Part I - First let's talk about keeping the fullback involved:
There was a time that 4i's gave us a problem in keeping the fullback in the game and in order to be an triple option team you MUST keep the fullback threat alive or the defense will get into a rhythm of flying out to the quarterback and pitch and outnumbering you at the flank. (trust me, I learned this one the hard way.) Just the threat of the fullback slows down the alley safety, the middle linebacker and forces the defense to change option assignments or die with the first threat.
First thought pattern vs this defense is that the 4i's are fullback player. Why else would they put them in there. (They can't get to midline from 4's) Additionally, they must be fullback players due to the lack of inside numbers to be stout against him (NG and MLB)
First option "Outside Veer" (see Fig. 1)
(Note: In order to keep the mesh consistent we will cut down our splits to g-c two feet and g-tackle one foot. We can now aim at the inside foot of the tackle for an easier fullback entry path. However, the QB / fullback steps and mesh have remained the same. This also allows for an easier power zone with the guard and tackle. [they will double until the tackle is forced to come off.) You've cut down a total of 3' and expanded the path 3'. So the fullback's path is essentially the same.)
You now read # 2 (DE/OLB) and pitch off #3 (Strong safety)
This play has the added affect of helping with a hard charging strong safety that is hard to arc by the halfback, as we are optioning him now.
With a single lber defense we have the option of wide sealing the halfback (See fig 2) as the power scoop can handle the MLB and now we not only influence #2 with our outward move but can account for the free. Thus everybody is blocked.
If you want to make this this a QB fullback play setting up the wheel. You can also run this with our special call (fig.3) having the Wr and HB switch assignments. Or run it from twins. (fig 4)
Second Option: "Zone dive" (see Fig. 5)
Zone dive does the same thing as the outside veer, except there is no reading it and the splits remain normal. The fullback will now "read the tackle's block. Either will be successful here.
Third Option: "Midline Dive" (see fig 6)
We love this play vs any odd defense but especially against this one. First thing you must analyze is can your center neutralize the nose. We prefer this agains an active nose as he is doing our job for us.
We will take as big as splits as the defense will allow and cut the inside leg of the tackle. (take 4-5 foot if possible) The FB reads the nose (we will back him up an extra foot some some years) and stays A to A. You must make the defense pay for letting one linemen cover so big of an area.
The play can be run to motion, no motion, twirl motion, whatever gives you the best movement out of the nose
If a team is trying to play us in 4 tech's with this defense, we will run this till the cows come home!
One year we were playing this defense with a great 300lb D1nose. We cut our guard / center splits and really opened our tackles. All three players came off at the nose with him him deciding who came off (if anybody!) It worked extremely well.
Part II - Keeping the quarterback in play
The defense basically declares itself as back to back vs the triple. By alignment this is a pretty easy scheme to figure out. (They may stunt #2 and #3 but rarely as the free has to move over and we handled that before.) They are expanding their defense and then declaring the ball to go outside NOW into their strength. In essence they are saying - You will not run the QB or Fullback on the triple and they will have close run support to force the pitch player back to pursuit quickly. You need to make them respect the QB. We've already done a little of this with our midline tuck play. You also need the close support to pay (other then the play-action pass.)Let's look at some more.
First Option: "Triple T-load" (see fig.7)
We've talked about this earlier as a midline play but it is better as a triple due to the fact that the quarterback gets out quicker. He can circle the defense quicker. The OLB should be an easy log due to his aggressive nature as a true c-gap player. The HB can read inside or outside the tackle and the quarterback can still tuck.
Second Option: "Double option wide receiver load" (fig. 8)
Third option: "Tackle or TE load" (See fig 9)
Part III Using the HB to exploit the defense.
There are a couple of plays we use to keep the halfback in the game and take advantage of defensive structure.
First option: Counter Dive (fig 11)
If the nose slants hard on motion, the center will take him and the guard will go up to the backer who is usually flowing away. (fig. 12) Again, we will wider our splits with the key being the backside tackle's cut block.
Second option: Double option. (fig 13)
This is our zone option with the fullback wrapping. Again, the fullback can only take so many hits from a 4i and the quart back may have trouble with the back to back. In this scheme the fullback should be able to get to the free. We use the same splits as in our outside veer to facilitate the zone. Plus the quarterback can read only one person, eliminating the back to back.
(Note: we can run this away from trips or unbalanced in order to soften the arc. Or we may crack arc #! and exchange the halfback and wide receiver's block. In this defense, the numbers usually remain the same but the softness of support and the dual threat [run or pass] conflict on the support player may make the arc easier.)
That's a complete running game vs this "junk" defense. You don't need it all, just what you do best. Remember, the stranger the defense the bigger the voids, the less you have to do.
We will get into another junk defense next time. You may never see these but the key is to be prepared if you do. If you do have a defense you would like to see attacked, email me at email@example.com.
Note: Due to time, I purposely left off the passing game as the tradition single high attack works.