The Triple Option Offense Consists of 11 Skill Position Players

I GREW UP PLAYING FOOTBALL AS A 6-2, 270 pound Offensive-Defensive Lineman.  Suffice to say, I was not a skinny kid.

It’s tough to be a fat kid.  

It’s tougher to be a fat kid when your offense is the Triple Option.

The Triple Option Offense is designed for military-like players – military players are only allowed to get so big.

Navy’s Offensive Line averaged 275 pounds last year, which is up 10 pounds from a few years ago.  This Offensive Line  helped produce the best team Navy has had since 1963.  

Consider the fact that Alabama’s national championship Offensive Line averaged 330 pounds this year… What Navy did with their small line is pretty impressive.

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It’s tough to bend your knees when you’re fat.

That makes it pretty tough to veer release.

On the veer release the offensive lineman t-steps, which is a six inch lateral-vertical step.  His second step is to get even with the first step and get his hand in the ground.  Basically, he gets back into his stance on the second step.  On his third step, he changes the line of scrimmage by vertically moving through the Mike Linebacker to the Free Safety.

Fat kids don’t do that well.

Now, let’s take a look at Triple Option versus the Odd Stack.

Triple Option Offensive Line Blocking versus the Odd Stack
Triple Option Offensive Line Blocking versus the Odd Stack

The Offensive Line is in charge of double-teaming the Action Key, who is defined as the first Defensive Lineman inside of #1 (read key).  Since the first Defensive Lineman in the diagram is a 0-technique, the Center makes a “Back, Back, Back” call.  This tells the Backside Guard that he and the Center are double-teaming the 0-technique.  The Center will T-Step with his playside foot and punch his inside hand to the playside stomach of the 0-technique on the second step.  Then, the Center will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.  The Backside Guard will T-Step on the first step and continue with four more T-steps.  On the fifth step, the Backside Guard will punch his inside hand to the playside stomach of the 0-technique.  Then, the Backside Guard will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.

A “Back, Back, Back” call tells the Playside Offensive Line that they are going to T-step playside.  They will block the Mike to the Free Safety.  The Playside Tackle T-steps, takes his second step with his inside foot, and places his hand on the ground.  The hand on the ground prevents #1 (read key) from getting his hands on the chest of the Playside Tackle and preventing a clean veer release.  On the third step, the Playside Tackle will vertically move.  If the Mike Linebacker is blocked by the Playside Guard, he will vertically climb to the Free Safety.  Once the Playside Tackle is within range of the Free Safety, the Playside Tackle will punch his inside hand to the playside stomach of the Free Safety.  After the punch, the Playside Tackle will pounds his arches through the echo of the whistle.

The Playside Guard T-steps with his playside foot.  Once he is within one yard of the Mike Linebacker, the Playside Guard will punch his inside hand through the playside stomach of the Mike.  Then, the Playside Guard will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.

Both the Playside Tackle and Guard are responsible for the Mike and the Free Safety; however, in an Odd Stack Defense, the Mike is on the midline, and this makes it near impossible for the Mike to get over the top of the Playside Guard.

The Backside Tackle always has the same assignment on Triple Option–Scoop.  He steps with his playside foot at 90 degrees, runs through the Guard, and vertically turns.  The Backside Guard will utilize his backside hand to punch any threat who looks to cross from the backside to the playside.  If this happens, the Backside Tackle will punch the playside stomach of the threat.  Then, the Backside Tackle will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.

If you look at the blocks that are utilized among the five Offensive Linemen, there is a double team; a block where an Offensive Lineman engages on the Free Safety (Playside Tackle); a block where an Offensive Lineman blocks the Mike Linebacker (Playside Guard); and a block where the Offensive Lineman has to run flat; vertically turn; and block a second or third-level defender.  These are all skills where feet is a prerequisite.  At the high school level, this is entirely made for sub-200 pound Offensive Linemen.

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How many players from the Naval Academy are on athletic scholarship? Answer: none. They join the military, many of whom so they can play Division I college football. Keenan Reynolds, Navy’s starting quarterback over the last four years, did not have one Division I offer coming out of high school.  He was going to attend Middle Tennessee State as a walk-on, when he decided to join the military so he could play FBS-level football. A few months later, he was the Naval Academy’s starting quarterback at the ripe age of 18.  He finished fifth for the Heisman last season. Then, he became a sixth round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens.  

The Triple Option Offense is for kids that just can’t physically compete.  At Navy, because of military rules, the football players are only allowed to get so big.  This means they are going to have a tough time base blocking and vertical setting in pass protection against FBS full scholarship players.

The primary blocks for Offensive Linemen in the Triple Option Offense are the scoop block, the veer release, and the double-team.

