By Greg Webster, Offensive Coordinator
The most important individual to any option attack is the man under center. He will be the individual that will make the offense click. He is the field commander, he is the general. He must be sound in his technique, assignment knowledge, reads and he has to always want to have the ball in his hands. When recruiting an option quarterback or developing one at the high school level it is important to measure the intangibles of that individual. Is he a leader, physically tough and is he mean? Will he have the intestinal fortitude both on and off the field to make the difficult decisions? The quarterback in the triple option attack cannot be a game manager. He must be a playmaker with the ball in his hands and the answer man to the team.
When initially teaching the offense to any quarterback, one must always start with the philosophy and perimeter counting system. This is the basis for our option attack and the quarterback must know and understand it. We preach to our quarterbacks the idea of numbers, grass and angles. Numbers – run to where we have the numbers advantage; grass – attack the alley never attack a man; angles – create advantageous blocking angles on the perimeter. It is important that the quarterback understands our philosophy and perimeter count system so that he can put us in the best position to succeed.
It is of utmost importance to install an attack mindset to the quarterback. We call the play, we set the perimeter and we set the tone. The defense will align based off of our formation and will play based off of our tempo. The quarterback must have this mindset. He must be the man who sets the tone for our offense and leads the attack verses the opponent’s defense. He must think of the defense as bodies on the perimeter, apply our count system and attack.
Like any quarterback in any offense, the quarterback must always be aware of his surroundings. As he walks up to the line of scrimmage, he must lighthouse the defense and know:
* Down and Distance
* Time on the play clock/game clock
* Defense Alignment
* Defensive Techniques
* Perimeter Count to both sides (can we audible based off a number of advantage?)
It is especially important for the quarterback to know and understand all of these variables when it comes to our audible system. We will give the quarterback as much freedom as he can handle to check plays at the line of scrimmage. This enables us to get into the best play possible based off our philosophy of numbers, grass and angles. None of this is possible, however, if the quarterback is not aware of the game situation and defense as he approaches the line of scrimmage.
Stance and Exchange
With the quarterback’s stance we teach a narrow base (inside the framework of the center) with the weight on the balls of his feet. His feet are slightly pigeon toed which enables him to burst out of the exchange. He will have his mental weight on his drive foot. For example, if we are running a play to the right, the quarterback will think of loading his weight and driving off of his left foot out of the exchange. When coming under center, his throwing hand will be wrist deep with the fingers spread naturally while his non-throwing hand comes under and joins at the thumb’s natural groove. He will have a slight bend in the elbow of his throwing arm, his knees will be bent, and his hips sunk; Z’s in the hips, knees and ankles.
As the ball is snapped he will apply pressure with his bottom hand and he will push the top hand into the bottom palm. The center’s feet will be slightly wider than shoulder width to allow the quarterback’s feet to be inside of the center’s. As the ball is snapped the quarterback will apply pressure out and up on the center’s butt with the heel of his bottom hand and ride with his top hand. As the center snaps and steps, the quarterback will ride the center and move his hands forward as his non-throwing hand closes on the football. It is essential that the center’s back stays flat at the same height that he initially began.
Once the quarterback possesses the football, he can execute the proper series technique. A good teaching aid to ensure that the quarterback has a narrow stance when under center is the use of a PVC pipe box. That is, when executing any quarterback center exchange in pre-practice or during certain drills throughout practice where a full offensive line is not present. This also helps for the quarterback to get away from the line of scrimmage and get the ball as deep to the fullback as possible.
Reach Ride and Execution of the Dive Read
When running the inside veer we have an inside track with the fullback and a toe replace heel step with the quarterback. If we are running veer to the right the quarterback’s left toe will replace his right heel and the back of his heels will be in-line with the original foot placement of the center while the ball is on the inside leg of the playside guard. To drill this during pre-practice, have the center face the sideline with his playside foot directly on the goal line. When the quarterback disconnects from the center, the back of his heels should align with the goal line.
When executing the insider veer steps, the quarterback must get away from the line of scrimmage and get the ball as deep to the fullback as possible. The deeper the ball is to the fullback, the longer the quarterback can ride the fullback into the line of scrimmage. This will become important when we discuss key manipulation by the quarterback. The quarterback’s hands must beat his feet (use a medicine ball to quicken his hands), they must be a hip level and his elbows are fully extended.
Once the quarterback reaches his hands back and the ball is placed in the fullback’s pocket, he will now ride the fullback into the line of scrimmage. Before we break down the ride phase, it is important to understand the pre-snap thought process as he approaches the line of scrimmage. As previously noted, the quarterback must know the game situation as well as the defensive techniques and perimeter count. Once the quarterback understands the situation and has counted the perimeter, he will now determine the body language of the defender’s on the perimeter. This will allow him to have a pre-snap plan of weather to give or keep the ball during the ride phase. For example, how tight is the key? What foot is up? Is his weight forward of back? Is he titled or square to the line of scrimmage? What has this key been doing throughout the course of the game? In film study? The better understanding the quarterback has of the key, the easier the read will be. The quarterback must have a plan as he approaches the line of scrimmage in order to anticipate any reads.
Now back to the ride phase. Once the quarterback has the ball in the fullback’s pocket at hip level with his eyes on the dive key, he will transfer his weight from back foot as he rides the fullback into the line of scrimmage. As he rides he will be on the balls of his feet and his feet will turn into the line of scrimmage at a 45-degree angle. The quarterback will never read past his front hip while the fullback must keep a large pocket and never clamp on the football. Fumbles in the mesh are caused by quarterbacks reading past the front hip or fullbacks clamping in the mesh. The fullback must trust the quarterback through the ride phase and the quarterback must be decisive, make a decision and go! Key coaching points for the mesh: frontal pressure = give and side pressure = pull. When executing the read of the dive key think head behind give, head in front pull.
* Hands beat the feet
* Arms extended, pin the chin
* Reach, ride
* Never read past the front hip
* Be decisive
* Miss the read, follow the fullback
to be continued, part 2 will be posted tomorrow