Veer

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The Veer is an option running play often associated with option offenses in American football, made famous at the collegiate level by Bill Yeoman's Houston Cougars. It is currently run primarily on the high school level, with some usage at the collegiate and the professional level where the Veer's blocking scheme has been modified as part of the zone blocking system. The Veer is an effective ball control offense that can help minimize mismatches in a game for a team. However, it can lead to turnovers with pitches and handoff option reads.

Option offense

An option offense is a style of offense in American football that is predominately based on a running play. However, instead of a specific play in mind, the offense has several "options" of how to proceed. Based on the defense, the quarterback may hand off to a full back up the middle (dive), hold on to the ball and run himself to either side of the field (keep), or pitch the ball to a trailing running back (pitch). Option offenses have traditionally relied heavily upon running plays, though modern option offenses now incorporate a large number of passing plays called the Run-Pass Option or RPO's. Because they are run-based, option offenses are very effective in managing the game clock, giving the opposing team less time to score and keeping the option team's defense from tiring. However, this also means that when the option team is losing near the end of the game, and needs to score quickly, it is at a disadvantage. These schemes rely on timing, deception, and split-second decision-making under pressure, which, in turn, require precise execution and discipline.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.

Contents

The Outside Veer (or "high dive") shown vs. an Oklahoma defense (3-4 or 5-2). The square indicates the dive read while the diamond indicates the pitch read. Veer vs 34.PNG
The Outside Veer (or "high dive") shown vs. an Oklahoma defense (3–4 or 5–2). The square indicates the dive read while the diamond indicates the pitch read.

Formations

The Veer can be run out of any variety of formations, although it was primarily designed to be run out of the split-backed, aptly named veer formation. It has been used out of the I-formation (and its variants, including the Power-I and Maryland I) and the wishbone formation. Some variants of the triple option have now made the jump to the shotgun formation, which has become a popular option formation since Eric Crouch and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers used the shotgun option during his 2001 Heisman campaign.

A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.

Wishbone formation American football formation

The wishbone formation, also known simply as the bone, is an offensive formation in American football. The style of attack to which it gives rise is known as the wishbone offense. Like the spread offense in the 2000s, the wishbone was considered to be the most productive and innovative offensive scheme in college football during the 1970s and 1980s.

Shotgun formation formation

The shotgun formation is a formation used by the offensive team in American and Canadian football. This formation is used mainly for passing plays, although some teams use it as their base formation. In the shotgun, instead of the quarterback receiving the snap from center at the line of scrimmage, he stands farther behind the line of scrimmage, often five to seven yards back. Sometimes the quarterback will have a back on one or both sides before the snap, while other times he will be the lone player in the backfield with everyone spread out as receivers.

How it works

Morris Knolls High School of New Jersey running a typical veer play. In this picture, the quarterback, #8, is meeting his dive back. The other back, #30, is his pitch option. Knollsveer.jpeg
Morris Knolls High School of New Jersey running a typical veer play. In this picture, the quarterback, #8, is meeting his dive back. The other back, #30, is his pitch option.

The Veer option is generally regarded as a "triple option". It is designed as a three-back attack with one player taking a dive course, one taking a pitch course and another being a lead blocker on the perimeter of the offensive formation. The QB makes reads on defensive players and then distributes the ball according to the defensive reaction to the offense. A typical play proceeds as follows (we will assume that this is an "outside veer" going to the right side out of the split-back formation): the quarterback takes the snap. He then does what is called "opening up": the quarterback goes from his two-point stance, facing forward, and takes (in this situation) his opposite side, left foot and pivots ninety degrees on his right foot, extending the ball toward the sideline he is facing. The split-back halfback on the right side, who in this situation is the "dive back", goes forward into the line to where the quarterback is and meets in an area called the "mesh point". This is where the idea of the Veer begins to take shape: the offensive line has left one man unblocked here, most likely a defensive tackle (although it can be a linebacker) or even a defensive end.

The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.

Quarterback position in gridiron football

A quarterback, colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes.

Running back position in American and Canadian football

A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.

This man is being Read by the QB. The defender is being forced to choose between tackling the dive back or the quarterback. The dive back explodes forward, puts his arms around the ball that is being extended, but does not take it. The quarterback, in his open stance, is reading the man being veered, in order to decide whether to "pull" the ball from the dive back and go through the hole, or to give the dive back the ball and have him go through the hole. This is where the name of the offense, the veer, comes from. This is just one part of the four-part option. If the quarterback keeps the ball, he attempts to cut up the field with the opposite side halfback, who has been running right towards the dive back's original position. He is the pitch man.

