TC U O pt io n Attack
n behalf of Texas Christian University, Head Coach Gary Patterson, and the entire offensive coaching staff, I would like to say that it is a great honor and privilege to be included as a contributing member to the 2003 AFCA Summer Manual. Background Throughout the course of my coaching career, I have been fortunate enough to have extensive exposure to the option from several great football minds. This exposure began with my father who worked under Bill Yeoman at the University of Houston during the time that the split back veer was first designed and introduced into college football. I was next allowed the privilege of working for 11 years under the tutelage of Dennis Franchione (currently the head coach at Texas A&M University) who has successfully used the option at seven different schools. It is necessary that I mention these names to you because it is essentially many of their ideas that I have adopted and am sharing with you today. Why Option There are four main reasons that I believe in the option and have chosen it to be a staple of TCU’s offensive attack. First of all, it is a unique play. It is something that allows our offense to be different, and it forces the defense to prepare for something that they do not see every week. Next, the option provides us a simple way to deal with a blitzing defense. The option has become an active part of our blitz menu and, as a result, has greatly reduced the amount of blitzes that we see. Third, it forces a defense to play assignment-oriented football on every snap. Finally, it allows us a way to attack the perimeter while eliminating one critical block at the point of attack. Which Option Throughout my career and continuing here at TCU, I have been a big believer in the double option. Here at TCU, we have implemented a way to build the double option so that it complements our inside zone, another staple of our offense. It is also a play that does not require as demanding a time investment as the other forms of the option, such as the inside veer. Thus, we can avoid becoming one-dimensional and can still focus on developing the other facets of our offense.
Lead Option While there are different forms of the double option (loaded option), and while these different forms can be run out of many formations, backfield sets and motions, the focus of this article will be on running the Lead Option out of a one-back, four-wide out, balanced formation. When I talk about the Lead Option, I am referring to the double option (quarterback pitch or keep) where we read the five-technique as our pitch key. We run this play for two primary reasons. First, it provides us a way to diversify our offense with play that complements our inside zone scheme. Second, the Lead Option allows us to attack the perimeter without blocking the five-technique, which is generally one of the defense’s better players. Teaching the Lead Option
Quarterback: To run the Lead Option, we ask our quarterback to first identify the pitch key. It is crucial that he understands he is only to pitch the ball off of this defender. Pitching off of another defender can compromise the play and can lead to negative yardage. An example of this would be pitching off of a linebacker who has run through a gap. This would allow the pitch key, who is unblocked, to run free and prematurely tackle the pitch man behind the line of scrimmage. The next point of emphasis for the quarterback is his footwork. He will reverse out taking his first steps (working off the clock) at six o’clock, seven o’clock and pivot (the first two steps are identical to our inside zone play). The pivot should bring the shoulder pads around until they are squared to the pitch key. Now the quarterback should attack, using the pitch key’s inside shoulder as his aiming point. By attacking the inside shoulder, we are forcing the pitch key to make a decision to take either the quarterback or the pitch. The quarterback must be prepared to run the football if the five-technique has committed himself to the quarterback, then the quarterback will attack hard enough to
waste the defensive end and then execute a stop-step-pitch technique to deal the ball. Note: Many coaches are uncomfortable with the idea of the quarterback turning his back on the pitch key on his first two steps, because several defenses use a hard charging defensive end. Fronting out is certainly a viable option, however, we believe that there is a great benefit to reversing out. It freezes the playside linebacker for a count and allows the playside offensive tackle a better chance to secure this block. For this reason, we have no problem spending a little extra prep time allowing the quarterback to learn how to react to the hard charging defensive end. Tailback: The tailback’s option assignments and rules are fairly simple. His alignment for this play should be toes at seven yards deep. This will ultimately make his transition into the pitch relationship, which we identify as “phase,” become a natural fit. The tailback’s first step will be a jab step away. In conjunction with the quarterback’s first two steps, this will contribute to freezing the playside linebacker because it resembles our inside zone. The tailback’s eyes should be on the pitch key. This will allow him to identify a hard charging defensive end and alert the quarterback by giving him a “Quick, Quick” call. The tailback should now work to get into phase. We believe this relationship should be about four yards deep and four yards in front of the quarterback. By keeping this relationship, it allows him to square his shoulders after receiving the pitch, and this puts him in a better position to use his athletic ability as he comes in contact with defenders. After identifying the pitch key’s intentions, the tailback’s eyes must immediately go to the quarterback. Before the tailback even entertains the thought of running the football, he absolutely must secure the pitch. This is a huge point of emphasis for us, and we teach securing the pitch through the use of the look-catch-tuck principles.
The tailback must look at the quarterback and the football. He will then follow it with his eyes as he executes the catch and sees it into the tuck position. Basic ball mechanics dictate placement in the outside arm to achieve greatest ball security. After securing the ball, the tailback’s final duty is to communicate a “Go, Go, Go” call to alert his downfield blockers. Play Side Wide Receivers: The rules for the playside wide receivers are few and simple. The wide receivers will take normal splits. In our offense, that puts No. 1 on the top of the numbers and No. 2 then splits the distance between No. 1 and the offensive tackle. Both playside wide receivers are responsible for blocking man on. At the snap, they will come off the line of scrimmage, under control, and fit the outside number while keeping pad level low. Ideally, we want them to seal these defenders to the inside and stay engaged with their blocks. This should allow for the tailback to have a clear path to the perimeter and down the sideline. Back-side Wide Receivers: Both backside wide receivers will assume normal alignment rules. These rules again place No. 1 on the top of the numbers and No. 2 splitting the distance between No. 1 and the offensive tackle. On the snap, both men will attack downfield taking an angle that will allow them to gain leverage and cut off the backside secondary pursuit. We then have them execute a cut-block to get their man on the ground. Offensive Line Play-side Tackle: Three-foot split from the guard. Dip, rip, and take appropriate angle to seal playside linebacker. Play-side Guard: Two-foot split from center. Work to secure playside gap to linebacker level. Center: Work to secure playside gap to linebacker level. Back-side Guard: Two-foot split from center. Work to secure playside gap to linebacker level.
Back-side Tackle: Three-foot split from the guard. Work to secure playside gap to linebacker level. Note: We have the ability to run this play with linemen in a two or three point stance. Variations
If the playside No. 2 wide receiver is uncovered, we can use a “Cruise” technique. In this technique, the No. 2 wide receiver must first identify the inside linebacker. He will then come off the ball, with his shoulders square, and check the playside linebacker. If he is a quick-scrape linebacker, the wide receiver will engage him, allowing the playside tackle to get flat and take the free safety. If, however, the playside tackle can seal the linebacker, then the wide receiver will cruise to the free safety. Conclusion Option football has always played an important role in our offensive philosophy. I have shared with you just one simple concept on how and why we utilize the option in our offensive attack here at TCU. Hopefully, it contains at least one idea or detail that you may implement within your own system to increase your chances at success. In closing, I would again like to thank the AFCA for allowing me this opportunity to share some of my ideas with the rest of the football coaching community. If there are any questions unanswered, please feel free to contact us, and best of luck to all of you in your 2003 season.
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