Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flexbone-Establishing the B Back




As the triple option play evolved, defenses were forced into finding new ways to defend this new triple threat in ways that had never been done before. Enter in the technique known early on as wrong arming, but referred to in this text as block down, step down (BDSD). BDSD is a technique used by defenses that allow them to attack gap blocking schemes and veer schemes by having a defensive lineman squeeze a down block and close the gap being run to with his body and the body of the offensive player attempting to inside release. The defender, usually a linebacker, behind this defensive lineman, will then execute a scrape technique and work over the top of the down block and essentially, run a gap exchange with the defensive lineman (as shown in figure 5-1). This technique, all but killed the triple option in the mid to late 80's and early 90's. Many triple option coaches did not have an answer for this and quit running the play altogether. The main reason this technique was so effective is that the technique, by design, took away the heart and soul of the triple option offense, the fullback.


Figure 5-1 (Gap Exchange)

            The play that put the triple option back on the map was known early on as the Zone Dive (Figure 5-2). The zone dive is just what it explains, it is a dive play that is zone blocked. The basic premise of the play, is that all the offensive linemen will scoop block toward the playside, or in the case of both the playside tackle and playside guard being covered they will base block the play. The playside slot will get up field and look to block second to third level trash that may be attempting to come inside on the B back. The quarterback's job on this play is to get the football as deep as possible to the B back, then carry out the triple option fake. The backside slot will go in two step motion and carry out the pitch fake. The B back, will take the normal steps as on the triple option play, but will receive the ball deeper than normal. Getting the ball deeper, will allow the B back to read the blocks of the playside guard and tackle. The B back should hug the block of the guard and either stay on track, or cut the ball back against the grain. The B back should never allow this play to bounce wider than the normal inside veer track.


Figure 5-2 (Zone dive)

            The purpose of the zone dive is to keep the B back in the game, if the defense is playing sound football and taking the B back out of the running game using BDSD. However, there are other ways to still keep the B back involved in the run game without zone blocking. A way to get the B back the ball without zone blocking is the Give play.


Figure 5-3 (Give play)

            The give, as shown in Figure 5-3, is blocked somewhat similar to the zone dive, however, in the author’s opinion it packs a little more of a punch than the zone dive. The rules for the give play are as follows:
·         PST: Block number two on the line of scrimmage
·         PSG: Block number one on the line of scrimmage
·         C: Scoop
·         BSG: Scoop
·         BST: Scoop
·         PSWR: Stalk
·         PSSB: Fold, block first linebacker to the playside
·         BSWR: Cutoff
·         BSSB: Two step motion, run pitch course
·         B back: Lateral step, explode downhill reading the block of the playside guard, run to daylight.
·         QB: Get ball back as deep as possible to B back, hand ball off and carry out option fake (key coaching point, is do not look back)

            With the play side slot folding inside for the linebacker, everyone is accounted for. Having run both these plays at the high school level, the author has had a lot more success running the give play than the zone dive. That's not to say one is better than the other, the point behind this chapter, is to show the importance of establishing the B back in the run game. The benefits of running either play are:
·         Keeps one of the best runners on the field in the ball game, doing what they do best, running the football
·         Added with twirl motion (Figure 5-4) this play can be an easy counter play to keep the defense honest and not rotating or jumping motion
·         Keeps the defense honest in having to defend all three phases of the triple option
·         Allows for the playaction passing game to still be effective off of the triple option look
·         Allows the offense to gash the defense if they are overplaying the pitch phase of the triple option

Figure 5-4 (Give play with twirl motion)

            It is imperative that the flexbone offense, have a way to keep the B back involved in the run game. As will be shown in later chapters there are other ways to get the B back the football, however the zone dive, or the give play, are plays that keep the B back with the football, and force the defense to be honest when facing the triple option.

