Sunday, December 28, 2008

DEFENSIVE SOAPBOX: Triple Option Bogey Man

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The Ramblin' Wreck runs the triple option. Otherwise known as the wishbone - which is actually a variation of the triple option, as is the veer. Otherwise known as "I bet you can't stop my running game."

Georgia Tech runs this offense very well. They run it well because Paul Johnson, their new head coach, has run it FOREVER and knows it inside and out. In fact, there's something called the Paul Johnson version. So, yeah, he's familiar.

And they (Georgia Tech) have done well with it because - news flash - few if any other teams in BCS conferences run it anymore. No one practices against it anymore. So the first time they see it is when they prepare for their game with Navy, Army, or Georgia Tech.

But is the triple option - even (gasp) the Paul Johnson version - really all that? Well, Garndner-Webb - that perennial powerhouse that you've never heard of, barely lost to them 10-7. And vastly overrated teams like Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia (OK, Virginia isn't overrated - everyone thinks they stink) beat Georgia Tech. Yes, Georgia Tech beat Georgia. And, yes, Georgia beat LSU. But here's the deal. Georgia Tech had 19 yards of passing against Georgia. Not 19 yards on one reception. Not 19 yards for one receiver. 19 yards. PERIOD.

I'd say that's - eh - predictable! Yes, yes - it's the triple option! It's deceptive! It requires discipline! HELLOOOOOO! LSU has an insane amount of time to prep for this. LSU can figure out this one-trick pony. The real question is, can Georgia Tech develop a passing game in that same amount of time? But we'll get to that.

How does one stop the triple option? Assignment football. Everyone has an assignment and they stick to it. Now, I don't mean to make this sound easy. Georgia Tech knows the weaknesses of their own offense. They're going to mask as much as possible and make it challenging for our defense to pick up their assignments. (Who knows - they may come out THROWING!) But...

Assignment football means: can you win your 1 on 1 matchups? I'd say LSU has the clear advantage in that kind of a game. Assuming Les Miles and the Tigers are spending their Atlanta time homing in on who crushes who at the line of scrimmage, LSU should matchup very, very well. Let's face it - LSU is FULL of talent, has recruited very, very well for a long time now, and enters this game as healthy as any LSU team has been in recent memory. So assignment football should play to LSU's advantage, actually.

So - what does that MEAN? Well, simply, it means this.

Defensive Line: Two jobs. Keep the offensive line off of the linebackers. And keep the fullback from getting more than three yards a carry. Simple? Yes. Easy? No.

Linebackers: Middle linebacker has to read the dive or the fake, and scrape to the QB for the pitch. This is a key, and Beckwith will play a very important role here. Outside linebackers take the QB or the pitch as well. The read is everything.

Safeties: The strong safety is going to probably play a lot closer to the linebackers (almost a fourth linebacker (I'm talking to you, Chad Jones!!)) and provide safety valve to the linebackers on the pitch option. The free safety's job really is the same.

Cornerbacks: My bet is that Georgia Tech targets our cornerbacks. They need to lock down the receivers. We're young at corner - talented, but young. I would NOT be surprised to see Georgia Tech throw WAY more than they have all season long. In fact, I'd bet on it.

So - what does all this MEAN!?! GADDAMIT!

Key defensive players - Beckwith, Sheppard, Riley, Chad Jones, and whoever Miles decides is starting at corner.

What's interesting is that LSU fans have become accustomed to hearing lots of names in the secondary this year because we've played lots of spread type offenses, which call for the nickel and dime packages.

Georgia Tech, if they follow their tendencies, will not call for nickel and dime backs. So....will Patrick Peterson play or not? Remains to be seen...

Which brings us back to the passing game. LSU's weakness this season has NOT been the running game. In fact, in a decidedly off-season for LSU defenses (don't get me started on the co-coordinator bullshite), the LSU defense is still #17 in the country against the rush. Even with all the bullshite tackling (you know what I'm talkin' bout). So...

If'n I was Paul Johnson, here's what I'd do. Besides buy myself a really nice fishing boat that I cannot currently afford, I'd target LSU's cornerbacks. BIG TIME.

LSU will not be planning to rush the QB. There will be few if any stunts or blitzes. If Georgia Tech's QB executes some good play action, then he will definitely have time to throw. Because, let's face it, LSU has not been the best at pressuring the QB in a couple of years now.


Paul Johnson, if you're reading. First of all - thankin' you. Second of all, I have no idea what I'm talkin' bout and Les Miles is ALL OVER your idea about the passing game thing.

Les Miles, if you're reading. I didn't mean anything when I said you weren't a great public speaker (although you could use some polish, bro...). But, seriously, onsiderke the asspe...

Sometime later this week - the offense....I bet you cannot wait!


  1. I agree that the extended time to prepare should be a big advantage to LSU. I don't think there is much doubt that they have more talent if they stay disciplined.


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