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Teaching Option Assignments As Easy As 1, 2, 3

Balanced Offensive Approach, Balanced Defensive Read


Option Count 44

Option Count Rules v. 4-4 Defense

Sean McCormick

Installing the option offense may seem a bit daunting, but teaching players in steps will result in everyone recognizing their specific assignments.

Gap Education

Defensive linemen are taught to line up in their gap assignments, as specific numbering systems make it easier for players to align properly. All players in the option offense must also learn these assignments, or techniques.

Numbering Option Decisions

1 = Read Defender

Except for the midline option, the 'read' defender will be the first defensive lineman aligned at the 4i technique - or outside of that area. The quarterback uses him to make the decision of handing the ball to the fullback or keeping it.

2 = Option Key

This will be the defender to the outside of the first number-1 'read' defender. If the quarterback keeps the ball, his decision whether to keep the ball or pitch it to the trailing option back will be made on what this player does.

3 = Run Support

This will be the defensive player (usually a safety or linebacker) who has the job of coming up to tackle the ball carrier if he gets by the defensive line.

Numbers 1, 2 Go Unblocked

The 1 and 2 defenders will not be blocked.

  • If the unblocked number 1 defender stays in his gap, the quarterback will hand the ball off to the fullback.
  • If the unblocked number 1 defender runs down the line of scrimmage toward the area where the fullback is to receive the handoff, the quarterback will keep the ball and run down to the area vacated by the number 1 defender.

When the quarterback keeps the ball, he must focus on the movement of the number 2 defender.

  • If the number 2 defender charges toward the quarterback, he will pitch the football to the trailing option back.
  • If the number 2 defender remains to the outside, the quarterback will run the ball inside of him and look to make a cut off of the downfield blocking.

Number 3 Blocked

The run support player will be blocked by an offensive player, most likely a wide receiver or play side slot back.

Coaching Points

  1. Install basic blocking assignment rules to make it easier on offensive linemen to block the proper defender.
  2. Youth coaches, or coaches not comfortable with the quarterback's option read abilities, can pre-determine which player runs the ball by making it part of the huddle call.

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