Run and shoot offense
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The run and shoot offense is an offensive system for American football which emphasizes receiver motion and on-the-fly adjustments of receivers' routes in response to different defenses. It was conceived by former Middletown, Ohio, High School football coach Glenn "Tiger" Ellison and refined and popularized by former Portland State Offensive Coordinator Darell "Mouse" Davis.
The Run & Shoot system uses a formation consisting of one running back and between two and four wide receivers. This system makes extensive use of receiver motion (having a receiver suddenly change position by running left or right, parallel to the line of scrimmage, just before the ball is snapped), both to create advantageous mismatches with the opposing defensive players and to help reveal what coverage the defense is using.
The basic idea behind the Run & Shoot is a flexible offense that adjusts "on the fly," as the receivers are free to adjust their routes as they are running them in response to the defensive coverage employed. The quarterback, as a result, also has to read and react to the defense's coverages in a more improvised manner than with other offensive systems.
In the purest form of the offense, the proper complement would consist of two wide receivers lined up on the outside edges of the formation and two "slotbacks" (running backs who are capable of catching the ball as well as running with it, e.g. Ricky Sanders and Richard Johnson of the USFL's Houston Gamblers) lined up just outside and behind the two offensive tackles.
Many of the National Football League teams that used the Run & Shoot in the early 1990s used true wide receivers in all four receiving positions. The types of running backs used varied from smaller backs who could catch passes to big, bruising running backs who could run with power. The frequent passing plays run out of this formation tend to spread out the defense's players. If repeated pass plays work, the defense is not as prepared for running plays; running the ball between the offensive tackles, or just off-tackle, is now possible and more likely to succeed.
At the Collegiate level, the 1989 Houston Cougars football team demonstrated the scoring potential of the run and shoot offense as quarterback Andre Ware set 26 NCAA records and won the Heisman Trophy while the #14 ranked Cougars finished the season 9-2. The Cougars were disallowed from having its football games televised or playing in a Bowl Game that season due to NCAA sanctions imposed some years earlier. The following two seasons Houston quarterback David Klingler continued the success of the run and shoot throwing for 9,430 yards and 91 touchdowns, including 716 yards and 11 touchdown passes in a single game which were all records. Quarterbacks Ware and Klingler were both drafted in the NFL first round. The success of Houston's run and shoot offense and the inability of its record setting quarterbacks to translate their success into the NFL lead to the label of being a "system quarterback".
Formation History 
The original inventor of the Run & Shoot, Tiger Ellison, first started out with a formation that overloaded the left side of the offensive line for his scrambling quarterback. He called it "The Lonesome Polecat."
A year later, he came back with a more balanced formation that is similar to the diagram below. The formation bears a strong resemblance to the Flexbone offense.
Other variations of the above formation are similar to the way spread offenses like to set up their systems. Originally, the run and shoot was set up so that the quarterback would be positioned behind the center in a single back position, with the single running back lined up a few yards back. Later, during his tenure with the University of Hawaii, June Jones used quarterback Colt Brennan out of the shotgun. In this case the running back is offset to the right of the quarterback (as in the formation below).
Another formation that can often be seen with the run and shoot is the "trips" formation, where three wide receivers are situated to the right or left side of the line of scrimmage. Most of the time, this formation will be created out of motion when the W or Y receiver moves to the opposite side of the formation.
Running the Run & Shoot 
Player and motion names 
Every team has its own specific naming conventions, but they all have the same basic principles. To make diagramming plays easier, the receivers used in the Run & Shoot are often given standardized names depending on their position. One way to do this is to label the receivers, from left to right, X, W (for "Wing"), Y, and Z, with the running back being called an S-Back (for Singleback or Superback).
The initial movements of the receivers can also be labelled by using code names for "left" and "right" such as "Lil and Rob," "Liz and Rip," or "Lion and Ram." As an example, a quarterback may call an "X Liz, W Liz, Y Go, Z Rip, SB flat", which tells the X and W receivers to run to their left, the Y receiver to run a go (or fly) route, the Z receiver to run to his right, and the S-Back to run to the flat (close to the line of scrimmage and toward the sideline).
