Nowadays, in the age of spread, pass-first offenses, the triple-option, which has become synonymous with Georgia Tech during Paul Johsnon’s 10-year tenure, is often dismissed as antiquated.
Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente made it clear Wednesday that the triple option’s archaic origins don’t make it ineffective.
In fact, quite the opposite.
“It’s always been a good offense,” Fuente said in his Wednesday teleconference. “It’s stayed the test of time.”
The fact that few other teams in college football, and none on the Hokies’ schedule, choose to run the triple option make it even more difficult to prepare for.
As they do every week, Virginia Tech has had its scout team try to simulate Georgia Tech’s offense for its first-team defense. Fuente said that has been a challenge. Not only is it difficult to replicate Georgia Tech’s multiple different ball-carriers — freshman wide receiver Kalil Pimpleton has played the role of Yellow Jackets quarterback Ta’Quon Marshall this week — but teaching the scout offensive linemen Georgia Tech’s complex blocking scheme in a week is, in Fuente’s words, “not realistic.”
“It’s one thing to line up in four-wide, tell them all to run curl routes. They pretty much all know that,” Fuente said. “It’s another thing to tell them to arc block or load block. That’s just something different than what we do on a daily basis.”
Sometimes, when preparing for a complex offense, the Hokies’ starting offense can provide its defense some insight. Not this week.
“Usually during a normal week, your starting offense can do some things to help simulate what you’re going to see,” Fuente said. “It’s not realistic for us to put our first team offense out there and run a triple option and have it look anything close to what it’s going to look like on Saturday.”
This season, Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense has been particularly effective, even by Johnson’s standards. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC and are third in the nation in running, averaging 331.9 yards per game on the ground. They rank sixth in the conference in scoring at 31.8 points per game.
In 2015 and 2016, Georgia Tech averaged about 257 rushing yards and 28.5 points per game.
Fuente said it is that combination of uniqueness and effectiveness that makes Georgia Tech’s offense so difficult to stop.
“The fact is you never see it. You don’t see it daily in spring ball or two-a-days or in very many weeks during the season,” Fuente said. “The other aspect of it is they’re very good at it. … They have answers to whatever it is you give them, can really cause you problems.”
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