4 Keys to Option Football


There are four keys to option football. Option football, whether you use the triple option or a double option, can stress the defense and force them to avoid blitzing or overloading one side of the ball.

Whether you are a team that focuses on running the option, or do it to keep your base bread and butter plays running smoothly, these four keys should add to your option football offense.

Option Football Key #1

Option FootballThe first key to option football is stressing the stressing the perimeter of the defense. A lot of teams immediately think outside veer or speed option when I say this in regards to option football, so let’s start there.

Their are two ways you should stress the perimeter. One is fast. If you run speed option, and you know the defense is going to put the defensive end on your quarterback with their option football responsibilities, you can expect a fast pitch to the outside. This tests the recognition of the secondary and can set up some interesting pocket-moving play action possibilities.

In another variation of the play, which illustrates this point better, you have the offensive end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOLOS), either the tackle or tight end, trying to reach the end, and you pitch off the force. In this version, you immediately threaten secondary run support.

On the other hand, outside veer is an option football play that wants to stress a double team as near to the point of attack as possible. The goal isn’t to stretch the secondary, it’s to get up the field as quickly as possible, but you hopefully in the process get the defense to over pursue, especially if you give it on the dive.

Regardless if you run one or all of these, your goal is to put the defensive EMOLOS, the QB player, and the force player, all in a bind. Make them run all over the field, to increase the chances of your players forcing them to miss a tackle.

Option Football Key #2

Counting the box is our second key. If the defense wants to roll over hangs down into the box, then we need to account for them. If you love Jerry Campbell, you’ll recognize this, but I believe – whether you run the option or not – that these players dictate your success on a play. It’s not the front per-say, as your blocking rules should account for them.

So if I run a perimeter attacking option play, like those discussed before, into a heavy over hang technique, my chances of success are limited because the defense is in an ideal way to support that play. However, there likely two inside linebackers, so interior running plays might have some success.

Sun Tzu said it best, don’t attack walled cities. Without a doubt, I think there is a time and a place for running a play into walled cities (ie to setup a bigger play later), but if you want sustained success in regards to option football, avoid running into a fortified defense.

Option Football Key #3

I think another to option football is letting a strong play action passing game. Whichever way you run the option, you should have a constraint play built in to deal with the force player or another secondary player’s reaction. If the free safety in cover 3 is too active, make him play with a verticals concept.

Regardless, play action passing that looks like you main option plays in most directions from most formations is critical for your success. Don’t let the defenders reaction to the run go unpunished.

Another point here is that you should truly rely on your play action passing game to let your option football offense move the ball down the field. It’s unreasonable to expect sustained scoring with 12 play drives. Run play action on early downs. Self-scout and run it when you like to run the most. Force it into your play scripts. When you write “Inside Veer” on your play card with 5 different formations to run it out of, include inside veer play action so it becomes part of your mentality.

Option Football Key #4

Reps. Okay, so the rest was about scheme. This is probably the most important key to option football. I’ve never run the option whole-sale, though we’ve used it in our packages. I fully expect the QB’s and runningbacks to work on it for 10 minutes a day, even in the minimal amount that we run it. Bad reads lead to turn overs.

You can turn this into a pre-practice drill. Have the coaches be the pitch reads, because they’ll execute it best. Regardless, if you don’t feel comfortable running something in regards to option football, it’s probably because you haven’t rep’d it enough.

Conclusions on Option Football

Making option football part of your overall offensive strategy can reap plenty of rewards. It will take time to install and set it up, but if you’re looking for a way to hurt the defense, or prevent them from getting too exotic on you to stop your base plays, option football is a good solution.

These four keys will helpfully make an impact with your option football offense, and I hope you enjoyed the article.