Texas A&M’s pro-option offense includes the ability for the QB to turn any play into a run-pass option. Jimbo Fisher makes life more difficult for opposing defenses by including the triple option in his playbook. The triple option is an old-school football concept that dates back to 1964 when Bill Yeoman at the University of Houston invented the veer offense. Emory Bellard’s wishbone and Paul Johnson’s flexbone are also triple option offenses.
Triple Option Concept
The triple option requires two reads from the quarterback, a give-keep read inside and a pitch read outside. In the veer, wishbone, and flexbone, an interior defensive lineman was left unblocked. He was the give-keep read. If he widened to play the QB, it was a give to the dive inside. If the lineman crashes inside, the QB kept outside and moved to his second read. The second read was a keep-pitch read based off an edge defender, usually a defensive end or linebacker. If the edge defender widened for the RB, the QB kept inside. If the edge defender stayed inside to play the QB, the QB pitched the ball to the RB outside on the option. First read dive, second read keep, third read pitch. Triple option.
A&M runs triple option from 21 personnel (2 backs 1 tight end) to punish defenses for using nickel or dime personnel. Because Ainias Smith is a WR/RB hybrid, the Aggies also run triple option from 11 personnel. A&M’s modern version of the triple option combines inside zone with speed option. The center and guard combo zone block the 1-tech to the backside linebacker. Playside guard goes second level to the middle linebacker. The playside tackle blocks the 3-tech. Playside defensive end is left unblocked because he is the read man for inside zone.
If the defensive end crashes to stop inside zone, QB keeps and runs speed option. The new read man is a linebacker or safety. If the force player widens to stop the RB, QB keeps and runs it himself. The force player taking the QB triggers the pitch decision to the RB.
Executing The Play
When A&M ran triple option against Kent State in 2021, the Golden Flashes showed a 4-3 look with a Cover 2 shell. The boundary receiver faced press coverage, the field receiver faced off coverage, and all three second level defenders are in the box. It is the perfect alignment for triple option.
Texas A&M Triple Option
11 personnel pic.twitter.com/fsG7YCJ5tK
— James Taglienti (@iamthe12thman) July 5, 2022
Ainias Smith is aligned to Haynes King’s right and Isaiah Spiller to King’s left. Spiller is the dive back and Smith is the pitch back. At the snap, center Bryce Foster and right guard Layden Robinson double-team the 1-tech. They drive the 1-tech back, achieve vertical displacement, and Foster comes off the block to put the SLB on his backside five yards down the field. Perfect zone block. This is teaching tape for an Ace combo block. Left guard Aki Ogunbyi goes second level for the MLB but overruns his block. Kent State did a tackle-end stunt on this play, so left tackle Jahmir Johnson is run into by the defensive end. Johnson reflexively shields him back and blocks him on the play.
The DE and the WLB are the two reads on this play, the end for inside zone and the WLB for the option. Because the end crashes on the stunt, King now has two defenders bearing down on him, the DT and the LB. King pitches to Smith four yards behind the line of scrimmage. Smith beats the LB to the edge and breaks two tackle attempts. Play result is a gain of eight yards and a first down.
It’s In The Playbook
A&M’s triple option is a revised take on an old play, combining inside zone with speed option. The play doesn’t require any new blocking schemes for the offensive line so it is an easy install. The triple option is a solid play to attack defenses using nickel/dime coverage and force them to defend the whole field. With Devon Achane and Amari Daniels at RB in 2022, Aggie fans can expect to see some triple option in 2022.
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