Split-T Flexibility Is Why We Have Option Football

Don Faurot’s Split-T concepts on flexibility within his offense have evolved into modern option football. Navy Photo by Russ Walker.

In the last post we explored the ideal player characteristics identified by Don Faurot for his Split-T offense. Today we will close this series by illustrating how the flexibility of the Split-T and Faurot’s vision of implementing fast break concepts into football paved the way for more modern and complex option football schemes.

Faurot opens this section of his book with the following words:

The term “flexibility” is applied to a resourceful offense, one capable of adjusting quickly to any changes made in the defense while the play is under way.

This sentence embodies the very essence of option football and clearly illustrates why his ideas evolved into the option concepts used today by the Flexbone, the Spread Option, and other Option heavy offenses.

Split-T Flexibility and Option Football

Faurot explained how his plays could, if recognized by his players, be changed to a new call as it was being executed. He explains this below with references to what the defense does.

…if the defensive tackle crashes to his inside on the handoff play, the ball carrier hitting in alertly can slide to the outside for a substantial gain even though the play was called inside. If the pitch-out is called and the end floats or comes too far across the line of scrimmage, the quarterback may exercise the option of keeping the ball and running off tackle since the blocking is the same for the keep and the pitch-out plays. If the defensive end smashes, the pitch-out can be made more quickly and the fullback who is assigned to block the end can pass him up to take a linebacker or defensive halfback instead.

Any thoughts on what that sounds like? Sounds a lot like option football to me.

A Quantum Leap

Option coaches will recognize the “If” statements and can probably see how this type of thinking leads to teaching Faurot’s belief in flexibility explicitly. Which is exactly how option football works.

Option football takes similar “If” statements and installs them directly into the offense. When an option coach calls Veer, he is essentially calling an inside dive play, a QB off tackle play, and a toss play all at once. The players are taught to execute based on what the defense does. Faurot’s flexibility is planned for.

The offense plans to put one or more defenders in a position to make choices. Just like a 2 on 1 fast break in basketball. If the defender choose to stop one iteration of the play, the QB will go to the next iteration.

Option Football Flexibility

When running the Veer the quarterback is taught to identify two players on the defense. They are designated as the dive read and the pitch read.

On the snap of the ball, the QB “reads” the first defender, and a series of “If” statements are analyzed and followed.

Option Theory puts one or more defenders in a position to make choices. The offenses players are taught to respond to “if” statements. For instance, “if” the DR (dive read) stays wide the QB gives to the Dive Back, but if the DR crashes hard inside the QB keeps the ball.

If the dive read stays wide, the QB gives the ball to the dive back for the dive play. If the dive read crashes down inside, the QB pulls the ball and begins to execute the off tackle keep while getting his eyes on the pitch read. If the pitch read stays outside to take away the pitch back, the QB keeps the ball. If the pitch read attacks the QB, he pitches the ball.

Option football is beautifully devastating when executed properly.

Option Evolution

Faurot’s vision has evolved to be a big part of college football. What would a Saturday be without Navy running the Flexbone and Oregon running the Spread Zone Read? Not to mention the great option teams of the past with Nebraska and the option out of the I, or Oklahoma and the Wishbone. Mix in some Air Raid, and power football and we have a game that is exciting and diverse.

Know the Option. Run the Option. Love the Option.



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