Runnin’ the run-and-shoot

Touchdowns, gobs of passing yards and an exciting brand of football are all byproducts of the run-and-shoot offense, but according to new offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis, this scheme’s real key is always having the caulk in your hand last.

Spring game:

The Portland State football team will host its annual spring game this Saturday at PGE Park, kicking off at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 4 p.m. for fans to choose their seats and purchase season tickets.

The spring game will showcase offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis’ run-and-shoot offense as well as head coach and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville’s hard-hitting 3-4 defense.

To better understand how the new Vikings football team will look, the Vanguard sports section explains how both systems work.

The game will be broadcast on 910 AM KTRO starting at 5:30 p.m.

Touchdowns, gobs of passing yards and an exciting brand of football are all byproducts of the run-and-shoot offense, but according to new offensive coordinator Darrel “Mouse” Davis, this scheme’s real key is always having the caulk in your hand last.

Davis, one of the alignment’s true pioneers, says that the coach who is last to hold the caulk is always in control because he gets to make the final adjustments. Flexibility and on-the-fly changes are what make this offense tick. When a defense lines up, the nature of the run-and-shoot is to audible and tweak the formation so the offense has the best chance to absolutely abuse the opponent. This may mean sending a receiver in motion or running back out wide to catch a pass. It just depends on the defensive formation.

“We are always going to adjust on the run to the defensive coverage,” Davis said. “If the defense sets in one look, we are going to make one route adjustment. If the defense sets in another look, we are going to make another route adjustment.”

With a potential adjustment prior to every snap, the quarterback isn’t the only offensive player responsible for reading coverage. Davis, or the “father of the run-and-shoot,” stresses the importance of every player on the offensive side of the ball seamlessly reading the defensive formation and making necessary adjustments to position the offense to exploit the opponent.

“The offense has evolved to a point where every one of the 11 offensive players needs to be able to adjust at the snap of the ball to what the defense is doing,” Davis said.

Aside from this constant adjustments dance at the line of scrimmage, the offense is unique because of the personnel it requires. The run-and-shoot earned its moniker from local sports journalist and current editor of The Portland Tribune, Dwight Jaynes, during Davis’ first stint in the Park Blocks. The offensive scheme calls for five linemen, one running back, one quarterback and four wide receivers. The linemen and the running back are in charge of stopping pass rushers and limiting pressure on the quarterback. The wideouts will be catching a lot of fastballs from the quarterback. The mostly-through-the-air offense will be throwing on 67.4 percent of offensive plays with the idea of passing to set up the run.

“This offense is kind of counter to what the majority of offenses do. Most offenses set with a tight end or double tight end, and very rarely do coaches set with anything less than two backs,” Davis said. “The advent of the four-wideout set actually tends to stabilize what the defense does. Most people thought you couldn’t run the four-wideouts, but it really has a stabilizing effect.”

From pee-wee football to the NFL, coaches, expert analysts and players alike spout off about how pounding the ball through a hard-nosed rushing attack spells success because it sets up the pass. But Davis seems to laugh at that widely believed notion. In the offense he largely created, passing sets the running game up nicely, not the opposite. Most coaches across the nation might think this ideology is absurd, but Davis has the numbers to prove them wrong.

As Portland State’s head football coach from 1975-80, Davis’ teams were renowned for racking up the yardage and making frequent trips to the end zone. The Vikings topped the passing and total offense charts for six consecutive seasons, averaging an astounding 35 points per game and over 5,000 yards of total offense. Running this explosive offense, Viking great Neil Lomax set NCAA records of 13,220 yards and 106 touchdowns in his 42-game career at Portland State. Not to mention he received a ticket to the NFL.

The run-and-shoot also heated up Hawaii. Last season, the University of Hawaii finished atop the nation in scoring and passing yards, putting up almost 47 points and 441 yards per contest. Quarterback Colt Brennan flourished under this pass-first offense, leading the country with 5,549 yards passing and connecting on 58 touchdown passes.

The Vikings hope the run-and-shoot can continue its success in Portland, putting plenty of points on the scoreboard with its passing potential and attracting fans with an electrifying style.