What is the Triple Option?
When I came to Statesboro in 1985 to teach at Georgia Southern, I witnessed the greatest brand of football I had ever seen. It was Tracy Ham and the Eagles running the Triple Option. The Eagles ran the Triple Option with the quarterback under the center. Erk and Paul Johnson ran it this way. We marveled at how the team scored more points in the second half to win the game. What was Erk and Paul telling the team at halftime? They were saying GATA, they are tired of chasing after us.
Running the ball changed when we had to get new coaches. They wanted to run the ball from the shotgun position like the BCS teams. We lost and struggled to win. It was not the Triple Option. The Triple Option is run from under the center. It is not when the quarterback takes the ball in the shotgun position, that is the West Coast “Spread Offense”.
Tracy Ham was five foot ten inches tall. He could run better than anyone on the field, and pass as good as most accomplished passing quarterbacks. It was the fact that he ran the Triple Option from under the center that, made it difficult to defend against the Eagle Offense. As soon as the ball was put into play, the defensive linemen and linebackers struggled to find Tracy and who had the ball, through the confusion of players moving and blocking to execute the play. The proof of this style of running is in the success that Georgia Southern has always had when it ran the Triple Option from under the center.
I was at the Florida game. We ran most of our plays with the quarterback under the center, true Triple Option. It was proof that the Triple Option can win against the big boys. In the fourth quarter of the game, Florida’s big defensive linemen were so tired of chasing our running backs, that it lead to our winning touchdown. We stuck to our game plan of running the Triple Option until they were exhausted. We won, and Erk smiled.
When it is run from the shotgun, the defensive linemen and linebackers can see into the backfield and follow the quarterback as the play develops. This takes away the split second decision making advantage that running it from under the center gives the play.
The Triple Option also allows GSU to recruit good running quarterbacks that the BCS teams do not want. BCS teams want good passing quarterbacks for the Shotgun Spread Formation. BCS teams recruit big pass protecting linemen, not fast lineman needed to run the Triple Option. The Triple Option gives GSU an advantage in not having to compete for the same players as Georgia, Florida and other big BCS schools.
The key to the Triple Option is starting the play under the center, having a good running quarterback who can also complete a five or ten yard pass consistently. All the championship teams had this type quarterback. I saw this type quarterback perform and win at Florida. “GATA with the Triple Option”. What was that again, Erk? Right…..GATA with the Triple Option just one more time!
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