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Clinic Talk: The West Virginia Air Raid Offense

What we can expect from Dana Holgorsen’s Offense

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Raid offense has been well documented over the years by guys like Chris B Brown of Smart Football, and the playbooks have been passed around on the internet from Hal Humme’s time at Kentucky and Mike Leach’s time at Texas Tech. What we all know is that Air Raid guys are known for slinging the ball around, throwing bubbles and tunnel screens as outside runs and running empty sets in the shotgun with quick releases.

What many don’t realize is the base of the offense is set in 21 personnel (2 backs, 1 TE) and includes a run game.

Above, I’ve insert a page from the Kentucky ‘97 playbook.

Base formation and passing concept from the Air Raid guys

Over the years Dana has gone away from and back to 2-backs in his arsenal.

Inside zone with motion from the back

Below, they’re also running the more common every day power read. The QB will read the play side defensive end. If that DE stays outside on the RB, the QB pulls and keeps inside behind the back side pulling guard. If the end sits or squeezes, the QB gives to the RB.

WVU doesn’t shy away from RPO’s. If you count your #’s there’s really 3 WR over 2 DB’s and the LB circled you can see him chasing to get there. He is who it looked like the QB was reading and with him so out of position, he can’t get there to make a play.

Below, WVU gives another look. This time a 3-back diamond pistol formation. They run a nice little double zone lead play.


As expected, WVU inserts some play-action passing and will throw deep off of it.

Below, I will show 3 passing concepts.

Spreading the defense out and attacking the middle of the field is what Air Raid passing concepts love the best. In “6” guys find space and sit down, Y-Cross, Mesh (shallow and drag).

#3 to the bottom of the GIF finds a hole in the coverage and sits in that space.

Lastly, take a look as #2 runs a 10 yard dig route (in) and #1 runs a shallow cross. Both players actually get open by toying with the coverage and forcing a switch.

I think Dana looks to pick the holes in coverage apart that we’ve seen here or there throughout the season. Wheel routes, forcing DB’s to switch, taking advantage of #’s and leverage. It should be an interesting match-up, especially since many Miami fans consider spread option, air raid, and RPO’s to be “gimmicks”

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