Route Concepts 
The basic play designs for the Run & Shoot revolve around only a handful of routes but seem much more complex to the defense given the variety found within.
- 1984 Houston Gamblers: 60 Z Slide
- 1984 Houston Gamblers: 60 Z Go
- 1984 Houston Gamblers: Choice Route
- 1984 Houston Gamblers: Slide Route
- 1984 Houston Gamblers: Switch Route
- 1985 Houston Gamblers: 60 X Choice
- 1992 Houston Cougars: Switch Route against Cover 3 Zone
Key Concepts 
- Throw to the open receiver.
- If the QB reads 5 or less in the box, run the football. This means that traditional defensive formations using a 3-4 or 4-3 front will have moved 2 defenders outside of the "box" for coverage help. The "box" is the area about a yard outside of the tight end or offensive tackle on one side of the line to the other offensive tackle/tight end on the other side of the line and about 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
- Use motion and formations to spread the defense out and anticipate what the defense is going to do. If one uses motion and the defensive back follows the motioning receiver, they are probably playing man coverage or blitzing. If no defensive back follows the motion receiver, then they are probably playing zone defense.
Advantages of the Run & Shoot 
- Forces the defense to switch to 4 DB or 5 DB formations, often substituting shorter and thinner DBs in place of taller and thicker LBs. This allows the offense an advantage in the running game as it often employs a bigger RB to help block and run in between the tackles. By incorporating inside running plays, the much bigger RB (usually 220-240 pounds) would be able to get more yards after going up against DBs who are usually 180-200 pounds in weight. This also allows wide receivers to have a better ability to break tackle by a 190 pound DB as opposed to a 240 pound LB.
- By reading the DB, the WRs are able to run routes to uncovered areas in zone coverage or simply beat their defender in coverage. This allows the QB to go down the field vertically or take what the defense gives him and go underneath to let his WR get yards after the catch. Since a lot of the routes are downfield to vertically challenge the outside and seams, successful QBs can not only put up staggering numbers but it also allows them to put up very high yard per completion numbers.
- Personnel never needs to be changed because it is not dictated by the defensive coverage. As a result, a team can go down the field using the same personnel without having to change from their base formation due to what the defense has lined up in.
- The offense allows for wide open running lanes inside and allows for running backs to maximize the 10-14 carries a game they may get as opposed to running the ball 25 times but less successfully per carry.
Disadvantages of the Run & Shoot 
There are several potential disadvantages to using a Run & Shoot offense:
- Since the formation does not use any tight ends or fullbacks, the quarterback is at increased risk for being hit or sacked since there are fewer players available to block a defense's blitz.
- Teams often use a strong running game to keep possession of the football, especially at times when it would be advantageous for them to run out the clock. A criticism of the Run & Shoot offense is that teams would often continue to rely upon the pass rather than establish the run to finish off a game. One example of this is the 1992 AFC Wild Card game where the Houston Oilers, after earning a 35-3 lead against the Buffalo Bills, rather than winding the clock down with the running game and preserving the lead for the victory, called 22 pass plays against only four runs in the second half and eventually lost the game by a score of 41-38. Alternatives like the Spread offense have been preferred over the Run & Shoot in part because they place more emphasis on the running game.
- Many commentators noted that the Run & Shoot is less effective in the "Red Zone," when the offense is less than 20 yards from the goal line. In this area the offense has less room to move around and cannot spread the defense out as in other areas of the field.
Roster Positions for the Run and Shoot 
- Quarterbacks often have to be either mobile or have a very quick release if they are not mobile. Having a lot of arm strength is not a requirement but they need to have enough to make various throws. Jim Kelly was 6'3" and around 215 pounds. Andre Ware was 6'2" and around 200 pounds. David Klingler was 6'3" and around 210 pounds. Colt Brennan was 6'2" and around 205 pounds. Warren Moon was 6'3" and around 215 pounds.
