By Ross Maddalon
Old Bridge High School (NJ)
Editor's Note: Coach Maddalon is the offensive coordinator at Old Bridge High School. This past season, the Old Bridge Knights finished with an 8-3 record including a semi-final birth in the state playoffs.
When I joined the coaching staff at Old Bridge High School in New Jersey seven years ago, I was predominantly an I-formation guy. This was the offense I played in high school and ran when I coached my old high school team during college. I never really understood the concepts of "veer" and "triple" because none of the teams I was associated with had ever run them. At Old Bridge, however, I quickly became familiar with the triple option philosophy and its effectiveness.
What I saw at Old Bridge was a number of teams teaching their defensive ends to "bomb the mesh" and keep the offensive tackles/tight ends off of their scraping linebackers. Some teams were better at it than others. The well-coached teams were able to contain the option, and that left the traditional wishbone/flexbone team to answer with the "rocket toss sweep" or play-action passes.
For years I asked myself this question: "Why can’t we run the triple option from the I-formation?" By combining veer and midline with ISO/power/counter trey, an offense can really mess with the head of the defensive end. In 2011, we transitioned to the I-option attack and it paid off dividends.
Base Flexbone Option
In the traditional wishbone/flexbone option attack, most even-front teams played the option with the "squeeze and scrape" philosophy.
Inside Veer (Diagram 1)
Outside Veer (Diagram 2)
Even when we ran midline option (reading the 3-technique, double option), many teams decided to teach the defensive ends to slant hard inside and have the linebackers scrape for the quarterback, bouncing out a hole wider because of the slant-end.
Midline Option (Diagram 3)
"I" Formation Option
In the traditional I-formation attack, most defensive ends are taught to read-and-react to the offensive tackles/tight ends blocks. "Squeeze and scrape" is not used as often due to the schemes of power, zone, and toss.
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In the I-option attack, the defensive ends will be faced with a multitude of challenges. They will be looking at down, base, reach, and kick-out blocks. The more you make a defensive player think during a play, the less effective he will be.
If you take a look at outside veer and power, two of our biggest plays in 2011, the 9-technique will have to react differently each time. In Diagram 4, the defensive end has to crash hard down the line of scrimmage to tackle the fullback.
Outside Veer (Diagram 4)
Diagram 5 creates a conflict to the defensive end. The defense can no longer use a "squeeze and scrape" technique.
Power (Diagram 5)
You will still see some defensive ends using the "squeeze and scrape" against both plays, but against power, the fullback will end up "logging" the end and the backside guard will pick up the scrape linebacker.
Power (Diagram 6)
Of course, midline is still one of the big plays in most option attacks. Midline can still be run in the I-formation, but using your tailback as a blocker. This is very similar to the ISO scheme, but with the play side guard releasing inside for the inside linebacker. The 9-technique will now have to react to a tight end’s base block, which is a block he has not seen yet.
Midline (Diagram 7)
When running to the 5-technique, we like to use inside veer, ISO, and power. How will the 5-technique react if he is unblocked? What if he is base blocked by an offensive tackle? Or even kicked out by a fullback?
The other two plays in the I-option attack are the counter trey (Diagram 11) and toss (Diagram 12). Now the defensive end will have to react to an offensive guard kicking him out instead of the fullback. Also, toss gives a great advantage to teams still trying to use the "squeeze and scrape" technique.
Eventually, anytime you put a defense in a bad situation, their usual reaction is to blitz. Two great run plays to counter the blitz are power (Diagram 13) and double (load) option (Diagram 14).
We ended up leading our division in rushing yards per game in 2011. Defensive coaches cannot go into playing this offense with a "squeeze and scrape" mentality. Always remember, you want to make the defensive ends focus on what they have to do after the snap—not before—and you’ll have them right where you want them!