Virginia Tech and the Run-Pass Option Play

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Justin Fuente
Justin Fuente likes the run-pass option play.

Now that we’re into the season, it’s finally time to give a little air-time to one of Coach Justin Fuente’s main play concepts: the Run/Pass Option (RPO).

Think of option runs like the zone read and speed option as “run/run” options where the quarterback has to commit to making one of two available runs.  On the speed option, he has to choose between either keeping the ball and running, or pitching the ball and creating a wide tailback run.  On the zone read, he has to decide between handing off on an inside zone, or keeping the ball and running off tackle.  On today’s veer and power variations, he has to decide between taking the ball up the gut himself, or handing it to the tailback on an off-tackle run.  On all these plays, the key to the quarterback’s decision is usually someone at or close to the line of scrimmage, like a defensive end or linebacker coming in for the tackle.

Run/Pass Options break both of these generalities.  As the name implies, the quarterback has to choose between committing to a run (usually a zone run with the tailback) or throwing the ball.  And the player he reads isn’t someone on the line of scrimmage or necessarily attacking the line of scrimmage.  Instead, it could be a linebacker or safety in the second level, or a safety or cornerback in the third level.  While the QB makes his read, the offensive line blocks for the inside zone run.

A typical play (and a look the Hokies use) has the