Flexbone Option Offense – Inside Veer (Triple Option)

The inside veer is the core play in the flexbone option offense.  When you hear the words “triple option,” this is what it mostly refers to.  By design, it is a very simple play.  The offensive line walls off the interior of the defense, the ends and backs get the DB’s on the perimeter, and the QB reads the defenders in between and decides whether to give the ball to the B-back, keep the ball, or pitch it to the A-back.  The term “veer,” refers to the blocking scheme.  The offensive line blocks down and creates a wall and the B-back VEERS off the wall formed by the line.  It’s really the same sort of blocking as a trap play, but there is no pulling lineman, and rather than trapping a defender, the offense reads that defender. 

The triple option on inside veer consists of three phases: a dive phase attacking the B-gap. Along with being the core play of the offense, it is also the primary play used to attack the B-gap (guard-tackle gap). The keep phase is when the QB keeps the ball, and the pitch phase involves the backside A-back coming around in motion for the QB to pitch the ball to. The beauty of this play is that it’s three plays rolled into one. It can attack the B-gap (dive), off tackle (keep), or the alley (pitch). There is no tight end in this offense most of the time, so there is no need for a C-gap attack.

Count System

Remember the count system from the last article? On inside veer, #1 is always the dive read, so he goes unblocked. #2 is always the pitch read, so he goes unblocked. #3 is the designated run support/alley/force player. #4 is the deep or contain defender. In cover 2, the #3 is usually the cornerback and #4 is usually the safety. In most other coverages, the safety is #3 and the corner is #4.

#1 is the defensive end (dive read) and #2 is the rolled up safety (pitch read). Note the dotted line showing the wall the line forms and where the VEER is supposed to occur.
Image 1: #1 is the defensive end (dive read) and #2 is the rolled up safety (pitch read). Note the dotted line showing the wall the line forms and where the VEER is supposed to occur.

Rules and Assignments

The Playside Tackle (PST) has inside-inside linebacker. He will step inside of #1 and block down or on the playside linebacker.  The Playside Guard (PSG) has base to backside linebacker: That means he will block anyone over him or to his playside gap through the backside linebacker.  Note: In most cases, the PSG and PST will double team the first defensive lineman inside of #1 and they’ll work their way to the playside or middle linebacker.

Center (C): “Ace” to backside linebacker. “Ace” in Paul Johnson terminology is a call the center makes against odd fronts/whenever there is a nose guard or shaded nose to the playside. Ace is a double team between the center and playside guard, and they work their way to the backside linebacker. If it is against an even front, the center will do a backside scoop block for the backside linebacker.  The Backside Guard (BSG) and Backside Tackle (BST) scoop block. The backside defensive end is usually left alone because the wide splits displace him too far from the play to be a threat. This allows the backside tackle to go straight for a linebacker or defensive back.

On the perimeter, there are three ways to block inside veer: arc, switch, and load.  On arc and load, the Playside Split End (PSE) stalk block #4. Again, #4 is the deep defender, or the DB who is not responsible for the alley or run support. The Playside A-back (PSA) arc blocks on #3. It is called an arc block, because the A-back must arc his path to escape or avoid getting jammed by a D-end or OLB. #3 is the run support defender.  Against cover 2, or a hard corner, the PSE and PSA make a “switch” call. A switch tells the PSE that he has the safety and the PSA that he has the corner.

Play 1: This is an example of a load blocking scheme.  Against an eight man box with one high safety (or against let’s say a 4-2-5 or 3-3-5 with one high safety), the offense will use this, and it tells the PSA that he must block down on the playside linebacker. Because there is eight in the box, the playside linebacker may not be accounted for by the O-line. If the PSA comes inside and sees the playside linebacker unblocked, he blocks him, and if he’s already blocked, he continues to the safety.  The playside tackle also knows that when “load” is called, and he misses the playside linebacker that the PSA will get him, and the tackle will continue for the single safety.

Image 2: An example of switch blocking. The offense knows or assumes that while giving a cover 4 look, the defense is playing cover 2 or blitzing the CB.
Image 2: An example of switch blocking. The offense knows or assumes that while giving a cover 4 look, the defense is playing cover 2 or blitzing the CB.

