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Belly Option Out of the I Formation

October 6, 2016

The I formation has withstood the test of time. The I first gained popularity in the college game but has been used widely in the high school game as well. Although the staple play of the I formation is the old power or iso play, this formation is versatile enough to lend itself to other schemes and series. We used this formation almost exclusively for over twenty years at the high school level and experienced a great deal of success with it. Easy to learn and easy to coach, it fit well with what we wanted.

We wanted to run option out of the I and after talking to several coaches whose programs we admired, implemented a system of option football that we thought suited our athletes. One particular series that became our bread and butter was the fullback belly option series. We called this our “40” series. The 40 series consisted of about four or five plays that could be run against any defense. Let’s take a look at a few of our plays.

Our first and best play was the fullback belly. We called it 44 belly. To us, belly denoted the type of blocking our line would execute at the point of attack. Our belly block had to be run to the tight end side and was simply an outside trap play or “G” scheme, as some call it. The TE and playside tackle block down while the playside guard pulls and kicks out contain. The backside linemen take a playside step and execute a cut off block. The QB reverses out while gaining depth and seats the ball in the FB’s belly. We wanted a good hip to hip ride with the FB. After handing the ball off to the FB the QB continued on with his option look as he attacked the perimeter with a good option fake. The FB took a lateral playside step and then aimed for the outside hip of the tackle as he took the handoff. The tailback (or running back) started flat and parallel to the line of scrimmage and was careful to keep a good pitch relationship distance with the QB. He along with the QB carried out a good option fake. We liked a smaller, quicker FB who could read the belly block, cut, and explode through the seam.

Our second play of the series was 44 belly keep. Everything remained the same as the FB belly except this time the QB kept the ball and followed the FB into the hole, using him as a lead blocker. It’s kind of like a power belly play.

Our third play of the series was the 48 belly. Again, everything remained the same but now after a good fake to the FB, the QB would pull the ball from the FB’s belly and attack the perimeter of the defense. The QB now had the option of keeping the ball and cutting upfield or pitching to the TB if there was no opening. In all three of these plays the TB gets on the pitch track and runs his option route. When running 48 we didn’t always belly block; sometimes we base blocked it or ran veer with our TE. Veer meant the TE would not block on the LOS but would execute an arc block to the outside, leaving the defensive end unblocked. So, the play in the huddle could be called 48 belly, 48 base, or 48 veer.

A fourth play in the series was our 44 pass. Once again, all the backs executed the same action as always in the 40 series but this time after a good fake to the FB, the QB quickly shuffled back to gain depth for a forward pass. The backside wide receiver ran a post while the playside wide receiver ran a go. Our favorite target, the TE, ran a corner route about 10-15 yards deep. The better our belly was working, the better this play opened up.

This series became the backbone of our offense and provided us with an identity that we were known for. For more great ideas and hundreds of free football videos visit

Source by Luke O. Grant

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