Option Football History: Split-T Ball Handling

In the last post we explored the stances developed by Coach Faurot for the Split-T backfield. We will continue to explore the mechanical aspects Faurot named as being important to the success of his scheme. Today we will discuss ball handling for the Split-T.

1. Line Splits
2. Quarterback Path
3. Center/QB Exchange
4. Play Sequence
5. Backfield Stance
6. Ball Handling
7. Position Requirements
8. Flexibility

Within the context of the Split-T, Faurot taught techniques that varied greatly from other “T” offenses. The most notable difference being the quarterbacks use of the pitch while moving laterally down the line of scrimmage. Faurot taught the quarterback to make a two-handed pitch that is easy to catch for the pitch back. He also taught specific techniques for the handoff.

The Handoff

For the dive play, the Split-T quarterback is taught to extend the ball immediately in front of the call side halfback. This allows the player to keep his eyes on the defense and to keep his path the same whether he is receiving the ball or carrying out a fake. In either case it must seem to the defense that the dive back has the ball. Faurot taught his halfbacks to run hard to a point that was five yards beyond the line of scrimmage regardless of whether they had the ball or not.

If the quarterback is giving the ball to the halfback, he is responsible for getting the ball to the correct spot. For the give, this is the far hip of the halfback and the quarterback should use one hand and keep a limp wrist.

The halfback will keep his inside arm up at chest level with a high elbow and his outside arm will be at waist level as shown in the photo below.

Ball handling is very important in any option-style offense. Faurot taught his backs a variety of techniques that helped to reduce turnovers and make his offense more effective.

When receiving the ball his outside arm will contact the ball first and he will bring his inside arm down as the exchange occurs. If the quarterback is faking the dive, the halfback will keep the same techniques but will allow the quarterback to pull the ball and continue on his path. Again, the halfback must run this dive the same regardless of whether he is getting the ball.

Faurot also notes that he wants the quarterback and pitch back to carry out their fakes as well. If the quarterback is handing the ball off for the dive, he will continue his path and make a fake pitch to the pitch back who will continue to run outside. Additionally, if the quarterback is keeping the ball, he will also make a fake pitch before keeping the ball and getting up field.

This deception in ball handling is critical to the success of the Split-T and is still used today by option teams in the mesh as they quarterback makes his read. Additionally, if the ball is given, option quarterbacks are still required to run out the next phase of the play and will often fake a pitch. This helps to hold perimeter defenders and makes the play more effective.

The Pitch

When pitching the ball, Faurot taught the quarterback to make a two-handed pitch to the pitch back as seen in the photo below.

When pitching the ball in the Split-T, the quarterback is taught lateral the ball without any spin. This allows the ball to float and is easy to catch.

Faurot made it a point for the quarterbacks to not put any spin or english on the ball. His goal was to have a ball that hangs in the air slightly and is easy to run under and catch.  These developments all served to reduce turnovers and increase the effectiveness of the Split-T.

Faurot’s ideas on the pitch are still in use today by many option teams. While most teams do not teach a two-handed pitch, most want the quarterback to sit into his pitch and provide a ball that floats slightly in front of the pitch back as he runs his path. It is essential for the back to be in proper pitch relationship and for the quarterback to give him a ball that is easy to catch.




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