Quadruple option: Zone read with multiple pass options

Awhile back I talked about the potential for a “quadruple option,” where a zone-read or other spread option run was married with a two man pass concept. The idea was essentially an extension of the traditional base run packaged with a bootleg pass, just combined into one play.


There are obviously issues with keeping linemen behind the line of scrimmage, but it’s an intriguing concept though not a simple one for the quarter. Indeed, I’d seen it, but only rarely.

Well, I just stumbled across a recent example of something similar (though technically it doesn’t look like there were actually two pass options on the play). Watch the first play that Pittsburgh scores on in the video below:

Although this was successful, it’s not something I expect to see too prevalently, as the feedback I’ve heard from most coaches is that it’s a lot to put on a player; that the bubble read for the triple option in the spread is usually all the quarterback can handle. Nevertheless, for those bold enough to try it, the above video shows that success is possible.

  • CleanXMen

    It certainly is an intriguing concept- but there definitely is that problem of o-linemen being downfield- In the first clip in the highlights an o-lineman was 7 yards downfield making a block at the moment when the QB was throwing the ball- the refs just missed it. Though, I would imagine that would be a hard call to make. Perhaps if the blocking scheme was altered and focused more on doubling the d-line instead of getting to backers, and having a crossing route over the middle or something to put the LBs in a bind- 

    But, it is true- how much can you really put on one player to do, that does ask a lot-

  • Mr.Murder

    Normal triple option with a jet to read the backside would be a quad option.

    We have a three man backfield where it would be possible for short yardage. Run a dive to the fullback, the first halfback reads to the off tackle, and the last back gets in front of the QB so he can keep the pitch read in front of him. FB through 2 hole/back, first halfback through the 4 or 6(like an izzy to front side) and the third back mirrors the quarterback and turns upfield near the numbers. Works really good to field side.

    We usually lead block with the second back to keep it like a triple option and have a I form lead blocker to the off tackle… read the A gap(fullback) to off tackle(second halfback), to keeper(sweep).

  • Pigskin11

    We are running something similar tonight…
    we are in a 2×2 with both sides stacked…
    we are going to pre-snap read the olb/pitch player – if he widens with the stack then the qb knows his keep will be true
    if the olb/pitch player is tight or midway the keep could be a throw to the wr.
    After the qb runs his regular zone read of the DE he will then find the olb/pitch player and either keep and run or set and throw the hitch to the wr.
    The quadruple is going to come in the second time we run it…
    We will have the “blocking wr” stutter and go and have the QB take a shot…

    I stole this from this site from the old CFL clips you had a while ago…

    I love crazy stuff like this…

  • Aj_vann3

    Anyone else think those last 2 scoring plays were just 4 ver

  • Jon Klyne

    This is actually staple in Canadian football. Teams are consistently calling a zone with a pass concept tag…

  • Dazz

    Haha I think saw me post this on coach huey yesterday.  Not that it’s a problem

  • Anonymous

    I did, thanks for pointing to the vid. Thought I’d just put it up on the site. Much appreciated for the pointer.

  • Iron phenix

    Exactly , i’m coaching in canada and it’s our base play. We change our back side pass concept from week to week.  In 8 year never been call on a illegal man downfield.

  • Marshall_wesley

    Yes, but do you have illegal men down-field with any sort of frequency?  I’m all for running a play if it’s legal, but utilizing a forward pass with down-field O-line blocking is…well….cheating.  If defensive coaches start complaining about it, then it might not be so easy to pull off.

  • Mr.Murder

    Like the formation helping to accelerate the read before the snap. The biggest risk with any option is the QB getting hit a lot. Find ways to help him plan ahead of that so he can get the ball to someone safely and securely.

  • Briandflynn


    Did you see Michigan run something related to this idea vs. Mich. St.  It was a 2 x 2 formation and looked like they had QB Iso called at weak side LB.  LB came up so Robinson hit the quick out to the slot receiver.  Wide receiver had run fade.  OL blocked Iso.  Looked pretty cool.

  • Anonymous

    I run the passing game at a small college, we use this concept all the time. The thing to remember, is even when the double teams for the zone get to a second level, they’re only about 5 yards down field. The pull and throw happens so quick it’s rarely (never) called. Also, you have probably seen  this more than you think, it’s just that every time the end comes up field it looks like your typical Zone Read play.

  • Mr.Murder

    How did your option series go? Hopefully they never made you have to pass and you could zone read all night, unless it was a time situation where throwing could gain quick yards.

  • Iron phenix

    We use it with a oz concept so we don’t chase 2nd level players, They attack and ”stick” to our blockers. The back side ”cut back” player is a problem because when he play it ”fair” or ”50-50” he can rush the run/pass decision of our QB. We must find way to slow him down or make him think. Slice motion or swirl rout on the back side Lb are solution.

  • Bellanca

    Yeah, it was great, only Michigan was down-blocking at the second level at the time.

  • Margaretg202

    I just emailed a friend about what appeared to be Rodgers, last Sunday, doing a zone read, sticking the ball in the
    belly of the back and sprinting out, then passing.  It was not clear to me if he only intended to pass
    or was really exercising an option.    Seems viable to me, whether Rodgers runs or not.  

  • Juniorjo66

    Chad Morris at Clemson has run this type of play this season from a few different looks.  Like the Pitt example, I am not sure that there are actually 2 pass options all of the time, but it is interesting to watch.

  • guest

    Baylor appears to be running this with a majority of their run game. Against TAMU they ran zone weak from trey with a stick combination as the backside.

  • MajorTexasFan

    Unless I’m mistaken, Oregon just ran this exact play against Colorado in the red zone on the first drive.  Pass options were TE and flanker.  Gained 8 yards.

  • Ch

    Ok so this has been run since the 80’s. I know it was a highschool team but chapel hill highschool in chapel hill NC ran this from 1979-1982 and made it to the state championship several times with darell dickey at quarterback. Dickey’s dad pretty much started the spread offense and ran it at UNC for 2 years and then at Kansas state. Everything Chapel Hill High ran was a run pass read at the snap for the quarterback.

  • Kansas State would combine a speed option with quick slant, but I have no clue how they didn’t have penalties called for linemen down field.  And that’s really just 2 options, not three.  Regardless, it was a play they ran a lot around 2002…I sadly haven’t watched as many of their games recently (shame on me!)

  • ch

    with dickey’s dad at kstate they would motion a guy then run zone read with a pitch man, except they would also read a slant or hook

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