- Halfbacks need to be built much like fullbacks as they often have to deal with no lead blocker and are often the only defense to blitzers for the QB's protection. Chuck Weatherspoon was 5'7" and around 230 pounds. Craig Heyward was 5'11" and around 240 pounds. Dorsey Levens was 6'1" and around 230 pounds. Kimble Anders was 5'11" and around 230 pounds. Lamar Smith was 5'11" and around 230 pounds. Gary Brown was 5'11" and around 230 pounds.
- Wide Receivers can vary although Mouse Davis was prone to opting for shorter receivers who were more explosive due to their smaller size. Andre Rison was 6'1" and around 190 pounds. Sterling Sharpe was 6'0" and around 210 pounds. Drew Hill was 5'9" and around 170 pounds. Ernest Givins was 5'9" and around 180 pounds. Haywood Jeffires was 6'2" and around 200 pounds. Eric Metcalf was 5'10" and around 190 pounds. Michael Haynes was 6'0" and around 190 pounds. Jason Phillips was 5'7" and around 170 pounds. Davone Bess was 5'10" and around 190 pounds.
- Offensive Linemen need to be stout in pass protection and fast/agile enough to drop back constantly. Jamie Dukes was 6'1" and around 290 pounds. Bill Fralic was 6'5" and around 280 pounds. Chris Hinton was 6'4" and around 300 pounds. Bob Whitfield was 6'5" and around 310 pounds. Lomas Brown was 6'4" and around 280 pounds. Bruce Matthews was 6'5" and around 300 pounds. Mike Munchak was 6'3" and around 280 pounds. Don Maggs was 6'5" and around 290 pounds.
Notable Coaches of the Run and Shoot Offense 
- Tom Coughlin - HC of Jacksonville Jaguars 1995-2002, HC of New York Giants 2004-Present
- Mouse Davis - HC of Portland State 1975-1980, OC of Toronto Argonauts 1982, OC of Houston Gamblers 1984, HC of Denver Gold 1985, OC of Detroit Lions 1989-1990, RB coach of University of Hawaii 2004-2006, OC of Portland State 2007-2009, WR coach of University of Hawaii 2010
- Mark Duffner - HC of University of Maryland 1992-1995
- Frank Gansz - OC of Atlanta Falcons 1994-1996
- Joe Gardi - HC of Hofstra University 1990-2005
- Kevin Gilbride - QB coach of Houston Oilers 1989, OC of Houston Oilers 1990-1994, OC of Jacksonville Jaguars 1995-1996, HC of San Diego Chargers 1997-1998, OC of New York Giants 2007-Present
- Jerry Glanville - HC of Atlanta Falcons 1990-1993, HC of Portland State 2007-2009
- Milt Jackson - WR coach of Atlanta Falcons 1994-1996
- John Jenkins - OC of Houston Gamblers 1985, OC of University of Houston 1987-1989, HC of University of Houston 1990-1992
- June Jones - QB/WR coach of Detroit Lions 1989-1990, OC of Atlanta Falcons 1991-1993, HC of Atlanta Falcons 1994-1996, HC of University of Hawaii 1999-2008, HC of SMU 2009-Present
- Adrian Klemm - OL coach of SMU 2009-2011
- Joe Morrison - HC of University of South Carolina 1983-1988
- Chris Palmer - HC of Boston University 1988-1989, WR coach of Houston Oilers 1990-1992, OC of Jacksonville Jaguars 1997-1998, HC of Cleveland Browns 1999-2000, OC of Tennessee Titans 2011-2012
- Jack Pardee - HC of University of Houston 1987-1989, HC of Houston Oilers 1990-1994
- Charlie Weis - Assistant of University of South Carolina 1985-1988
- Ollie Wilson - RB coach of Atlanta Falcons 1991-1996, RB coach of San Diego Chargers 1997-1998
Notable Teams that Used the Run & Shoot Offense 
- 1975 Portland State University: 8-3 with 366 points scored
- 1976 Portland State University: 8-3 with 424 points scored
- 1977 Portland State University: 7-4 with 416 points scored
- 1980 Portland State University: 8-3 with 541 points scored
- 1981 University of Minnesota: 6-5 with 274 points scored
- 1982 University of Florida: 8-4 with 296 points scored
- 1983 University of Florida: 9-2-1 with 304 points scored
- 1986 Holy Cross University: 10-1 with 314 points scored
- 1987 Holy Cross University: 11-0 with 511 points scored