Duece

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Flexbone-The Base Play, The Triple Option



The Base Play-The Triple Option
The triple option is the base play in the flexbone offense. This is what the entire offense is built around. This play must go in order to have success in the flexbone offense. The unique feature of the triple option, is that it's actually three plays all rolled into one. There are two phases of the triple option involving three players and these are:

·         The dive phase
       This phase involves the B back and the Quarterback.
·         The pitch phase
       This phase involves the Quarterback and a Slotback.

The offense reads two defenders on every triple option play it runs. The first defender that is read in the triple option is known as the handoff key, or abbreviated HOK. The handoff key is the read that is associated with the dive phase of the triple option. To find the handoff key, simply look for the first level defender outside the B gap (see figure 4-1). What this means is, to look for a defender aligned outside the B gap, on the line of scrimmage. This may be a linebacker walked up to blitz, or simply a defensive lineman in his normal alignment. This is the defender the Quarterback will read to determine whether or not to give the football to the B back, or to pull the football and continue on to the second phase of the triple option.

Figure 4-1 (Handoff Key)

The defender being read in the second phase of the triple option is known as the pitch key, commonly abbreviated PK. This defender is defined as the first unblocked defender outside the handoff key. As can be seen, this rule leaves a lot to be desired, but for good reason. The reasoning is, that the play caller wants to be able to vary their perimeter blocking scheme, and this loose definition allows them to do this. A typical mistake of defensive coaches, when defending this offense is to give players assignments as to who has the dive, the Quarterback and the pitch players. Once the coach sees this, the perimeter blocking scheme can be varied to attack a player who has not been given an assignment thereby confusing the defense.  

There is a third defender the offense must know where he aligns, even though he’s not being read. This defender is termed the next most dangerous defender. What this means is, after finding the pitch key, where is the next most dangerous player in the defensive alignment that can attack an element of the triple option. This may be a pressed corner in a two deep halves coverage, or could be the free safety in a robber-type secondary scheme. This defender is easily defined by what they are not, if a defender is not responsible for covering an offensive player man-to-man, or responsible for a deep zone in coverage, then that defensive back is considered dangerous. This player must be accounted for in the triple option, as this player must be blocked in order to make the pitch phase of the triple option work.

Triple Option Philosophy
The overall philosophy of the triple option is very simple. It dates back to the idea of “keep away” that kids play on a playground in Elementary schools all across the country. If properly isolated, no 2 defenders can defense the triple option game successfully. To elaborate further, if the defensive lineman, being read, is properly isolated he should not be able to successfully play the B back or the Quarterback in the dive phase of the triple option scheme. Additionally, if a perimeter defender is properly isolated, this defender should not be able to properly defend the Quarterback or the Slotback in the pitch phase of the triple option scheme.

            The defenders being read, will be isolated by walling-off the defenders inside the isolated defender’s alignment with the blocking scheme. The defense’s run support will also need to be blocked in order to ensure that the defense cannot gain an extra man at the point of attack. Defenses, as most coaches know, have a unique way of aligning as to make this walling-off very difficult, or less than advantageous. One rule to look at when attacking defenses and schooling the option Quarterback is the NAG method. NAG simply stands for Numbers, Angles, and Grass.


           
            The numbers read is the first read that should be made when determining which side of the offense the triple option should be run to. The offense is balanced, so in order to be sound the defense should balance itself as well. As shown in figure 4-2, the base formation of the flexbone offense is balanced having 5.5 defenders to either side of the center (any player aligning on the midline of the set is counted as a half defender). The defense must also employ a balanced alignment or run the risk of not being balanced, thereby giving an advantage to the offense (see figure 4-3). Key elements to look for in the numbers read are secondary rotation. Many defenses rotate a rover or strong safety-type player to the wide side of the field against option offenses, forcing the offense to run into the boundary (don’t worry there are answers for this). This rotation unbalances the defense, making running the triple option easier away from the defensive overload.

