Game Planning Within an Option Offense

In this blog we will discuss game planning strategies and how we develop a game plan for an upcoming opponent.


The first thing we do is evaluate our previous game and go through what worked well and what didn’t. We make reports on play efficiency, grades, and QB decision. I coach quarterbacks and I think it is critical to watch film with your QB’s and discuss their decision making.  Option offenses are dependent on the quarterback making good decisions and showing them good ones and talking through bad ones really helps with maturation. Then we look at our own self-scout tendencies that our new opponent might look at and then we move on. We try not to spend much time on our previous game but we do need to evaluate some things.  


As we transition into our opponent for the week, we always watch the most current opponent scout game first as a staff. We start side of ball specific and we take detailed notes on personnel.  We need to know 5 overall personnel questions:


  1. Can our guards single block their defensive lineman?

  2. Do they play with a nose?

  3. Are their linebackers disciplined in their techniques?

  4. Do they ever use their corners in run support?

  5. Is their secondary physical, disciplined, and can our A backs block them successfully?


The why? Why do we need to know the answers to those questions?


We need to know if our guards can single block their defensive lineman because our base play is inside veer and we ask those guys to block man on defenders by themselves. This allows us to veer our playside tackle for 2nd level or 3rd level defenders.  I hate to try and force players to do things they aren’t capable of doing. That player will never be successful or confident and we all want out players to do well. If we know we can’t block them with our guards then we will read them (Midline Option). This is the beauty of option football, if you can’t block’em, read’em!   


We also need to know if they play with a nose because we need to prepare our center and backside guards for immediate pressure in their scoop blocks.  We also need to prepare our center for movement and we need to know the center won't have a free release to 2nd level defenders.


We need to know if their linebackers are disciplined with the key reads, footwork, and are physical.  If they are, we know we need to prepare accordingly, and if they aren’t or they typically stare in the backfield we know our backfield actions could help us get an angle to aid our players block.  


I think a big factor to question #4 is how a team using their corners. Are they cover guys? Are they in run support? Are they physical?  These things really help us with regards to perimeter blocking and manipulating them in our passing game.

Lastly, we always need know how physical their secondary is. A lot of time our A backs are matched up on their safeties or corners and we need to know if we can win there.  Also, we need to know how disciplined their safety or safeties are. We know early on in a game if we can hit a home run in play action passing by studying how disciplined their safeties are from scout tapes.  


From there we look to see how our Big 6 plays will match up against their personnel.  We always start with Inside Veer, we look to see what tags we may need to work and get those calls solidified.  We move to Zone Dive, how we may attack the playside linebacker, if we need to double the playside down defender, and how we will attack #1.  This is where multiple formations come into play for us and how we create advantageous angles for our blockers. We move to Mid-Triple and Mid-Double, and how we may insert block the linebackers, what motions may effect the linebackers and secondary.  Lastly, we look at Toss and Zone Option. We need to know if we can effectively block the alley or do we need to kick a corner. Also, maybe we need to read a secondary player in zone option and give our perimeter players an easier angle to be a successful blocker on Friday night.  The final thing we do is decide how our play-action protection needs to be established. We may not know what front they are in but we do know who their best guys are, so we set our protections accordingly.


Finally, I want to highlight is practice preparation because I think this is essential to making this offense go!  We typically never know how we are going to be defended week to week. This is why we want to know so much about the opponents personnel.  We make sure to put our scout team players in the opposing teams numbers and match those guys to our own personnel. If they have a great defensive lineman or safety, then we need to give that look to our offensive players during the week of practice.  I feel you need to work every front and coverage during the week of practice, in pods, half lines, and in team using rounds of scripted plays.  This is the way your players gain confidence and knowledge within the option offense. If we were to guess how we were to be defended based on a previous tape we would be making a huge mistake. I can’t tell you how many times early on running this offense, I made that mistake and was scrambling for the first half of a game to right the ship for our players.  They were a 4-3 team and we prepared all week for that and then they came out in a 5-2 on game night. Now, we prepare against all things and our players don’t blink and eye and can execute at a high level on game nights.


Our next blog post will continue with an emphasis on game planning concepts and as always feel free to discuss blog posts or ask questions on our forum page located here:  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on twitter @runthetriple or my email address

All the Best,

Matt McLeod