Optioning the 4-4 Defense
By Coach Ross Maddalon – Offensive Coordinator, Old Bridge High School
One of the most common defenses we see is the 4-4. The 4-4 defense is an even-front defense that puts 8 men in the box to stop the run. It has been used to stop traditional running attacks (I-Formation, Wing-T). In the triple option attack, we try to make teams commit more guys to stopping the run than they want to.
If they are a 4-3 or 3-4 team (7 men in the box), we will scheme against it so that they have to commit an 8th man into stopping the run game (usually the S or CB). If they are a 4-4 or 3-5 team (8 men in the box), we will scheme against it so that they have to commit a 9th defender (usually the FS playing the alley). Since you are reading 2 defenders in the triple option attack, it takes advantage of defenses that lack secondary support based on the schemes used.
Triple Option vs. 4-4 Defense from a Spread, Double-Slot Formation
*Triple Rules vs. 4-4 Defense*
PST – Release inside for PSILB to BSILB
PSG – Double “A” Gap Defender with the C
C – Double “A” Gap Defender with the PSG
BSG, BST – Scoop to Playside
PSWR – Slow block #1 – Check FS in the Lane on 3rd Step
PS Slot – Seal Block PSILB. If blitzing or sitting, Re-route and Block FS
BS Slot – Pitch
Fullback – Dive
QB – Read 1st man outside PST for Dive, Read 2nd Man outside PST for Pitch
BSWR – Cutoff
P/A off of Triple Action vs. 4-4 Defense – Post/Wheel Combination
As you can see, based on the scheme, the FS has to get involved in the run game. Since he becomes an alley player by taking the pitch man, the play action passing game becomes very rewarding.
Play-action off of Triple Action vs. 4-4 Defense – Fade/Seam Combination
Triple Option vs. 4-4 Defense from Ends Over Formation
Also, the usage of different formations can put this defense into a bind.
Triple Option vs. 4-4 Defense from Trips Open
Speed Option vs. 4-4 Defense Blitzing ILBs
An answer that many coordinators will have is to blitz the triple option. However, by blitzing the ILBs against the option, it will weaken outside pursuit. Another option play that we like to run vs. blitz heavy 4-4 teams is speed option.
Remember, simplicity is key. The scheme is easy for the OL to learn. The reads are easy for the QB to get down. Making teams commit 9 men in the box is not necessarily a bad thing, but a GREAT thing.
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