He attempts to maintain proper pitch relation to the quarterback, technically a few yards outside the quarterback and moving laterally so that the quarterback may pitch the ball as he goes down the field. This entire action takes no longer than a few seconds.

The fourth player in the split-veer would be a wide receiver or tight end. His job, depending on the formation, would be to block the force player who is responsible for the flat on the side being attacked. The offense relies on the quarterback making the proper reads, turning up the field (if he decides to keep the ball) and gaining yardage. The dive back must remember to not take the football from the quarterback, rather the quarterback must give it to him. The pitch man must maintain proper spacing from the quarterback to ensure that the quarterback can make an effective pitch that can ensure more yardage.

Origin

The College Football Hall of Fame credits Bill Yeoman with the invention of the veer formation. Yeoman ran that offense with the Houston Cougars beginning in the mid-1960s and continuing through his career at Houston, which concluded in 1986.

Houston Cougars football football team of the University of Houston

The Houston Cougars football program is an NCAA Division I FBS football team that represents the University of Houston. The team is commonly referred to as "Houston" or "UH". The UH football program is a member of the American Athletic Conference West Division. Since the 2014 season, the Cougars have played their home games on campus at TDECU Stadium, which was built on the site formerly occupied by Robertson Stadium, where they played home games from 1941 to 1950 and from 1997 to 2012. Over the history of the program, the Cougars have won eleven conference championships and have had several players elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, including a Heisman Trophy winner.

Use

An example of an inside veer triple option. Triple Option veer.jpg
An example of an inside veer triple option.

When an offensive system is devised for a team, the coach must take into account his players, so the veer can be applied to several situations. It can be used for undersized players so that double teams and angles can be used to block defenders. It can be used to isolate defenders and create predictable responses to the offenses actions. If a team is very disciplined it can take advantage of an undisciplined defense that can not execute their responsibilities precisely on each snap of the game.

The veer requires precision, execution, and smarts. The ability of the QB to identify weakness in defensive alignment is paramount, as the veer can take quick advantage of a defensive misalignment. The veer also can be used with great effect when the offensive line is a strength of the team. Over time, the ability to pass out of the Veer has also been utilized depending on the quarterback's ability to "bounce" into a moving pocket to make short range passes. The most effective methods of passing out of the Veer also places emphasis on the interior linemen's ability to "sell" the defense on a run block scheme. Short yardage or goal line offensive situations are ideal for a Veer option pass play. The receivers that are the best options for a pass play out of the Veer are the first running back through the line who runs a "go" route isolating the frozen safety; the slot receiver who can release quickly from a block to run a skinny "go" route behind the cornerback or a tight end that can release out of his interior block and find an open seam underneath the lone safety. A third component to the Veer that comes with some passing success is the ability to run trick or gadget plays to take advantage of over anxious defensive backs and over pursuing linebackers. Once the ability to pass out of the Veer has proven successful, the countering of the Veer becomes more conventional and the safeties and cornerbacks must respect the pass first before attacking the line of scrimmage.

The veer offense was adopted by Jack Lengyel, the new head coach of the Marshall University Thundering Herd prior to the start of the 1971 season after the 1970 team was killed in a plane crash. Lengyel believed that the veer option offense would be a better offense than the Power I offense he had used at the College of Wooster. Bobby Bowden, then the head coach of West Virginia, offered to tutor Lengyel and his coaches on the intricacies and nuances of the veer option offense. Lengyel installed Reggie Oliver at quarterback. The Young Thundering Herd of Marshall would win two games in 1971: a last-second win against Xavier in their first home game after the crash and the homecoming game against ranked Bowling Green.

Jack Lengyel American football coach, lacrosse coach, college athletics administrator, software executive

Jack Robert Lengyel is a software executive and former American football coach, lacrosse coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at the College of Wooster from 1966 to 1970 and at Marshall University from 1971 until 1974, compiling a career college football record of 33–54. At Marshall, he took over the Thundering Herd football program after the Southern Airways Flight 932 plane crash that killed nearly the entire team in 1970. Lengyel was the athletic director at California State University, Fresno from 1983 to 1986, at the University of Missouri from 1986 to 1988, and at the United States Naval Academy from 1988 to 2001. He served as the interim athletic director at Temple University in 2002, at Eastern Kentucky University from 2002 to 2003, and at the University of Colorado Boulder from 2004 to 2005.

Marshall University university

Marshall University is a public research university in Huntington, West Virginia. It was founded in 1837 and is named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States.

