Tony DeMeo

The Option Phase of the Gun Triple

The Option Phase of the Gun Triple
Last month I wrote about the mesh between the Quarterback and the dive back in the Gun Triple. This month I’m going to go over the second phase of the Gun Triple or the Option Phase. The quarterback’s keep or pitch decision.
One of the advantages of the Gun Triple over the under center triple is the downhill path of the Quarterback after the disconnect. The angle of the Quarterback makes it very difficult for the pitch key to use a feather technique. This really speeds up the play and gets the ball up field much faster than under center.
As always ball security is the number one priority. We’ve discussed the importance of turnovers as one of the most meaningful stats. So avoiding errant pitches is the biggest consideration in our option technique. We also want to get the ball pitched to stretch the field and get speed in space. So our approach has been to create a technique to get the ball pitched while reducing the risk.
It starts with Quarterback mechanics. As soon as the ball is pulled the Quarterback must snap to his heart in a position to pitch the ball. He should always be prepared for the pitch key to come on him quickly. Expect a crash stunt and adjust to anything else. The QB should always check pre-snap for a tip that there will be pressure by the pitch key but regardless we want him to expect a crash stunt.
The Quarterback attacks the inside shoulder of the pitch key but watches the far shoulder. He is always going to keep the ball UNLESS….the far shoulder turns toward him. If the far shoulder turns to the QB, he steps to the pitchman and pitches HEART TO HEART.
His thought process is: “I’m going to run for a touchdown every time UNLESS the pitch key’s far shoulder turns to me”.
Some Coaching Points:
1. Approach a slow key fast and a fast key slow. Against a crashing pitch key just get back on your heels and make the pitch. If the pitch key backs up or feathers accelerate at him until he freezes his feet, then make the pitch.
2. Always SEE the pitchman. No blind pitches. Ball security is the #1 priority.
3. Always step to the pitchman but never move to the pitchman. Don’t drift into the pitchman – that makes the pitch hard to handle.
4. Never pitch under stress or pitch in a mess. Ball security is the #1 priority.
5. Pitch Heart to Heart. Don’t make it difficult for the pitchman to handle your pitch.
If the Quarterback is going to keep it; then he is to tuck the ball away and run for a touchdown. Once the ball is tucked away; the pitch is no longer part of the play. Ball security is the #1 priority. Once the Quarterback gets downfield he should try to get into the ”option alley” – hashmark, numbers, sideline.
Coaching points:
1. Know the situation; down and distance is critical. Think in terms of first downs. If you are in a short yardage keep if the pitch key is in a gray area.
2. The Option Alley keeps you away from pursuit.
Leverage Pitch
The concept of leverage pitching came about when the 43 Stack Defense came about. In the 43 Stack Defense the pitch key (the OLB) is actually inside the hand off key (the DE). Normally we “Stack Read” this defense with the thought process “I’m going to give every time unless one of the defenders in the stack takes dive”. This read results in a lot of give reads. So we use an alternative thought process which is “I’m going to pull and pitch every time unless both defenders move outside”. Then it’s a give. If the Pitch Key stays inside and the DE doesn’t take dive, we can turn it into a foot race between the OLB (pitch key) and our slot. We should win this race. We use the leverage pitch concept as a change up for the defense.

Drills for the Option Phase
1. Pitch from a knee. Five yards apart and pitch to each other from a knee.
2. Fast Break Drill – 3 QBs, 5 yards apart – pitch to each other moving down the field. Coaching point is to step to the pitch.
3. Option Drill involves the whole backfield. Coaches play hand off key and pitch key. Run the Gun Triple but always making it a pull. Always use a shotgun snap.
4. Triple Drill – the same drill as option drill but now mix in give and pull reads.
5. Read Drill – full team drill. Work off Master Read Drill script.