is another wide out. On the strong side about one yard off the line and about ten yards away from the tight end is another wide receiver.
Unlike the Shot Gun where the quarterback lines up seven or more yards deep, in the Pistol Offense the quarterback lines up three to five yards behind center with the running back a yard or so behind him. This keeps the quarterback close enough to the line that he can still get his defensive reads and still see how the routes are developing.
Another advantages are the ball gets to the QB more quickly and because of the offensive line spreads and positioning of the running back it makes it more difficult for the defensive line to read what direction the play is going or if it is a run or pass. With the hand offs closer to the line of scrimmage the Pistol formation produces a more productive running game, while retaining pass efficiency.
Pro teams currently using some form of this offensive strategy include the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. College teams that have said they will include the Pistol Offense in their arsenal this 2010 season include Arkansas, Portland State and UCLA. Last years National Champions the Alabama Crimson Tide implemented it in 2009.
In conclusion why the Pistol Offense works is because of the alignment, from where the quarterback is lined up, he can still read the defense but it is more difficult for the defensive line to read play direction. This enhances the running game and is ideal for the short passing game. The Play Action Pass has proven to be an exceptional weapon from this formation.
The links below will provide you more information about the Pistol Offense.