Figure 4-2 (Balanced Defense)

Figure 4-3 (Unbalanced Defense)

            If the numbers are balanced, the next read is that of angles. The angles being referred to are blocking angles. This read does involve numbers though, and is a simple read to teach any new coach or Quarterback to the offense. What is being looked for is the lowest technique of defensive lineman (see figure 4-4), counting from the center out. In figure 4-4 the offense has a three technique aligned to its right side with a one technique aligned to the left. The one technique is a lower number, and provides for an easier block by the playside tackle when running the triple option (Figure 4-5). The defense has also given, what is commonly referred to as, a bubble to the offense’s right side. A bubble is a gap in the defense that is responsible by a second level defender (see figure 4-6). Bubbles are areas where defenses are soft, and somewhat exposed. This is where the Quarterback or offensive coordinator should choose to run the triple option.

Figure 4-4 (Defensive Linemen Techniques)

Figure 4-5 (Angles read)

Figure 4-6 (Defensive Levels)

            Now, if the numbers are equal, and the offense has no clear blocking angle advantage, the last read as to where to run the triple option is grass. Grass simply means, run it to the wide side of the field. This is where there is more space for the defense to defend. Defenses love the boundary, and often refer to the sideline as the twelfth man, so no need to run the football to where the defense has a clear advantage. When the numbers and angles reads don’t yield an answer, then run the triple option to the widest side of the field.

Identifying Defensive Structure
There are only three types of defensive structures in football. These are identified by the secondary structure. It is important to recognize what defensive structure is being faced in order to know how to attack it properly with the triple option.

             The first type of defensive structure in football is known as the eight man front (figure 4-7). It is very simple to tell what an eight man front is, and this is done by looking at the middle of the field. If the middle of the field is occupied by a free safety, the middle of the field is termed closed and is referred to by an acronym, MOFC, which stands for middle of the field closed. Regardless of whether the defense is in man coverage, or zone, this is an eight man front.

Figure 4-7 (Eight Man Front)

            The next defensive structure, is the seven man front (figure 4-8). This front can be characterized by the middle of the field being open, known as MOFO. The defense has chosen to employ two deep safeties, thereby classifying themselves into the seven man front category.

Figure (4-8 Seven Man Front)

            The last front is simple the zero front (4-9). The zero front is a front that has no safeties back deep and is in zero coverage, otherwise known as all out man to man coverage. The zero front is an indication that the defense is blitzing, which is rarely seen against the triple option, however the coaches and players do need to be aware of it.

Figure 4-9 (The Zero Front)

            Another element of defensive structure that should be noted is the box. The box is an imaginary rectangle drawn from the outside of each offensive tackle to the endzone (see figure 4-10). Whatever defenders lie within this rectangle are considered in the box. This is important when setting up the perimeter blocking scheme of the triple option.

There are no other defenses in football. On Saturday and Sunday pre-game shows the term nine man front is used, but a nine man front is a seven man front as the middle of the field is open (MOFO). This identification system allows the offense to properly organize its attack on the defense. Without knowing and understanding this structure the coach cannot properly attack the defense with the triple option, as the blocking assignments vary between the different fronts.

Figure 4-10 (The Box)


Methodology
In order to execute the triple option there must be a method of identifying certain features of a defense to be able to properly isolate the handoff key and the pitch key. A count system will be used where number one is the hand-off key, number two is defined as the pitch key, and number three is the next most dangerous defender to the side that the triple option is being run to (see figure 4-11). Once the offense knows where these three defenders are aligned, the offense can now pick an attack that will work against the defense’s alignment. Basically the offense is to read one, pitch off two, and block three, and it’s off to the races!

Figure 4-11 (Count System)

Elements of the Triple Option
The triple option has two elements coaches must understand before employing this style of offensive attack. These elements are:
·         The Crease
·         The Option Alley

            The crease is the area on the field inside of the B back’s path (see figure 4-12). Behind it, or away from the play, the offense will “wall off” the backside of the defense. Simply put the crease begins from the B gap, back, away from the play. To illustrate this, draw a line from the nose of the B back, through his aiming point on the triple option (the middle of the offensive guard), and anything inside that line should be blocked.

