I love triple choice football!
When I train against that, not so much.
Reading: New mexico football triple option
a good defense will use a swarm strategy to get to the ball and block it.
but when you play against a triple option offense, you can’t play that way. At least until all options have been ruled out and your defenders are sure they know where the ball is going.
sometimes a great triple option team will trick you into going all in on a simple dive, and then when you do and they throw you, bye! there is no one there to stop it.
There are a couple of different styles of triple option offense ranging from heavy and under center formations to shotgun and spread formations today.
but a triple option style hailing from new mexico took a new turn and had some incredible results, like averaging 390 rushing yards in one game.
The architect of this style of choice is Bob Debesse, who says, “It’s a throwback. It’s not necessarily sexy, but I think it’s been absolutely in the best interest of us in New Mexico, developing an identity and giving us an edge as we try to to rebuild this.”
“It is part triple option, part wishbone, part swerve (an offense popularized by former Houston coach bill yeoman in the 1970s) and part pistol, the latter a new entry in the offensive lexicon of the college football. Combined, it’s the engine behind the top-ranked running game in the nation and the primary reason for New Mexico’s rise in back-to-back bowl games.”
The purpose of this article is to show you why New Mexico’s triple-op offense was so deadly and what you can do to mimic it if you think it might be a good fit for your offense.
If you have anything to add in the comments, I’d love to hear it.
the triple option forces defensive responsibility
This is the essence of the triple option crime.
leaving defenders unlocked.
The first defender unlocked in the New Mexico Triple Option is the defensive end, or by New Mexico’s definition, the first player in a 4i or out.
if you have a 4-3 defense and the first 4i or outside player is the de, that’s the #1 or first read key.
you don’t block it!
or exit it to widen it or enter it if that’s the best release for the assigned defender, but leave him alone.
running a zone run game and leaving it unlocked forces you to either go for the rb very aggressively or wait patiently to see if the qb gets the ball.
If you’re new to soccer lineups and not sure what a 4i is, let me explain it here.
In this diagram, the location where the defense lines up against the offense is labeled with numbers. 1, 3, 5, 7 are where they shade the outside, 2, 4, and 6 are where they line up head up, and 2i, 4i, and 6i are the inside hatches.
The second defender unlocked is the first man out of the box.
could be a linebacker or a safety.
You don’t have to block this man either!
in fact you will only see it when the qb pulls the ball and runs outside because he is lined up deeper and is trying to read a run or pass.
your quarterback can throw the ball to the second rb or he can keep it to win.
the defense has to figure out how they are going to get enough players to where you are opting for the ball to stop it.
deception is a vital strategy in the triple option offense
Many offenses in football remain fairly basic in their levels of deception.
In other words, what you see is what you get.
the quarterback hands the ball off and everyone knows it’s a run.
Defenders easily identify where the ball is and get there quickly.
important triple option techniques
In the triple-op offense, the first handover between the quarterback and running back is called the “mail.”
when the qb and rb “mesh”, the qb places the ball in the runner’s belly early and then holds it there or “rides” the back as he passes, while making the decision to give or take it out and put it away.
This skill is practiced every day because the longer the mesh, the more difficult it is for defenders to see who has the ball.
the qb watches the first unlocked defender (called a “read”) and determines if he can tackle the rb if he hits it.
new mexico runs a mesh from the shotgun or pistol formation where the back lines up next to the quarterback or behind him in shotgun.
According to your trainers, the pistol mail is more difficult and has different steps than the shotgun, so I advise choosing one or the other and sticking with it.
When teams are really good at the net, they can fool even the best defenders.
In fact, that’s the goal, to cripple your best defender and gain a blocker in the process.
Remaining defenders should also delay until they are absolutely sure where the ball is, giving running backs more opportunities.
talent in space
This is why New Mexico’s offense is so lethal.
His triple option is very effective in giving any of his three talented running backs plenty of room to run the ball, four if you count the quarterback.
a talented space runner is unstoppable no matter how good a defender he is. and as each play happens, the jury is still out on who will end up with the ball, often leading to one-on-one matchups in the open field.
triple option video examples
here is a simple breakdown of the triple play option new mexico hang your hat!
In this next clip there is a quarterback called to stay with an extra blocker on the perimeter. I love this formation because the deception is wicked and it has to be confusing for defenses to see where the ball is going.
Finally, here’s New Mexico’s version of a zone cut, which is a give call to the running back and an additional blocker on the read key.
There’s so much more they love to do and I’ve broken it down here with a ton of slow motion video included.