Option Football History: The Split-T’s Innovative Quarterback Path

In and earlier post we discussed the line splits used against different fronts within Don Faurot’s Split-T offense. As stated before, Faurot identified nine mechanical aspects of his offense that he felt separated the Split-T from other systems.

  1. Line Splits
  2. Quarterback Path
  3. Center/QB Exchange
  4. Play Sequence
  5. Backfield Stance
  6. Ball Handling
  7. Position Requirements
  8. Flexibility
In today’s post, we will discuss the quarterbacks path.

Quarterback Path

The Split-T is named for its unique use of offensive line splits, but it’s the quarterbacks path after receiving the snap that truly differentiates it from other “T” systems.

This new path is also a big part of option football success.

In most offenses the quarterback usually works vertically, perpendicular to the line of scrimmage after receiving the snap. The Split-T quarterback works horizontally, parallel to the line of scrimmage. With more modern option offenses, this concept has evolved slightly with the quarterback moving toward the line of scrimmage. This allows the quarterback to attack the defense immediately and keeps forward progress of the football. Look for more on this in a future post. For the purposes of this article we will discuss the original concept as shown in the diagram below. Note: Diagrams from Don Faurot’s book Secrets of the Split T Formation.

Here we see the quarterback’s path is horizontal and parallel to the line of scrimmage.

A parallel path by the quarterback provides some interesting advantages for the offense. The first is a quicker hitting dive play. The hand off occurs within a yard of the line of scrimmage which puts the dive back in the hole faster than when the hand off occurs deeper.

Another advantage of this path is that it doesn’t change regardless of what phase of the option is in effect. If the dive hits, the quarterback continues his path. If the dive is taken away, the quarterback pulls the ball and continues on his path. This creates deception and makes a diagnosis of the play very difficult for defensive players.

The most important aspect of the quarterback’s path is his footwork. To illustrate how the quarterback should take his steps, most coaches use a visual aid. Most coaches use a clock, but I have also seen coaches use a box system as well. We will use a clock here because it is more easily recognizable by  most people. When reading the following instructions, imagine the quarterback starting in the center of a clock

  1. After receiving the snap, the quarterback will take a flat step at 3 o’clock with his play side foot. If the play is going right, it will be his right foot.
  2. His second step will be at 2 o’clock. This should bring both feet parallel to the fullback’s path and pointing straight down the sideline.
  3. He will either hand the ball off here or continue on the same path depending on the read.

Coaches need to emphasize not getting too deep and should drill the footwork daily. Quarterbacks need to understand that they can not deviate from this path, and need to understand how to evaluate and respond to the possible hazards they might see in a game.

In the next installment, we will look at how the Split-T differs from other “T” offenses in the Center/QB exchange. If you missed earlier installments, you can find them in the following links.

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