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Author Information

Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

The Slip Call on Triple Option

The SLIP call is an important but little known aspect of the Flexbone Triple Option Offense. Similar to my explanation of the action key read by the B-Back, it may seem like a small adjustment or coaching point, but this small added tag, could prove beneficial for your offense. It could very well prove to be the difference between a win and a loss in a close game. This call is much more common on the college level where most teams see an abundance of 4-3 defenses, with a shade and a 3-technique. In an ideal world triple option could be run as shown below against a 4-3 team. The backside linemen will scoop through the ball. The center will base-reach the shade. The guard can base to level two. Since the guard is uncovered the tackle can loop release level two to level three. The quarterback will read the stack. The B-Back will run his track and read the action key. The playside slot and receiver will block #3 and the NDD respectively. The backside A-back will get 1.5 steps in the ground before the snap and run his pitch path. With perfect execution by all eleven players this will be a touchdown. 

Triple Option vs. 4-3 Defense


Football is not played in a perfect world however, and adjustments will need to be made. Most defenses will put very good defensive players in the shade position. In this case it will be hard for the center to block him alone. The first common adjustment to make is to give an ACE call. This call will tell the playside guard that he must help double team the shade defender, and work to the backside linebacker. Since an ACE call has been made, this will tell the playside tackle that he must veer release inside the read key rather than outside, as his triple option rules dictate. 

Triple Option vs. a 4-3 Defense with an ACE Call


This scheme is often a very successful one, although one that should be used with the understanding that there is a defensive reaction that can defeat this adjustment. The ACE call is one we use often, mostly with players aligned in a 2I. Against a shaded defender we will let the center handle him alone if we can. These details were explained more thoroughly earlier in the week. Teams who play a 4-3 defense often have a very good player lined up at the Mike-Backer position. They will want to protect this player and allow him to run to the football. The defense can now scheme to stop your ACE call in the following manner. If the defensive end aligned on the playside tackle allows a free release to the Mike-Backer he should be able to block him consistently down after down. If the defensive end squeezes his release and knocks him off track they can escape the Mike-Backer over the top, and get him to the perimeter of the defense. I’ve explained this before albeit against a slightly different 4-3 look. If the defense can outnumber your triple option they will render it ineffective.

This chess match is the most likely one you will encounter against 4-3 defenses. If the defensive end is effectively able to squeeze your tackles veer release, he can often give a cloudy read to the quarterback, and many times do so with a pile of traffic in the B-Back’s path. This is a suboptimal situation to run triple option against. The next solution you will have is to utilize the SLIP call.

The SLIP call alerts the tackle that there is no B-Gap threat from the Mike-Linebacker and he can loop release the defensive end. The SLIP call allows the center to base-reach the shade. Now the playside tackle will outside release and block the Mike. The playside guard will step to ace but has to be alert to prevent a Mike run through in the B-gap. After all we can’t tell the defense what to do on each play. The playside tackle will be responsible for the Mike-Backer since he’s the player most likely to make the tackle on triple option. The SLIP call can be used in conjunction with the ACE call. You must be aware however that the Mike-Backer will likely be unencumbered in the B-gap if he chooses to fill it.

Triple Option vs. a 4-3 Defense with a SLIP Call


A pattern to defend triple option often develops from the defense, especially against 4-3 teams. They are either trying to get the Mike over the top to defend triple option or they aren’t. Defenses don’t usually play games with this player; like they can and will with the dive and pitch reads (often stacked). With your standard triple option rules, the ACE call and the SLIP call, you can block any structure the defense is trying to give you against a 4-3 defense with a shade and a 3-technique. You have three schemes at your disposal to combat this defense.

Your quarterback must be able read the stack (the subject of a future article). His simultaneous read of both of these defenders is absolutely vital for the execution of this offense. The quarterback must be constantly prepared to handle stacked defenders. If he isn’t, each team on your schedule will use them unless the quarterback displays mastery against this read structure. The SLIP call is a necessary adjustment to handle a team trying to escape the Mike-Backer over the top to get him involved in the triple option. Are you prepared to cover this situation?  Last year, Georgia Tech saw this look over 80 percent of the time. The Flexbone is a system based offense. Each and every answer you need is included within the system. You must be prepared to practice the entire system. It can’t be a part time thing. Put your program on path to reach it’s goals. Put the Flexbone Association in your corner as you prepare for next season.

Photo: Doug McSchooler

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