Option Football History: The Split-T Play Sequence

In the last post we explored the center/quarterback exchange in the Split-T and discussed how this was manipulated to help the quarterback get to his path more quickly.  We will continue to explore the mechanical aspects Faurot named as being important to the success of his scheme. Today we will discuss play sequence.

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


Faurot’s play sequence is the beginning of option football as we know it. It was his insights that led directly to the concept of leaving defenders unblocked and forcing a 2 on 1 situation where whatever choice they made was wrong. Lets explore how Faurot explained his new ideas.

Faurot’s Sequence of Plays

Calling it one of the greatest sequences in all of football, Faurot tells us there are four basic plays in each direction. All of which have identical footwork for all four backs in the backfield. In the figure below, we can see how the four plays look when moving to the right. Option football coaches and fans will notice immediately that it is obviously very similar to today’s triple and quad options sometimes used today.

Option football started with Don Faurot’s sequence of plays as shown above.

The four play sequence, in order, is as follows:

  1. The handoff to the playside halfback
  2. The quarterback keep
  3. The pitch
  4. The halfback pass

As the diagram shows, the quarterback will move laterally down the line. In this case to the right. His first option is the handoff to the right halfback. Faurot loved this part of the sequence because it hits extremely fast and only the quarterback sneak is quicker.

Next in the sequence is the quarterback keep. If the defense takes away the handoff, the quarterback will continue down the line of scrimmage and turn up off tackle. This is known as the quarterback keep and is also a fast developing play.

If the keep is taken away as well, the quarterback continues on to the pitch-out phase of the sequence. Here the left halfback travels with the quarterback and works to outflank the defense in anticipation of the pitch. If this part of the sequence is run the fullback will block the defensive end and the pitchback will get north/south on the perimeter.

The last sequence in Faurot’s series is the running pass. Here the offense executes in the same way as the pitch, except the end releases into a pass pattern and the offensive line blocks differently.

The key to the sequence is the footwork and ball handling. All four plays look the same and there is very little opportunity for the defense to get a clear sign of who is going to get the ball. I will get into more detail on how to do this in a later post. In the next installment we will look at the backfield’s stance and alignment in the Split-T.