Marshall Thundering Herd football football team of Marshall University

The Marshall Thundering Herd football team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Marshall University. The team represents the university as a member of the Conference USA Eastern division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Counterplays

In the Florida State-Houston game in the Gator Bowl in 1968, the 'Noles brought the safeties up and they ignored the QB, running right past him at times, and crashed into the trailing back, usually Paul Gipson. This took the pitch option away. The Veer wasn't stopped but it was slowed. Florida State won the game 40–20.

Highly athletic defensive lines can also "bring the house" and penetrate the backfield of a veer option offense, disrupting the option read progression and forcing the quarterback to scramble and throw downfield, something which the offense is ill-equipped to do. Persistent backfield penetration can result in a preponderance of Fullback dive plays, which typically result in low gains, putting the offense in a cycle of low-yardage FB dives and incomplete passes under pressure, effectively neutering the "option" portion of the offense.

High school level

The most famous High School program to use the Veer is De La Salle High School in Concord, California. Head Coach Bob Ladouceur brought the offense to the school when he originally arrived to bring the infant program its first winning season. He put in the system because of the undersized players he had. After a record 151 game winning streak, his successor continues to use the offense today. Graduates of De La Salle who have gone to the NFL include Amani Toomer, and Maurice Jones-Drew. Another prolific high school program that runs the split back veer offense is John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge, Louisiana. The Patriots have run the veer since 1970, compiling a 431–36–6 record (through 2006) and winning 21 Louisiana State Championships under head coach J.T. Curtis. College Park High School in The Woodlands, Texas, which opened in 2005, runs the Veer Triple Option under Head Coach Richard Carson. The College Park Cavaliers who went 9–2 in only their second Varsity season in Class 5A in 2007, featured Josh Parsons at quarterback and Running Backs D'Jeale Lyons and David Crittenden in the Triple Option Offense. Notable Odessa Permian High School "Permian Panthers" of Odessa, Texas, a long time Wing-T offensive school, adapted to the Veer under Head Coach Scott Smith during the 2003–2004 seasons. They now are a spread option team. Another famous high school that runs the veer is Morris Knolls High School in Rockaway Township, NJ. Morris Knolls head coach Bill Regan has been running the system since 1975, and has won 4 New Jersey State Championships and 3 IAC and IHC conference championships. Many high school programs use the Veer for several reasons. Many times, the coach of the school played within the system. Other times, the same situation exists as above – lack of speed, size, and athleticism to compete with the teams in their league. However, the Veer has begun to fade as the spread offense and the run and shoot offense become more common and more advantageous.

Other successful teams known to use the veer are the Kemmerer Rangers (Wyoming), which has won two state titles in the last three years; and the Baker County Wildcats (Florida) who went 10–2 and were 30th in the country.

Thomas County Central High of Thomasville, Georgia, under head coach Ed Pilcher, won AAA state titles in 5 of 6 seasons (1992–94, 1996–97) during the decade of the 1990s running the veer. They were also state title runner-up in 2002, and reached the state semi-finals in 2003 and 2007. The Yellow Jackets went 15–0 in 1997, and finished 9th in the USA Today national poll. After the departure of Coach Ed Pilcher to region rival Bainbridge High School following the 2007 season, Thomas County Central High promoted long-time offensive coordinator Bill Shaver to the head coaching position, and the Yellow Jackets continue to use the Veer. As of 2016, the 'Jackets have been using the Veer as their basic offensive package for 26 seasons, and had a streak of 24 straight playoff appearances since the implementation of the offense in 1991. Graduates of Thomas County Central who have gone on to the NFL include Joe Burns, Paul Miranda, and more recently, Dontavia Bogan. Other Georgia high school teams known to use the Veer are The Marist School and St. Pius X Catholic, both in the metro Atlanta area.

Mount Carmel High School in Chicago, IL has used the veer option under Head Coach Frank Lenti since 1984. In that time Mount Carmel has won 9 state championships, and was crowned team of the decade in Illinois after winning 5 state titles in the 90's. Notable players that have gone on to the NFL include Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice.

