When we run weak or strong power our backside guard doesn’t throw his elbow, open his foot and shoulder, or wrap around the double team. Instead, he pushes off of his inside foot kicking his outside foot back behind it with depth. He stays square and comes down hill off of the double team. We call this a skip pull. Coach Gordy Shaw would hate that I call it that. He was my offensive line coach my senior year at Houston. He said that he invented that pull years ago and that the right term for it was a Glide Pull. Either way – we don’t open pull on power. I know there are a lot of teams, including about half of the NFL teams I watch that open pull on power, but I think skip pulling gives us a couple of very distinct advantages.
- Staying tight to the double team
When weak or strong power is called, the first thing our backside guard does is find the linebacker he is pulling for and finds where the double team will be happening playside. We teach the guard that his job is to read the double team up through his linebacker’s inside hip. The worst thing a guard can do, other than fall down I guess, is pull and be too loose to the double team. When this happens the linebacker sets up the guard and beats him inside, which is not good because that is where our running back is looking to hit power. I have found that when our guards skip pull they have a much higher percentage of staying tight to the double team. The reason? Depth increases the pullers vision. When a player skip pulls, he gets himself away from all the big bodies on the line of scrimmage. This allows him to see the entire frontside of the play as he comes downhill towards the double team and adjust as needed.
- Bringing power with your pull
We want our guards bringing as much power as they possibly can so they can get the playside linebacker, or any color that shows up from slanting down linemen, out of the hole. The obvious reason a guard is more powerful with a skip pull is that he is gaining momentum by setting back with depth. That is the reason fullbacks are 3 yards in the backfield, so they can have momentum coming forward. The other, less obvious reason is also vision. When a guard open pulls he rarely has a good view of defenders coming downhill because he is stuck in the land of the trees. He is often “surprised” in the hole, either by a down lineman or a good linebacker that was hidden behind the double team. However, when a guard skip pulls with depth, he gets back behind the line of scrimmage and gets a much clearer picture (much like a running backs view) of when a defender will be filling the hole, allowing him to make contact, instead of being contacted.