Understanding the Pro’s and Con’s of Option on MeCalling Best Option on the Line of Scrimmage
Notes and thoughts from 4 different programs.
How to call the best option, option on me, and explanations on what to call in different situations, was extremely helpful to better understand the option game. Teaching your quarterbacks when and why to call certain option packages from the line based on what the defense gives you can be beneficial and conducive to your offenses production.
The three different selections that you can call on the line of scrimmage, when “Option on Me” is called, is the veer, midline, and load option schemes. The first stage that the quarterback should determine is how many defenders are in the box. The next step is to read where the outside inverts (outside linebackers) are positioned. The outside inverts determine the type of option play that will work the best.
If there is no outside invert to the weak side, which is away from the tight end, the best optionwould be the veer. In the veer (triple option), the quarterback will be optioning off of any 5 or 7 technique to the weak side.
If there are two outside inverts and 6 defenders in the box, midline should be run towards the strong/Tight End side against any 2 or 3 technique.
If there are no outside inverts to the Tight End side or if there are two outside inverts versus a 7 technique or a 5 and 9 alignment, you should run the load (lead option).If you can train your quarterbacks to recognize multiple techniques that the defensive line presents and the positioning of the outside inverts, this can be a successful offense. The concept of the option on me, is to outnumber the defenders and provide the quarterback with multiple options. The blocking schemes and quarterback reads are fairly simple, but must be repped and perfected, in order to minimize mental mistakes and maximize productivity.
The video “Option on Me” is a good video that explains the option game and how the quarterback looks atthe defense and calls the right play from the line of scrimmage by having an advantage in numbers to one side of the ball versus the other. I believe that we want to have thinking players on the field during competition and running the option offense as described in the video is a great way to accomplish this, if you have those type of players.
The advantage of using the option running game is to get an advantage over the defense so that the offense can be successful in the plays that it runs. When the quarterback comes up to the line of scrimmage he needs to look for the advantage by keying on defensive players and their alignment so he knows what play to call from the line of scrimmage. The advantage is out numbering the defense with players by counting them and knowing what we have on one side of the ball or the other side set by the offense formation. The quarterback as he comes up to the line of scrimmage is to first look for where the defense players are lined up outside the area of the box.
The box is where the defense lines up over the offensive line that includes the defensive line and the linebackers. If two of the linebackers are lined up outside of the box area, the video calls this the invert position. If two linebackers are lined up in the invert area this tells the quarterback that the defense has six men in the box and that he wants to attack the box or run towards the tight end side. The two plays that the quarterback can call is midline or load (lead option). If the quarterback runs midline,he will key on the defensive tackle in the three technique to the play side and read his movement.
If the defensive tackle commits to the dive of the fullback the quarterback will pull the ball and advance to where the defensive tackle was lined up, if the defensive tackle commits to the quarterback up field then the quarterback will give the ball to the fullback. If the quarterback runs load,then he will key on the nine technique which is the outside linebacker or strong safety. If the defensive player comes up the field to contain the outside edge of the tailback heading out the quarterback will keep the ball and follow his fullback to the outside. If the defensive player commits on the quarterback,then the quarterback will pitch the ball to the tailback. If only one defensive player is lined up in the invert position, that is lined up on the tight end side of the ball and no defense players is in the invert position on the weak side or open side then he will call inside veer because of the advantage of the number of players.
The quarterback will read the five technique or defensive end. If the defensive end commits to the dive on the fullback,then the quarterback will pull the ball and attack the line of scrimmage running downhill. If the linebacker that is lined up inside takes an outside route to contain the edge by coming up field he will meet the quarterback at the edge. At this point, the quarterback will pitch the ball out to the tailback who is calling for the ball. If the outside linebacker movestowards the tailback heading outside then the quarterback will keep the ball and head up field.
The option running game helps to keep the defense in playing assignment football which will give the offense the advantage. If run properly it is very hard todefend and you always have the defense guessing as to what you are going to run and it can get very frustrating for the defense.
First let me say that I love this question. This fits the scheme I run offensively and I like to give our qbs the freedom to call or check into a play/option at the line of scrimmage. Our veer option is the base of our running game, and we utilize a power run to compliment the veer look. The three checks a qb has either pre or post snap are:
1. The qb can recognize the defender’s alignment and GIVE the ball to a back up, inside the box.
2. The qb can keep the ball after passing the interior back’s mesh point, using the 3 or 5 technique defender to option off of. The qb then either cuts to the inside of the defender OR outside, based on the choice the defender makes.
3. The qb can pitch the ball, executing the option, off the outside edge player, or defender on the perimeter of the box.These three options give the offense an advantage in numbers and strategy, as it forces defenses to make a choice on who to defend. When the qb executes the right choice, massive chunks of
These three options give the offense an advantage in numbers and strategy, as it forces defenses to make a choice on who to defend. When the qb executes the right choice, massive chunks of yardage begin to accumulate!
One concept of the option that we execute is the fold block. Even in middle school, our students are taught to collapse to the inside, while the interior lineman shoots over to block out the end man on the line of scrimmage. By folding, we gain a bigger lineman working in disguise to the second level, while taking care of the first level with the element of surprise inour scheme.
I am a big fan of Option on Me packages for the qb! One major advantage to running it is our qb likes the control I give HIM as he guides our team. Your quarterback has to be a leader! I believe that the best quarterbacks are one of the bestathletes on your team! Since they touch the ball every play, a dynamic athlete is an easy way to limit mistakes and maximize production! An Option on Me system relinquishes control over to the individual, making me lead less like an authoritarian, and instilling belief in our leader.
