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The High-Powered Shotgun Option Offense vs. Defending the Optionby: David Purdum
© April 2006
The High-Powered Shotgun Option Offense vs. Defending the Option
CHARLESTON VS. VIRGINIA TECH
Virginia Tech Defensive Line Coach Charlie Wiles and University of Charleston head coach Tony DeMeo were on the same staff at Murray State. During their time together, they figured out the key to winning football games: recruit a Vince Young-like quarterback and run the option.
“Even if you have a free guy to take him,” said Wiles, “you’re not sure they can tackle him. These quarterbacks these days are bigger than defensive ends.”
“And faster,” added DeMeo. “Look at Penn State, they turned their fortunes around by putting [Michael] Robinson, the kid from Virginia, back there, and people couldn’t tackle him.”
Luckily for all defenses, quarterbacks like Young and Robinson are few and far between. But that doesn’t mean any form of the option can’t still cause havoc. In fact, it’s the first thing the Hokie defensive staff wants to know about an offense. “Do they run the option?” Wiles asked. “It makes you play assignment football and defend the entire field. Suddenly, if one person breaks down, it can be a big play.”
That’s exactly why DeMeo has featured a triple-option attack out of the shotgun since 1999. “Option football gives you a chance. When you put a guy in the gun, it gives you even more of a chance,” he said.
Check out how Wiles would defend DeMeo’s shotgun triple option:
Wiles’ No. 1 priority is determining which player he needs to take out of the option equation. He wants his defense to be the one deciding who carries the ball, not the offense. “We want to be able to hopefully hold up in some kind of man-free coverage, something that we can contest all the throws, quick game, screens, while also being able to overload, play six-man football in terms of the box,” said Wiles. “And again, it goes back to who we want to carry the football.
Through studying video, are they really reading the option or is it a predetermined give or pull? Is it double or triple? We look at it real hard. Are they trying to sink that thing up there and trying to keep it front side like more of a traditional of triple option or are they using more of a zone play, which will determine where we set our shades at? Do we want to set our 3-technique to the back or away from the back? Do we want to keep that thing front side or do we want to make it bounce back side away from our 3- technique?
“The bottom line is that we’re going to stop the run by outnumbering defenders to blockers and make them have to throw the football to beat us,” Wiles concluded. DeMeo agrees. “If they want to stop the option, they’re going to do it,” he said. “They’re going to put enough people in the box to take care of it. If they put nine in the box, you’re going to run into a brick wall.” To prevent defenses from forming those brick walls, DeMeo doesn’t hesitate to run the option out of almost any formation. “Always make them have a recognition problem first,” he said. “So people have to recognize what formation we’re in. ‘Are we balanced or unbalanced?’ And then they have to go through their option responsibilities. “The great thing about option football is it causes the defense to play assignment football,” he continued. “So I know they’re going to assign a guy to the pitch guy, the quarterback and the dive. I know that, the trick is maybe throwing them off a little bit by blocking the guy that has pitch, quarterback and dive.”
DeMeo finds ways to disrupt the defenders assigned to the ball carriers. He’ll go unbalanced, utilize a tight end or show a trips look that forces defenses to move players out of the box. “If I know a team is playing man coverage, I like to crack the free safety and try to get two for one,” DeMeo added.
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