            The option alley, shown in figure 4-12, is the area on the perimeter of the defense between the blocks of the playside Slotback, and the playside wide receiver. It is important that the Quarterback knows that when running the triple option, upon entering this option alley, he is not to cut back and get out of this area of the football field.

Figure 4-12 (Crease/Alley)


 The Reads
The reads are the lifeblood of the triple option, and the triple option Quarterback. The Quarterback must be able to make these reads. However, the triple option Quarterback does not have to be perfect. Remember, most reading this are dealing with high school aged or younger Quarterbacks, don’t put too much on them too fast.

            One thing to do with the triple option Quarterback is to let them know that if they were to guess on the reads they would, statistically speaking, be correct on 50 percent of those reads. The coach should only ask the Quarterback to be correct on 25 percent more of those reads, leading to the number we are looking for which is 75 percent. The world of an option Quarterback goes by in an instant, so don’t expect them to be perfect. Also, when coaching an option Quarterback never get on to them, or yell at them for a misread. Always ask the Quarterback what they saw. Then explain to them what the correct read should have been. If the player fails to negotiate this read time and time again, even with remedial coaching, they should be removed from the position in favor of another Quarterback. Yelling, or berating an option Quarterback destroys their confidence (or any player for that matter) in the offense and themselves and cannot be tolerated. The reads being coached, are happening lightening fast, and some young people are just not ready for that. This comes on the coach’s shoulders to know their players and know how to put them in the best position to be successful.



            In the handoff phase of the triple option, the quarterback is to read the first level defender from the B gap out. What the Quarterback is looking at is the head and shoulders of this defender. The Quarterback's rule, when reading the handoff key, is to give the ball every time unless the handoff key attempts to tackle the B back. One mistake many coaches make, is giving the triple option Quarterback too many things to think about at once on option plays. The idea behind the unless rule is the one-way thought process. The play caller has basically made the read for the Quarterback, unless the stimulus, in this case the handoff key, does something different than the Quarterback was told. This one-way thought process is very important, especially to the young option Quarterback. This process gives the Quarterback an out by giving him a rule to adhere to every time. This allows the Quarterback to react to one thing, instead of many.

            If the Quarterback gives the football to the B back, the Quarterback should carry out his option fake into the option alley. This fake, will hold the defender assigned to the Quarterback or the C gap from falling back in and helping defend the B back. Many Quarterbacks want to look back to see if the B back got yards, or if they made the correct read, this habit must be coached out of them, as it will not keep defenders away from the B back.

            The B back, has a very simple job on the triple option play. He is to step with his playside foot at his aiming point and stay on track through the entire course of the play. If the ball is given to the B back, he is to clamp down on the ball and read the block of the playside guard. The B back should never stop and start again, he is a full speed ahead type runner, and must read the block of the guard to know which way to make his cut. If the B back is tackled, which means the Quarterback pulled the football, then he should absorb the hit as if he were running the ball in an attempt to keep the handoff key from sliding off the B back, and playing the Quarterback.



            If the Quarterback pulls the football, then the triple option has moved on to the second phase, known as the pitch phase. The pitch phase now enters the area on the field called the option alley. The Quarterback will attack the inside shoulder of the pitch key, and will follow the one-way thought process. The Quarterback's read in the pitch phase, is I'm going to keep the ball and run for a touchdown every time unless, the pitch key turns his shoulders to take me.  Again, this is a one-way thought process that allows the Quarterback to make his read quickly and either keep the football, or deliver the football to the Slotback if the pitch key takes the Quarterback.

            When running the pitch phase of the triple option, it is imperative that the Quarterback never cut back against the flow of the play. The reasoning is that the Quarterback will be running back into the flow of the defense, and will not put as much stress on the defense in doing so. The idea with the pitch phase of the triple option is to stretch the defense horizontally, by telling the Quarterback to attack the defense's flank in the following manner:
·         Hash
·         Numbers
·         Sideline
This allows for the Quarterback to essentially outrun the defense. When the Quarterback decides to keep the football, he should run to the hash, then work to the numbers, and then lastly get to the sideline. The reaction is no different if the ball is pitched to the Slotback. The slot should do exactly the same, running first through the hash, then to the numbers and on to the sideline. The key coaching point to teach the pitch phase runners is to outrun the defense and to never cut back.