A scoop is a block where the Offensive Lineman will step with his play side foot at 90° and run through the adjacent lineman, thereby canceling that gap.  If there is a defender in that gap, the Offensive Lineman will run past the threat, dip his inside hand down to cancel penetration, step with his playside foot, and turn up field.  This is designed to cut off the backside defender.  Until February 2016,  the Offensive Linemen could go to the ground once they got past the threat, however the National Federation has outlawed that block.

Effective in 2016, the NFL has disallowed the first level scoop block as well. Going to the ground on a first-level block is still legal at the college level – – for now. The first level block is still legal at the high school Level in Texas and Massachusetts as they still play by college rules.

Scoop blocks are designed for Offensive Linemen to be runners.  This is not a fat-guy friendly block.

TIMMONSVILLE (SC): Read the story of how this small school in South Carolina, with 21 players on the team, went from 1-9 to the state semifinals in three months after Dr. Cella ran his three-day camp with them.

In 2010, I ran a camp with Falls City High School (TX).  Four out of their five Offensive Linemen were under 200 pounds.  Also, they had never won a regional championship in school history.  Three months later, they not only won there first regional championship in school history, they won their first state championship in school history as well – – and scored 680 points during the 2010 season.

In 2011, I ran a camp at Bayfield High School in Colorado. Their five Offensive Linemen averaged 180 pounds.  In addition four of their offense of line men were juniors.  By the end of 2011, they were playing in the state championship game in Colorado.

These are the two best stories that I’ve had come out of my Triple Option-based camp system. Both of them had offensive lines that Averaged under 200 pounds.  Heck, Bayfield wasn’t even close to 200.

Over the last five years, I’ve emphasized to all my clients to “get the 200+ pounders off the field.  Unless they can run like a skilled player, all they are going to do is help you lose.”

When I go across the country and run the three-day Triple Option Football Academy Camps, I know that there’s ALWAYS second and third team skill kids that could be starting on the offensive line.  This is especially true at Tackle, which is the least combative position on the Triple Option Offensive Line.  In the Triple Option Offense, Tackles must be runners who win leverage points and get to Point B faster than the defense.

How many times is your Offensive Tackle your 20th best football player in your program?  How many times is your seventh best football player spending the game on the sidelines?  The Triple Option allows you to play the Running Back who doesn’t crack the starting lineup.  This great offensive attack allows the Tight End types to make a huge contribution to the program by becoming that athletic Offensive lineman.

Your top 11 football players are usually all skill position players.  The Triple Option Offense allows you to put all 11 of them on the field at the same time. The 160-pound athlete who doesn’t crack the lineup as a Back or Receiver now has a role in your program.

Let’s take a look at Triple Option versus the 4-4 Defense.

Triple Option Offensive Line Blocking v. 4-4 Defense
Triple Option Offensive Line Blocking v. 4-4 Defense

The Offensive Line is responsible for double teaming the first Defensive Lineman inside of the read–the Action Key.  In this diagram, the Action Key is the 2-technique.  When the Action Key is a 2-technique, the Playside Guard makes an “Ace, Ace, Ace” call.  The Playside Guard and Center will double team the 2-technique.

The Playside Guard will T-step with his playside foot.  On his second step, he will take his inside hand and punch the playside stomach of the 2-technique.  Then, the Playside Guard will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.  The Center will T-step with his playside foot and take four more T-steps.  On his fifth step, the Center will punch his playside hand through the near stomach of the 2-technique.  Then, the Center will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.

The Playside Tackle hears the “Ace, Ace, Ace” call.  This call tells the Playside Tackle that he is going to veer inside and block the Mike Linebacker to the Free Safety. His first step is a T-step with his inside foot.  On his second step, the Playside Tackle is going to drop his outside hand on the ground as he steps to get even with his inside foot.  His third step changes the line of scrimmage as he vertically moves.  Once he is within one yard of the Mike, the Playside Tackle will punch his inside hand to the playside stomach of the Mike.  Then, the Mike will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.  If the Mike runs over the top of the Playside Tackle, he will be cancelled by the Playside A-Back (load scheme), and the Playside Tackle vertically moves to the Free Safety.  Once the Playside Tackle is within one yard of the Free Safety, he will punch his inside hand through the playside stomach of the Free Safety.  Then, the Playside Tackle will pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.

When an “Ace, Ace, Ace” call is made, the Backside knows that they are going to Scoop.  In this diagram, the Backside Guard will step at 90 degrees with his playside foot, run through the Center, vertically turn, and utilize his backside hand to punch and threat who chooses to cross from the backside to the playside.  Once this occurs, the Backside Guard will punch and pound his arches through the echo of the whistle.  The Backside Tackle will step at 90 degrees with his playside foot, run past the 2-technique, dip his inside hand down to cancel penetration, vertically move and utilize his outside hand to block anyone who crosses from the backside the the playside.

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With the Triple Option, fat kids help you lose.  This might not be a nice thing to say, and it might not be politically correct; however, take it from this former fat kid.

Put 11 skill kids on the field and watch your program thrive with the Triple Option.

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