Thursday, December 20, 2007

Calling Plays in an Option Offense

I mentioned in a previous post that when I first starting calling plays, I was convinced that you needed a minimum of 3 things offensively in order to be successful:

1.  An off-tackle play of some sort good enough to make the defense over-commit in order to stop it.

2.  A counter play to take advantage of a defensive adjustment dealing with the front 7.

3.  A play action pass to take advantage of a defensive adjustment with respect to the 4 defensive backs.

While this was a somewhat simplified view of running an offense, I still feel the overall premise is sound on any level.


PART ONE: Off- Tackle

The great thing about some type of option being your "bread and butter" off-tackle play is the fact that it is really 2 or 3 plays in one (2 if a double option or 3 if its a triple option.)  Let's choose the Inside Veer (ISV for short) as our main off-tackle play.  Depending on the reaction of the defensive reads, the ball may go off the guard with the dive back, off tackle with a QB keep, or around the end if the ball is pitched. 



The diagram above is a generic Flex formation ISV right.  The football might end up in the FB's hands, the QB's hands, or the WB's hands.  The PsDT is the dive read and the PsDE is the pitch read in a traditional 52 defense ('Scuse me...  the 3-4 defense for you younger coaches!)

The PsG and PsTk release to psLB while the C and BsG Scoop the NG to BsLB.  The BsTk cuts-off Bs B gap then goes second/third level.  The PsWR has #1 and the PsWB has #2 in the base perimeter blocking scheme.  The BsWR releases to the middle cutting-off whoever tries to cross his face.


In the screen captures below from Navy's great win vs. Notre Dame , the Midshipmen are using a modified blocking scheme. 


Navy's Tight Slot Set

The WR's have moved down to what I call the Nasty Set (recalling the old Nasty Slot Set). 


 Backfield Paths for the FB, QB, and WB

The PsWR's block has been adjusted so that he is now responsible for cracking down on the fast-flow ILB.  I have used the word "Seal" to tag this adjustment in the past.  The PsTk is doing what we've called a "round" or "loop" release.  I'm using the term "Loop" for the tackle releasing not only outside the DT, but also the DE as well.  He will end up blocking the SS. 


Blocking Paths 

At the high school level, vs. a 4-I DT we sometimes give a "Round" call for him to release outside the DT (but still inside the DE) as his route to the PsLB (or SS if the PsLB isn't there to be blocked.)  Again, I'm calling the technique that Navy employs a "Loop."

In the shot below, the QB has pulled the ball due to the DT pinching.  In fact, the DT is "squeezing" down on the PsTk and keeping him from getting upfield.  It is just as well, as the PsLB is scraping hard C to D gap.  This is why the formation was tightened down - to allow the WR the ability to seal the LB.


Dive Read, Pitch Read, and Looping Tackle

01Nasty-VeerRight-Loop(Dive Read Pinches)-02

Dive Read pinches

01Nasty-VeerRight-Loop(Pitch Read Collapses)-03

Pitch Read takes QB - ball is pitched


WB has ball and is getting North and South


WB accelerates through traffic for a big gain

Notre Dame's 2 weeks of defensive preparation are rendered useless by a simple change in formation and a built-in adjustment to the perimeter blocking. 

By running fewer plays but knowing how to block them against a host of defensive schemes, Navy is on track to pull the upset and end the losing streak to N.D.


PART TWO: The Counter

Whether its to slow down pursuit, take advantage of an unsound secondary rotation, or simply as a change of pace, the Counter-Option is one way to do it.


The play starts with "Twirl" motion (PsHB motions away from the play before coming back (to the left in this case.) The FB dives and fills for the pulling guard and the QB opens right - faking the ball to the FB before turning back to the left and acquiring the Pitch Read, the left DE.


Everything looks the same...

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(Backfield Action)-01

My attempt to show the backfield action! 

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(Pitch Read)-01 

The DE will be the pitch read.

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(Pulling Guard)-01

The pulling RtG will try to seal the ILB. 

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(Pulling Guard)-02

The play is underway... notice the LB's and secondary are frozen

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(Pitch Read Collapses)-03

In the case of this particular play, the N.D. linebacker does it right - he stays at home then sniffs out the play.  The pulling RtG takes a slightly bad angle and instead of sealing the LB, he lets him cross his face...  almost resulting in a loss. 

