Yeah, I Know what you’re thinking. This guy was a football coach for almost 30 years? Well…we had RPOs but I think they were different than what we think of now. We used to tell our quarterbacks on a rollout pass or a bootleg that as they attacked the perimeter they had the option to RUN or PASS! If the QB saw a receiver open, he could pass. If the QB didn’t like what he saw, namely no receivers open, then he had the option to tuck the ball and go…particularly if he saw a lot of green. We would tell the QBs to pump fake a throw a couple of times to freeze the defenders. A fast, shifty QB was really tough to defend. See the diagram below.
Now to me, that’s a pretty good run/pass option. If the defense hung back we strongly encouraged the QB to RUN!
Today’s RPO is much different. According to an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune August 18, 2018, the earliest RPO probably occurred on Texas high school fields. Chad Morris, who coached in the state during the 1990s, was desperate to find an edge for his offense, which ran the triple option, and had a lightbulb moment: “What if we read the cornerback instead of the defensive end?” His quarterback wouldn’t pitch the ball or keep it based on the defense. He would keep it or pass it deep depending on the corner. That is the easiest definition I could find. In the traditional option attack we always read the D end or last man responsible for contain. Now, the QB is reading a defensive back from the shotgun formation. Also, I think basically the play is designed to be a run first, but if the QB sees the right look as he fakes to the running back, he can throw. Sounds to me like this could be tough on offensive linemen who can’t be downfield on a pass play. Another way to run an RPO is to read a linebacker. In the example below, the QB is reading the right linebacker as he fakes to the running back. I guess the backer is wrong whatever he does. Pretty cool.
OK, since I’ve been out of coaching for awhile, that’s the best I can do. I’m sure there’s much more to it but you offensive gurus out there tell me where I’ve gone wrong.
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Coach L. Albaugh DBLITY
Coach Albaugh coached high school football in Illinois for 28 years. During that time he coached at every level and on both sides of the ball. He was the offensive and defensive line coach for four undefeated teams and was a defensive coordinator in his last 11 years, twice reaching the semi finals of the Illinois state playoffs.