Understanding the Triple Option B-Back, Offensive Line, and Quarterback Positions from the Player’s Perspective

Understanding the Triple Option B-Back, Offensive Line, and Quarterback Positions from the Player’s Perspective are four interviews done by Dr. Cella.  These interviews get in depth with the players that actually played the position.  Here, the players discuss how they played the specific positions and how they excelled doing so.

Vince Murray started in 2009-2010 as B-Back at Navy.  During his time at Navy, Vince had 1,353 yards rushing and nine touchdowns for the Midshipmen in their Triple Option Offense.  Vince talked with Triple Option Football Academy Owner, Dr. Lou Cella about playing B-Back in the Triple Option.

1-      What are the most important coaching points for B-Backs on the Triple Option?

Vince: Golden Rules for Navy B-Backs:

1) Ball Security. Nothing will cripple the triple option more than the B-back putting the ball on the ground, nothing.

2)Hitting the mesh at full speed. Players have a tendency to tip toe through the mesh for one of two reasons; either they’re scared of being hit or they’re focusing too much on their read and looking to make the 30-50yd run. The long runs will come but only if the player is hitting the mesh at FULL SPEED with NO HESITATION.

3)Playing to the whistle. The b-back is going to get hit on every play and is usually taken to the ground. A lot of times the difference between an A back gaining 20 yards instead of 10 is whether or not the b-back got off the ground and cut off the back side safety or linebacker.

2-      What are the most important coaching points for B-Backs on the Midline Option?

Vince:  1) The Golden Rules.

2) Knowing who your read is and who is blocking for you. Example: against a 50 front I know my read is the nose guard and the play side guard is blocking for me. As soon as I see the center has reached the nose (if the nose crosses the center’s face I’m cutting it back side) my eyes shift to the guard and I’m reading his block on the play side linebacker. It happens quickly but an experienced b-back will make all the difference running midline.

3-      What are the most important coaching points for B-Backs on Triple Pass?

Vince:  Sell the fake. Shoulder pads over the ball, full speed with your eyes up so you can see what your responsibility is doing. 

4-      What qualities are necessary to play B-Back in the Triple Option Offense?

Vince: 1) Speed. Like any other position on the field, speed is everything. Size may be more important at B back than other positions but if he doesn’t have a burst he can’t play b- back.

2) Toughness. The B back will get hit on almost every play of the game and usually by the biggest meanest dude on the defense.

3) Durability. Some guys have the speed and toughness but their body breaks down halfway through the season. I can’t remember the last time a Navy fullback started every game of an entire season.

5-      What is the greatest lesson you learned playing football at Navy?

Vince:  Give it all you got or as Coach Niumatalolo says, “be all in.” It may sound cliché but this means an entire different thing at Navy. Before going to the Academy, coaches always told our team to “give it all you got” and I always assumed I was because at the end of practice, I was sweating and tired. When you give something everything, that means it’s the only thing. That means film study, extra lifting, diet, etc. But don’t just do them; do them with an intensity and desire that no one else can match. That is the only way that Navy can beat bigger, stronger, and faster teams year in and year out.

Former Army Offensive Lineman, Zach Peterson

Former Army Offensive Lineman, Zach Peterson

Zach Peterson, who as a senior starter at center was part of an Army lineup in 2010 that snapped a 14-year bowl absence, arrived home from Afghanistan on November 16 following a nine-month deployment.

Zach was a two-year starter at Center in the Triple Option Offense.  As the dominant Offensive Lineman on Army’s most dominant team over the last 30 years (only bowl-winning team since Mid 1980s), Zach talked with Triple Option Football Academy Owner, Dr. Lou Cella about Triple Option Offensive Line blocking.

1-      Provide the top coaching points on Scoop blocking.

Zach: The top coaching point to me on the scoop block is feeling and seeing yourself go through the tunnel that is created when scooping someone. Pad level and explosiveness (getting off the ball) are also key points during the scoop. Visualizing your facemask go through the opponents knees was something I always did when scooping.

2-      Provide the top coaching points on the Veer release.

Zach: Top coaching points on the veer release- Starting with creating a good healthy split in order to give yourself the space needed for a veer release. The biggest coaching point on the veer release would be maintaining a wide base with appropriate pad level and not crossing your feet as you are getting your veer release and moving toward the second level. As you feel yourself moving toward that second level, you need to immediately focus your eyes to the inside to acquire your block.

3-      Provide the top coaching points of all Ace blocks.

Zach: For all double teams, aiming points for each player involved in the block need to be established prior to the play (ie middle of the number for the Center/outside number for the Guard). As the block progresses and forms, the key point for the player moving to the second level needs to be for him to feel the (Center) take over the block before he releases. Both players need to maintain square shoulders throughout the block.

4-      Provide the top coaching points of base blocks.

Zach: Top coaching points for base blocks- wide base for feet (little bit outside shoulder width), Power triangle as Coach Simi (Army Assistant Football Coach 2009-2013) puts it (hands on inside arm pit of each number, face mask under opponents face mask) chop feet through the whistle.

5-      Provide the top coaching points of the Playside Tackle’s block on Midline (Double).

Zach: This block is similar to a base block, with a key note of taking the defender where he wants to go and then pinning him in that direction. Obviously, we prefer to seal the defender to the outside, so the first for the tackle needs to be to the inside foot of the defender. Big note here is for the tackle to remain square in his block in order to be prepared to react to the defender. The Tackle can then work that block as necessary.

6-      Provide the top coaching points in Sprint Pass protection.

Zach: For sprint pass protection, we want to take two shuffle steps in the direction of the sprint out and then progress into the (kick slide drop back protection). Allow the defender to work into your particular gap. The offensive linemen’s eyes have to be in his respective gap, he can pass defenders off but at the end of the day he is responsible for his gap.

