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 Triple Option Football Explained 
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Post Triple Option Football Explained
Triple Option Football Explained
by: Matt Zavadil

Triple option football has all three elements of the different styles of running attacks - quickness, finesse and power.

Homer Rice is given credit for inventing triple option football. He retired as Georgia Tech's athletic director in 1997. Before that, he was head coach at Kentucky, Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Rice. Mr. Rice also worked as athletic director at Rice and North Carolina as well as a brief stint as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

But it was when he was coaching high school in the 1950's that he came up with triple option football. The two usual triple option styles are the wishbone and veer.

The main idea behind this offensive set is to leave the defensive tackle and end unblocked in order to double-team the linebackers with extra offensive lineman. This brings an element of power to this basically finesse type of running attack.

The "Wishbone" style of triple option football gets its name from the alignment of the backs. You have a quarterback, a fullback directly behind him and then two halfbacks split behind the fullback. At the snap, the quarterback turns and puts the football in the fullback's gut as he reads the defensive tackle.

If the QB sees the tackle taking outside responsibility, he hands off to the fullback. If the tackle takes inside position, the QB keeps the ball and the fullback blocks the tackle. Now the quarterback's attention turns to the defensive end. If the end comes in to tackle him, he pitches out to the halfback who is trailing behind the play.

The quarterback has much responsibility in triple option football. He must first make sure there is no confusion with his first option (whether to handoff to the fullback or not) in order to prevent a fumble. He must also make a good pitchout to his halfback. Further complications can arise if the QB makes the wrong read on the defensive tackle or end.

Here's one way to teach the quarterback to read the end - If he can see the end's number, he should pitch the football as the end is probably coming in to tackle him. If he sees the end coming across the line of scrimmage focusing on the halfback, the QB should keep the ball. The quarterback should also keep an out for further pitch opportunities to his halfback even as he's making his way downfield.

The "Veer" style of triple option football adds a passing element. Bill Yeoman invented the veer in 1965 as coach of the Houston Cougars. That's why you'll hear it also called the "Houston Veer". Yeoman replaced the fullback with a wide receiver and split out an end.

Now the QB's first option is to a diving halfback (no fullback). The pitchout option then goes to the other halfback in the set. The tight end helps get the defensive end wide by taking a wide split. At the snap, the tight end arcs around the end (remember, the end is left unblocked) to block anyone trying to tackle the quarterback (usually a safety). The wide-out takes on the cornerback.

Looking for finesse, power and quickness? Try using triple option football.

About The Author

Matt Zavadil

Matt and Dave run and have written the free coaching report, "5 Keys to Discovering the Successful Coach Inside You". Pick up your free copy by sending a blank email to

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Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:31 pm
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