Friday Q&A: May 8, 2009

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Raleigh Hokie stops by again in this Friday’s Q&A, and he gives a short
lesson on the different types of option offenses in college football. He
also talks about whether we can expect to see Darren Evans and Ryan Williams on
the field at the same time this season.

1) What are the basic differences between the different types of option
offenses? I.E. the spread option, read option, triple option, etc.

The terminology can be confusing because it can vary depending on what you read
and who you talk to. For example, the use of the term “spread”
implies some sort of offensive structure to spread the defense out
horizontally. It can mean anything from formations that include at least
three wide receivers, to wider splits by the offensive line, to any formation
that has the QB in the shotgun. For the purposes of this discussion, I
will define “spread” as any shotgun-based formation. That will
simplify things for me here as I try my best to describe the various types of
option plays.

With that, let’s start with the traditional option offenses that utilize triple
option and double option plays. In those cases, the terms mean exactly
what they imply — the triple option is a play that provides three run options
and the double option provides two run options. The triple option can be
run from various formations, but the common theme is typically a dive option to
a fullback, a QB keep option, and a pitch option to a running back/wing
back. The double option (sometimes called the speed option) is also run
from various offensive formations with the common theme of a QB keeper option
and a pitch option to a running back, wing back, or trailing wide receiver.

In the traditional sense, the triple option and double/speed option is run with
the QB under center. The so-called “freeze” option made famous
at Syracuse is a misdirection variation of the triple option in that the dive
option is to the play side with the QB keeper and pitch options following a trap
block to the opposite side. It is a play that looks to “freeze”
the LB’s with that dive option to one side and the trap misdirection to the
other side. Again, it’s a play run with the QB under center, but can often
include three WR’s in the formation. That brings the “spread”
terminology back into the picture for some, but again I am limiting