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The J-Gun no-huddle.

A no-huddle system that consists of four popular formations and the same plays

No summer practices, limited pre-season and regular-season practice time, no junior varsity team, minimal coaching staff - these are some of the problems most football coaches are called upon to solve in implementing their training program.

The J-Gun no-huddle offense was designed as a solution in 1992 and has proved successful at the high school and semi-pro levels in both American and Canadian football. It has produced:

* Four championships with three different teams, all during re-building or expansion years.

* An 81% winning record, including a 6-0 playoff record, since 1994. A record of 45 TDs and 484 points in a 10-game season, including a single-game record of 506 yards passing.

* Various team records, including a 322-yard rushing game, a 200-yard and a 100-yard rusher in the same game, a 15.8 yard per carry average for a season.

* No punts between 1992 and 1996.

The J-gun no-huddle system consists of four formations: Wishbone, Power I, I, and Shotgun (two backs and single back). It is predicated on the following core beliefs and teaching ideologies:

1. Each formation has a distinct primary strength ranging from power running, freeze option, counter gaps, and short inside traps to shot-gun passing with line-of-scrimmage read routes.

2. Each formation also has secondary strengths that include all or most of the above concepts. Players do not have to learn four different systems. They learn just one system that they can convert to four variations by simply altering the primary and secondary strengths, as indicated below (formation, primary strength, and secondary strength given in order):

Power I: power lead running; freeze option, counter gap, inside traps, LOS-read routes.

Wishbone: freeze option; leads, counter gap, inside traps, LOS-read routes.

I: counter gap; lead, freeze option, inside traps, LOS-read routes.

Shotgun: LOS-read routes; lead, counter gaps, inside traps.

3. Despite the diverse range of formations, each of the formations has the same four base running plays, except the shotgun, which has only three (lacks the option). The only difference lies in the backfield action.

4. The four base running plays (see Diags. 5-12) are predicated on the following three rules:

* Option on the midline and to the right perimeter only.

* Lead off tackle to the right.

* Counter and traps to the left only.

These principles reduce the number of skills that must be mastered by the backfield and enhance efficiency due to increased repetitions.

5. Offensive linemen must learn only one base blocking assignment per intended POA, regardless of the formation. Any additional plays (added to the base running plays) must have the same blocking assignment relative to the intended POA. The linemen must recognize only the last digit in the play call, which indicates the intended POA.

This concept reduces teaching and learning time. Since the same assignments are repeated regardless of the formation being practiced, it permits a greater number of repetitions reducing the retention period, increasing memory recall, and minimizing mistakes.

6. Each running play has two distinct borders (delineating the running lane) that must be discernible to the ball-carrier: a top border (farthest from center) and a low border (closest to center).

Multiple border combinations may be created, depending on the anticipated response and reaction of the defenders at the intended POA.

7. The base running plays must be taught in the following order to produce structured learning outcomes:

* Fullback on midline - freeze option.

* QB/TB freeze option to right perimeter.

* Off-tackle lead to right side.

* Counter-gap to left side.

All additional running plays are taught in a specific sequence to ensure structured outcomes.

8. Basic wide-receiver routes are predicated on the cornerback's alignment. Basic routes are not predetermined. They are called at the LOS by communication between the QB and the receiver. Basic routes are used in all four formations.

9. All formations are operated without a huddle. (We never huddle.) And the ball must be snapped within eight seconds.

10. A special no-huddle language is used for every play call at the LOS. The language is based on the police phonetic alphabet and 10-code system - a proven method of memory recall. Words provide association with the ball-carrier or primary receiver, minimizing mental errors and mistakes, especially for the inexperienced players.

11. Only one formation is used during a possession. Players only have to remember the language and assignments associated with the one formation.


The J-Gun no-huddle system has solved numerous problems, including inexperienced personnel, limited rosters, lack of size on the offensive line, absence of outstanding speed, and minimal practice time.

Numerous other advantages have been determined from film study and statistical analysis:

1. Four platoons. Each of the four formations requires some degree of personnel modification. Four offensive platoons may be established, enabling a larger number of players to practice repetitions and play in the games.

2. Defense response. High school defenses respond to the no-huddle in predictable fashion. They remain in a base formation for the entire possession, with minimal or no adjustments. As a result, they tend to align improperly, play cautiously, take longer to read and react, and use a less aggressive pass rush.

3. Number of plays. The no-huddle system enables a team to run many more plays - an average of 19 more a game. More plays and possessions translate into more scoring opportunities.

4. Conditioning. A fast-paced, no-huddle offense produces superior conditioning while fatiguing the opposing defense and increasing the probability of defensive mistakes. Superior conditioning also can compensate for deficiencies in size and skill.

