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Friday, January 09, 2009

Urban Meyer's "Crazy" or Shovel Triple-Option

One play that Urban Meyer has used for years but that I did not extensively cover in my magnum opus on Meyer's offense was the "crazy option," or the shovel triple-option. I already heard some announcers and talking heads saying this was a "new play." No: I explained the play back in 2005. But I may as well use this opportunity to do so with a bit more clarity.

As a bit of background, Meyer has run this play since he was at Utah and actually was one of the first to incorporate the backside guard pulling for a type of "power-O" blocking with it. But, before we even attribute it to Meyer, Nebraska used to run this from the shotgun during their option heyday in the mid-1990s. Though a lot of people ran this play: I remember seeing that powerhouse of innovation, Alabama under Mike DuBose, run this play too. So it's just a good, sound play.

The quarterback takes the snap and attacks the end man on the line of scrimmage, typically the defensive end. If the defensive end comes up for him or rushes hard, the quarterback will shovel pass it to the inside player; here, the "H-back."

The backside guard pulls and leads up into the gap; the shovel receiver should follow him into the hole and cut off his block.

If the defensive end crashes down for the shovel man, the quarterback keeps the ball and attacks the outside. The runningback's job is to get into a "pitch relationship" with the QB (five yards outside and one to two yards back) and be ready. The quarterback will pitch off the next defender that shows (usually the strong safety or outside linebacker, though sometimes the free safety). If they take the pitch man the quarterback keeps it.

Below is a video of Florida running this play earlier this year against LSU, though in this clip there is a jet-sweep fake going the other way to get some early snap deception.


Walk On Boy said...

Great article explaining the intricate workings of one of the plays that helped Florida pull off the W last night. The backside pull is ruthless to the point of almost being unfair. Even if the end does crash down, there is a good chance of getting kicked out.

Another positive of the shovel {or shuffle? Has there been a definitive decision on this? I feel that it's a bit different than the lateral/ladder; end-around/reverse/double reverse snafus} is that if the shovel man drops the ball - it is simply an incomplete pass {also pads Tebow's passing stats slightly} rather than a fumble.

A former coach used to call it 'commie football' which I am relating for no reason other than I found it amusing. But at least if you defend the option well-or the offense doesn't execute the pitch, there can be a fumble, whereas with shovel/commie football - it is simply a loss of down.

Looking forward to seeing what you decide to examine during the off-season.

SportsGuy said...

Brian Kelly ran this constantly his first two years at CMU with Kent Smith at QB. But he'd use it exclusively with a two-back gun. Rarely would the outside back get the ball. Usually the shovel man saw it or Kent would keep it.

Sometimes though Smith would actually throw downfield. Would you know what was going on there?

It was a very slowly developing play.

Anonymous said...

One nit-pickity thing: I find your hand-drawn diagrams to be much more readable than the typed, Word letters with lines...It actually takes a good deal of concentration to trace back who's doing what on the typed versions.

Unknown said...

For others interested in this play, check out coacheschoice dvd by Dave Christensen (OC Missouri now HC Wyoming) covers it well in Spread Offense: The Option Game.

On another note Florida used it in a huge moment against Alabama in the SEC title game. What's unique is that Florida runs it with a guy that usually lines up at TE (but at off the LOS for this play). What it also proves how great Mullen and Meyer are on offense with all the different ways they use all the toys they have.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Meyer's O form back in the Utah era. I remember watching the National Championship game against tOSU expecting them to run this, but they didn't run it once.

They were running other options with Leak in there, but not that one. Good to see that they have come back to it, I always thought it was a funky play.

Unknown said...

Was this the same play that Chris Leak used in the SEC Championship 2006? I remember a shovel pass getting intercepted and as a result was easily returned for a TD.

Anonymous said...

UM....It looks to me like there are too many people in the backfield.

Anonymous said...

"commie football" is played with a round ball and the goals have nets.;-)

Anonymous said...

One thing I see about this play is that its an unbalanced formation with the 2 receivers on the right lined up on the line of scrimmage (single wing style). The inside receiver releasing downfield is a key that it can't be a passing play. If there was a pass in front of the line it would be an illegal interior lineman downfield penalty because he is not eligible. Interesting thing is that he is actually being covered man to man on this play (which he shouldn't be). Just an example of how a formation can cause a lot of confusion.

I might be getting a little crazy/innovative here, but imagine if the shovel back option pitched the ball back to the halfback after. Look at all that open field. Just remember where you heard it first ;)

Mr.Murder said...

That isn't a first play. Paul,Brown used to run a near/far play with Jim Brown and Marion Motley where the dive/off tackle back pitched to the halfback.