A lot of debate has occurred by proponents of this style of offense whether to use a tightend or not. We have always included a tightend in our package although the percentage of use has changed radically in any given year. This past year we were well over 70% with a tightend while at Truman we were about 40%. In some years, the number has dipped as low as 10%. That is the beauty of the triple it’s not flank restrictive. So, you can adapt it to your personnel and defenses you see.
Although we will cover the play of the triple to a three-man surface, we will not tell you if you need a tightend or not. I do think you need some sort of three man surface as a part of your offense by you can accomplish this by using a tightend or going tackles over. Rather I will just list the advantages of using and not using a tightend in the offense. The choice is totally yours. (You will note that some of these are unique to the high school level. Although I would and have incorporated a tightend while running this at the division III level, the need would greatly diminish due to the horizontal structure of the field.
Advantages of using a tightend
- In certain defenses, a tightend can set the structure of the defense. This simply means that you can safely predict where the 3 and the 1 technique will be aligned. Additionally, you can set the one technique to the field to give you the best angles when running the triple. If you re double width, you will usually get the 3 technique to the field. If you cannot handle him, you are forced to run the triple to the short side. Although not as limited with college hashes, in high school you simple lose the threat of a breakaway on the pitch due to the constrictive nature of that side of the field.
- A tightend will better define the overhang fold player for the midline tuck play. Although we are strictly limiting this book to the triple, you must include the entire offense when deciding if you should incorporate a tightend or not. The fold player that will occasionally be a problem with the midline tuck player will be defined and accounted for by the additional gap added with the tightend.
- A tightend will move handoff keys, especially stacks, further away from the quarterback. In 4 man fronts, the read is simply moved further away from the mesh. Since time and distance are all processes of the quarterbacks read process, this makes if an easier read for the quarterback. (An offshoot of this is the opening up of the fullback game. With the big splits and the read further removed, the read key may not be able to get to the fullback or his angle that has changed may not place him in a position to tackle the fullback.)
- It lengthens the backside of the option. You can chase the option down from the backside. This is especially true on the midline where the quarterback actually steps toward the chaser. By adding a tightend, the backside chaser is wider and also has to deal with a whole realm of other possibilities in scheme. This is also true on play-action passes where you can, by call, add a blocker to keep from being outnumbered.
- You are constricting the flank to the boundary. This goes along with the problems of running the triple into a high school boundary. By constricting the defense, you have a greater chance of “circling” the defense quickly. This in turn gives the pitch more space to work in.
- You have a bigger body to load block #2. As I stated before, we are a multiple triple option team. We like to change defensive assignments and dictate to the defense who carries the ball. We rarely, if ever, like to load #2 with a halfback when #2 is on the line of scrimmage. This simply doesn’t go with our philosophy of putting the most speed on the field at these positions. Now, with a tightend, we feel we can evenly match #2.
- By nature some defenses are forced to change structure due to the flank or an extra gap caused by the tightend. Take a college 4-3. In a non-tightend flank, the end can take dive and the outside linebacker quarterback pretty easily. Add a tightend. If their base was a college 4-3 (6 or 9 technique with a c-gap linebacker, their option assignments change. If the end stays on the dive, the linebacker will be sealed in as part of the “box.” (He is inside the handoff key) who takes quarterback. Option assignment changes or the defense goes to a 7 technique and keeps their stack and option concepts. But the 7 technique is not part of their base, the stack has been removed from the mesh, and the angle / footwork for the read key has changed.The same occurs with secondary support. If in the above scenario, the secondary is aligned 4 across to double width and rotating for support on motion (a common scenario), they now have to corner support to the tightend, not only changing option assignments but forcing a much quicker rotation for the corner to take deep 1/3 on action away. This sets up all sorts of other problems for the defense.(I know you can come up with multiple scenarios as to how to handle these adjustments but the key here is time and making the defense think and change option assignments. How many times have you heard or read how tough it is to prepare for the triple in one week. Just by incorporating the triple you have multiplied their teaching.)
- It creates leverage and space for certain passing patterns. Again high school hashes play a factor here. Forced to roll up the corner a safety is quickly outflanked by a tightend running a corner pattern and has the space to work it. There are other patterns that this is true on also.
- Because you have one. Probably the simplest but most realistic reason to use one. A good coach gets the most out of his talent. If you have a good tightend and convert him to tackle, shame on you. Additionally, you don’t need a huge tightend to be successful. Usually, he will be sealing linebackers and blocking safeties. At times, we have converted a bigger split end to play this position getting more players on the field. At ideal times, we’ve had a player who can play tight and split out. This creates enormous stress on the defense.
- The use of a tightend is further conducive to formational structure including shifting. Unlike most true triple teams, we will shift the tightend to create further conflicts in the defensive structure. Shifting does a number of things. First it forces the defense to restructure itself and as a result change its option responsibilities. It a player was a 1, not only we he have to shift but he has to remember his option assignments. This also has the added effect of slowing down great defensive linemen. Rather than teeing off in the three, he has to be ready to get up and slide his position with the shift. Shift two or three times in a row then come off the ball. I guarantee you that three technique gets run over.Taking it another step, if you get good at it, you can reset the defense and create personnel mismatches. If you have a great nose in a shade and you can’t run the triple to him (it happens), flip the tightend and he is the three. You are running the triple to the a-gap player (ideal angles) and have dictated who that is.Understand, we are not looking for poor defensive adjustment although that happens occasionally. Most good teams will adapt with the shift. We are looking for personnel advantages and slowing down the defense. Remember, the more they have to think, the greater the chance for misreads by the defense. With that, the greater the defensive adjustment (more people moving or they are moving a greater distance) the more we will continue to shift.
Tomorrow the Why Not's