By Val Gunn
HC, OSI Vikings
The development of the Air Gunn Offense, now used by the OSI Vikings, has taken shape over the course of several years. The components of the system are derived from several sources. Steve Spurrier, at the college and professional level, has utilized the quick passing game along with spreading the field to wreak havoc on opposing defenses. His Fun 'n Gun Offense for the Florida Gators has dominated the past few seasons and was the main reason the Gators captured the University's first ever National Championship in 1996-97. LaVell Edwards, at Brigham Young University, has perhaps been the best college football coach for the past 20 years. His overall record, the many WAC titles and bowl appearances, not to mention the NCAA title in 1983-84 has proven his worth. What is truly remarkable is he has accomplished this with BYU teams not nearly as talented as some of the other top programs. His quick passing game uses simple well-run routes that seem extremely complicated and frustrating to opposing defenses.
Steve Spurrier, Florida Gators
The Montana Grizzlies, guided by head coach Don Reed, have been the best NCAA1-AA football program in recent years. His team won the National Championship in 1995 and even though he retired following that season the Grizzlies didn't miss a beat and went undefeated in the 1996 regular season. Montana utilized a quick passing game that specialized in screens and short routes with 4 or 5 receivers. During the late 1960's the Dallas Cowboys were confusing the heck out of their opponents with different shifts, motions, and formations. This was done in order to enhance one-on-one situations and create mismatches in personnel. The Cowboys proved to be one of the NFL's top teams during that span and that part of their offense was certainly one of the main reasons why they were so successful. Temecula Valley High School in California compiled a 105-33-2 record during an eleven season stretch from 1987 to 1997. Head coach Bud Kane led the Golden Bears to seven playoff appearances and two CIF titles during this time.His offensive system uses a high-powered, quick passing game along with shifting and motion to achieve success.This offense is a wide open, free-wheeling offense built around multiple formations with an exciting blend of passing, running, and trick plays.The main idea behind the offense is take advantage of the whole field and spread out the defense, to open up holes and weak spots in a defense. "AttackOffense", is a term that I like to refer to when explaining this philosophy. I have designed this quick passing offense to attack the defense and make them react to what we are doing, rather than our offense reacting to what their defense is doing. I believe this pro active style teaches our kids to be more aggressive on every down because as a team we are being aggressive with our scheme. We are trying to attack the defense on every play by utilizing our backs and wide-outs to stretch their defense. All this leads to an action-packed, explosive, crowd-pleasing offense and that it is fun for our players. The four essential elements of my offensive philosophy are:
1) Pass to set up the run
2) Spread the field - vertically and horizontally
3) Keep up the pressure, no sitting on the ball - ALWAYS ATTACK
4) Make it enjoyable for ALL of the players
At the Vikings sideline
There are also three very important goals in which our offensive scheme strives for on the field. In addition to stretching the defense we also want to create confusion in them while maintaining progressions in our passing game. We have made several levels of receiver routes, which correspond to our quarterback drops. We do this because we feel it allows us to achieve the three passing goals of our offensive scheme:
1) Confuse the defense
We confuse the defense in part because we shift players on every down. If the backs and receivers do this well, the defensive man will constantly be pre-occupied on what the offense is doing. We try to use the offensive advantage of knowing where the play is going to confuse the defense, by getting key mismatches in personnel. In addition to the shifting we will also motion our players to further confuse the defense. Plus nearly all of our receiver routes start out as fade patterns, they will then break the route off depending on the progression level of the pattern. This forces the defender to protect deep and allows us to set our passing lanes. For this scheme to be successful, we have to plant a seed of doubt into the defender's mind as to where our player is going.
2) Stretch the defense
We want to stretch the defense downfield so that we can open up passing lanes for our quick, ball control passing game. We will hold the threat to go deep on every play. If we can get the defensive back to turn and run with our receiver then we should be able to break off the route and throw underneath. Just as with a running series we have to make the defense respect our ability to throw deep if our passing scheme is going to be effective. If a team does not give our fade patterns respect by defending against it, we had better be able to take advantage of their miscalculation and score. More specifically, if a team plays us to take away our quick game and we can't complete a fade, then we are in trouble. We have to make the defensive backs think that we may be throwing deep on every play. Bear Bryant once said, " our [defensive] objective is to limit the offense to as small an area as possible. By limiting their attack, we can hem them in and catch them" On offense we want to do exactly the opposite and stretch the defense. We want to stretch them both horizontally (across the field) and vertically (down the field). Horizontally, we want to spread the defense out in order to open up passing or even running lanes for our offense to operate in. We spread the defense through formation and motion and often end up with a linebacker matched up on either a slot-back or a tailback. Remember the defense has to spread out just as far as our offense does. To stretch a defense vertically, we have to have a constant deep threat. An incomplete deep pass early in the game is almost as good as a complete deep pass. From that point on, the defense has to deepen and respect your deep passing game. They have then been stretched vertically, and you have plenty of open space to operate your offense in.
