COLUMBIA – Call it what you want - better competition, a finally healthy Rico Dowdle or figuring out the offensive line combination - but the Gamecock run game is one of the biggest surprises and bright spots through five games this season.
The Gamecocks have the fifth-best rushing attack in the SEC (203.8 yards per game) and a lot of praise should go to Dowdle and Tavien Feaster, who have carried the offense through a lot of games. But another big reason for success lately has come from the pin-and-pull scheme South Carolina’s relied on heavily the last few games.
“Well, I think, as much as anything, what I've learned over the years is find you some runs that you like and you feel like you can execute and you can block vs. three down, you can block vs. four down, you can block vs. pressure, and that's just something over the period of time since we've been here that we've felt comfortable with,” head coach Will Muschamp said.
The pin-and-pull run scheme is pretty simple when broken down and works really well with outside runs, which the Gamecocks run heavily and can be implemented with RPOs as well.
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The concept is this: the tight end will block down and block the defensive end or tackle, whichever is in front of him, blocking down. That usually leaves the edge rusher free, but the pin-and-pull scheme accounts for that.
In this run plan, two offensive linemen pull around the end, with one sealing off that free body and the other free to head into the second level to block a linebacker or defensive back. It’s designed to give the running back an alley to run through so he’s matched up in the open field with someone.
“The offensive line is executing their jobs well, getting to their guys, climbing to the backside backer and we’re getting pullers coming through,” Dowdle said. “Our goal is to get one on one with the second level and we’ve been doing it.”