UCLA Football: Implementing the option into the run game

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi
PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Running back Bolu Olorunfunmi /
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Implementing the option into the run game (cont.)

Above is a video that shows how multiple option plays can work. Below are my crude definitions of each option style named in the last slide, just to give you an idea of what Kelly wants to achieve:

Zone read: an option play based on the QB reading the defense and decides to either hand off the ball or keep it

RPO: similar to zone read, but a quick pass is an option instead of a QB run (though the QB run can also be used as another potential attack)

Triple-option: a run play with two running backs. The QB can choose to hand it off to the first RB, keep it himself or hand it off to the second RB option, often out to the side for a pitch

The interesting thing about practice on Saturday, is that the quarterbacks were rigorously working on pitches and shovel-passes in individual group drills. Shortly after, there was a lot of the triple-option work when the offense went against the defense.

Though there were some growing pains, the offense executed it well enough to get positive yardage more plays than not. The defense, which has been impressive with their new aggressive attack, was the more dominant group in the first two weeks of practice, but they had some trouble containing the newly implemented run plays.

It was clear the defense needed a time to try and pinpoint the ball carrier, which forced them to change their approach slightly. Before the installment of the triple-option plays, the offense was focused on just trying to get the proper read and some positive yards. Now the defense has to account for multiple, potential runners. This is good for both sides.

The defense did not do well stopping the run last season, giving up 287.4 yards per game on the ground, dead last in Division I. With new DC Jerry Azzinaro making this team more aggressive, there should be an improvement in run defense. But now they will go up against a team that will keep them on their toes, even better for a defense that looks to become more reactive.