7-      What were your favorite run concepts as a Triple Option Offensive Lineman?

Zach: As a triple option linemen my favorite run concepts were about the offense we ran. As a linemen in this offense you get to play down hill. You lineup in a weight forward stance and get to come off the ball and hit people in the mouth. It is an attack style offense and defenders hate playing against. A lot of times they are concerned with being cut. In this offense you get attack the second level and chop people in half. You get to work double teams and literally play down hill and aggressive. When you do get to pass block, it is easy, because it is uncharacteristic of your offense and defenders are not ready to work a pass rush.

8-      What was the most important lesson you learned from Coach McGeehan, Coach Tripp, and Coach Simi (Army Offensive Line Coaches)?

Zach: With Coach Mck and Coach Tripp it was consistency and details. At times these guys would sound like broken records saying the same thing over and over, but what they were saying was important and they drilled it into our heads. With Coach Simi, it was the intensity that he approached everything with.  He bought an energy and intensity to everything he did on the practice field and in the film room. Guys fed off of his intensity and passion and it created a positive effect across the o line. In the triple option o line, you need that intensity.

9-      In your opinion, what are the three most important blocks (run or pass) in the Triple Option Offense?

Zach: The three most important blocks in the triple option are #1: A guard has to be good and powerful enough to block a three technique by himself. A center has to be athletic enough to veer past a nose guard and get to the second level (Against the Odd defense). A tackle has got to be athletic enough to avoid Defensive ends (veer release) and block in space when running the triple option. Those to me are the staples for offensive linemen in the triple option.

10-      If you had to coach the Triple Option Offense, what are the three most important drills that you would implement into your team?

Zach: I think you have to work your base blocking on bags or on defenders in combative situations when necessary. I think you have to work scoop blocks in the same way with all of the proper footwork and details associated with the block, and I think you have to finally work double teams (Ace). Those are the fundamentals–I think daily your drills need to culminate with review of the actual plays to show how the fundamentals and concepts actual tie into the play book!

Casey RuetherCasey Casey Ruether was a three-year starter and lead his team to the State Semifinals in 2013 at Cashmere (WA) High School.  This interview demonstrates the thought process of the Elite Triple Option High School Quarterback:

1- What are the major coaching points on executing the Triple Option as a Quarterback?
Casey: I would have to say getting the steps done before anything. Get the feet going and then the mind will be at ease which will allow for a better read.
2- What are the major coaching points on executing the Midline Option as a Quarterback?
Casey: The key is getting out of the way of your Fullback, once you got that established train your mind to find the key read every play.
3- What are the major coaching points on executing the Triple Option Pass as a Quarterback?
Casey: All of these plays start with footwork. By the time you reach the end of your drop you should have gone through your progression, but be patient if nothing opens up you’re a running QB so go for it.
4- What is the most important thing you learned as a Triple Option Quarterback at Cashmere?
Casey: The most important thing I learned was that I was never going to be perfect. Every game I will miss reads but it’s important to have a short memory and get it right the next time. Also to carry out fakes because you never know how many defenders you will take with you. 
5- If you had to coach football in the Triple Option Offense, what points would you get across to all the players in your program?

Casey: Speed kills and fundamentals dominate. I would instill in my kids that this offense is beautiful when ran correctly and anyone can do it, as along as there are fundamental and stick to the game plan because it’s a beautiful offense and it will win games. 

Bayfield (CO) B-Back Aaron Velasquez. Lead Bayfield to Class 2A State Final Appearance in 2011, and was a First-Team 2A All-State B-Back in Colorado.
Bayfield (CO) B-Back Aaron Velasquez. Led Bayfield to Class 2A State Final Appearance in 2011, and was a First-Team 2A All-State B-Back in Colorado.  Bayfield participated in Triple Option Football Camp with current Triple Option Football Academy Owner, Lou Cella in 2011.

The following are five questions regarding B-Back and overall Triple Option play from a high school football player’s perspective:

1-      As a high school football player who went to the State Championship as the starting B-Back, what are the major coaching points playing B-Back on Triple Option?

Aaron: Having a consistent mesh point with the quarter back, Knowing who is going to block where and what guy you might have to make miss in the open field, Ball security is huge since they carry the ball 25-30 times a game, Knowing all assignments on all plays incase you audible to another one. Always carry out your fake cause then it will draw defenders to you.

2-      What are the major coaching points on Midline Option?

Aaron: Major coaching points on midline are: Keep mesh point the same, being able to make a quick read and cut off of your blockers.

3-      What are the major coaching points on Rocket Toss?

Aaron: Major coaching points of rocket toss: Properly identifying who blocks who, Making sure that the motion and snap of the ball are timed right, Slots can’t let their man cross face and turn the run back inside, used the width of the field when running don’t be to eager to get vertical.

4-      What were your favorite concepts as a Triple Option B-Back?

Aaron: My favorite concepts of the triple option was pretty much everything. I loved how no matter what defense was being thrown at us we always had a play to counter it, I loved that if they were trying to take away one phase of our offense then that left them weak on the other 2 phases, I liked having 3 people able to carry the ball on one because then the defense couldn’t key in on one player.

5-      What characteristics does a State Championship finalist need to play B-Back in the Triple Option Offense?

Aaron: I would say they need: The ability to carry the ball 25-30 times a game or maybe even more than 30 times a game, The ability to run for gains of 3 yards or 4 yards and not become discouraged, The ability to have the coaches confidence for when they need a play to be made that they know they can turn to you, Just having mental toughness because even if they don’t have the ball they are getting hit every play.