The Only Option

By Johnny Ginter on September 13, 2013 at 2:00p

I am absolutely terrible at football videogames.

I want to be good! And I tried (oh how I tried) for a long time, but somewhere around NCAA '08 even the shimmering visage of Jared Zabransky couldn't inspire me to greater heights.

One of the biggest reasons that I am terrible at these games is my utter inability to master the option play. I've been told that it's devastating in the games; that if you can figure it out every quarterback with a speed over 85 becomes Michael Vick and that scores of 100-0 are possible on Junior Varsity (the only mode I ever played in, because, you know, the terribleness).

This made me especially frustrated because I freaking love the read option.

So when NCAA '14 released its demo, I dutifully downloaded it. "THIS time," I stupidly thought, and proceeded to spend an hour or more in the tutorial section, hoping that eventually I could figure out when to determine where the defensive end was crashing down. I eventually got to the point where I could make the correct read about 50% of the time, which is better than not knowing what's going on but also the functional equivalent of a guess. The demo is still there, mocking me, and maybe one day I'll become a competent football videogame player, but probably not for a while.

So sadly I sat, read optionless, until last Saturday when Kenny Guiton ran a master course on how to trick your friends and enemies without really trying.

Words cannot describe the sheer silly joy that I took from watching Guiton destroy San Diego State with a relatively simple play, over and over and over. You probably got bored after halftime, but it's important to point out that Guiton was the leading rusher for the entire game last week. Of course, with that said, let's be clear, even though Kenny Guiton is clearly an athletic dude, he isn't Braxton Miller athletic. But the beauty of the read option is that he doesn't have to be, he has to be just athletic enough to allow trickeration and execution do its work.

See, what I love about the read option is that it is an incredible equalizer in an inherently unfair game.

For much of football, if you're bigger, stronger, faster, whatever, then you have a marked advantage over people who are not. It's a constant reminder that the world is inherently mean to the little guy and that unfortunately, nice guys often finish last.

POISONWitches' brew

But the beauty of the sport is that there are always people looking for exceptions to the rule. Creative, skilled people will always try and find ways to subvert the system if it is stacked against them. The read option is part of this.

And the fact that Kenny Guiton ran this play to perfection last weekend is the topping on the delicious ice cream sundae of hubris that comes when a skinny, relatively slow, and unheralded quarterback reads the intent in the eyes of an overexcited defensive player and completely burns their britches by doing what they never expected: make the right read almost every. Single. Time. 

As Ross rightly pointed out earlier in the week, there really isn't much of a comparison between the athletic ability between Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton. Miller adds a dimension to the offense that Guiton can't, and Braxton forces opposing defensive coordinators to gameplan and make concessions to the Ohio State offense which Guiton won't.

But I posit that at this point in the season, that's okay. Miller is still listed as a "game time decision," and in my opinion that decision is going to be "sit unless Guiton gets into trouble." So instead of flash and dash coupled with an occasional bomb downfield, we're looking at a Saturday filled with methodical drives based on precision and fakery.

So obviously I'm a bit giddy at the prospect. I guess I'll pay lip service to the Braxton narrative: yes, I want him to win the Heisman and become the complete quarterback that we all know he's capable of being, and no, I don't want his injury to linger for when we need him as we start Big Ten season.

But man, once in a while... Once in a while it's just fun to sit back and watch a guy in complete command of the unfair math that is the game of football, and use a deceptively simple yet awesomely clever play to skip and jump his team to 40 plus points and 250 plus yards on the ground. If that's what we get tomorrow, I'll be happy Buckeye fan regardless of how much Braxton we see.


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FitzBuck's picture

You need to have in your mind you're going to hit x (if playstation) no matter what you see and if you see the DE "tap dancing" hold that button down with all if the authority your thumb can muster.  If he's running at you run at him and leave that thumb hanging in the air.  
You can do it bro!  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Johnny Ginter's picture

haha whats funny is that i narrowed down my problem to this exact thing in my head, but when the play starts i spaz out and can almost never resist hitting that x button immediately

DJ Byrnes's picture

Once you call hike with X, keep holding it down. If you see the DE crashing, release the X. 

Problem solved. (Braxton is damn near unstoppable with the read option in NCAA 14. Have fun.)

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

Will in Arizona's picture

Have to be careful because eventually the CPU will wisen up and send the DE crashing down on the RB AND the same side OLB/Safety to the QB.  You will get stopped for a loss almost every time in this scenario.
The Inverted Veer is a much more difficult read in this game for some reason, IMO.

RoweTrain's picture

I have found that if you follow the opposite rule for when the DE crashes on the Inverted Veer compared with the Read Option, you can find success. When the DE crashes on the Read Option, you don't want to hit A or X to hand the ball to the RB. If he crashes on the Inverted Veer you do want to hand the ball to the RB because he should be running to the outside. If he stays at home on the RO, you hand it to the back to head up the middle and on the IV you don't hand it to the back because the DE will be waiting for him on the outside and there should be a lane to run with the QB. I'm not sure if this works 100% of the time, but I have done pretty well following these rules.

