Defending the AFA veer option.

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Defending the AFA veer option.
AP Photo by Douglas C. Pizac

AP Photo by Douglas C. Pizac

This may be my shortest post of the year because defending the Veer Option is not a complicated task on paper.  The AFA offense tries to out-execute their opponent by getting the defense frustrated and having players trying to do too much, or more than their responsibility.  But if you study their offense you realize that they run the veer the exact same every time.  There are no variations.  It all comes down to who will be more disciplined.

There are three options on the veer: 1. The fullback gets the ball and hits the A Gap. 2. The QB keeps the ball and hits the C Gap.  3. The QB pitches the ball to the RB.

The first option -the fullback- is taken away by the nose tackle playing off the block of the center and filling the FRONT SIDE A gap -or the first play side gap- and the designated player on the backside playing the BACK SIDE A Gap.  ALL THESE PLAYERS DO IS TACKLE THE FULLBACK.

When these two players do their jobs the FB option is shut down.  In the last 4 years there has only been 1 play where the FB got the ball for yards and that is because the back side A gap defender tried to do too much and left his gap unmanned.

The second option is taken by either the defensive end or outside linebacker -depending on the play call.  ALL HE DOES IS TACKLE THE QB.
This player is unblocked and is commonly referred to as the “option man.”  The QB reads this defender to see whether he will keep the ball or pitch it.  Sean Carney  -the old AFA QB- loved to fake the pitch, which would get the defender off balance and then tuck the ball and run for a good chunk of yardage.

When you do someone else’s job, you give up big plays.

A player in the secondary handles the third option.

At the snap of the ball they go through their read progressions and those keys will take them right to the ball -if they are paying attention. On the snap, one of the safeties runs “the alley” to where the pitch will be and tackles the running back. This needs to happen on all option plays NO MATTER WHAT with the fullback or quarterback!  If the safety sticks to is responsibility the play will result in a zero or 1.5 yard gain.

So what does it boil down to? You have to be unselfish and you have to tackle the man you are responsible for no matter what you see.  On every play you only have one person to look at.  Coach Mendenhall makes the assignments easy by simplifying the play calling. He keeps it really simple, which frees players minds up so they can concentrate on their specific responsibilities.

In the 4 years that I was at BYU the cadets struggled to move the ball against us.  The option was useless, because we played very disciplined.  The only success AFA had against us came in 2005 when we knocked their starting QB, Carney, out of the game in the first quarter.  The back up came in and that is sometimes scary for one reason, back-ups have nothing to lose.

That is how he played.

In the second half he started slinging the ball all over the field -13 of 24 for 265 yds and 2 INTs- and they abandoned the option.  Our coaches were searching for adjustments on the sidelines because we hadn’t practiced our coverage’s in the weeks practice. But, the coaches made the changes and the final score was 62-41 with Air Force scoring 27 points in the 4th quarter.

No need to fear, Air Forces passing attack worked for one simple reason.  We had worked tirelessly in order to stop the option and in order to prepare a young secondary our defense had to sacrifice coverage reps for option reps. We were a bit stubborn in that we didn’t revert back to our normal defense until late in the 4th quarter. A wins a win right?

Last year AFA tried to throw the ball against us and spread it around and they weren’t successful because the 3-4 is better equipped to stopping the option offense.  In that 2007 contest the cadets completed 33 passes for 98 yards.

In conclusion I wanted to give you a little FYI.  Shaun Carney the 4 year starting QB for the Air Force Falcons beat every team in the MWC at least one time in his career, EXCEPT FOR BYU!  We had a pretty friendly rivalry (he and I) and after the game he was pretty ticked off.
Ah, I love the smell of defeat in the morning.

Written by Markell Staffieri

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