Reads the Quarterback Must Master in the Triple Option
The triple option Quarterback has a set of reads he must master before he can effectively run the triple option. When teaching the reads to a young Quarterback, it is best done by telling him what the stunt is going to be, or what the reaction of the handoff key is going to be, and then telling the Quarterback the proper read of the play. This should be done utilizing a mesh drill, which will be discussed in a later. This mesh drill, at least early on in the training of the option Quarterback, should be done at walk through speed first. Once the read has been shown, the Quarterback and the B back can speed things up, but should never go live until they are proficient at running the reads against dummies.

            There are seven stunts the triple option Quarterback must master to be able to effectively run the offense. These stunts are:
·         C stunt
·         Squeeze
·         Mesh charge
·         Squat
·         Down the line
·         Cross charge/Echo stunt
·         Back to back
The responsibility lies with the coach in teaching the mechanics of mastering each read. The idea here is to take each read, work the read until the Quarterback has mastered the read, and then move on to the next read. To teach these reads the coach needs to know what these stunts are, and why the defense is attacking in this manner. Once these factors are known, then the read can be taught and mastered.

            The C stunt (figure 4-13) is when a player lined up in a four or a four-eye makes a deliberate move to take the B gap. This is basically a defensive linemen pinching down inside his alignment to take away the B gap. The Quarterback can recognizes this stunt if a team commonly utilizes a five technique and moves this player into a four technique or a four-eye technique when facing the triple option. Another key for the Quarterback is if the defender tilts or angles inward, thereby trying to gain an advantage in taking away the dive portion of the triple option. The read here for the Quarterback is to pull the football.

Figure 4-13 (C stunt)

            The squeeze stunt (figure 4-14) is when a player lined up in a 5 technique squeezes with his shoulder pads to take the B gap. This player will not turn his shoulders or headgear down inside to tackle the B back, but will rather squeeze the B gap staying square to the line of scrimmage in an attempt to play both the B back and the Quarterback. This is an ineffective stunt for the defense to attempt, as the handoff key cannot effectively stop the B gap by squeezing, so therefore the Quarterback should give the football to the B back.

Figure 4-14 (Squeeze stunt)

            The next stunt that the Quarterback must master is the mesh charge (figure 4-15). This is where a player appears to be on a C stunt, but then pulls up to take the Quarterback instead. This read can be made by reading the angle of the headgear of the handoff key. The headgear will not come as hard and flat down the line as it does on the C stunt. The rule here is to go back to the original read in the triple option, and that is to give the ball every time unless the handoff key comes down the line of scrimmage to tackle the B back. The defender, in executing the mesh charge will not come down the line of scrimmage, or if he does, it will not be as hard and as deliberate as the C stunt. This is one of the tougher stunts to master, especially if the defense is good at doing it. The key here to tell the Quarterback to go to one of his fail-safes when in doubt...give the football. This will give the Quarterback an out until either he can master the read, or the play caller can attack the stunting defender in a different manner with the offense, which will be discussed in a later section.

Figure 4-15 (Mesh charge)

            A squat stunt is a largely ineffective stunt used by defenses to attempt to wait until the Quarterback has made his read, and then jump the read. As shown in figure 4-16, the handoff key will simply sit on the line of scrimmage and wait to see the reaction by the Quarterback and will then either attempt to fall back in on the B back, if the ball was given, or play the Quarterback if the ball was pulled. The Quarterback should give the football in this case as the handoff key has no chance in stopping the dive, since the read has made no attempt to tackle the B back.