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft(LB Crosses Guards Face)-04

The LB has crossed the RtG's face.  The guard has no choice now except to try and wash the LB upfield.

But the wingback proves the wisdom of Tony DeMao's phrase, "Getting Speed in Space..." he makes a nifty cut and breaks the play for a 10+ yard gain.


Below is the entire sequence again.

02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft-01 02Nasty-CntrOptionLeft-02

Backfield fake right- freezing the LBs and secondary


The QB has faked away from the pitch read... so even thought the DE is charging him, the QB has time to make a good decision.


The ball is pitched...  The pulling Guard knows the LB has beaten him


This not being the Wingback's first "rodeo," he jukes the LB and cuts back up inside.


The Wingback is heading North and South on his way to a another big gain.

Next time...

PART THREE: Play Action Passing


Chiclet said...

Coach I have a question about your offense and the possibility of possibly having a dual quarterback backfield.

Say for example you have two quality running quarterbacks, both with decent arm strength and accuracy and both with a medium level of athleticism and size to be able to put a block on a defensive player. You could run that same triple option counter play that you last showed Navy doing but your half back would in turn be a second quarterback. The first lead blocker would be a running back to keep the defense guessing and to knock them on their heels when they see the counter take effect.

When the 1st quarterback snaps the ball he fakes right and then proceeds with the option to the left side of the field making sure he has plenty of seperation from himself and the defense and from his 2nd quarterback. As the first defensive player gets to him, he laterals the football back to his second quarterback who in turn throws down field to one of 2-3 recievers.

If the play fails and he sees that there is no option of the pass, you still have a quality running quarterback to open up the run and take a few yards down field to turn nothing into something.

I feel like the possibilities of fake passes and runs would be endless with a second quarterback in the mix as opposed to a second running back all the time.

I'm also not saying that this should be the play scheme on every down, but to throw it in the mix on 1 of every 4 plays, I feel that it could make an incredibly hard to defend offense, even harder.

Steve said...

On occasion I've seen teams move the 1st string QB to Wideout for a series and throw him the ball... both to set up a double-pass later and to get some film on the kid at receiver as well as QB. So the idea of using 2 QB's is not unheard of. Spurier alternated them for a season when he was at Florida... so he colud always have one at his side to "coach up" if he saw something about the defense he wanted to exploit right away. I'm not sure you would ever see 2 QBs in the on the field at the same time for more than a few plays at a time.

You did, however, remind me of how we did use our 2nd string QB a few times when I was at Middlesboro. We lined him up as a Wingback and ran a little trapped "Veer reverse" with a pitch. If you ever could get the sucker to pitch the ball, it was a sure touchdown.

I'll put a post about it up on Veersite in the next day or so.


Chiclet said...

Cool, I'd be interested to see exactly what you ran.

I'm scared that there's going to be too much negativity towards Paul Johnson after his first year, if his offense doesn't succeed right off the bat. It's the kind of offense that is going to be brand new to the majority of these kids and I feel like it's going to take time for them to mold to it.

I was just thinking though that the two quarterback option could be a possibility for GT now that they've recruited in Jaybo Shaw, an excellent running quarterback, and they've already had Nesbitt who is equally as quality a runner. Eventually college coaches in the ACC are going to figure out this offense right?

Steve said...

I'm not sure what the other ACC schools can do concerning the offense. Weis and the staff at N.D. had an open date... 2 weeks in order to prepare to stop Navy and the option. If you look at a few previous posts, I have an excerpt (hell, the whole thing really) of Coach Wyatt's ( of the easy way Navy countered ND's defensive adjustments. In fact, if a defense gets too preoccupied trying to get cute and mess up option reads, they leave themselves unable to stop stuff like simple base-blocked dives, traps, and short passes. There's an old saying among option coaches concerning when you need to use the option or it's supplementary plays: "Easy to Read - Hard to Block... Hard to Read - Easy to Block." Don't worry, Johnson has always shown an improvement the first year after showing up at a program. GT will not be an exception.