Defending the option

It’s Christmas afternoon. It’s been a good morning, and I’m about to get back on the grid after being off for a few days. Heading down to Meridian in a bit, then up to Nashville tomorrow.

During the break this came in an email from a reader in Olive Branch. It is used with his permission. …


I always enjoy your stories and keeping up with Ole Miss football from your perspective.

Regarding Georgia Tech’s offense, I remember playing high school football in the mid 70s when the option and wishbone were king.  

Anyway, whenever we stopped it, it was because the defender assigned to the dive-man (fullback) stopped him, the defender assigned to the quarterback stopped him, and the defender assigned to the pitch-man (half-back) stopped him.  

More importantly, it’s because the guy assigned to the QB would hit him every play, for acting like he kept the ball or actually keeping it.   By the 4th quarter this made a difference, as the QB was more worn and fakes were heartless and unconvincing, which, nevertheless, allowed us to hit him.  

I’ve sometimes been frustrated watching Ole Miss defend the option, but nothing sticks out like the 2009 Egg Bowl.  Relf and Dixon had about 130 plus yards each.  It seemed like the Rebels’ defense would either put too many people inside, or players would get confused and tricked by trying to guess what option the quarterback was taking.  

When defenders are assigned, and the quarterback gets hit and tackled every play before he gets outside, there is no option. Over time, I think most defenses figured this out and that’s what led to the option’s demise. …

I love the attack the quarterback part. I don’t know if that’s part of the Ole Miss plan. It’s sort of a common sense thing. Pound the guy who touches the ball every play, and he’ll hold up less than the running back, who touches the ball occasionally.

Seems like there would be something in today’s football climate that makes that against the rules or in the very least frowned upon by the officials.

In that 2009 Egg Bowl, Anthony Dixon ran for 133 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Chris Relf ran for 131 and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Tyson Lee started that game and played most of the first half as I recall. When Relf came in Ole Miss looked as though option football was brand new.

That being said, the had a month to prepare for Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl and were much better against the run. The Cowboys led the Big 12 in rushing that year, and Ole Miss held them to 140 yards, almost 50 yards below their average. The option was an element of their game.


Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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