Same Side Option
Mike DiMatteo – RB Coach, Aurora University
Same side option football is a rather simple concept to implement in any option offense, and one that will give diversity to your option attack while making a defensive coordinator’s job more difficult by throwing off tendencies by formation. It also frees your quarterback to check out of a bad play based on numbers into a much better play with a higher percentage of success. We’ve used the same side option idea successfully for a number of years while we were running our spread option offense under center as well as from the gun. There are a number of same side option concepts, many of which have to do with checking from a triple to a speed option play, but for this article, I am going to concentrate on three option plays, midline, inside veer, and outside veer. The goals is to give your offense the “triple option effect” on each play rather than checking to the speed option as we always want to keep a dive threat in our offense.
Midline Option – This is your standard midline option that attacks a three technique. Of course, you can run midline to a one technique a well, but for the purposes of this article, we will stick to the basic three technique midline as diagrammed below:
As you can see, against this 40 front, we will option the three technique, with the playside A back inserting for the playside outside linebacker, observing the two linebacker rule. The backside slot in this case will continue on his pitch path to occupy the playside safety.
If we were to run the same play from the shotgun formation (or pistol as some call it…although that is generally based on the distance from the QB to the Center), it may look something like below:
The key to running this out of the shotgun is the mesh between the quarterback and the running back. If he is off-set as the diagram shows, he has to take a slide step toward the quarterback. The quarterback will then attack the ball during the snap off of the midline, making sure the ball is on the midline. This drill has to be run every day to make this effective. You will also notice that the pitch back inserts to block the fall-in player, in this case the OLB. He does not have to, it can be a made call.
The second play that I will diagram will be the inside veer. There are some basic rules for blocking this play, but for our purposes, we will run this play to a 1 technique only, so that you can see the advantage of running same side option.
As you can see, we will option the first man touching the tackle (dive read) and the pitch read will be the stack to outside player. Once that is established, the playside slot (he has to identify numbers 1&2) will then block #3 as shown. Below is how the play is run from the gun:
In order to make this play from the gun go, there are more working parts, like the mesh, the timing of the motion, but it is just as effective once those issues are repped out. The play can be run from the gun with two backs as well, and just as effectively. Finally, the outside veer. I believe this play is the most underrated option play of them all. When added as part of your option arsenal, it will give your opponents another option gap to defend, and force them to practice their option fits against it. In addition, there are a number of power looks that you can employ as well as supplements to your offense. The diagram below will show you the outside veer using no TE in both the traditional spread set as well as the shotgun base set.
If you were to run the outside veer from the gun, there are some formation adjustments that have to be made versus a standard 40 look. You would either have to bring in an “H” back, tighten down your slot, or play with a TE/Flanker look to create the gap you want to attack. Should you be playing against an ODD look, something like a 5 man box, whether it is a 3-4 or 3-3, you would stay in your spread formation. The choices are endless.
Notice how the back is now in the “cannon” position. This allows for better downhill attacking. The QB mesh point must change for this, but again, with repetition, that will take care of itself. This play is especially effective for a 4 or 5 technique that likes to slant. He essentially takes himself out of the play, leaving the playside LB on an island. The playside slot “loads” with his progression being playside linebacker to safety. The playside wideout either cracks on the SS or is man up on the corner, trying to cut him off on the inside. Play Action against an aggressive corner is there for the taking as I am sure you can see.
Ok. Now that we have all of the various options lined up and designed, how do we implement the same side option attack? The first thing to remember, whether you are in the gun or under center is that if you are going to play against a 40 front team, you have to create another gap. This means that you’ll have to insert formations that either bring the slot closer to the playside tackle or a trips formation where #2 is the pitch/bubble player. By bringing in one of those alternatives, you will create the third gap for the same side option. You do not have to do this, of course, if you want the speed option to be your third choice.
