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Keeping Your Fullback Effective in the Triple Option

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© April, 2012

by Paul Anthony Markowski and Shane Ziats
RB Coach, Army Sprint Team • O-Line Coach • Mansfield University

The triple option utilizes the efforts of three player positions in order to accomplish its goal: scoring touchdowns. These three cornerstones are the quarterback, A-back and B-back.

The quarterback is the field general who runs this offense with precision. It is he who must make the proper reads on certain defensive personnel so that the ball will end up in the hands of the most effective running back on any given play. The A-back is a running back who is usually a svelte version of a true college tailback. He has to be quick and agile as he takes the ball to the perimeter. He must also be a great blocker as his block will sometimes be the difference between a short gain and a touchdown.

The third piece to the triple option puzzle is the fullback (or B-back). This player must, above all, be tough. He will be running between the tackles all game. He will also be getting tackled on almost every play. Ask any defensive coach about how to effectively stop the triple option offense and he will tell you: “Stop the B-back and you stop the triple option”. Of course, such a simple answer can never be 100% correct but there is some truth to that assertion. In fact, look at the statistics from any triple option game and if their B-back had over 100 yards rushing, they probably won the game.

This article will diagram and explain three very important plays that any triple option team should have as part of their offensive strategy in order to ensure that their B-back stays relevant and effective during a game. They include 22 (Zone Dive), 15 (Counter Option) and the Rocket Pass.
22 (Zone Dive –Diagram 1)

There will be times when the defensive coordinator from your opponent will be doing everything in his power to stop your B-back. For instance, in our triple option base play, the opposition will simply tell their 5-tech defensive end to take the B-back every time. This will result in the QB having to pull the ball from the B-Back’s gut and then take it himself to the perimeter.

If the defense continues to scheme your B-back out of the game, the offensive adjustment that should be made is a play called 22 (zone dive). As diagram 1 indicates, the O-line blocks the play straight zone. The diving B-back attacks the LOS as he reads his ‘action key’ defender or the first defensive lineman outside of the center to the play-side. The B-back will then make his one cut off of how the action key reacts to the play.

15 (Counter Option/Diagram 2)

This play starts off looking like a base triple option left. The A-back goes into short motion which looks like orbit motion on triple, but at the snap, he retraces his steps. On the snap of the ball, the B-back and QB ‘sell’ the triple play for one step. Both players then reverse their direction and instead, attack the DE. The QB reads his intentions and either keeps the ball running upfield, or pitches it to the trailing B-back. This play guarantees that your B-back remains relevant in the game.

Rocket Pass (Diagram 3)

Once your team has established the base Rocket (toss) play to the perimeter, it is always a great change-up for the offense to fake the Rocket play and reverse the field, having your QB hit your B-back in the flat with a short pass. The defense should be flowing towards the perceived Rocket Toss play. This will leave your B-back in the flat by himself. 

About the Authors: Paul Markowski was recently appointed the backfield coach for Army’s Sprint Team. He previously coached running backs at Mansfield University and also coached fullbacks at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Coach Markowski has an online column on AFM, click here to read more articles.

Shane Ziats is currently the offensive line coach at Mansfield University. He played collegiately at California University (PA) and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from there.

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