Call it tradition. Call it scheme, call it fit, but even following all the black and white game film from the prohibition-era, a handful of teams are still dabbling–and succeeding–in the triple-option offense.
The question that rises, however, is when will the deceptive, dexterous offense will be hurled into extinction?
Gazing the catalog of programs that to this day continue to exercise the outline, the numbers composed are more than welcoming:
Navy: 8-5 (bowl win)
Georgia Tech: 11-3 (bowl win)
Air Force: 10-3 (bowl win)
Georgia Southern: 9-3
Respectable numbers, and speed kills amidst the modern-day college football atmosphere, so the threat of laboring four different playmakers out of a backfield poses obstacles for opposing defenses.
Or does it?
Whether the crooked numbers supply a mere disguise, you then have to turn towards the triple-option versus power-five “physical schools.”
Georgia Tech: 8-3
Air Force: 0-0
Georgia Southern: 0-2
Let’s face it, the triple-option rarely provides the glamour that the spread offers.
What’s fancy about a 13-play drive that chomps up over half of the respected quarter, only to result in a failed fourth-down conversion at the opponent’s goal-line?
Georgia Tech and mastermind head coach Paul Johnson of the ACC represent the only squad in America with prestigious benefits tied to the blueprint. Why? Well, as part of the power-five, the Rambling Wreck can carry on with landing recruits from a highly-touted area like Georgia.
Let’s also not assume that the Jackets pride themselves on just the option, considering two of the top receivers fulfilling their duties in the NFL hail from Georgia Tech in Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. So they’re seemingly equipped with natural athletes, even if targeting such receivers comes into effect 10 percent of the contest.
As for the smaller schools, you have to perceive the triple-option as a dying breed.
Sure, the Armed Forces run the trio-wing strategy in the back of their minds during their slumber, but the lack of size bears a mismatch when parleying with teams from the ACC and PAC 12.
There’s nothing glitzy about the 310-pound lineman that protects the quarterback, and still teams like Navy and Air Force continue to funnel their sources of protection through athletes in the 6-foot, 270-pound criteria to assist in fitting the scheme. But size does come in handy when you clash with Stanford and Rutgers each season.
While the 7-5 and 8-4 seasons typically spark an exclamation mark, you have to wonder when the next big accomplishment comes.
A win over a notable Big-10 school? Possibly hurdling into the AP Top 25?
And don’t even get me started on the failure to cut deficits.
You can’t win if you can’t control the line, so while you’re sifting through a majority of the clock in a quarter by rushing the pigskin for four yards a pop, sustaining a masterful drive, what happens when these teams suddenly go down two scores? Not a trace of pass protection, mediocre route running, and when opposing defenses sense the desire to pass, feel free to rush a frenzy of guys off the edge.
It’s a feast-or-famine type offense that primarily goes to hell once things detonate like a game of Jenga.
But there still marks some positivity for one school.
Taking a temporary break from pessimism, if I’m crediting one program from a season prior, it’s Georgia Southern.
A team cemented in the Sun Belt that rarely sparks a sentence of praise from any broadcaster, newspaper or Twitter account on social media, the Eagles battled to a 9-3 season and nearly conquered BOTH Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
A team desperately seeking wins, fans, and restoration to a bleak program should in no way stray away from what’s working, so if the shoe fits, flaunt it, I don’t mind.
As for the Armed Forces, you have to ponder change.
Even a team like Air Force, now members of the Mountain West, is a remnant of a conference that’s looking to build on the defensive side of the ball, and they’re landing some big names to compete.
Programs like San Jose State and Nevada are just a few that have transitioned from the “hurry up and score on our weak defense so we can get the ball back and throw it,” to well-balanced teams, and they proved that back in 2014.
It’s just a question of if the additional triple-option enthusiasts decide to tear down the walls and begin to renovate over the following years.
You’d have to think being blanked by power-five conferences gets old after a while.