Grantland: LSU and the Speed Option

It’s now up over at the Grantland blog:

The best and most crucial example of the speed option in the game came in overtime. The play-by-play simply refers to it as a 15-yard rush by Michael Ford, but the play essentially ended the game, as Alabama had just missed a field goal and, after the run, LSU’s field goal — and thus its victory — became inevitable. On this play, LSU showed a particularly interesting wrinkle. Not only did it run the speed option but it actually lined up in an unbalanced formation, and then ran away from the extra blockers. As can be seen from the image above, LSU put the tight end, H-back (a tight end lined up off the line) and a wide receiver all to the right side of the formation. To the left, the Tigers had only the offensive guard and the tackle. Alabama’s adjustment was to overload the offense’s right side, to the point that it was undermanned to the weak side.

Read the whole thing.

  • Acid Reign

    …..I had noticed that unbalance formation when LSU played my Tigers, with the split end covering up the tight end. Unlike Alabama, Auburn did not overload to that side. LSU ran to the strong side, and Auburn faced an avalanche of 270 pound blockers on that side’s linebackers and DBs. LSU powered their way for the first TD that way. Auburn did a lot of slanting after that.

  • Acid Reign

    …..I had noticed that unbalance formation when LSU played my Tigers, with the split end covering up the tight end. Unlike Alabama, Auburn did not overload to that side. LSU ran to the strong side, and Auburn faced an avalanche of 270 pound blockers on that side’s linebackers and DBs. LSU powered their way for the first TD that way. Auburn did a lot of slanting after that.

  • I am an LSU fan and have also noticed the wide out covering up the tight end.  I keep thinking they are going to get a penalty when the TE goes out for a pass but it is obviously intentional.

    An under-reported facet of LSU is the depth and excellence at full back.  Hilliard is a true freshman who will end up playing a lot at RB, but is also doing well at FB.  But there are two other great blocking FBs that also rotate in.

    Oh, and great article on the speed option.  Excellent break down.  Shows the LSU coaching staff made a great adjustment.  Les is not a crazy guy on the sidelines making wild calls.

  • I am an LSU fan and have also noticed the wide out covering up the tight end.  I keep thinking they are going to get a penalty when the TE goes out for a pass but it is obviously intentional.

    An under-reported facet of LSU is the depth and excellence at full back.  Hilliard is a true freshman who will end up playing a lot at RB, but is also doing well at FB.  But there are two other great blocking FBs that also rotate in.

    Oh, and great article on the speed option.  Excellent break down.  Shows the LSU coaching staff made a great adjustment.  Les is not a crazy guy on the sidelines making wild calls.

  • Andrew

    Good article, as always. One question, though. With the lead blocking fullback, isn’t this technically a lead option rather than a speed option? Or are those plays basically the same thing (w/ the addition of a fullback in the case of the lead option)?

  • Anonymous

    To me it’s the speed option and you can say it’s with an added lead back if you like. Tom Osborne’s Nebraska teams referred to it as an “Arc Option” to distinguish it from one where they faked the dive. Saban during the game used the term speed option. I’ve heard it called the “Load option” but that term has always been nebulous to me.

    So you can quibble and there are semantics issues (there really is no one single right term in football) but I think it’s more descriptive to call it the speed option with a lead blocker than to try to reclassify the whole play.

  • Stan Brown

    ‘Load’ was used when the back (FB in the I on a speed option or HB in the wishbone or T on a triple option) blocked the end man on the line who usually had the QB.  ‘Lead’ when the blocking back targeted the defender responsible for the pitch.

  • Jamesthurman00

    Ive actually seen it done differently…  Where load option is you block force (pitch key) and lead where you lead through with FB and if the end flats to pitch then the QB runs behind the leading fullback.