Twenty Personnel Power RPO Game

So you’re an old school, smashmouth coach who wants to run the football, but all of these new, young coaches are slinging the ball all over the field.  You like to run power, counter, and toss out of the two back sets. How do you incorporate your preferred style of offense with the new run-pass-option concepts that have become popular in the past few years?  Here are some ideas that can keep you old school, with a splash of what the new generation of coaches are doing.

Coaches like Urban Meyer and Gus Malzahn have been at the forefront of revolutionizing the ideas of a two back power offense, with enough spread concepts integrated to keep defenses from stacking the box.

Our base personnel set will look like this:

20 Personnel Base

In this set, we have the traditional fullback and tailback, while incorporating three wide receivers to stretch the field from sideline to sideline.  Out of this personnel grouping, we can run inside zone, power, counter trey, and counter GT.  This gives us the ability to be smashmouth and pound the rock, but still prevents the defense from stacking the box.

Power is the first and best play that most coaches run out of a two back set.  This play can be effective from youth football all the way to the pro level.  Since this play is so commonly run by coaches at all levels, we will discuss the RPO game off of power.

20 Personnel Power.JPG

This particular RPO is our base look when we run power.  The playside slot is running the bubble. Our backside receiver is running the “Bang 8.”

Quarterback Progression

When the QB comes to the line, the first thing he checks is the backside solo receiver.  Is the cornerback playing soft?  Is there an overhang linebacker covering the weakside flats?  If he has grass, this is a snap and throw now.

Bang 8 Throw

If he doesn’t have a look he likes to the solo receiver side, he will check his slot receiver. Do we have favorable numbers to the two receiver side?  If the flat defender is apexing the tackle and the slot, our slot has the advantage and we would throw this now.

Bubble Throw Many defensive coordinators will roll to a Cover 3 look against 20 personnel.  We still want to be able to run power vs. eight defenders in the box.  We will attack a Cover 3 cornerback short and out of the range of the flat defender with a speed out to the short side of the field, and attack the wide side of the field with the bubble screen.

4-4 Look

If the play side overhang is apexed between the play side tackle and the slot, we will throw the bubble screen.

Throw the bubble


The idea for this concept is to control the flat defenders to give us a six man box to run against.  If the Will backer is playing the flat and the backside cornerback is playing off, we will cut the splits of our X and throw the quick out in rhythm on the snap.  If the cornerback presses, the quarterback will look to the bubble screen before the snap.  If the overhang to the two receiver side is head up on the slot, we’ll proceed to the run.

Run It

  • DK





6 thoughts on “Twenty Personnel Power RPO Game”

  1. The stuff you have been posting is great. I have an issue with easy formation terminology. Such as going from UC to Gun or Pistol while changing other parts of the formation. For example what do you call this formation? Thanks for any help.


    1. Thanks! I appreciate the comment.

      I would call regular, under center, I formation I Right or I Left. If you want to go under center for 20 personnel (two backs, three receivers), you could call it Slot Right/Left. When we’re in 20 personnel Gun, we call it Gun Right/Left. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading!


  2. It seems that if a backside DE or walked up backer rushes hard off the edge, he could get a free hit on the QB when the play becomes a pass. Even if nobody shows in B-gap for the tackle to block, by the time he hinges back, it would be too late and the angle too poor. What is your answer to this?


    1. Hi Jim,

      We have never had that issue. The tackle strikes to the B gap first, making sure to seal it. It’s a quick step inside, with a quick hinge. It’s very rare that the tackle is unable to get back to the DE if he comes hard. The pass hits quick. Honestly, I can never remember that ever being an issue in all the years we ran this concept.


  3. Do you have a call that puts the RPO on or off? For instance, its 3rd and 3 and you want to run power for the first down. Do you have to call something to take the RPO off, or is it just always on? Just curious – Sometimes I just trust my OL rather than my QB/WRs.


    1. Hi Tom,

      Usually when I call a play I attach a tag, i.e. Power Right X Slant. If I didn’t want the pass tag on I’d just call Power Right. We’ve been in situations where we’d pull the RPO tags, chiefly because our QB would pass when we really wanted to run it.


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