- 1987 University of South Carolina: 8-4 with 341 points scored
- 1988 Holy Cross University: 9-2 with 334 points scored
- 1988 University of Houston: 9-3 with 474 points scored
- 1989 Holy Cross University: 10-1 with 396 points scored
- 1989 University of Houston: 9-2 with 589 points scored
- 1990 Hofstra University: 12-1 with 555 points scored
- 1990 University of Houston: 10-1 with 511 points scored
- 1990 Holy Cross University: 9-1-1 with 339 points scored
- 1990 Houston Oilers: 9-7 with 405 points scored
- 1991 Holy Cross University: 11-0 with 372 points scored
- 1991 Hofstra University: 8-2 with 380 points scored
- 1991 Houston Oilers: 11-5 with 386 points scored
- 1991 Atlanta Falcons: 10-6 with 361 points scored
- 1992 Houston Oilers: 10-6 with 352 points scored
- 1993 Boston University: 12-1 with 436 points scored
- 1993 Houston Oilers: 12-4 with 368 points scored
- 1994 Hofstra University: 8-1-1 with 371 points scored
- 1994 Boston University: 9-3 with 396 points scored
- 1995 Hofstra University: 10-2 with 393 points scored
- 1995 Atlanta Falcons: 9-7 with 362 points scored
- 1997 Hofstra University: 9-3 with 397 points scored
- 1998 Hofstra University: 8-3 with 426 points scored
- 1999 Hofstra University: 11-2 with 419 points scored
- 1999 University of Hawaii: 9-4 with 371 points scored
- 2000 Hofstra University: 9-4 with 445 points scored
- 2001 University of Hawaii: 9-3 with 483 points scored
- 2001 Hofstra University: 9-3 with 441 points scored
- 2002 University of Hawaii: 10-4 with 502 points scored
- 2003 University of Hawaii: 9-5 with 486 points scored
- 2004 University of Hawaii: 8-5 with 467 points scored
- 2006 University of Hawaii: 11-3 with 656 points scored
- 2007 University of Hawaii: 12-1 with 564 points scored
- 2009 Southern Methodist University: 8-5 with 380 points scored
- 2010 University of Hawaii: 10-4 with 519 points scored
Teams that considered using the Run & Shoot but decided against it 
- Bruce Coslet has a working knowledge of the Oilers' offense because he studied the run-and-shoot offense last year, thinking that he might want to install it for the Jets. He decided against it, because it didn't fit his personnel. (1991)
- The Redskins' head coach, Joe Gibbs, said that his offense has adopted some run-and-shoot principles, but that his organization has never considered using that offense because it prefers power football. (1992)
- Kevin Gilbride was a HC finalist along with Joe Greene, Dave Wannstedt, and Bill Cowher for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (1992)
- "I wanted the option of the two-back or the power game with fullback and tight ends. I didn't feel the run-and-shoot was flexible enough with what we wanted to do with our offense." - Jimmy Johnson (1993)
- "We do have some of the run-and-shoot principles, but we're not rolling out as much,' he said, adding that the Jets would not often go to four wide receivers in a run and shoot." - Boomer Esiason (1993)
Quotes about the Run & Shoot 
- It basically is a 'read' offense with everything done on timing." - Conredge Holloway (1982-11-25) 
- "What the fuck is the run & shoot?" John Brodie, NFL All-Pro quarterback and NBC TV analyst (1982-26-9)
- "That's what the Run-and-Shoot is all about. Going out there, having fun, and watching those little guys run all over the field." - Jim Kelly (1985-03-04)
- "It's an offense that obviously favors a wide-open passing game. It's a big play offense. It's not one where you're going to line up and whittle away two or three yards at a time." - Dave Wannstedt (1986-08-26)
- "I guess I'm in love with this offense. There's no one else in the country that runs the run-and-shoot the way we ran it." - Andre Ware (1988-12-23)
- "He doesn't need a whole lot of hole, and that stretched-out offense can create holes." - Bill Belichick (1989)
