Triple Option vs the 4-4 Defense

One of the most common defenses we see is the 4-4. The 4-4 defense is an even-front defense that puts 8 men in the box to stop the run. It has been used to stop traditional running attacks (I-Formation, Wing-T). In the triple option attack, we try to make teams commit more guys to stopping the run than they want to.

If they are a 4-3 or 3-4 team (7 men in the box), we will scheme against it so that they have to commit an 8th man into stopping the run game (usually the S or CB). If they are a 4-4 or 3-5 team (8 men in the box), we will scheme against it so that they have to commit a 9th defender (usually the FS playing the alley). Since you are reading 2 defenders in the triple option attack, it takes advantage of defenses that lack secondary support based on the schemes used.

Triple Option vs. 4-4 Defense from a Spread, Double-Slot Formation

Triple Option vs the 4-4 Defense







Triple Option vs the 4-4 Defense

(*Triple Rules vs. 4-4 Defense*)

PST – Release inside for PSILB to BSILB
PSG – Double “A” Gap Defender with the C
C – Double “A” Gap Defender with the PSG
BSG, BST – Scoop to Playside
PSWR – Slow block #1 – Check FS in the Lane on 3rd Step
PS Slot – Seal Block PSILB. If blitzing or sitting, Re-route and Block FS
BS Slot – Pitch
Fullback – Dive
QB – Read 1st man outside PST for Dive, Read 2nd Man outside PST for Pitch
BSWR – Cutoff


P/A off of Triple Option vs the 4-4 Defense – Post/Wheel Combination

triple option Post/Wheel







As you can see, based on the scheme, the FS has to get involved in the run game. Since he becomes an alley player by taking the pitch man, the play action passing game becomes very rewarding.

Play-action off of Triple Action vs. 4-4 Defense – Fade/Seam Combination

Play-action Passing play- Fade/Seam







Triple Option vs 4-4 Defense from Ends Over Formation

option vs 44 defense








Also, the usage of different formations can put this defense into a bind.

Triple Option vs 4-4 Defense from Trips Open

trips formation option play







Speed Option vs 4-4 Defense Blitzing ILBs

trips open triple option







An answer that many coordinators will have is to blitz the triple option. However, by blitzing the ILBs against the option, it will weaken outside pursuit. Another option play that we like to run vs. blitz heavy 4-4 teams is speed option.

Remember, simplicity is key. The scheme is easy for the OL to learn. The reads are easy for the QB to get down. Making teams commit 9 men in the box is not necessarily a bad thing, but a GREAT thing.

Other articles by Coach Ross:

The Power O Football Play

Youth Football Pass Blocking Schemes 


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