Category Archives: Nebraska Option

Adding Unbalanced Formations to Your Offense

One of least utilized tools in the Offensive Coordinator’s toolbox has to be the use of the unbalanced offensive formations.

What I mean by unbalanced formations is either covering up an eligible receiver by other receivers to create an overload, or switching an offensive lineman and a receiver such as a TE to create dilemma between defending the passing or running strength.

Many option offenses often use different types of unbalanced formations, but not many Zone or Gap teams utilize these looks. The purpose of this article will be to present unbalanced formation concepts to these types of offenses to use against defenses when a schematic advantage might be needed versus a superior opponent. Continue reading

3 Reasons to Run the Midline Option

The midline option is often forgotten in today’s days of the spread offense. The Zone read, the triple option, etc… all still thrive, even when the team is in the gun.

But what happened to the Midline option? There are a few exceptions, for instance, Oregon has been known to run it – must notably getting it blown up by Auburn’s defensive tackles in their national championship game a few years ago.

But unless you’re going up against first round picks with freakish like athleticism every play, midline option is still a good concept.

QB Midline Option Pull

Here’s 3 reasons you should run the midline option, no matter what offense you run.
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Two Constraint Plays to Make The Veer Offense Explode

The veer offense, whether it’s the split back veer or a gun option run “spread offense’ (the 4 receiver version), or something else, is an explosive offense that forces the defense to play sound fundamental football. However, besides the base option plays, the veer offense needs a few constraint plays to make it very successful.

The veer offense though isn’t all about option plays, and I’m here to talk about those other plays. Yes, inside veer, outside veer, midline, load option, bubble screens, and speed options are all important. However, the constraint plays are what make them work. Let’s break down the veer offense’s constraint plays.
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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. Continue reading

Running the Option to Keep Defenses Gap Sound and Stable

As a coach, I don’t like non-gap sound defenses. By that, I mean defenses that send two guys to the same gap. One’s that over-shift the safeties to one side. I like them from the stand point that we can get big plays on them. I don’t like them because typically it creates confusion after the initial time or too. Some defenses choose to be a little less strict on their gaps when they identify a tendency or when they think a pass is coming. It’s at these points that having a little bit of an option running game can get big plays for the offense, or in the least, prevent these exotic looks. Running the option will keep defenses stable.

Running the Option: Arc Option

Courtesy of

Running the option also keeps defenses from blitzing or doing some stunts. Having a problem with a backside linebacker run through? Run an option play and kill their backside pursuit by gashing them. A defensive end sometimes spilling power, but sometimes boxing it out? Run load option and win every time by kicking him or logging him and optioning the next guy.

Running the Option: The Excuses

Some teams will say they don’t have time to run the option, because it takes too long to install. They have some… elaborate passing game and don’t have the time to dedicate to the option. Or they don’t want their QB to get hurt. Or he’s too slow. Teams that use these excuses are avoiding a major solution. The bottom line is your QB doesn’t have to be a terrific athlete to make it work. He’s in just as much danger dropping back 30 times a game being protected by a 16-18 year old left tackle.

Don’t believe you have the time to be running the option or teaching the reads? Pre-call the silly thing, or call it from the sideline with a check with me type of deal. OR, spend pre-practice just going over your reads. Trust me, reading the option should be easier than reading 3-4 defenders on a passing play. Finally, the fear of turning the ball over is the other excuse. Personally, this is the worst one. You can run plays like the shovel option to make any dropped pitch an incomplete pass.

Running the Option: Two-man Option

I like the idea of the two-man option or double option when you don’t have a lot of time to install it. Really, you can use whatever your outside zone or veer blocking looks like.

Milt Tenopir, legendary Nebraska o-line coach, used the outside zone scheme for all his double options, which many times included a fake to the fullback to give the illusion of the triple option. He would change up the block of the offensive end man on the line of scrimmage, usually having them combo block with their inside teammate to the nearest linebacker, but everything else was the same. Using the outside zone scheme will eliminate confusion on the offensive line by recycling, as they should know your outside play already. It also only involves reading one defensive linemen, even if it sometimes looks like you’re reading two. This will help keep that defense gap sound. It makes running the option a lot easier as well.

Running the Option: Triple Option

The triple option takes more time to install, but the reward can be greater. If you don’t focus on the option, just install one version of this play. Usually, that version is outside veer or mid-line, depending on what the offense typically sees defensively. I like outside veer better, which can really be blocked using the outside zone blocking scheme (but having the offensive end man on the line of scrimmage combo with his inside teammate to the nearest linebacker). From here, you essentially are just reading the last man on the line of scrimmage.

