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Chargers plan to use fewer shotgun snaps in 2015

Chargers running back Branden Oliver said getting handoffs with the quarterback behind center provides an advantage. John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO – Expect the San Diego Chargers to use fewer shotgun snaps and work more from under center in the upcoming season.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chargers took the third-most shotgun snaps last season at 752 (75 percent), trailing only the Philadelphia Eagles (941 snaps) and the Miami Dolphins (873 snaps).

In an effort to create more balance on offense and expand the running game, Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said quarterback Philip Rivers will be under center more this season.

The Chargers averaged just 3.43 yards per carry in 2014, second-worst in the NFL.

In San Diego’s first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Chargers were under center for 35 of the team’s 61 offensive snaps (57 percent).

“We lived in the shotgun last year, and it was something we said in the offseason that we wanted to play more under center,” McCoy said. “It’s not as easy for the defense, and there’s only so much you can do in the gun running-game wise. You have a lot more flexibility, and they can’t tell as much what direction you’re going when you’re under center.

“And I think with our personnel and the way we want to play with our tight ends and personnel groupings this year, it might be a little different than we’ve done in the past.”

Second-year pro Branden Oliver said playing more snaps under center helps him as a running back.

“That’s the original way football has been played since it was invented,” Oliver said. “So as a running back, you always look forward to that. It’s good at times to run and gun, too. But it’s always nice to get in the backfield and be under center.”

McCoy said one of the reasons the Chargers used shotgun predominantly last year was to allow Rivers to get a better read on what defenses were doing because it’s harder for defenses to disguise with an offense using shotgun and an empty backfield.

McCoy said how much the Chargers use the shotgun this year will change week to week, depending on matchups.

“We’re going to see a team and we want to run the ball more in two-backs more, we’ll be in two-back sets,” McCoy said. “If we want to spread teams out to get a six-man box and maybe eliminate someone to get a bigger guy off of the field and play against a smaller defense, we’ll do that.

“We’re going to change from week to week."