Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Lead vs Load

I recently tried to explain the difference between the Lead Option and the Load Option. Both are a double-option play but aren't at all the same. Well, I guess they kind of do look the same except for the responsibilities of a few players. Most of the linemen block the same for both plays... and the backside HB is still the pitch back. The difference shows up in who on the defense is sealed inside and who is the pitch key. Each Play is diagrammed below.

As you can see, in Lead Option, the ps HB is getting second-level and sealing off inside LB pusuit. The TE arcs just like OSV and the Z stalks. The QB and pitch back run it just like Speed Option. Lead Option becomes especially handy versus teams that are playing games Xing-up the DE and OLB. If you're running outside Veer and the DE steps out to contain and the OLB steps down into "C" gap, your QB is gonna get a false "give" read and the dive HB is going to start hating the OSV in a hurry. Lead Option helps take care of the "C" gap player and still get the ball on the perimeter.

In Load Option, the ps HB is sealing a DE which is probably trying to cause trouble by squeezing hard or crashing. The TE becomes the seal for ILB pursuit and is available to double-team the DT should the psT call for it (vs. a 5 tech). In this diagram, I have the Z releasing inside to block the FS and making the CB the pitch read. I believe this times-up the Z's block better with the arrival of the QB or HB on the option. However, you can reverse this without any trouble. If you had a strong safety walked-up, for instance, you would probably go ahead and stalk the CB and pitch off the SS due to the angles being better (and you don't want to give the Z a 4-count stalk to execute, either.) I think the Load Option isn't as popular as it was "back in the day" because the "load" block itself became illegal. A halfback can no longer directly throw at a defensive player's legs and you'll see just that in many older films. The block is still legal in college and is used a lot on the perimeter by just about any option team you can think of. Today, the HB has the harder job of having to log the DE while maintaining contact above the waist.

I hope this helps clear up some things concerning the differences between these two supplemental plays to the inside and outside veer.

Coach Smith