Stanford Film Study: Scissors Concept

Sept. 6, 2022, 10:55 p.m.

The scissors concept is one of the ways that offenses try to defeat two high safety coverages. It can be run against Cover 2 or Tampa 2 man and zone. The concept has been run by NFL teams like the Saints, Eagles and Panthers. Stanford head coach David Shaw has also installed scissors into Stanford’s playbook. This edition of Film Study will go over the details of the concept, and how Stanford utilizes it. 

How does the scissors concept work?

First, it’s important to note that scissors can be used as a two or three-man route combination. In the two-man combo, the slot receiver will run a corner route to the outside, while the boundary or field receiver will run a deep post. These routes cross and look like scissors on a play diagram, which is where the concept gets its name. This puts pressure on the safety guarding that side of the field, as he either has to pick whether to stick with the corner or post route. If he sticks with the corner, the quarterback will throw to the post and vice versa. 

The three-man concept is similar in that both the slot and outside receiver will run the same routes to put pressure on a safety. However, another man will run an underneath route to pull the underneath defenders away from the post or corner. 

Stanford ran the scissors concept successfully as a three-man combo against Colgate’s Cover 2 zone on Saturday. However, Shaw put his own twist onto the concept.

Stanford Film Study: Scissors Concept

During the play, junior tight end Ben Yurosek is lined up in the slot, while fifth-year senior wide receiver Michael Wilson is lined up on the boundary. Yurosek runs a corner route, which sucks in the boundary side safety. Meanwhile, Wilson runs what looks to be a stick route, which then turns into a slant. Junior running back Casey Filkins runs an underneath angle route, which takes the attention of the inside linebacker to the boundary side. Sophomore quarterback Tanner McKee is able to hit Wilson, who then takes into the end zone to put the Cardinal up 14-7.

The play is able to work due to the timing of the routes. Wilson allows Yurosek to suck in the safety before making his move toward the middle. When Wilson finally makes his way there, Filkins is there to suck the inside linebacker away.

Look for Stanford to continue to run the concept against Cover 2 zone and Cover 2 man coverages for the rest of the year.

Kaushik Sampath is the sports managing editor. He is a junior from Fayetteville, Arkansas and a history major. You can catch him watching and ranting about his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks or hanging out with friends on campus. Contact him at sports 'at'

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