This article deals with defending a triple option out of the wishbone with an eight man front defense. But since the adjustments concerns mostly linemen and secondary it is easy to use the same things with a seven men front. In this case usually the strong safety is given the responsibilities of the strongside outside LB.
The picture (Fig.1) shows a typical 5-3 Defense and wishbone offense with a single TE.
The numbers on offense indicate the options the offense has on the triple option.
2. QB Keep
3. Pitch to tailback
The aim is to take away all options but one.
On an Option play the outsideman is usually called the option man and is the key for the QB.
Strong side rush
There is an automatic adjustment we use whenever the offense aligns with three RBs. The
strongside CB moves up to the line of scrimmage and the strongside shifts one technique to the inside (head up on TE).
After the snap the End is to draw the block of the TE first (by doing so he also delays the TE release on a pass option, giving the CB more time to rush the QB and the LB and FS more time to cover) and then fights to the outside to contain at a depth of about 2-3 yds.
The CB rushes directly to the inside hard behind the TE. He aims at a point 1.5 yds behind the LoS.
Fig. 1: Strong side rush with CB against triple option out of the wishbone
The first option has to be taken away by Mike!!
If Mike cannot stop the dive, no defense will work. He only keys the FB wherever FB releases Mike is to follow and stop him!
So the first option is taken away. Two more left.
By rushing the CB the defense brings the QB key right at him. CB has to hit the QB on every down as hard as he can! Don't care for the pitchman. Make the QB afraid. The QB releases with a 90 degree turn to the onside reading the dive option. He gives/fakes the handoff to FB and then continues parallel to the line of scrimmage to the outside, reading his second key (CB).
By then the CB is already closing in on him forcing him to pitch or to get stopped.
So after only two or three steps, the offense is limited to one option. Make the pitch to the TB.
The containing end follows the CB on an outside path leading him right in the face of the TB. He either stops the play or takes out an additional blocker forcing the play back to the inside, where Sam is ready to make the play.
Essentially defense takes away all options but one before the ball is outside the Tackle. So the main advantage of the triple option is gone!! The triple option is to create incertainty on the defensive side where the ball is going to. By rushing the CB on every down, having the end following him and Mike stopping the dive we take away all otions but one, so everyone will know where the ball is. If either the FB gets it or the QB keeps it, the play will be over early. If the QB is hit and the play continues, TB has to have the ball.
This scheme (rushing the CB, End headup) also works on the weakside. Then FS has to move over to the strongside to cover the TE.
Fig. 2: Weakside rush against triple option out of the wishbone
In cases where the defense has an advantage in team speed or an exceptional athletic outside Linebacker (Sam), it is possible to have both the Free Saftey and the Cornerback rush to the inside. This scheme is also advisable when the QB has a poor arm, and or the offense is keying the defense (rushing CB) for the direction of their play.
This one is exceptionally effective in short yardage situations where a run option is almost certain.
Fig. 3: Double rush with CB and FS against the triple option
The problem there is the TE and the read on him.
On a pass option the TE has to block first, then he releases on a post or out route behind the LBs.
Sam has to make the read on his keys (Guard/Tackle and TE) correctly to recognize the pass and cover the TE. With two men blitzing (CB and FS) there should not be much time for the QB to throw.
The weak/split CB should be aligned to the inside of his receiver to prevent the easy completion on a slant route.
The one who is trailing the play is responsible for reverse (Chase contain).
Double Tight Adjustment
Fig. 4: Double tight adjustment with two differnt techniques to defens the triple option.
When the offense lines up with two Tight Ends we play a different tactic to each side. We determine the side to which the option is preferably run, as the strongside (mostly left, due to right handed QBs).
On this side we play the usual scheme with the rushing CB, attacking the option and forcing the QB to pitch as soon as possible. We take away his decision and make him pay on every down.
On the ‚weak' side we take away the pitchman forcing the QB to keep the ball and chase him down with FS and Will.
Alignment changes vs Double Tight
The additonal TE on the side, we consider the weakside, is ignored when finding the correct lineup. Instead we move the CB to a position 3 to 4 yds outside the TE and half a yard back (he is responsible for the pitchman on run and covers the TE short and to the outside on pass). The FS moves up to about 7 yds deep and on the TE outside shoulder (on run he is responsible for alley support, attacking the ball. On pass he covers the TE deep and to the inside) Will is responsible for the QB on the option to his side.
On our chosen strongside nothing changes. See the single rush for details.
The double rush also works against the double tight, but it should be used only occaisionally and on sure running downs, because it puts enormous pressure on FS and Will. They can't misread or the play will end in a TD.
Have the CB rush from the outside right behind the TE. Then FS has pitch on run and TE on pass. Will has to chase down the QB on both run and pass.
These adjustments worked well for us whenever we played option teams. The system is not foolproof and there are some ways to block against this but it is still good enough to stop any option team.
The keys to success are:
- Mike has to stop the dive!
- Sam should be the best athlete on the team
- Do not get caught off balance with the pass option.
Aachen Demons / Germany