Acadiana High School in Scott Louisiana just outside of Lafayette has run the Veer since former Head Coach Bill Dotson installed it in 1974. Coach Dotson would have some success running the Veer. Longtime assistant coach Willard Hanks would take over for the 1996 season. He would help take the Rams to the next level making the Class 5-A Qtr Finals in 1999 and Semi Finals in 2001 and 2002 with Alley Broussard (LSU) in the backfield. Another longtime assistant Ted Davidson would take over for the 2004 season. His version of the Veer has been the most successful. Class 5-A finals in 2005-2007 with a title in 2006. Another title in 2010 with back to back titles in 2013 and 2014. At Acadiana the Veer has been handed down and has become an offense that works for Rams. With most 5-A high schools running Pro-Style and Spread offenses the Wreckin' Rams continue to ground and pound behind the feared Veer Machine!

Collegiate level

Because more media attention exists on the collegiate level, the collegiate teams who have run the Veer and its variants are far better known. Beyond the Texas teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the most famous and well covered officially "Veer" team was the Houston squad led by Bill Yeoman. Yeoman's teams racked up thousands of yards on the ground, and won four conference championships and 11 bowl games. His teams finished in the top 10 four times. Other famous Veer teams include University of Nebraska, who won several national titles in their Power-I offense, the United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy and NC State under Lou Holtz. The above-mentioned teams now run the official definition of a veer offense – that is, under center. Currently, the most successful team that runs the veer as their base offense is the United States Naval Academy, which runs the veer exclusively from the flexbone formation under Ken Niumatalolo, former assistant to Paul Johnson. Paul Johnson's version of the Veer has been quite successful, putting together substantial yardage totals against nearly every team encountering this offense. Critics of the offense often point out that bowl opponents have a 4-week time frame or longer to prepare for the offense, and this is a key factor in slowing it down.

The zone read, or shotgun veer play, is now widely used throughout all levels of college football. A running back is lined up adjacent to the quarterback, and, at the snap, the quarterback opens up facing the running back. He reads the end on the same side as the running back. The running back is performing effectively the same motion as the dive back in a conventional veer, except he runs at the defensive end on the opposite side of the field. If the unblocked end on the running back's side (who, in a sense, is being veered) moves up the field towards the crossing running back, the quarterback pulls the ball from the running back and sprints by the end. If the veered end is waiting at his original position, the quarterback gives the ball to the running back. Many different formations are employed, and as a general rule, the option being employed is the base offense for the team, and not as a wrinkle.

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In American and Canadian football, a single-wing formation, created by Glenn "Pop" Warner, was a precursor to the modern spread or shotgun formation. The term usually connotes formations in which the snap is tossed rather than handed—formations with one wingback and a handed snap are commonly called "wing T" or "winged T". The single wing was superior to the T formation in its ability to get an extra eligible receiver down field.

Strategy forms a major part of the game of American football, and both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent to score more points in order to win the game.

T formation

In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".

Flexbone formation offensive formation in American football

The flexbone formation is an offensive formation in American football that uses a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant running formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage.

The split-T is an offensive formation in American football that was popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Developed by Missouri Tigers head coach Don Faurot as a variation on the T formation, the split-T was first used in the 1941 season and allowed the Tigers to win all but their season-opening match against the Ohio State Buckeyes and the 1942 Sugar Bowl versus Fordham. Jim Tatum and Bud Wilkinson, who coached under Faurot with the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks during World War II, brought the split-T to the Oklahoma Sooners in 1946. After Tatum left for Maryland in 1947, Wilkinson became the head coach and went on to win a record-setting 47 straight games and two national titles between 1953 and 1957.

Spread offense

The spread offense is an offensive scheme in American and Canadian football that is used at every level of the game including professional, college, and high school programs across the US and Canada. Spread offenses typically place the quarterback in the shotgun formation, and "spread" the defense horizontally using three-, four-, and even five-receiver sets. Many spread offenses also employ a no-huddle approach. Some implementations of the spread also feature wide splits between the offensive linemen.

The Swinging Gate is an unorthodox set-piece play in American football, executed in either the offensive or special-teams sections of play. It is unusual in that the offensive line, with the exception of the center, will line up to one side of the field, leaving the quarterback and running back unprotected on the other. Its goal is to disconcert a defensive front in order to allow a quick screen pass to a wide receiver with six blockers, or to allow a short run by the running back. Surprise is the main goal of the play, and it is not typically run outside of short-yardage situations.

In American football a play is a close to the ground "plan of action" or "strategy" used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in their playbook.

Pro-style offense

A pro-style offense in American football is any offensive scheme that resembles those predominantly used at the professional level of play in the National Football League (NFL), in contrast to those typically used at the collegiate or high school level. Pro-style offenses are fairly common at top-quality colleges but much less used at the high school level. The term should not be confused with a pro set, which is a specific formation that is used by some offenses at the professional level.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

References