- "I kept getting caught up watching their offense. It's interesting. I've never seen it run quite like that." - Steve DeBerg (1990-08-26)
- "When the league switches totally to the run-and-shoot, I'm gone. Retiring. I can't tell you what a nightmare it is." - Howie Long (1991)
- "It was "like walking through a minefield. We could play them again next week and give up 500 yards. If everything's clicking in that thing, it's hard to stop." - Richie Petitbon (1991)
- "I don't think anybody stops it. They always make their yardage. What you hope to do is keep the scoring down the best you can to give yourself a chance to be successful." - Marty Schottenheimer (1992-09-20)
- "I asked this guy, this NFL scout, 'How do you stop this thing?' He told me, 'You don't." - Bruce Keidan (1992-01-06)
- "You have to play a lot of different stuff against them. If you confine yourself to one coverage, they'll find the answer." - Richie Petitbon (1992-01-11)
- "It's not a coincidence we've been in this offense for seven years and we've been to the playoffs seven years. To me, somebody has to strike the correlation there and recognize it has to be a contributing factor, no matter how grudgingly people want to admit that." - Kevin Gilbride (1994-01-16)
- "You know, with their chuck and duck offense, they're usually going to get 400 yards or something, even if they don't score much." - Buddy Ryan (1994-12-26)
- "The way they throw, I think they can hold up. I know from a defensive standpoint, the run-and-shoot gives me nightmares." - Rusty Tillman (1994)
- "The run-and-shoot got the Oilers where they are. I think defenses all over the league are going to be very relieved." - Rod Woodson (1994)
- "I've seen them beat everyone on their schedule. Look at the numbers they've posted. They've won more games than a lot of conventional offenses. I just don't see how you can change something that works." - Derrick Thomas (1994)
- "Their offense always puts a lot of pressure on any defense." - Rich Kotite (1994)
- "The biggest misconception about the run- and-shoot is that it's a totally passing offense. It's really not. It's a one-back, spread offense, but it's not a passing offense completely." - Bill Parcells (1995)
- "As a matter of fact, we use some the exact routes from the run-and-shoot scheme in our offense. And just about everybody does. That's just the truth." - Chan Gailey (2001)
- "People couldn't stop the run-and-shoot and then they figured out that you better just find ways to get to the quarterback." - Cam Cameron (2001)
- "Originally, there was no tight end, four wides, a lot of motion, a lot of trips (formation), sometimes five-receiver sets. But our connotation of it involved the reading of coverages and varying routes accordingly." - Mouse Davis (2004)
- "It's just evolved to where everybody in the United States now runs it, including everyone in the NFL. A portion of all packages has been developed out of it. You don't see the pure Run 'n' Shoot much anymore. It's been incorporated into other offenses." - Mouse Davis (2004)
- "Sometimes, we'll do some run-and-shoot. We'll sit back with one back and four wide receivers and do that. I remember the run-and-shoot in Atlanta. We always had a 1,000-yard rusher every year. We had a 1,000-yard rusher because we spread the field." - Robbie Tobeck (2006)
- "Yeah. The offense makes average quarterbacks a whole lot better than they would be in another scheme. But when we have a great one, they’re better in what we do. . . . All the quarterbacks I’ve worked with had their best seasons in this offense." - June Jones (2006)
- "I always used to think the Run-and-Shoot was one of the toughest offenses to stop." - Jim Johnson (2006)