Another reason I am a proponent of the Option on Me is it allows our offense to run one play three different ways, resulting in our guys’ ability to analyze defenses and play a numbers game with the box. If I can teach our guys, especially our qb, WHEN we have the numerical advantage, based on what we see on film, based on our personnel strength against an opponent, etc, then we can win the play BEFORE the snap! In high school, even when we are struggling, we focus on achieving POSITIVE PLAYS -runs of more than three yards each rep. This psychological game helps our kids eccentuate what is going well, NOT our miscues. By having the ability to check into three options on one single play, our kids understand that they control obtaining positive plays MORE and worry less about what the defense is doing.
One disadvantage to an Option on Me system is that it is hard to teach. Your qb needs to be cerebral in nature, having the discipline to get a read pre-snap without identifying where the play is going. Another disadvantage is that the Option on Me requires a lot of reps! Installing the Option on Me needs to start in youth levels of football, so that your teams have practice and reps running it for high school. If your youth levelsare not teaching it, than it is a lot to learn at the higher levels that could be practiced as kids learn the game!
Finally, it is hard to manage. While many athletes like the flexibility, there is a higher level of responsibility that goes with the qb making the call during a play. Honestly, some coaches are not comfortable with allowing their players to control the play at the line of scrimmage. To help our leader manage the option, we do a lot of work in the summer and just on air with a running tape where the linemen are just to get a look that is managable for our younger guys to process. In order to further manage the Option on Me, we have instituted a few rules we follow:
1. The qb, whether he gives it, keeps it, or options it, IS NEVER WRONG! At any level, this takes the pressure of negative plays or a poor choice off the qbs plate and shifts it to our team.
2. We rep a Vicky Tough drill daily with our backs and TEs! In our system, Vicky stands for veer. The Vicky Tough drill puts the qb on the skeleton tape, executing the option. As he runs down the line on his path, the edge defender either steps to him OR drops laterally down the LOS following the pitch man. Our backs must adapt to what they see. While it is only the backs and the edge players participating in this drill, this is LIVE. Our qbs get clobbered if they execute the wrong decision. Practicing this pressure in a controlled part of practice daily helps our qbs build confidence in what they see, focusing solely on the edge player.
In the end, I love the Option on Me system! It is the bread and butter of our high school offense and we have begun executing it in middle school as well. If we can teach our leaders and qbs how to identify the defensive alignment pre-snap, they can begin to see what our best option to gain yards is. By building leadership and relinquishing control, our work environment in the 100 yard classroom is positive and more productive. The Option on Me system is an integral facet of Monarch Football! I cannot wait to hear the things you are doing and your personal philosophy of the option game.
In theory, the defense cannot defend against the correct option call
The defense can align however it wants, but there should always be a built in counter to their fronts and schemes.
Makes your offense un-scoutable if right calls are made based on defensivealignment.
If all goes according to plan, there simply wont be enough defensive players in the box to defend properly against the option. Of course, if there was, I’d hope I would’ve installed a passing audbile call as well.
Simple play and concept ideals allow for potential mastery.
The ideas and strategy behind the option are not difficult. The skills are easy to practice and there are only so many looks you need to prepare for. This allows for players to focus their attention on reaction within the play and not to have to worry about other distracting factors that detract from their overall execution.
Consistently beating the defensive scheme is a huge morale booster.
To work your way down the field calling plays at the LOS to counter what the defense presents you is a totally gratifying feel and gives ownership to not just your QB but the entire team that feels responsible for him as well. Its a collective effort, and after each successful play, the team’s confidence will rise.
Keeps everyonesharp and alert at the LOS.
It is sometimes easy to be distracted during the flow of a game. But in order to be truly tuned
into the play, they must maintain a level of awareness at the LOS that calling and adjusting will hopefully guarantee. Otherwise, not only will the play be unsuccessful but the player who was distracted runs the risk of being singled out.
Relying on the QB to make the right call.
This requires the ultimate trust in your QB. Is he ready? Can he handle the pressure? What happens when there is adversity? Do you have a capable backup? All questions that come down to how serious your QB takes his preparation. If I cannot determine the answer to any these questions, I probably don’t want to give my QB any options
Will defense adjust to counter the option attack or learn the calls?
If my offense is centered around the option and the defense has good speed, makes some plays and/or adjustscorrectly to the calls, it can be a disheartening feeling for the offense.
Will repitition breed complacency?
In the instant-satisfaction era, even though we are giving them choices, will the players become impatient if there are minimal gains or wrongreads? If you have an impatient or immature team, sometimes that is when they forget their fundamentals and turnovers or injuries happen. Staying focused and mentally strong throughout the course of the game becomes difficult with fatigue but hopefully easier with familiarity.
In a war of attrition, can we trust our players to make the right calls late in the game?
A fancy way of asking if we are in good enough condition to make proper adjustments and stay true to our assignments in the fourth quarter ofa hotly contested game. “Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” coach Vince Lombardi was uttered. Will we have the fortitude to push through the physical strain and be capable of making an informed call at the LOS?
*Opens up greater probability for turnover and injury if not executed properly.
As the game wears on, ability, energy and attention to detail drop. That means assignments could be missed, laziness may contribute to not going as hard as you could and a lack of focus could lead to poor fundamentals. All of those problems are pre-cursors to injuries and turnovers. Within the context of an option attack, ballhandling and quickness off the LOS are imperative, but also dangerous as it opens up the QB to get hit and makes the ball live through the potential pitch and dive.
About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.