Film Room Focus: The Read Option


Oct 26, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron (85) drives past Boston College Eagles defensive back Bryce Jones (17) during the second half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. North Carolina won 34-10. Mandatory Credit: Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

News of Bryn Renner’s season ending injury came out on Tuesday afternoon. It is really sad news for Bryn Renner, whose career at UNC is over now. In his career, Renner threw for over 8000 yards, 64 touchdowns, and 25 interceptions. UNC will greatly miss number two for his contribution to UNC football, his talent as a passer, and for his leadership on and off the field. It is too bad that his career has to end like this.

What it means going forward for UNC is that Marquise Williams has the starting job. Williams is a talented QB capable of taking over for Renner and leading UNC to a bowl game, but he is still developing as a passer. Probably his greatest strength as a quarterback is his dual threat ability- Marquise can both run and pass the football. Williams is third on the team in rushing with 201 yards rushing, and those numbers should increase going forward with his starting job.

UNC’s coaching staff have recognized William’s strengths and catered sections of the playbook to that talent. One of those plays implemented specifically for Williams is the read option. You have probably heard of the read option before, or seen the Carolina Panthers run it with Cam Newton. North Carolina ran it a couple times against NC State, so lets take a closer look at how the play works and how it can be successful for UNC.

The image below is the basic idea of the read option. TJ Logan will run toward the UNC sideline upon the snap and Williams will either take the ball himself for a run, or hand it off to Logan.

This image was a screenshot of the ACC Network game broadcast

The image below is a closer look at the play. The two blue circles, as well as the UNC line on the left side of the screen, all block their assignments perfectly. Notice how the defensive end (with two red arrows coming out of his head) is left unblocked. The object of the play is to freeze that defensive end and make him choose to defend either the QB or the RB. It is Marquise Williams’s job to read what the defensive end is doing, and react. In this case, the end is committed to the quarterback, and can’t stop Logan running toward the sideline. Logan would go for a nice run here because of the play calling.

This image was a screenshot of the ACC Network game broadcast

Here is the same play call again, except later in the game. This one shows you the (simplified) blocking assignments of the offense. The entire offensive line blocks the State D-line, except for the one player circled in red. That is the defensive end that Marquise reads.

This image was a screenshot of the ACC Network game broadcast

The play works to perfection again here. The end goes for the quarterback and Romar Morris skirts around to the outside for a gain of about eight yards. The key to this play is the block (circled in blue) that Jack Tabb makes on the State defender. That block is what allows the big hole to be there for Romar. One other thing to notice is how if Marquise would have kept it himself, he would have had a nice gain as well. Blocking is the key to the success of this play, and the UNC O-line and tight ends did a great job both times.

This image was a screenshot of the ACC Network game broadcast

Look for this play on Saturday, you should see it more and more going forward with Marquise in full time as UNC’s QB. These little plays and new wrinkles in the offense is what will make UNC’s offense very good in the future for Marquise.