Pitch option plays from the spread

Submitted by maizenbluedevil on September 9th, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Watching Auburn, looks like they run a lot of this.  I seem to recall Florida running it too, with Tebow....  And RR running it with WVU....  yet it seems like we never have seen it over the past couple years at M.

Anyone know why? 

Is it just a matter of not having a QB - yet - that has experience and the full playbook....so perhaps we'll see it with Denard this year?



September 9th, 2010 at 9:48 PM ^

If you're talking about running the option where the end or olb is optioned with a forward shovel pass, I agree.  I recall Tebow running this a lot at UF. Considering we saw only like 8 plays last week, I'm hoping that this play is in our playbook and ready to be unleashed on ND.


September 9th, 2010 at 9:58 PM ^

That's another one I'd like to see but not the one I was referring to.  I don't know if RR's ever ran a shovel pass option before.


What I was referring to is a pitch option where the QB has the option to lateral to a running back.  It can either be a third option off a zone read, or, in the form of a speed option play, where there's 2 options - QB run, or pitch to the RB (or a motioning slot reciever)

Fresh Meat

September 9th, 2010 at 9:50 PM ^

I asked a similar question during the last season, and no one seemed to know.  I think it could be a really good counter to the read option, to run to the outside on the same side the RB lines up on and actually block that sides DE.  But we haven't see it at all in 3 years.  I'm sure there is a reason, just wish I knew what it was.


September 9th, 2010 at 10:00 PM ^

To be honest I may have answered my own question.  It could just be a matter of young, inexperienced QBs because inserting laterals/pitches is another skillset and an additional read, and should probably only be added once the basics are down pat.

I'm mainly curious if anyone out there had some additional insight, like, possibly a philosophical shift by RR, or a strategic reason why he doesn't like those types of plays.


September 9th, 2010 at 10:10 PM ^

The Team really needs to focus on maintaining possesion this year. In addition, I think pitching can be dangerous with athletes as fast as ours (if that makes sense). I would worry about the ablility to recover a missed pitch, as the pitchee may be a few yards upfield before realizing he missed it!


September 9th, 2010 at 10:11 PM ^

The pitch option in the spread was one of the few things Juice Williams did well while at Illinois. I'd love to see that used in this offense a few times a game.

Space Coyote

September 9th, 2010 at 10:18 PM ^

And Tate didn't attack the DE and he basically picked off the pitch.  Auburn's QB Newton isn't doing a good job attacking the contain guy either, going to slow, and the play is developing too slow, allowing for Miss St. to get another guy out on the pitch guy.  But yes, Michigan has ran the pitch option play.

If I'm not mistaken wasn't that the play RR was so mad at AnnArbor.com for?


September 9th, 2010 at 10:20 PM ^

play; I always have visions of the opposing d's mlb intercepting, nothing between him and the goal. I think ND ran it once last week themselves, for a six-seven yard gain.


September 9th, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

The triple option that we saw in the UConn game was composed of 3 decisions:


1. Give it to the rb (read the end) or qb keeps it

2. If the corner or nickel back rushes toward qb: throw the bubble screen or

3. Qb keeps it


September 10th, 2010 at 12:38 AM ^

I beleive last year this was brought up and the general consensus, and my personal opinion, is that Rrod moved away from it due to exposing the qbs to more big hits.

After losing Pat White and seeing a National Championship bid go down the drain, running this play became more worrisome for him, especially with only 1 qb. With 2 or 3 viable qbs the worry of injury subsides slightly, but is still present.

I've seen some qbs in high school and college get straight lit up on that play. Though personally, i love running it on PS3 and i think it is fun as hell to watch in college.

With 3 viable qbs, i'd like them to try it here and there in good RPS+ situations. But, i can understand why they didn't run it in 08, and even in 09.


September 10th, 2010 at 9:27 AM ^

A QB, with experience, can learn to take the hit right after the pitch in such a way that it at least decreases his chance of injury.  I certainly think it was still a concern for RichRcod in the past, but not the overriding concern.

I think the bigger issue is the difficulty of the play.  I've run it both from under center and the gun, and it's much more difficult from the gun because the read is more complicated.

Under center, you're simply reading the end, and if the QB does a good job sucking the end in, the pitch is pretty safe and easy.  This is because the pitch is largely traveling backwards at that point, away from the defense.  This gives the RB a second to catch and control the pitch before he has to worry too much about contact.

More advanced QBs can option people further downfield - Nebraska's QBs were great at this.  At that point, the pitch is more of a horizontal pitch, which is more dangerous, but those Nebraska QBs and others ran this play so often that they knew how to read it, and knew when a pitch was safe and when it was best for the QB to eat the ball and his "modest" 8 yard gain.

From the gun, however, the pitch is almost always going across the field as both the QB and the RB attack the line of scrimmage.  So, while the DE determines the pitch/keep read, the QB also has to assess quickly if the pitch is safe.  The defensive player covering the pitch man can be there much more quickly to pick off the pitch or rock the RB and force a fumble.  It can still be deadly effective, but I think it's riskier.  I don't believe either Tate or Denard ran the pitch option in high school; if not, they'd need a few years of working at it a lot to get fluid.

That's why I think RichRod has gone to more of the flare-pass option.  It's easier for the QB to decide to get rid of the ball, yet at the last second see that the RB is covered and put it in the stands.  Also, with the RB so much wider on the flare than he would be on the pitch, I think there's a better chance that he's open.


September 10th, 2010 at 3:35 PM ^

There are so many pitch options from many different formations in this spread.  I think the reason we haven't seen them at all in the RR era is because he hasn't had the QB or the experience to run them.  As the season progresses I would expect to start to see some of these option pitches ran as it makes the defense have more to worry about.