Getting Defensive: Defending The Option (And Eastern New Mexico)

A few years ago someone asked me if I was an offensive coordinator and could run ANY offense aside from the Air Raid Offense, which one would it be. This was a bit of a setup question as most people know me as a pass first, last, and always guy. I knew my answer, and it was this, The Wishbone.

easternpitch

The Wishbone/Option is one of my favorite offenses because it’s principles are the same as the spread. Be radical in what you do, use one type of offensive attack to set up another, and get the ball to 3-4 different skill position players. I love it.

wishbone

triple

Talking some X’s and O’s.

Now this weekend, The Lions are facing a team that runs this offense and runs it very well. Using some sources such as Blogger So Dear and CBS Sports, here is what to know and to expect about this offense that we see so little of.

  1. This offense starts with the QB being the most important part of your personnel just like a Spread offense does, you have to have a quarterback is who smart and confident, and makes good decisions. Unlike the shotgun or even a conventional passing play in a pro set, Option QB’s make their reads DURING the play, not before. Rarely do you see audibles and major shifts in reaction to what the defense is doing. The options are post snap, and not pre snap, hence it being called the option I suppose. The good things about this coming from a defender’s point of view is that first off you disrupt the entire play by making the QB pitch somewhere he really does not want to or should not have. Another thing advantage is there is no need to reach to the motions that do occur pre snap, they are coming to you, and going where you have to chase them.
  2. Blitzing defenses do not fare well against good option teams. Mark Richt, the current coach at Miami and former Head Coach at Georgia plays Georgia Tech, the epitome of a triple option team. His theory is this, and I think it is pretty solid. The editor of Dawg Sports, a UGA Blog puts it perfectly when he says; The first instinct of fans seeing a team defend the option is that you should attack. This is usually the worst thing you can do. Why? Because blitzing puts you upfield and out of position. Remember, the option is calculated to roll downhill fast and force defenders to make decisions on the fly. There’s no quarterback scrambling aimlessly in the pocket. The offense will get to your personnel plenty fast enough. Blitz-heavy gameplans against the triple option mean that eventually somebody’s gonna run right past their assignment. And when you’re playing one-on-one assignment football, that means a touchdown.” Could not have said that better myself.
  3. A team that executes it’s offense is going to get it’s yards. So when All-American tailback Kamal Cass busts for a 20 yard gain around the end, don’t panic or pass out. It is going to happen. The main point is to do the following: limit those runs as much as possible and hold the offenses to field goals. When an offense chews up a ton of clock and scores a touchdown, it demoralizes the defense. When an offense chews up clock and punts or settles for a field goal, it demoralizes the offense. Keeping a good rushing attack to under 300 yards is what every team should aim for from a production standpoint.
  4. Passing games are a total afterthought in most wishbone/flexbone offenses. They have the attitude that most people have while getting up for work; “I am just doing this because I have to or have no choice.” Some teams have good passers who know what they are going to do and when. Jeremy Burrma, who QB’d Eastern from 2013-2015 is a prime example of this. When he had to throw, he made it count and he was a very good passer, which made their offense so frustrating to stop. Third and long was no problem for them to convert. They would make you think a sweep was coming only for their QB to take a two step drop and fire a 12 slant for a first down that kept the chains moving and clock running. Eastern’s QB Wyatt Strand does not have quite the arm that Burrma did, but he can get the job done with his arm. Just ask Midwestern State and Southwest Baptist.
  5. Finally, the clock is a double edged sword for an option team. It can be your best friend or your greatest enemy. If Eastern gets ahead by a couple of scores and keeps executing, the game is totally theirs. So long as they keep moving the chains and scoring, they are going to win 9.9999 out of 10 times. Now, if that same team is not executing and running the ball and getting nowhere and falls behind a couple scores, then turn out the lights because the game is over. You saw that last year. Eastern got no rhythm running the ball and not even a minute into it you saw the Lions strike fast and furious. The game was literally over at the half. Eastern has to have adequate clock to work and if you take that away from them and put distance between them and you, that will work every time to beat a team. The Lions have had so much success the past 3 games against the Hounds because they struck fast and just outscored the Hounds and put the game away early. Thats how you do it.

Roar Back Here.....

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