The speed option is an easy concept to understand. Offensive line leaves end man on line of scrimmage unblocked, QB reads EMLOS and makes keep or pitch read. Texas A&M has a twist on how they run speed option because of their use of outside zone. Because A&M employs outside zone blocking in their stretch lead play, they run their speed option off that same action. The twist is a read of a second level defender instead of a lineman. The result is a simple play that looks exactly the same as another play the defense saw but attacking a different player. Look complex while staying simple is a hallmark of Jimbo Fisher’s pro-option offense.
A&M runs speed option from 11 and 12 personnel. The base play concept is pretty simple, all offensive linemen (and playside tight end) zone block just like in stretch lead. The QB takes the snap and his aiming point is outside the tight end’s outside leg or the D gap. The tight end is sealing the edge just like in stretch lead while the QB runs outside him and looks for the force defender. The force defender (usually a linebacker or nickelback) is the read man.
TE has the key block, he has to double the strongside edge and go second level to the inside linebacker. If he doesn’t get the inside linebacker, defense has two on two and can stuff the play. Left tackle blocks backside end. Left guard and center double-team 1-tech to backside linebacker. Right guard blocks 3-tech. Right tackle doubles playside edge with tight end. Boundary receiver runs a vertical route to take CB away from play. Field slot receiver stalk blocks the safety. Field receiver goes vertical and if cornerback sits, stalk blocks him outside. QB and RB head outside just like stretch lead except QB is reading force defender. If he attacks, pitch, if he floats, keep inside.
Executing Speed Option
When A&M played South Carolina in 2020, the Aggies had a 1st and 10 at the Carolina 15 yard line. A&M came out in 11 personnel with Jalen Wydermyer aligned to the field, Kellen Mond at QB, and Devon Achane aligned next to him. Carolina came out in a 3-4 look with both corners and a safety up on the line showing press man. Against Cover 0, with safety #27 Jaylan Foster in the box as an apex defender, speed option is a solid play choice. If the option is executed correctly, there is no third level defender to tackle the ballcarrier.
Hezekiah Jones is aligned to the boundary, Ainias Smith is in the slot, and Chase Lane is the field receiver.
At the snap, Jones goes vertical, Smith stalk blocks the safety back five yards, and Lane goes vertical and then blocks. Wydermyer and RT Carson Green get a nice double-team block on the strongside edge and Wdermyer is able to go second level. His initial block on the middle linebacker isn’t great but he sticks with it and seals him inside. RG Jared Hocker does a solid job sealing the 3-tech inside before he is tripped. Center Ryan McCollum and left guard Kenyon Green had a good double-team on the 1-tech until Green tries to throw him down. McCollum goes down and trips Hocker from the backside. Left tackle Dan Moore hooks inside the weakside edge and shields him off backside.
Mond runs playside with Achane wide in a pitch relationship. Foster widens in an attempt to cover play both, Mond keeps inside and runs untouched 15 yards for the touchdown.
Bowl Game Big Play
Here A&M runs the same play from 12 personnel. Ryan Renick is the in-line TE and Jalen Wydermyer is aligned on the wing to the field. Difference here is while Renick blocks the strong edge, Wydermyer goes outside to block the strong safety. The strongside linebacker is the read man here. Linebacker widens to cover Isaiah Spiller, Mond keeps up inside Renick’s block and is off to the races for a 67 yard touchdown. Notice the downfield blocking by Chase Lane.
Here it is from split-backs 21 personnel. Left tackle Jahmir Johnson can’t seal the strongside edge so has to kick him outside. This forces Haynes King to cut inside his block and Isaiah Spiller tries to block inside late, slowing King and allowing the backside LB to make the tackle after a three yard gain.
Speed option is a nice play for A&M in their pro-option offense. The similarity of the play to other concepts like stretch lead and outside zone help keep A&M’s offense simple while looking complex.
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