Again, don’t make this more intimidating than it should be. Once you clear that guy, you’re reading the second man, typically the force player for your pitch key. Again, if your QB can read the flat player to the hook to curl player, then you can execute the triple option. It comes down to how well you teach both concepts.

Running the Option: Coaching it Up

I highly encourage you to Google for the specific option play you want to install. Once you have an understanding of it, go talk to another staff you think has experience with the play and get the nitty gritty details on it. See if you can borrow game film or practice film of a high school team running the option play to see what their difficulties are. Don’t just draw it up and try to do it on your own without knowledge of the play. There are some minor tweaks that may need to happen. Some of you may think this is daunting, but really, whenever you install new plays, not just when running the option, you should be doing this level of research.

Running the Option: Conclusions

Running the option is only daunting when you make it that way as a coach. We’ve used it this year, sparringly, but enough to keep defenses honest. When they start trying some exotic stuff, we typically get a big play out of our option running game. Again, running the option is not a major time investment. It’s worthwhile though, and can really help you offense get moving.

Nebraska Dive Option

Nebraksa Offensive Philosophy

As I read Milt Tenopir’s The Assembly Line, I quickly began to understand the point of their offense, at least from a running game stand point, and it’s something I’ve preached on this blog, and that is recycling blocking schemes. Recycling blocking schemes is a fantastic tactic because that is the heaviest aspect of your offense. You not only save the burden on your kids mentally from a scheme stand point, but you save time mentally and from a time aspect by only having to teach so many bloocking techniques. While you may have to change up one or two for each play, the main point is the same for those involved in the blocking scheme. This post discusses the Nebraska Dive Option, which uses Milt Tenopir’s Outside Zone scheme.

Nebraska Dive Option

Nebraska Dive Option

From Milt Tenopir’s The Assembly Line

The Nebraska Dive Option follows this similar mentality of recycling blocking schemes. Milt Tenopir’s offense utilized the inside zone and outside zone blocking schemes effectively. While their technique and strategy was unique to what many zone offenses are today, the point is the same. Especially on outside zone, they had uncovered and covered rules.

Nebraska Dive Option – Covered and Uncovered Outside Zone Rules

On Nebraska Outside Zone Plays, the covered linemen stepped to outflank their defender with a flat step (they don’t step back, it’s specifically mentioned as a flat step). The uncovered linemen aims with his first foot at his covered linemen’s defender, and his second step aims directly behind his playside foot. This enables that offensive linemen to stop a slant by the defender, work the double team if he plays straight up on the covered offensive linemen, or work to the linebacker level, which is where he actually thinks he’ll end up. The only difference between the Nebraska Dive Option and the Nebraska Outside Zone play is the read. They will let the EMOLOS go so he can be read, which I will cover next, especially to the split end side. If they have two edge players, then they will read the furthest out no matter what. However, if they’re running the play to the tight end side, they like to read the secondary force player. So that is the only tricky part to the play, and maybe where we as play callers may either make it into 2 very similiar plays, or have to rep the rules a lot.

Nebraska Dive Option: The Dive

On the Nebraska Dive Option, it’s actually a 2 man option game. This means that only two players ar involved in the option, and believe it or not it’s not the dive back (in this case, the fullback). The fullback dive is a fake and after the fake he turns into an extra blocker. The point is to hold the linebackers and let your two fastest playmakers, your quarterback and the pitch back, in this case the “I-Back” or tailback, get to the outside as they hesitate. This also opens up blocking angles for your offense.

Nebraska Dive Option: The Read

The read is simple. As I mentioned earlier, to the split side they always read the EMOLOS, to the tight end side they like to read the secondary force. They will read that player if he is on the outside of the traditional defensive EMOLOS on the line of scrimmage. If the read takes the QB, he pitches. If the read takes the back, the QB keeps.

Nebraska Dive Option: The Blocking

Because you have installed the outside zone scheme, and you are faking the dive, you are immediately going to put defenders in a bind. Depending on the linebackers primary read, they could very well be out of position, specifically if they’re reading the dive back, as many inside linebackers would. The offensive line will have excellent angles given the outside nature of the blocking scheme, which will allow your two option players to get to the edge quickly.

Conclusions on the Nebraska Dive Option

The Nebraska Dive Option is a great play. It’s only a 2 man option, which maeans teams who are wearry of a 3 man option attack can still get a lot out of it. I highly suggest it as a simple play to install if you already run plays like Speed option or even just outside zone. It will make fullback plays more effective and hold the linebackers, which is something every option needs to be successful, and it only involves 1 read since the dive is a fake.

Make sure you check out Chief Pigskin for some great videos. Also, click here to begin understanding why running the option can be simple and easy.