Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Triple Option Playbook - Sewak Video Secrets

Occasionally I invite other people to guest write on the 'Blog to mix things up. In this case, one of our readers, Peter, sent me a note volunteering to give Jacket fans some inside scoop on one of the Coach Mike Sewak videos we profiled a few weeks back - link here.

One side note - the video is focused on the Triple Option, and in particular the running aspect of the scheme. So there's no background on how you pass out of the formation or integrate that into what you're doing. This video is about how to run the football in the TO.
So with that, for you scheme-nuts, I give you Peter's take on "Secrets of the Triple Option".
written by Peter
As I saw from an earlier post on Scott’s blog, our O-line coach and former head coach of Ga. Southern, Mike Sewak, has put out three DVD’s on americanfootballmonthly.com. I decided to buy the ‘Secrets of the Triple Option’ DVD, because it seemed to be the most in depth of the three and I felt I had the most insight to gain from watching it. If you are like me, then you are interested in the X’s and O’s of football but not an expert on the terminology of option football (Arc, Slash, Veer, etc). I would recommend purchasing “WN-07031 - The Triple Option” if you were to buy one of these three films. He makes several comments on this DVD that he is building from that one, and it will save you the time I spent looking up terminology on the internet.

The first thing you should know is the positions in our specific offensive formation. I couldn’t find a picture on wikipedia / google so I constructed one very crudely out of MS Paint. It should get the point across about what players I am referring to.

In all the examples, the play would run to the right - so anything to the right of the center would be playside (playside WR, playside Guard, etc.). The vice versa being backside.

There is some terminology that you should probably know before going onward.

Veer – this is an offensive formation, and also a type of option offense

Base Scheme – refers to the scheme the players follows prior to the QB keeping the ball or giving it to the FB

Arc Scheme – refers to the scheme after the quarterback keeps the ball and runs an ‘arc’ with an A-back running as a pitch option.

Load Scheme – refers to the scheme after the quarterback gives the ball to the FB to run up the middle.

Okay, so without trying to go into too much detail – here are some key thoughts / insights I got from the DVD. The DVD is broken into chapters by player, so I will write up based on the same.

Secrets of the Playside Wide Receiver

First and foremost, the playside WR must block. Cheat as close to the line as possible. Explode up off the line and fake a vertical route to get the DB set up to defend the pass. The key is to confuse the defender. After the defender knows it is a run, then break down and make contact with him. Do not lose the guy to the outside. Give the back that line.

Keys to the Big Play: Square the defender up and force him to the inside.

Secrets of the Playside A-back

Two ways for the A-back to block: Arc Scheme and Load Scheme. Arc is blocking for the pitch / run support and Load blocking is for the Full Back.

Arc Block Scheme
Mike talks about footwork and setting yourself up to be in the right spot/speed as the back with the ball gets going. Take an outside running path and block at the point of attack on the strong safety. Get 5-7 yards ahead of the runner. Don’t go for a kill shot, but attack the defender as the ball gets there. Knock the safety for a second and let the ball get by the defender. He goes into detail on blocking techniques and how to set up your body.

Keys to the Big Play: Speed and Execution. Block him hard and crisp and at the right time. Work for width.

Load Block Scheme
There are different responsibilities depending on the stunts of the defense (where the tackle, defensive end, and LB move after the ball is snapped).

If blocking a free safety do it in a hurry. Get there before the fullback does. A slot back is not as big as a WR, so brace and get ready for the block on the free safety. Take the hit.

If you have to take on a LB, do not attempt to block him high. He is much bigger then you are. Get low. Drive through the LB, do not dive through. Bring your feet and hips into the block. Tie him up and pin him to the inside.

Secrets of the Playside Tackle

Load Scheme
The playside step is always moving North/South. Do not cross your feet over. Keep your lower body centered and moving forward, it creates power to carry someone with you. Make the Tackle decide whether to go after the full back or protect the linebacker.

If you are blocking the linebacker, square up on him. Put your body in a position as if you were biting the stings on his pads. Try to fight him up the field and pin him on the inside. Allow the fullback to run off the block to the outside and the next level.

