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What is Counter?

A running play called by an offense in which the majority of the offense will block in one direction, but the running back will cut back into a lane being opened by the weak side of the offensive line. Ideally, a counter play will have a large gap on the backside of the defense for which the running back to gain yardage through. The counter can be a bit of a risk because it takes slightly longer to develop than a conventional running play. Counters are more effective when they feature fast and agile backs that can switch directions quickly.

Sporting Charts explains Counter

The counter is the most common misdirection play in a running offense's arsenal. A good counter takes advantage of an overly aggressive defense by showing them a run to one direction and hoping that the defense pursues quickly to that side, leaving only a few defenders for the weak side players to block. Often, a counter can open a big hole on the back side of the play and the running back can gain significant yardage. The downside to a counter is that if the defense is not fooled, there is nowhere for the running back to go, and he can be quickly swarmed under for a loss.

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