May 10

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Quarterback Play in the Triple Option Offensive Attack (Part III)

Quarterback Play in the Triple Option Offensive Attack (Part III)


By Greg Webster, Offensive Coordinator

Springfield College

Pitch Reads

Crashing key: Based off of pre-snap alignment and body demeanor with inside foot up, tight to the LOS the quarterback will think pull pitch verses a crashing key. Pull pitch to protect the quarterback as well as to out leverage the pitch key and get the ball onto the perimeter.

Key upfield: Pull the ball, replace the dive key heels and attack the vacated alley by the pitch key. When attacking the alley remember that there is no free lunch, the defense will account for quarterback with another defender.

Slow play or “feathering” key: The pitch key will remain square to the line of scrimmage with the intent of flattening out the option to allow time for defensive pursuit. Verses a feathering key the quarterback must attack the alley and make the key commit to either the quarterback or the pitch. He will think run unless the key commits himself to the quarterback. When the key commits himself to the quarterback, it is important that the quarterback dips his shoulder into the alley to freeze defensive pursuit before the ball is pitched onto the perimeter.

When pitching the ball, the quarterback will plant with his inside foot, sit to lower his center of gravity and then will step to his target to execute the pitch: sit, step, pitch. When executing the pitch he must be under control and in an athletic position. He will step to his target to shorten the pitch and recover a possible fumble. The quarterback must lead the pitch man so that he does not have to break stride and can explode through the pitch. The quarterback can manipulate both the pitch key and the defense by dipping his front shoulder into the alley to simulate that he is keeping the ball: dip and pitch. The quarterback must never pitch of the dive key and must never pitch under duress: NEVER, NEVER.

Coaching Points:

* Replace the dive key’s heels

* Attack the alley, never a man

* Verses a crashing key pitch for leverage

* There is no free lunch

* Make the pitch key commit

* Sit, step, pitch

* Dip and pitch

* Never pitch off the dive key

* Never pitch under duress

QB does a good job of attacking grass versus a feathering pitch key. If there is green grass take it, attack the alley and go!

QB is angled into the key rather than the alley. This stems from him bowing out of the mesh instead of replacing the dive key heels and attacking the alley.

Although the QB has a far shoulder and he is pitching for leverage, he is running parallel to the LOS. This allows for defensive pursuit to track down the running back for no gain. If he had replaced the dive keys heels and attacked the alley he would be running for daylight between #90 (FB) and #58 (LT).

QB’s answer to this picture: coach I am pitching for leverage. Yes, he has out leveraged the pitch key; however, this picture illustrates why we need an attack first mentality. If the QB had put his foot in the ground and attacked grass this would have been an explosive play.

Good execution of a downfield pitch. He dips into the alley to freeze the defense and have the pitch key commit himself. But a poor pitch relationship by the running back: we want to be one yard deep and four yards in front.


It is important to note that these techniques and philosophies have been developed over the past thirty years of Springfield College running option football. The foundation of these philosophies and techniques were started with Coach DeLong, Coach Manello and Coach Anderson, continued with Coach Mckenney and current head coach Mike Cerasuolo, as well as years of former graduate assistants.

Springfield College has also benefited greatly from years of visiting with and gathering new ideas from other option schools. If anyone reading this article has any further questions or would like to talk in more detail about this topic please feel free to contact me by email at gwebster@springfieldcollege.edu.


About the author

Coach Greg Webster Offensive Coordinator Springfield College

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