Just What is Duo?

I am the first to admit that I do not know everything about the game of football. I learn a lot from from running #TXHSFBCHAT and reading coaches’ responses to the questions each and every week. Recently, I had a great learning experience about the play Duo.

Duo has been talked a lot about recently on Twitter, and after reading a few threads, and watching a few clips, I thought I had a pretty good understanding. It’s just hard doubles working to backers, right? Easy enough. 

So I figured, ok, it’s time to be included in a chat question. 

Boy, did I learn how wrong I was. And not only me, but several people. Duo is a play that a lot of people don’t seem to understand. 

That’s when I knew I needed to reach out to my guy. I messaged Coach Matt Jones of #LinemanLunch fame, and set up a meeting to go over Duo. So we had a Zoom meeting, and this is what I learned from him.

Duo is a gap scheme play. A common way of explaining it is power with the pull. Another way of looking at it is how the OL steps look like they are working inside zone combos, but the back works opposite of the OL steps, and hits downhill in the A gap. It is not a finesse play, it is a take it to them, push the defense vertically as physically as possible play.

As you can see here, in the diagrams, the OL is working opposite of the direction of back, and the play works best towards a larger blocking surface. Which is one of the reasons many coaches believe this to be a more Pro Style play, because you can see NFL teams, or Pro Style college teams running multiple TEs on one side of the formation, creating a large blocking surface, with multiple opportunities for playside combos. 

High schools are not always blessed with such personnel, so we have to adapt. 21 personnel works well to get everybody blocked up and accounted for, as seen in the diagrams above vs an even and an odd front.

High school football loves our options, though, and Duo is a great way to incorporate an RPO, especially if you don’t have a viable 2 back personnel package, or a viable TE.

In these diagrams, you can see how the play could possibly look with 20 or 12 personnel. Having someone accountable for the unblocked linebacker is key. So we account for him by putting him in conflict with an RPO.

Key coaching points for the OL, are to block the person head up to inside of you, away from the playside combo. A gallup step works well here, because you have four hands on a DT, and four eyes on the backer you are comboing to. 

The RB reads the 2nd level defender responsible for A gap. You want an RB who can pound it here, know when to jump cut, but more importantly, know when to tuck it and ram it upfield for 4+ yards. 

When looking for Duo on film, look for these two clues: where is the RB aiming? How is the open end OT blocking? If the RB is downhill to the A gap, and the open end OT is not zone stepping, but more position blocking, then you are probably looking at Duo.

Thank you Coach Jones for taking the time to share with me the basics of this play. I am definitely glad I asked about Duo in the chat, because now I have better understanding. 

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