For the purposes of this article, we will use the “Heavy formation Navy/Ga.Tech uses, and the TE/Flanker combo that many schools use. There are many other alternatives for your offense, these are just a couple.
Looking at this particular front/formation, our QB will count the guard box first. If there are four players in the guard box, he knows that midline is out and we won’t run it. The next thing he will look for is the “bubble”. In this instance the bubble is over the tackle. This would indicate that the best play with this formation is outside veer (14 is the play number for us). We could run inside veer to the ‘nub side as well, ut in this instance ,we want to stay with the same side option. The blocking is drawn up in blue. The players in the red indicate the read keys, with the EMLOS as #1 (dive read), stack or outside as #2, and ally fill as #3.
If we are going to run this count system from the gun, employing a TE formation, we might get a defensive alignment something like this:
Again, our QB would check the guard box first. We want to look inside out. Midline (10), is a solid play, and some coaches like to run midline against a nose. We don’t mind either, but to our mind, a better play is inside veer. Nose cancels out midline, so we look inside veer next. As the PST is in a “4”, and the next rad is outside him (down lineman), we feel that those two reads are in a great position to be “read” therefore, inside veer is the play to run here. It hist just a bit faster than outside veer which is another reason it’s the better play. There are ae couple of other items here. One is that with a TE, you can play with the splits. We like a “wicked” split at times to see if the LB will widen. If he does, there will be a nice lane for the QB if there is a “keep” read. In addition, the arc release by the TE will, in many cases, pull the LB as well, again, creating a nice running land for the QB. The aiming point for the RB is the inside leg of the guard, but most often, he will bend it back just a bit. Important coaching point…the QB must attack the ball during the snap to get the mesh with the slide step of the RB (this is detailed in my Coaches Choice DVD – Triple Option Quarterback Play from the Shotgun Formation). This is a key point that has to be practiced daily.
Against an even front, you might get a look like this:
With this scenario, we have stacked “backers outside of the 3 technique. We cold area read them and run inside veer, but with one Mike ‘backer and a 3 technique to the playside, midline is the lay to run here. Easy read for the QB, and with a rotating secondary, we can hit inside of them pretty quick, get all of the players blocked, and have a solid football play from the gun formation. Your backfield can also be in “cannon” as discussed earlier, but it can be run either way. The key coaching point for the QB is that he must get the ball on the midline, while attacking the line of scrimmage at the snap, getting his body off of the midline. After the mesh, one slide step (read step) will be all that is needed for the mesh and play to be dynamite. The motion back becomes a lead blocker or insert back. We prefer not to run outside veer to a stack situation out of the gun as we feel it is a bit too slow. Of course, you can pair up bubble screen as many do as well.
If you are under center, there are a few more options. Should you encounter a 40 front defense, you might get an alignment as below:
In this scenario, we’re in our Tight Rt formation, creating an extra gap with our TE. We have our QB look for the bubble. Using our inside out concept, the best play here is the outside veer as illustrated above. You could run an “opposite” call, but we have a numbers advantage with our same side option choices. Again, there are other plays as well, speed option comes to mind, but in keeping with our triple option concept, outside veer is the choice. Sometimes, a DE will play the read “soft” making it more difficult for the QB. In this case, we would either give the ball or “Cowboy” the DE, having a flash mesh with our QB, who then blocks the outside shoulder of the dive read. The QB then executes a short drop step and gets downhill attacking #2, either pitching the ball or keeping it. We prefer our B back to cut the soft player if possible.
The mesh has to “sell”, and the block becomes rather easy. To eliminate shifting due to motion, you can also place your slot closer to the backside tackle, run the counter off of the motion, or simply put him in the backfield, aligned behind the outside leg of the guard.
There are myriad possibilities for same side option concepts, but with using this idea of audibling to the same side, the defense is forced to defend an entire side of a formation, which is more difficult to accomplish. This short article just scratches the surface, but I hope it generated some ideas for you. Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions at:
Mike DiMatteo – RB Coach, Aurora University