Figure 4-16 (Squat stunt)

            The down the line stunt, is a tough stunt to work against, especially if the offensive tackles are not adept to getting out from under these stunts. The defender, as shown in figure 4-17 is attempting to close the B gap with the body of both themselves and the offensive tackle. A key to recognizing the stunt is that the handoff key will be tangled with the offensive tackle, because the handoff key is taught to get his hands on the blocker and mash him down into the B gap. The defender is attempting to cloudy the read of the Quarterback. The other key to seeing this stunt is that the Quarterback will not see the defender's ear hole on his helmet. This is due, once again, to the defender being concerned with pushing the blocker into the gap, rather than making and all-out move to tackle the B back. The read here is to give the football, and the Quarterback has little other part in making this play go against this particular stunt. The key here, when seeing this stunt, is to make sure the offensive tackle is getting skinny and ripping underneath the handoff key, and that the B back is hugging the double team block by the playside guard.

Figure 4-17 (Down the line stunt)

            The cross charge, or echo stunt (figure 4-18) as some coaches call it, is a tough stunt to master as well. Some coaches prefer the Quarterback to read their way out of this situation by reading the stacked linebacker and defensive lineman. The author has had little success with this manner of handling the echo stunt. The basis of the stunt is that the handoff key will execute a squat stunt and then a linebacker will blitz inside of him in an attempt to take away the B back. If the coach prefers to teach the Quarterback to read the stunt, then the read here is to pull the ball and pitch off the defensive lineman as the two defenders have effectively changed their roles in the defense. The author’s preference is to let the blocking scheme handle this situation. The playside tackle should block the blitzing linebacker and the football should be given to the B back. There is no right or wrong way to teach this read, the idea here is that the Quarterback has a way to recognize the stunt, and then read his way out of the stunt.

Figure 4-18 (Cross charge/Echo Stunt)

            The last stunt that the Quarterback must master is shown in figure 4-19, and is known as the back-to-back stunt or the blood stunt. The blood stunt is where the handoff key executes a C stunt and comes down hard and fast to take the B back. Right behind or next to the handoff key is the pitch key, and they are coming down the line hard and fast in an attempt to hit the Quarterback as he exits the mesh with the B back. This is a particularly tough stunt to master, but it is attacked by teaching the Quarterback to recognize the stunt, and then executing what many option coaches call the sit and pitch. To recognize the stunt, the Quarterback should note the proximity and relationship of the handoff key and the pitch key. The Quarterback should audible danger when he sees this, which alerts the Slotbacks that they needed to be ready for a very quick pitch. The proximity of the pitch key to the handoff key is not the only item the Quarterback should be concerned with, the other thing that must be read is the stance of the pitch key. If the pitch key is in a crouched position, much like that of a wide receiver stance with staggered feet, then the Quarterback can just about bet he's fixing to get a blood stunt. However, if the pitch key's shoulders are square to the line of scrimmage, and the feet are not staggered, the Quarterback need not make the danger call, as the pitch key is not appearing to make an attempt at executing the blood stunt. These pre-snap keys are important clues to mastering stunts, and should be noted when teaching the reads at walk-through pace. In the case of the blood stunt, the Quarterback should pull the football and immediately pitch the football off the mesh. This puts the defense at a disadvantage because the two isolated defenders have declared their intentions and the offense has had ample time to read the run support and effectively block the perimeter. If not coached properly, the blood stunt can take its toll on the option Quarterback, as most pitch keys in this situation are taught to punish the Quarterback even if he pitches the football. Teaching the Quarterback to absorb the hit after pitching the football, will go a long way in aiding the Quarterback to live to fight another day.

Figure 4-19 (Back to back)

Blocking Schemes-Offensive Line
No matter what offense is utilized, a good mark of any offensive mind is the ability to run the same play a multitude of ways. Running the same play with two different blocking schemes allows the offense to put the defense in a bind. The two methods to block the triple option with the offensive line are the Veer Scheme, and the Loop Scheme.