Arc Scheme
Roll to the outside after the veer and try to block the Linebacker. If the LB is blocked get up to the safety, you are bigger then he is. Try to divert him. Make him run around you. Make him run side to side instead of at a straight line to the back with the ball. Slow him down if nothing else.

Secrets of a Playside Guard
First two steps are the most critical. Do not step in the same spot. Create 18 inches of movement at the point of attack. Knock the guy off the ball. Take two good steps and engage the defender on the third step.

Base Scheme
If the defender doesn’t release and stays engaged, than stay with him. Pin him to the inside and allow the FB to get to the next level. If you are uncovered then play to block the LB and block for the FB. Don’t square up on the linebacker, push him back. If he releases outside, then make him run side to side to be picked up by the tackle and then go after the weakside safety.

Ace Scheme
Work to the side and help block the nosetackle. Release and go after the weakside linebacker. Pin him to the inside and get him on the ground anyway you can.

Secrets of the Center

Snap and Step Simultaneously. The most important thing is the center/quarterback exchange. Do not move lateral, always move North/South. Mike focuses a lot on footwork and engaging the defenders.

Secrets of the Backside Guard

His path is to block between his crotch and the crotch of the center. It is the Backside Guard’s job to block the Nose Tackle. If the nose tackle moves to the opposite side, you know the fullback has the ball and make a straight line to engage the linebacker. Do not allow him a straight line to the ball, at least make him move east/west. Again, Mike focuses a lot on the initial footwork and the appropriate path/movements.

Secrets of the Backside Tackle

Same role/techniques as the backside guard. Be aware of the defensive end, and do not allow him to run the play down from behind. If there is no threat there, run up to the LB and make him go east/west towards the ball. Again, try to keep him from running a straight line towards the ball.

Secrets of the Backside A-back

Run where the fullback started. Start the run on the heel flick/snap count. When the QB is meshing with the FB, you should be directly behind them. Run parallel with the line for 3 steps. Turn upfield with the QB. The first step with the ball should be for positive yards. Put yourself in a position to make a play.

Secrets of the Backside WR

Push up the field, and then work back to the inside. Square up the cornerback and get him to backpedal. Get him to work north/south. If the corner plays too far off you, be prepared for a 6-8 yard stop route. Attack the inside, fight him high. Put your body between yourself and the ball.
Secrets of the Fullback

When the Quarterback takes a 2nd step, you want to be meshing up with him. Get to the mesh as quick as possible. The quicker you can get to the mesh, the more successful your football team will be. Don’t clamp down on the ball, let the QB decide the play. Get past the line of scrimmage, look for a spot one yard past the line. After that, look to run off blocks. Mesh with the QB, hit the line, then cut to one side or the other. Don’t look downfield, keep your hips and shoulder pads low until you pass the linebackers. All the power comes form staying low. Match up with the QB the same way every play first before cutting towards the left or the right. A good mesh is key to a big play.

Secrets of the QB

So much information, this topic could be its own DVD. The first two steps are the most important. Footwork:

1st step is outside the body (Right foot comes around 90 degrees and back)
2nd step is getting your foot planted (Left foot lines up with the right foot in a normal stance)
3rd step is shifting your weight from the right foot to the left foot (a ‘virtual’ step, with no actual foot movement)
4th step is on the heels of the full back

He goes over the footwork for a while, but it’s all about sinking up with the Fullback and putting yourself in a position to read the play and decide where the play should go. Coming off the mesh with the FB is important. If keeping the ball, force the end to make a decision. You have the football. Do not play to fool the end, threaten him and make him come to you. If he slow plays you, keep the ball and cut back inside. Get square, pitch the ball, and have a good time.

Some of the key thing he highlights on repeatedly:

Lineman need to move North/South, never side to side.
Lineman need to engage the defender on the third step, and build momentum to push the defender back.
Focus is always on making positive yardage plays first and foremost, before making the big plays. Big plays happen after repeatedly executing well.
Execution is getting to the right place at the right time.

I don’t think myself an expert on this by any means, but hopefully this has brought you a little understanding of the offense we are bringing next season. I’m personally very excited for next season on the flats. Go Jackets!


Thanks Peter for a great inside look at some secrets of the Triple Option from a guy who will be teaching it at GT. Great stuff!!!