After Decades, the Inventors of the Run and Shoot Share All of Their Secrets

You say you want a revolution?  Well today, any coach can become part of a coaching tree that stretches back to the sixties, a time of revolution, but first, a very brief history lesson.

Glen “Tiger” Ellison’s book, Run and Shoot: The Offense of the Future (1965) starts,

“This is the story of a revolution. A revolt started in the mind of a football coach and ended in a new order of things on the football field.”

In 1958, Glen “Tiger” Ellison created the Run and Shoot offense to turn his community’s football fortunes around and in the process he not only saved his job, but rallied the success into a position on Woody Hayes’s Ohio State staff. At Middletown High School in Ohio, Ellison and the offense led the team to a 38-7 record and began a revolution.

After winning with his Run and Shoot Offense, Tiger went on to become an assistant for Mr. “Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust” himself, Woody Hayes.  Woody wrote the Foreword to Tiger’s book, noting to Ellison,

“You’re the forward-passingest coach in the country, and they say I’m the most non-passingest coach that ever lived.”

Hiring Ellison didn’t change anything with the Buckeyes offense. Ohio State did not adopt the Run and Shoot, but the book did inspire a high school coach in Oregon.

As with all great ideas, there’s the originator, and then there’s the guy who takes that idea and runs with it and transforms the world.  In football, that guy was Darrell “Mouse” Davis.

Inspired by Ellison’s book which he picked up in the late sixties,  Mouse began taking the principles and evolving it closer to the form it takes today.

A lot of offensive systems promise to change a team’s fortunes, but there’s actually one that has done that at every level, stood the test of time, and created incredible enthusiasm for the game in the communities and organizations where it has been implemented.

While not the father of the Run and Shoot, Davis could certainly be considered its legal guardian. In 1962, He showed up for his first day as coach at Milwaukie HS in Oregon and captivated football players, nonplaying students and even the faculty. He repeated the process in 1971 at struggling Hillsboro HS jump starting their success. 

He did it again at  Portland State and Hawaii — and even in the NFL.

Davis, and his assistant June Jones exploded the scoreboard at Portland State and then the full-blown run-and-shoot found a place in the NFL (and, eventually, in a total of five pro leagues).

The offense set college football scoreboards on fire while he was a Portland State University from 1975 through 1980:

  • Rewrote the NCAA Division I-AA record book, set 20 offensive records 
  • Led the nation in scoring three times. 
  • QB Neil Lomax set records of 13,220 yards and 106 touchdowns in 42 games before going on to a successful NFL career.
  • Averaged 49.2 points per game. (for perspective 2019 #1 team averaged 42.1 points per game)
  • Led the nation in passing and total offense for six consecutive years.

Mouse and the Run and Shoot moved on to the professional level and made a huge impact both at that time and in impacting the modern NFL passing game. Here’s some notable highlights:

  • Jim Kelly, USFL Houston Gamblers QB for 2 years threw 83 touchdowns
  • 1982 installed R&S with Toronto Argonauts of the CFL; led the team to back-to-back appearances in the Grey Cup, winning the CFL title in 1983
  • 1989 Detroit’s run-and-shoot team won its last five games and six of its last seven– after finishing 4-12 the year before
  • 1989 Lions rookie running back Barry Sanders gained 1,470 yards

The evolution continued with a quarterback who played for Davis at Portland State, June Jones, who took the revolution a step further, operating the offense from the shotgun. June used it at every level of football including the new XFL where he was 5-0 and leading the league in passing and scoring before the shutdown.

Of course, in the direct coaching tree, the Run and Shoot is alive and well at Washington State with Jones’ former QB Nick Rolavich. At Hawaii, Rolavich passed for 4,176 career yards and 40 touchdowns and still holds six school passing records.

For years, the offense was something that coaches could learn piece meal in short videos or clinics, but there wasn’t a place where all of the secrets, the solutions to the problems, or the detailed coaching points were available for coaches to learn and implement on their own.  That all changed this week as Davis and Jones released their Run and Shoot Certified Course on CoachTube.  They spared no detail.

The value of learning directly from the coaches who created an offense is priceless.  These opportunities are rare.  Whether a coach takes what he learns and implements it true to its form or continues the evolution himself, there’s not a better place to learn a passing game that continues to shatter records and lead leagues.

For those who think it’s not for them, the concepts of the Run and Shoot dominate passing games at every level.  Most coaches can find some version of these plays in their own playbook, or their opponent’s, or plays that they watch on Saturday or Sunday. Mouse and Jones developed these plays as well.  They are tried and true at every level.  Here’s just a sample:


As stated, going to the inventors of the concept can teach so much more than getting it from second hand resources.  Mouse and June have been generous enough to offer $80 off the course.

Check out Run and Shoot Certified to see all that they have put together .  It’s the most comprehensive library on any passing game available!

Then go out and evolve what you do to move the football and score points!