            The veer scheme is one of the most common triple option blocking schemes. The idea here is simple, the offensive tackle will release inside the handoff key and block a linebacker, usually the first linebacker to the playside. Here is a sample of a typical veer scheme rule blocking sheet:
·         PST: Inside gap, play side linebacker, backside linebacker (you will block a four-eye).
·         PSG: Base (inside, over, outside or nearest linebacker) to “ace” with the center.
·         C: Scoop playside gap to “ace”.
·         BSG: Scoop
·         BST: Scoop

The blocking scheme is shown against a 4-4 defense in figure 4-20. The playside tackle veer releases to the inside linebacker and will block him if he can. If not, the tackle will block the backside linebacker or the near safety. The offense is running the ball at a one technique, so the playside guard will block down inside to the nose guard with the center scoop blocking the playside A gap. This puts the offense with a double team on the nose guard. All the other linemen backside of the center, will scoop block to the playside. It should be noted that the term scoop block means to block any threat from the nose of one offensive linemen to the next offensive linemen in the direction of the play. For instance, the backside tackle is scooping to a three technique, which would lie in the area from the backside tackle's nose to the playside guard's nose, meaning the tackle will block three technique.

Figure 4-20 (Veer scheme)

            Not all defenses are set up to allow the offense to run the veer scheme. A common defense that does not allow for the veer scheme is the front commonly known as the 50 defense, or better defined as the 5-2. The 50 defense puts the veer scheme in a problematic situation as witnessed in figure 4-21. There is nobody assigned to block the safety to the playside, so the triple option is thereby nullified. An effective answer to the 50 defense, is the loop scheme.  The rules for the loop scheme are illustrated in figure 4-22, and the rules are listed below.

Figure 4-21 (Veer scheme vs. 50 defense)

Figure 4-22 (Loop scheme vs. a 50 defense)

·         PST: Release outside block play side linebacker to near safety
·         PSG: Base (inside, over, outside or nearest linebacker).
·         C: Scoop playside gap.
·         BSG: Scoop
·         BST: Scoop

            As shown in figure 4-22, both the playside guard and playside tackle will handle blocking the playside linebacker, which allows the playside Slotback to go and block the safety. There are some drawbacks to this scheme however. The center and backside guard must be able to effectively neutralize the opponent's nose guard. If they cannot the playside safety, when running inside veer, must be handled with the passing game, which will be discussed in a later chapter. This is not recommended, as it severely limits the offenses ability to utilize its base play in attacking the defense.

Blocking Schemes- Blocking the Perimeter
Being able to successfully block the perimeter of a defense is what makes the pitch phase of the triple option go. There are several schemes to block the perimeter, all of which are tied directly to how the interior of the defense has been blocked. The schemes that can be utilized when blocking the perimeter of a defense in the triple option are:
·         Seal
·         Crack
·         Arc
·         Switch
           
            Seal blocking and crack blocking are utilized with the Veer blocking scheme. A seal block is also commonly referred to as a load block by some coaches’, however the author chooses the term seal. The reason is twofold, first load to the author, is a term meaning to block the handoff key. Secondly the playside slot is doing exactly what the blocks says it is, they are sealing the defense to the inside so that the defenders who have crossed the crease cannot pursue into the option alley. Looking back at figure 4-20, the playside slot will release up field and attempt to block the first linebacker to the playside. Against the 4-4, this is the inside linebacker. The reason for this scheme is that well coached gap exchange principles make the offensive tackle's block ineffective in getting to the playside linebacker (see figure 4-23-this is known as gap exchange to defensive coaches). The offense needs a way to handle this, as the offensive tackle is taught not to chase defenders into the option alley. So the playside tackle would turn back and block either the backside linebacker or climb to block the free safety. The playside slot would then block the scraping linebacker, thereby sealing him off from getting into the option alley. If this linebacker did not scrape, which would allow him to be blocked by the playside tackle, then the playside slot would work up to the near safety, as shown in figure 4-24. The playside wide receiver in the seal scheme will stalk block the corner over him.

