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Clinic Talk: How the Hurricanes can stop the triple option offense

How Manny Diaz can set up the defense to stop the Flexbone

NCAA Football: Miami at Appalachian State Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In 2008, Paul Johnson came to Georgia Tech and rolled up four signature wins including a 41-23 ass kicking of the Miami Hurricanes. That chilly autumn night saw the Jackets rush for 472 yards against supposed defensive genius in Head Coach Randy Shannon. If you’re a glutton for torture, you can watch a shortened version of the game below:

Coach Johnson did exactly what Flexbone and most triple option teams do against a defense that can’t stop them- run the same couple of plays over and over again. Wing-T and Flexbone type teams believe in an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to offensive play calling and will run through you with the same call over and over again. Randy Shannon was even quoted as saying his team didn’t play their defensive responsibilities... if this is true, why wouldn’t you take those players out for ones that will? Obviously Coach Shannon knew how to defend it in the 2002 Rose Bowl, but, I digress...

So what can Coach Diaz and the #Canes do to stop the Jackets option offense? Play their responsibilities. I can imagine the Hurricanes’ base defense versus Tech will be a 4-3 cover 2. The goal as a DC is to figure out which defenders you want tackling which offensive skill player on every snap.

To properly practice defending the option, defensive coordinators will actually scrimmage with no ball, and with 2 footballs before going with only 1. No ball makes the option period go smoother, you don’t have to worry about scout guys or GA’s fumbling pitches and dives. It also forces every defender to play their role because the “win” here is tackling your responsibility, whether they have the ball or not. 2 footballs lets you practice and see the ball on both parts of the option on every rep (option offenses also use this method). You get to see the dive and the pitch on every play.

Above, you can see the alignment of the defense in a 4-3 cover 2 versus the base flexbone formation. Flexbone teams will also run varied looks with the A in the slot, the X over (and that makes him ineligible but they don’t care) and multiple types of motion including high, jet and hip.

The basic dive veer triple option and blocking scheme is above. Keep in mind Coach Johnson will want as many combo and cut blocks as he can get, including the X and Z cutting the corners. So who will Miami make responsible for the Q, B, and A? I’m assuming it will change throughout the game. If you stick with the same option responsibilities all game Paul Johnson will pick you apart.

Above, the DE is playing the QB, the SS is playing the pitchman (A), and the Sam is playing the ball.

A switch the defense can make is to keep the DE on the QB, the Sam plays the pitchman, and the SS plays the ball.

You can also have the DE run to the pitchman, the Sam play the QB and the SS play the ball, among many other variations of switches in the option responsibility game.

Playing the dive usually doesn’t see much of a switch. Your 3 and 1 techniques will be responsible for the B-Back as will the MLB. The Will and FS will scrape-to-replace and help with cut backs, missed tackles, and spills.

Of course, the end result #Canes fans want to see is:


Check out the video below for a clinic-talk on defending the Flexbone, If you have any questions find me on twitter: @IMFB_Blog