OL Play in the Triple Option

| January 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
While it’s true that one of the many benefits of running the Triple Option is that you can have some success without a dominating offensive line, I’m sure we can all agree that a great offensive line will make the offense even better. So let’s take a look at the blocks involved in the Triple Option and some basic techniques for Offensive Line success within the offense.

First off, I’d like to share that much of these techniques are based off a hybrid version of the concepts, techniques, and skills I learned while studying Ed Thomas’ Becoming a Champion Offensive Lineman, John Reagan’s Option Specific Offensive Line Drills, and Phil Willenbrock’s Complete Wing-T Offensive Line Play. As we made the switch from hands to shoulder blocking I used these videos to develop our program’s offensive line techniques. Even thought the focus within these videos is on shoulder blocking, they all also contain effective drills and footwork tips that would be effective for any blocking method.

Clip from the Ed Thomas video

As I covered in Triple Option 101, the blocking rules I’ve used for Inside Veer are:
Backside: Scoop/scramble
Center: A gap defender to linebacker
Playside Guard: Down to A gap defender
Playside Tackle: Veer release

This leaves us with four types of blocks to master for this play: Veer Release, Scoop/Scramble, Down, and Power Climb.

Veer Release

This is used in any situation where there is a defender aligned heads or shaded on an Offensive Lineman who we would like to leave unblocked including option runs (used vs the handoff key) and trap plays. The purpose of teaching this technique is to allow our Offensive Linemen to get off the line of scrimmage without getting tangled up with a defender who has likely been taught to get his hands on the OL and squeeze with the inside release. The veer release will be a six inch step to the inside followed by a second step that takes the lineman in and upfield. The key to these steps is to make sure the lineman is pointing vertically upfield and not at an angle so that he is able to effectively use a power climb to pick up flowing linebackers. On the second step the lineman will also rip his back arm through to clear the defender and get his hands off. He must be physical during his release or he will get caught up with the defender which allows the defense to force a cloudy read and for the linebacker to cleanly scrape.

To drill this block we set up blocking boards and offset the blocker. In front of the blocker is a defender with a bag and slightly inside the board is a towel. On command the OL will execute his veer release and attempt to pick up the towel with his rip before working vertically down the board. The defender with the bag will make a realistic attempt to jam the lineman on the snap to simulate the DL getting his hands on the releasing player. The board is in place to ensure the lineman works vertically downfield instead of at an angle. To progress with this drill you can add a third defender at the end of the board to simulate the flowing linebacker. In this case the lineman will finish the drill by executing a power climb, or second level block

Power Climb

As previously stated, the power climb is our block used when attacking a second level defender. We realize the linebackers are likely more athletic than our linemen so instead of aiming for pancake blocks we focus on solid contact and then working into a good finish. When working downfield it is important to maintain a wide base and keep the head up. Ducking the head will bring the shoulders and rest of the body down. We will make contact by working to get our playside foot in front of the defender to block him off, punching our hands under the defender’s breast plate, and accelerating the feet on contact. Notice we accelerate on contact, not before, as we want to be under control approaching the linebacker. Finally on contact the lineman will turn his hips to the hole and run his feet.

To drill this block we start with a fit position of hands under breastplate/at the bottom of the shoulder pads. On command the lineman will work his hips up and drive through with his feet. We will progress to a distance of 3 yards and start by executing the block with a slow duck walk–this will advance to full speed.


Used against a defensive player on the inside gap, the downblock is most commonly used on Inside Veer by the playside guard. We teach two versions of the downblock and let players decide which to use. The first version has contact on the playside shoulder of the defender, while the second aims for the opposite shoulder. We teach kids that we’ll start with the playside hip, but if they are having trouble with the defender penetrating to the backfield they should adjust to get their head in front and aim for the opposite shoulder. In terms of technique it’s fairly simple, use your base blocking technique, but step at an angle to drive the defender down the line of scrimmage instead of a vertical push.

We drill the downblock mostly during the blocking circuit I wrote about in my article about shoulder blocking. Place the board at an angle and have the lineman drive the defender down the board. Start with a fit position and work up to full speed.


This is the most common block in our offense for any backside blocking scheme. Our goal with any scoop/scramble drill is to work the block downfield and not settle for cutting off the first level defender. To execute this block the lineman will step horizontally and throw his hands in front of the defender aiming for the playside thigh board. He will then crawl vertically downfield attempting to drive the defender back.

Drilling the scoop/scramble begins with having the OL step horizontally over a board and throw his hand to a specified aiming point that represents the playside thigh of the defender. The next progression is to fit vs. a bag in a bearcrawl position and drive the defender downfield. When working this phase the coach should give a whistle that tells the linement to release from the back and work up and out downfield to find a second level defender.

 Suggested Resources

Related posts:

  1. Triple Option Resources
  2. Blocking Progression Series

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Category: Offense, Offensive Line, Run Blocking Concepts

About the Author ()

Since 1998 Coach Minter has served as a head coach, coordinated all three phases of the game, and worked with the defensive line, offensive line, linebackers, quarterbacks, and wide receivers. He has developed the blog GridNotes as a home for the wealth of coaching related articles, blog posts, and forum topics found on the net.

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