3) Maintain flexibility
Once we have acquired our deep threat and have stretched the defense,we are in control of the game. We can move into our quick passing game and pick the defense apart underneath because we have forced the defensive backs to back up and think about a ball that may go over their heads. When the defensive backs see our wide-out coming at them hard our wide-outs will then break into one of our quick patterns (In, stop, out, hitch) and hopefully pick up some yards with one of these "long hand-offs". This is a term I like to use when utilizing a short passing attack. The design to attack the entire football field will certainly isolate defenders, create one-on-one situations, and allow us to exploit mismatches. It will force the defense to monitor threats thus destroying recognition and pursuit. Finally, it will unpredictable by varying formations and movements but running the same plays. Now when it comes to running the football I use reverse-psychology. In my opinion the better a team passes the football the more success the team will have running the football. This occurs simply because the defense has to gear their strategy to preventing the big play and this opens up more opportunities to be successful at key moments in the game. I also believe that when you can spread the field the defense will have a harder time stopping the run. Our running game is not built with a 'pound it out' kind of attitude. Most of our time in practice is dedicated to the passing game, so the offensive line will have the bulk of run blocking assignments similar to that in our passing game. However, we will not abandon the success of running if it is working during the game. It is also important to note that we have very simple blocking schemes used to run the ball, but will give the defense many different sets to look at. We will always try to pass the ball in order to setup our running game. My guidelines for game strategy are:
1) We will have our offensive line will dictate the game plan
2) We can and will throw the ball at anytime and from anywhere
3) We will balance our attack with a simple running game
4) We will use draws, screens, and, hitches extensively
5) We will have a play-action pass setup for most of our runs
6) We will use multiple drop points to protect the QB and to put him in the best position to throw
7) We will use multiple formations and movements to predict defensive adjustments
8) We will utilize a number of trick plays and odd formations (including no-huddle and shotgun) to deceive the opponent
9) We will make the defense play reactive football
10) We will take what they give us
Unknown heroes : Vikings' O-line
The Air Gunn Offensive system is very flexible and can be easily adapted to fit a program's ability level. At first glance the system may seem complicated, but in actuality it is fairly simple and very easy to learn once the initial concept is grasped. For example, at Wildwood High School where I was the Head Coach, the Wildcats had the top passing offense in Central Florida. This was done with a team that had only two weeks of practice time learning the system before the season started. We were led by a freshman quarterback (only 14 years old at the time) who had over 1800 yards passing in just nine games. Matt Ellis had many highlights including; ten straight games with at least one touchdown pass and a game where he threw for nearly 310 yards and 3 Td's in the first half alone. Our top receiver, BrianHaugabrook, had 45 receptions for close to 900 yards. He was ranked in the top five of all Florida high school receivers in receptions, yardage, and touchdowns. Brian was the only receiver selected to the Florida Super Seniors Team and was named on the first team All-State Offense. He also received national recognition from the USA Today and Prep-Star magazine as one of the premier bluechips in the country. He was recruited heavily by most of the top NCAA football programs but ultimately decided to sign at the University of Florida. His decision was made easier due to fact that we ran an offensive very similar to the Gators and he would be able to use his experience to make the jump into college football more successfully. Over time, I believe that this well conceived offensive system will prove to be very effective against opposing defenses. Over the last two seasons with the Vikings, the system has had some growing pains. Norwegian players were not used to running an offense like this before. The league was completely run dominated and it took some time to get the team used to this new philosophy. Some changes were made as the the shifting element was eliminated and the running game modified. But overall it has been a success with the Vikings winning back the Norwegian Championship for the first time since 1992.
Burnett & Haugabrook
Another interesting fact is the appearance of only throwing the football, yet in actuality we ran the ball 52% of thetime. The illusion comes form the fact that we will throw the ball more early in the game. This past season we had 3 games where one of our running backs rushed for over a 100 yards. We also had 2 games in which the quarterback threw for over 250 yards. This was done while spreading the ball around and letting a bunch of players get their hands on the ball, Steve Spurrier sums up the way I feel about the type of offensive system which we utilize by saying:
"I think the one reason most players enjoy this offense is that everyone is involved in it. It is not designed to highlight one running back or wide receiver. We spread it out to include everyone, and recognize the importance of offensive linemen in helping it work".
1998 Offensive Stats - OSI Vikings
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