The speed option is an option play where the quarterback immediately attacks the optioned defender without utilizing a potential handoff to a running back first.
The speed option is fast compared to the triple option. The speed is created by the quarterback who immediately attacks the optioned defender. He doesn’t read a defensive tackle or have the option to hand to a fullback. There are only two options, not three.
As the quarterback starts to attack the defense, the pitch man gets a predetermined distance away from the quarterback, called pitch relationship. It is far enough away so that the defender being optioned cannot defend both men, but it is close enough so that the pitch can be made quickly and easily. It is the running back’s job to stay the correct distance away since the quarterback’s attention is on the defender.
The quarterback then makes the defender choose. If the defender chooses the quarterback, he pitches; if the defender chooses the pitch man, he keeps.
Shotgun is a useful formation to run the speed option, but it can be run from any formation. Here is the play from another formation.
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