- "I just feel that you can’t play without a tight end. At times, when the situation presents itself, I would use four wide receivers and take out the tight end. But certainly not on a regular basis." - Sid Gillman (2007)
- "It’s really a fun offense to watch and very difficult to defend. The different situations they can put you in based on down and distance really can raise havoc with a defense." - Chris Ault (2007)
- "As far as read routes and timing and leverage, all those things he teaches, it’s all very current. His systems are simple, yet very complicated to the defensive side. And Mouse started the whole thing right there at Portland State." - Marty Mornhinweg (2008)
- "Now I look around, and the Patriots and the Colts and people like that are running what we ran and saying, 'That's how you play the game.' Knowing I was a part of that with Jerry and Mouse (Davis) gives me a lot of satisfaction. Now everybody in the National Football League does what we do now. It just so happens that New England does it every play." - June Jones (2008)
- "It's fairly simple conceptually. But within the play, there are a lot of multi-reads, depending on how the defense is playing you. Then, if you get too soft on routes, they'll kill you in the screen and draw department." - Paul Wulff (2009-09-11)
Run & Shoot News and Highlights 
- Run & Shoot Message Board Thread for NCAA 2K5 (Must Read)
- A Diagram Explaining the Switch Route
- A look at myths about the offense.
- The running game in the offense at the NFL level.
- A look at the 1996 Atlanta Falcons.
- A look at the big play ability of the offense.
- Notes from Mouse Davis' 1984 Playbook.
- Zone Blitz's effect on the offense in the NFL.
- 3-4 Defense. Notice that the "box" has only 4 players.
- 4-3 Defense. Notice that the "box" has 4 with LB blitz.
- Nickel Defense. Notice that the "box" has only 5 players.
- Dime Defense. Notice that the "box" has only 5 players.
- Video Highlights of Hawaii Football Offense
- Video Highlights of QB Colt Brennan at Hawaii
- 1980 Portland State Football Video Highlights
- 1993 Boston University Football Video Highlights
- 2005 Hawaii Football Video Highlights
- 2006 (Part 1) Hawaii Football Video Highlights
- 2007 Hawaii Football Video Highlights
- 2007 Portland State Football Video Highlights
- 2008 June Jones Breaks Down Some of the Run and Shoot
Run & Shoot playbooks 
- 1984 Houston Gamblers (Mouse Davis) and 1985 Houston Gamblers (Kevin Gilbride)
- 1985 Denver Gold (Mouse Davis)
- 1992 Houston (John Jenkins)
- 1995 Hofstra (Manny Matsaksis)
- 1997 Georgetown
Videogames that featured a Run and Shoot Formation or Offense 
- - Tecmo Super Bowl for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis
- - Joe Montana II Sports Talk Football for the Sega Genesis
- - John Madden Football '93 for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis
- - Madden '94 for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis
- - Madden '95 for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis
- - NCAA Football '11 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
- - NCAA Football '12 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360
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- [George, Thomas], "[PRO FOOTBALL; To Juice the Offense, Teams Turn to the Slot]", , [2001-09-01], [Retrieved on 2008-08-07]
- [Canepa, Nick], "[Forget his age; Riptide hires perfect Mouse]", , [2004-01-22], [Retrieved on 2008-08-13]
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- [Stoltz, Jeremy], "[Chalk Talk: the Run-and-Shoot]", , [2007-05-31], [Retrieved on 2008-08-09]
- [Kendall, Josh], "[Hawaii's offense may look familiar]", , [2007-12-20], [Retrieved on 2008-08-09]
- [Clarkson, Roger], "[Offense is finally in favor]", , [2008-01-02], [Retrieved on 2009-01-05]
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