Play 2: The switch blocking in action.  Watch the patience the split end has when blocking the deep man (#4) compared to the urgency of the A-back blocking the run support defender (#3).  Again, the defense shows cover 4, but it’s really cover 2 or a CB blitz, and the offense is ready for it.

Backside A-back (BSA): Right before the snap, the A-back explodes out of his stance in motion at the heels of the B-back. After that, he must get in a pitch relation with the QB. He must be 4-5 yards outside the QB and 1 yard behind. He is the third option on inside veer.

The Backside Split End (BSE): Cut off the nearest DB.

The B-back (B) takes an angle-lead step to the playside.  He then dives straight at the butt of the playside guard, then veers off the down blocks made by the PSG and PST. In rare circumstances, the B-back may be taught to cut inside of the playside guard’s block. The B-back’s is the first option.

Quarterback (QB): I’m going to bypass the footwork, because there are multiple ways that is coached.

  • The general rule is that the QB must get back as deep as possible on the opening step, open to the playside, and land with his feet over the playside A-gap. He cannot get too much farther to the playside because he will risk colliding with the B-back.
  • From the moment the snap is called, the QB will eye #1 (again, the first man on or outside the playside tackle). He will read #1 and either give to the B-back or keep the ball. A cheat-code for the QB is that if #1 steps with his outside foot first, it is always a give read. He will also give if #1 stays home or hesitates. Another way to indicate a give read is if the QB cannot read the numbers on #1’s jersey. That mean’s he is going upfield to contain the QB. If #1 steps with his inside foot first, comes hard inside, or turns his shoulder in and shows the QB his numbers, that is a keep read. The QB will pull the ball and move onto the pitch phase. When in doubt, most QB’s are taught to give the ball.
  • Paul Johnson uses a method called “ride and decide” for the mesh between the QB and B-back (there are multiple ways to handle the ball in the mesh on option plays). The QB will extend the ball back as far as he can. When he feels the B-back, he will ride the momentum of the B-back forward. By the time the B-back gets to the back hip of the QB, he must have made his decision on whether or not to give or keep the ball. To help communicate to the B-back, the QB will put the ball softly in the B-back’s belly. The B-back will only clamp/take the ball if the QB presses the ball hard into his gut. If the QB doesn’t push hard, that is indicating the QB is keeping the ball.

Play 3: #1 is the DE sort of kneeling before the snap.  He clearly stays wide giving the QB and obvious keep read.  the O-line gets a good wall formed for the B-back to veer off of, and the B-back cuts it back when the playside linebacker and secondary over compensates for the QB and pitch phase.

  • The QB will continue to the pitch phase attack #2 as if he is going to run him over. The idea is to force the pitch so that the QB doesn’t have to get hit. The QB threatening to truck #2 is more likely to force #2 to take the QB. Same rules apply when reading #2 just like #1. If #2 steps with the outside foot, has his shoulders even or turned from the QB, the QB tucks the ball and heads downfield. If #2 steps with his inside foot, screams hard inside, or turns his numbers to the QB, the QB will pitch the ball. The QB is taught to get as close to #2 as possible before he pitches, because the closer he gets, the smaller the angle gets for #2 to turn and catch the pitch back. Johnson also teaches his QB’s to fall or fade away when pitching to soften any hit they may receiver.

Play 1 Endzone: #1 pinches inside and takes the dive option away.  The QB sees this and pulls the ball.  He tries to attack #2, but he is clearly committed to taking the pitch leaving a wide hole for the QB in the alley.

Play 4: The offense is using a basic arc scheme on the perimeter.  #1, the DE clearly takes the B-back, so the QB has to pitch.  #2, the OLB, comes hard when he sees veer straight to the QB.  This forces the QB to pitch to #1.

This concludes the discussion on the inside veer.  The next article will go over what is probably the most common play used in the offense, Midline.

Click here for more articles from our Beginner Series.

Justin Schnurer

As a college senior studying history, I'm looking at a career in higher education, because who wants to leave college? As a cheese-head living in Southeast Michigan, I have been coaching football for the past seven years (2008-2014). I have been a varsity high school coach for the past four. I am delightfully mad and obsessed with football schemes and coaching, and I'm looking to disagree with commentators, Jon Gruden, and arm-chair QB's on a regular basis. College Football is where my allegiance lies, but thank the Packers and the constant bitterness of Lions fans for keeping me in the NFL.