"Just bow up and go out and play." ~ D. Lee

"As it stands right now, I know I am the best athlete in college football." ~ B. Miller

xbrax360's picture

The inverted veer switches the roles of the QB and RB by sending the QB up the middle and the RB outside, the first few times i used it I got the read wrong because i was so use to keeping the ball when i see the DE crash down only to get hit immediately afterward

"What Kind Of Speed Does HE Have"

brylee's picture

It's a constant reminder that the world is inherently mean to the little guy and that unfortunately, nice guys often finish last.

Love it!

pjtobin's picture

I don't play  football games by myself  anymore. So like you I am not very good when I do play with my friends. I was at the SD. ST. game Saturday. It was almost like Kenny G was a player being controlled by a computer. He played awesome. Sure he made a few mistakes. But over all he was a beast. I still want Braxton in there. He brings so much more to the table. Yet I know Guiton could get us the win. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

ejoceans's picture

Kenny G must come out here and pound on the bears just like it were an video game or I'm sad to say it will be another drop in the polls for the Buckeyes! Big weekend! O  H 

Lets do this Brutus

BierStube's picture


"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

It helps to have Mario in your corner.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

GruberNubbins's picture

Did you guys notice that Kenny Guiton ran a ton more of the speed/power style option (pitch) than the standard zone (handoff) read?  I really haven't seen Braxton run the speed option as much as they have Guiton running it.  I will say this though - Kenny runs it extremely well and it was fun to watch - he makes the pitch at the perfect time by sucking in the defender.  I will say that as far as NCAA14, the read has now become easier to run than the pitch Johnny, I can never figure out what the defender is doing until it's too late.  Try running the inverted veer after running the read option - now that will screw you up.

Will in Arizona's picture

Once you have the triple option down, it's deadly.  I play triple option with Stanford out of the pistol - so long as your pitch side WR can hold his DB out of the backfield, it's incredibly hard to stop.
Eventually when the CPU starts blitzing the LB from the read side, you have to be really quick to determine the read & pitch basically at the same time, but its doable.  Only when the CB beats the block that you get in trouble.

xbrax360's picture

the shovel option is beast, one running back in front and one behind the QB running the edge, you  can shovel, keep , or pitch, and the defense cant stop you

"What Kind Of Speed Does HE Have"

BuckGnome's picture

I LOVE watching well executed option football!
Those Nebraska teams of the mid '90's were something to behold, Tommy Frazier was the wizard in Nebraska's option offense.

jthiel09's picture

An option offense, when run correctly, is one of the greatest things to watch on a football field.


BierStube's picture

Ask Indiana if it was a great thing to watch ... they got a pretty good view last weekend!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Based on the score, and yards, I would say Indiana's D did enjoy watching it. Tackling is a different story.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I've almost talked myself into buying NCAA 2014.  Just can't quite justify spending $60 when my wife and I are saving a down payment for a house. 

Will in Arizona's picture

It's truly the greatest version of NCAA football on this generation of consoles.  Just wish they still had the FCS schools in there (since I attended one!).

xbrax360's picture

Might be the last one (correct me if im wrong) with the Ncaa lawsuit and there break from ea games.

"What Kind Of Speed Does HE Have"

BierStube's picture

Johnny .. I am in the same boat .. lacking freaking talent with the whole video game scene.  But my son loves to play so I have come up with a solution.  I play as M*ch*gan and he plays as tOSU.  While it does suck getting throttled by an 11 year old ... I am always happy to see the Buckeyes win.  (In most cases he shuts me out ... the kid is a witch on D)!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

bedheadjc's picture

Just saw your sig, Stube. Love that movie and own it. Saw it in the the theaters. Just plain goofy and fun. Who didn't want to be part of his crew?

villagebuckeye's picture

Watch some old clips of Corny Green running the triple option with Archie and Pete

otrain2416's picture

The GIF above is the perfect fit for Jordan Hall in our offense along with Dontre Wilson. Running outside the tackle is perfect for both of them. Need more Hyde and Smith action between the tackles.

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

Young_Turk's picture

Good point about the scheme.  I believe Urban can (has) win with inferior athletes, because his scheme is that much better.  

Now, add to that how superior our athletes are.  Playing against a team with better scheme, and athletes will steal your will to live.  bwahahahahah.


ScarletNGrey01's picture

Good article, it's so true that Kenny G. runs that option about as well as any CFB QB I remember seeing.  He is in essence "pitch perfect".   #groan #sorry

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Lovin all of the option info.  I'll have to break out the football video game and start practicing.  Great tips all the way around. 

bigbill992001's picture

News Flash!...............Brax is NOT gonna win the Heisman..........this yr.

BeijingBucks's picture

And you know this how...?  As has been proven every year the Heisman is not won/lost in Sept friend.  Prognosticators and pundits aside... We have no idea at this point who will look most impressive at the end of the year.  Or should we just give it to Bridgewater now?

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Wesleyburgess1's picture

Lol for real he hasn't had a good game yet. I know he is capable but until I see him stay on the gas for three and a half quarters I'm not impressed... On the subject of Ncaa 14 I have the read option down pat just can't seem to run the inverted veer yet, and passing is much harder especially throwing a straight route no matter if you lob or wiz the ball. Any suggestions?

ohiowhitesnake's picture

Shift your line in direction of the rush. I run 75% of the time and win about same percentage. 

I finally got a set of Gold Pants!