How Justin Fuente Helped Put the “Option” In Spread-Option

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Justin Fuente
Justin Fuente played a big role in the evolution of the modern offense. (Photo by Ivan Morozov)


I watched one of Coach Fuente’s few publicly available clinics this morning, and two things struck me: 1) it’s been too long since I’ve done an X and O piece and 2) I’ve never focused on Fuente and his contribution to the spread-option game. Here’s to rectifying that.

Everyone and their brother are running some flavor of “spread-option” offense, and Virginia Tech’s own Justin Fuente is part of the reason why. To set some parameters, when we’re talking about the “new” spread-option offenses*, we’re talking about an offense that:

  • Spends most of its time in formations with at least three split receivers, while very rarely spending time in formations with two traditional running backs, e.g., tailback and fullback.
  • Focuses on attacking the entire field to out-leverage defensive schemes, simplify how the defense can approach the offense, and force defenders to tackle in space.
  • Operates from the shotgun position to protect the QB.
  • Utilizes option plays to augment the running game and make up for the lack of blockers for traditional runs, and for the emphasis on putting faster, more agile players on the field (as opposed to hulking bruisers.)

Spread formations are as old as gridiron football, and the option is approaching its 80th