5. Cognitive development. Since all players like the no-huddle offense, they are motivated to learn the system faster and play with more confidence and spirit.

6. Intensity. A high level of intensity is maintained throughout the possession. The no-huddle eliminates lethargy. The players hustle up to the line and set up in an alert and aggressive state of mind.


To achieve a structured learning environment, you must teach the formations and basic running plays in the following sequence:

Wishbone, Power I, I, and Shotgun. This sequence cannot be reversed or restructured for the following reasons:


* Provides the simplest and purest form of learning.

* Creates running-lane borders that are the easiest to learn.

* Facilitates understanding of the four base running plays.

* Establishes basic running back assignments.

Power I: must be learned second because it has the three-back commonality with the Wishbone, which drastically reduces the degree of adjustment in the running-back assignments. The prominent difference is that the tailback freezes during the option in this formation, but does not do so in the Wishbone. Other adjustments include the first steps of the backs and the angles of blocking impact.

I-Formation: Is closely allied to its predecessor, the Power I, thus requiring minimal variations.

Shotgun: Requires significant teaching time to implement the passing system, but the running game remains relatively the same as in the previous three formations - so that it is in place when the players get to it.

The base running plays are sequenced as follows: Fullback on Midline Option, QB-TB Option, Off-Tackle Right, and Counter-Gap Left. Reasons for this sequence:

1. The Fullback on Midline is the most basic play, easier to learn, and most crucial to the success of the system.

2. The QB-TB Option has the same appearance and direction assignment as the first play.

3. The Off-Tackle Right requires only minimal backfield variations from the previous two plays.

4. The Counter-Gap has only one significant backfield variations from the previous two plays.

As a result, the directional progression that must be learned by each backfield member is simple. (Check accompanying chart on page 39.)

Diags. 5 to 12 show the similarity of assignments for each player in each play.

The offensive line also has a simple progression of blocking rules to learn, according to the intended POA.


The deployment of personnel will drastically alter the nature of the four base running plays, despite the fact that each play has essentially the same appearance and nature in all formations.

The Wishbone requires a conventional fullback and two equivalent tailbacks to achieve maximum results. Optimum speed is critical for successful execution.

The transition to the Power I requires the replacement of the right tailback with a stronger player to align as the second, or offset, fullback. The Power I utilizes only one feature tailback, but can achieve significant results by using offensive line-type personnel at the two fullback positions.

In all four plays, the Power I permits more offensive line-type players to converge at the POA. This impacts significantly on the Off-Tackle and the Counter-Gap plays where three blockers are transferred from right to left side.

The Power I fullbacks are often starting offensive linemen. Since this formation allows the use of seven offensive linemen, it increases game experience for two other linemen, and increases depth in the backfield and on the offensive line.

The I formation may use the same wishbone personnel by simply using the right tailback as the wide receiver on the tight end side, or he may be replaced by a fullback who aligns on the wing off the tight end.

The Shotgun essentially replaces the fullbacks with two tailbacks and two wide receivers.



The base passing systems originated from the preponderance of man coverage in the defensive response to the no-huddle. The same base system is used in all four formations. A primary wide receiver is called at the LOS, while the QB and primary wide receiver communicate the route after reading the alignment and depth of the cornerback.

Only four routes are available in the base system: slant, stop, out, and deep.

Three depths of the break or stop in the pattern exist. They are predicated on the following three positions of the ball relative to the shotgun snap:

* Ball touches QB's hands - minimum vertical depth, maximum horizontal release.

* Ball raised to QB's release point - intermediate vertical depth and horizontal release.

* Ball released - maximum vertical, minimum horizontal.

The break/stop point is determined by communication at the LOS. The points are chosen weekly after film evaluation of the opponents. They vary with each receiver, based on his speed, and they are learned in practice by having a coach call the break/stop during the pattern. The receiver's depth is then noted by the coach and it becomes the depth used by that particular player.

The base system requires the backside receiver to run a deep pattern and the tight end to run a search pattern based on the response of the three relevant defensive players. The tailbacks determine their responsibilities by sight reads: look in (over guard), look out (over TE), then release to flare if the visual search for rushers proves to be negative.


The simplicity of the base J-Gun encourages execution of a minimum number of plays. This promotes the belief that base plays, properly executed, can advance the ball productively.

The rest of the plays in the system are considered to be supplementary rather than essential. Whenever the quality of the plays supersedes the quantity of the plays, we consider our objective fulfilled.
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Title Annotation:a no-huddle system in football
Author:Arcaro, Gino
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:May 1, 1997
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