Quarterback Play in the Triple Option Offensive Attack (Part II)
By Greg Webster, Offensive Coordinator
As stated before, we give the quarterback rules on when to pull and give the football. However, it is important to note that the more comfortable the quarterback becomes with the mesh, the better he will become at manipulating keys. For example, if we face a team where the dive key is not hard on the fullback but we are still giving the football and gaining three to four yards a carry, we will talk with the quarterback about manipulating the key. Yes, we are gaining positive yards with the fullback; however, many of our bigger plays occur when the quarterback pulls the football.
So, if the quarterback were to manipulate the key by driving his front shoulder into the line of scrimmage and riding the fullback a little bit longer, that will then get the dive key to crash down harder on the fullback. This will allow the quarterback to pull the ball and either get the ball in the alley or onto the perimeter where we have a potential of an explosive play. The quarterback must also have this thought process on third and long situations. When the veer is called on third and long, the quarterback cannot feed the fullback into the defense for a gain of three to four yards. He must have the awareness of the down and distance and know that most big plays happen when the ball is on the perimeter. Manipulate the key, drive the front shoulder into the line of scrimmage and get the ball onto the perimeter.
Executing the Pitch
Before we discuss the pitch phase, it is important to note the importance of the fullback’s path. We have the fullback on an inside track and he has the ability to action key the first down lineman inside the dive key if he is given the football. If the ball is pulled, he must remain on path and attack the inside leg of the dive key to ensure that the key commits to the fullback. Coaching point: attack the inside leg of the key, step on his toes and north cut. If the fullback cuts underneath the dive key and he does not north cut off his inside leg, this will enable the dive key to play both the fullback and the quarterback on a give read.
Now back to the quarterback. After the ball is pulled he will explode into the alley (even if the ball is given the quarterback must still explode into the alley to become the eleventh blocker for the fullback). The quarterback’s feet will be angled into the line of scrimmage and he must continue to attack the alley at an angle, never flat. If the quarterback is running parallel to the line of scrimmage, he is flattening the option, allowing the defensive pursuit to run to the football and he is also allowing the defense to use the sideline as the twelfth defender. He must have an attack mentality when the ball is pulled;
replace the dive keys heels and get in the alley now! Be downhill into the line of scrimmage and never bow!
When the quarterback pulls the ball, he will carry it with two hands at heart level with his elbows pinned to his ribcage. The quarterback will have a run first mentality: he will run unless the pitch key’s far shoulder turns to him. He will continue to attack the alley (always attack grass never a man) until the pitch defender commits to play the quarterback.