Figure 4-23 (Gap exchange)

Figure 4-24 (No gap exchange)

            Crack blocking is the same for all the players, except the playside wide receiver. A good example is shown in figure 4-25, against the 4-3 defense. The rule for the wide receiver is to crack block the first defender aligned inside of the wide receiver's alignment. In this case he should aim to go to the outside linebacker, however upon seeing the playside slot block this linebacker, the wide receiver would work to the next level defender which would put him on the near safety. Here the offense would be reading the defensive end as the handoff key, and pitching off the corner. This is a good change-up to a deep halves secondary playing aggressive cornerback technique to defend the triple option.

Figure 4-25 (Crack scheme vs. 4-3)

            The arc and switch schemes can be coupled with either veer or loop blocking, however they are the only scheme that can be run if offensive line is using the loop blocking scheme. Arc blocking is shown in figure 4-26 vs. a 4-3 defense. In this scheme, the playside slot is to arc release and block the near safety, while the playside wide receiver will stalk the cornerback over him.

Figure 4-26 (Arc vs. 4-3)

            Switch blocking (figure 4-27), implies just what it says, the playside slot and playside wide receiver will switch assignments. The slot will still arc release, but will now go and block the cornerback as the wide receiver executes what is known as a push crack. A push crack block is where the wide receiver pushes vertical off the line of scrimmage while reading the near safety. Once this safety commits to the run, he then plants, and drives to a point to intercept the path of the safety. This is another good scheme to run against aggressive cornerback play, but can also help when the safeties are doing a good job running the alley, making the slot's block difficult.

Figure 4-27 (Switch vs. 4-3)

Implementing Blocking Schemes
The question that looms for the coach looking to teach the flexbone offense is how are these blocking schemes taught and implemented? There are two schools of thought here:
·         Have the players read the run support structure of the defense and make calls/audibles to the proper blocking scheme.
·         Have the coach call the blocking scheme in with the play.
The author prefers method number two. For those that watch a lot the Naval Academy of Georgia Tech. University, the first option will be seen. Whatever the coach feels fits their needs, and whatever can be coached are the schemes that should be run. The author has always felt, that there are enough distraction in the mind of a high-schooler, and in order to remove any doubt from their minds when choosing blocking schemes, the author has always called them in with the play. This reduces any mishaps that may occur through miscommunication. So when does the coach call what?

            The seal and crack schemes are more effective against eight man fronts. This is due mostly to the angle the playside slot has on the playside linebacker. Also, a lot of seven man fronts provide too many players to block in the option alley if utilizing the seal or crack schemes. The arc and switch schemes are used primarily against seven man fronts in order to handle the extra run support player. However all of the schemes will work against the seven man fronts. The key to look at when facing the seven man front is the matchups the blocking scheme is going to present. For instance, look at figure 4-28; in this illustration the offense is running the veer/seal scheme against the 4-3 defense. On paper everyone is blocked, the defensive end is the handoff key, and the safety is the pitch key. This works, but has one glaring flaw, the scheme is asking a slot to block a linebacker, which in many cases is a mismatch. The better scheme here would be to block the safety with the slot (arc) or the wide receiver (switch). This leaves two of the defenses' best defenders unblocked, which is exactly what, the triple option coach wants. Remember, don't block a defender if it’s not necessary, it is better to read them. Now, say the play of the corner in the same defense as shown in figure 4-28 is making the playside wide receiver's or playside slot's block's too difficult. A good switch would be to run the crack blocking scheme against that defense as shown in figure 4-27. This also presents an issue for the outside linebacker in that if the arc/switch scheme has been run all game, then switch to the crack scheme, this player is not expecting to be blocked. The play caller has now effectively changed the way the defense has to react to the triple option, and more than likely this is a way they have not practiced all week. The play caller now has the defense right where they want them, so read em' and run!

Figure 4-28 (Veer vs. 4-3)

(Just a side note here, I'm having some weird things happen when I copy and past my stuff from Word into Blogger.  If anyone has any tips, please email me at footballislifeblog@yahoo.com, Thanks!)

Duece