Fact: 74 percent of coaches will need to defend the Triple Option offense at least once this season. By now, some of you may have faced this scheme already, but chances are it will surface again whether it be in the regular season or post-season. The problem is you won’t have much time to prepare for it, which is why Steve Coburn, the head coach at Wasatch High School (UT), uses a Monster Cover One structure each time he sees it. His reasoning is simple: it’s a balanced structure which provides for solid, consistent run fits in defending what could be a problematic offense if you’re not disciplined in your reads. And if you're already using a four down front to defend the option, this scheme may be a solid adjustment that already fits your personnel. Read the report here.
By Steve Coburn
Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator
Wasatch High School (UT)
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In this clinic report, I’ll be describing our approach to installing and using our option package within our 4-3 defensive scheme. Our base defense is primarily out of an over front and quarters coverage structure. We may only see this offense once or twice during the course of a season, so for that reason, we need to be very specific with our players as we install this package.
From an X’s and O’s perspective, we will only use one front and one coverage. These offenses run the same plays repeatedly week in and week out while we may only get three days of practice to defend it. For that reason, we minimize our defensive package to get better at defending the option. We believe this gives us the best opportunity to get as many reps as we can in those three practices in preparation for the opponent.
We tell them, our players, that they have 1/11th responsibility and they need to be very disciplined in that responsibility for the package to function. If they do their 1/11th each play then we will be successful.
Monster 1 Scheme
Monster 1 is designed to be a balanced defense. It consists of two dive players, two quarterback players on each side of the ball and one pitch player in the middle. The two dive players are the 2i defenders and the 30 technique inside linebacker. We play the defensive tackles in 2i techniques to minimize the Midline option play. The two quarterback players are the overhang defender (low safety) and the 5-technique defensive end or the inside linebacker depending on the block of the offensive tackle who will either veer or base block. The high safety is tasked with playing the pop pass to pitch.
This is matched on both sides of the ball. Understanding the offense is attempting to establish the dive play so we assign two players to the dive. The next play they want to establish is the quarterback keep play, which is again why we need two players assigned to the quarterback. That leaves the high safety to clean up both the pop pass to pitch. We can adjust the dive/QB scheme based on the strength of the offensive personnel.
Strength is declared to the 3-man surface or the multiple receiver side. If the formation is balanced, then we call it to the left in the middle of the field or to the field if the ball is on a hash. Since it is a balanced front there is no need to flop the front to strength. This gives the players more practice time playing the blocks from the same stance each time increasing their reps, therefore increasing their skill at playing the blocking scheme.
The run fits are mirrored on both sides, again maximizes practice time. As a base philosophy those alignments and fits do not change throughout the course of the game.
To see game film of this concept, click on the video below:
What You’re Missing…
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- How to adapt the Monster package to defend the Wishbone triple option scheme.
- How to adapt the Monster package to defend the Flexbone triple option scheme.
- Coach Coburn’s adjustments to pre-snap motion, including the coverage structure he uses against the veer and pop pass associated with option teams.
- More game film on this concept.
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I have played Monster 1 for many years both on the high school level as well as the JUCO level and have been very successful. The simplicity of the package allows for more practice time on the techniques and execution as well as the speed at which the opponent’s offense will run. It is important to train your players to be assignment sound. If they have dive, then tackle the dive, if they have QB tackle the QB, etc. Again playing 1/11th defense each player doing his part so that they can trust each other. The scheme is sound it is then up to all of the working parts to make it successful. If you play a team on a yearly basis that runs triple option I would install Monster 1 in the spring as well as early fall camp then the players have an opportunity to recall previous learning.
Meet Coach Steve Coburn:
Coach Coburn has been coaching for 30 years on the high school and college level both as a head coach and assistant coach. As head coach at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah his teams went 53-7, five consecutive bowl appearances, five consecutive NJCAA Top 5 finishes, and won or shared five consecutive conference championships and played in back to back National Championships. Currently, he is serving as head coach/defensive coordinator at Wasatch High School in Heber City, Utah where we are making the transition from 3A classification to 4A.