Keys to Success...

In this blog post we are going to break down what I feel are keys to success in installing and coaching option football.  

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1. Having detailed drills and skills by position is critical to player success. As an option  coach, you want to be consistent with fundamental skills taught to players. It is important to have a list of everyday drills you will use by position. You also need to have a list of drills that need to be taught based on the install for a given week.  The important part is combining those lists each week so that each coach is able to coach the players the basics each week.


2. Keep it Simple! This can be a tough thing to do. There is so much flexibility in this offense that sometimes we think adding a play helps a certain game plan or scenario, and I have been guilty of that in the past. When I first started installing this offense I wanted all the plays and answers I could get and install them.   Unfortunately, you reach a tipping point between being good at a few things or being mediocre at a lot of things. I learned along the way, its best to stick with the “Big 5” and have a few compliments, and get really good at that. I found that the more I worked on the fundamentals of IV, Mid-Double, Mid-Triple, Toss, and Zone Dive this offense really took off for us.  I made the commitment to be very multiple in formations but very basic in plays. I think this alone has helped evolve this offense for us over the years.


3. Coaching proper ball security everyday is big one in this offense. Think about it, 3 players could handle the ball on any given option play and proper ball security keeps the ability for all those players to be threats, each and every play.  We use ball security circuits during our 30 min special teams segments every day. I have highlighted those in our blog post located here: In the past we have also incorporated ball security drills into everyday position drills where we might use a fumble pro with the A backs or we may use silk football covers for B backs. I think it is important to find the time to work on ball security everyday, I think this makes the players feel the importance of it and typically makes them more focused on doing it right.


4. This offense is definitely a system. You have to commit to it and really coach the nuts and bolts! I see a lot of questions on “If/Then” sheets and how they might help coaches. I feel you need to Teach.Train.Practice. Repeat. Meaning, teach the fundamentals and why you do them. Train your players to execute your plan. Practice consistently each day and week. Repeat those steps for success. I once saw a great quote, “Consistent Outperforms Cleaver”. If you can really dive in and understand what works and why, what doesn’t work and why, you will never need an “If/Then” sheet you will know what adjustments need to be made and you will be confident as a play caller and your players will be confident in you!


5. Trusting the no-huddle system took some time for me to understand. This wasn’t an overnight hit for me because I learned option football from coaches and teams that huddled.  I wanted to be able to talk to the QB after each play, communicate adjustments, and have a good rapport with him on how the game was going. Other than the rapport, it was more about control and confidence.  After several research driven visits to Navy and Harding, I adopted a no huddle approach to this offense. We signal every formation and play, either through a scan/check with me concept or through wrist bands on every player.  We typically scan all dead ball situations, use show motion or a dummy cadence to see if we can gain an advantage, then get into a play that makes since. Plays that occur within a series we signal formation and play and go fast. A couple of things happen right away; We dictate to the defense tempo, which combined with option creates some vanilla ways people defend us.   Also, because we can get into three man surface look without subbing, we can subtly adjust against how a defense may be defending us.


6. Postseason self scout is something I am still working on to better understand. There is a lot to do before you can really analyze how your season went and what was good and what wasn’t.  The first thing you need to do is create a workflow chart for in-season tasks that need to be done after each game. The first thing is to input all the data, play calls, defenses into hudl, excel, etc.  Make sure to do it for each game you play during the season as having to go back and input all this data after the season can be a daunting task and one that may keep you from really looking at what worked and what didn’t.  After all the data is in, you need to make cutups of each play by tag. For instance, I have cutups in HUDL that are 12/13 Switch, 12/13 Load, 22/23 Bear, 312/313 Sideline, etc. for each play series we run. I then run a report in HUDL after the cutup is made that gives me how many times we ran that particular play and how many yards it averaged.  It is important to notate who ran the ball and who caught the ball in your season data input, so you can look to see how many carries the A backs had vs. how many the B backs had. After all these task are done, you need to decide what you consider a play to be successful. We use yardage gained and down & distance to measure this. For example, 12/13 is our inside veer play. If that play gains 4 yards or more on first down, then it was successful or efficient. On second down if that same play doesn’t get half of the yards needed for a first down (3 yards) then it wasn't efficient or successful.  On 3rd and 4th downs you look to see if you got the first down or not for efficiency. I have a break down for our 2015 season prepared below to illustrate what I mean.


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Matt McLeodComment