Thursday, August 29, 2013

Clemson's New Triple Option

Over the past ten years offenses in college football have evolved, revolved, and even devolved for some (see last years Sun Bowl). Earlier last decade--good god I'm talking about the 2000's--we watched the triple option reemerge onto the national scene as a great equalizer for undermanned teams, and as a way for talented teams to keep the ball in the hands of the most athletic playmakers while having a measured number advantage against the defense.

So far, this decade has shown that the read-option is the current flavor of the week. Teams now like running the read-option out of the "spread" or "pistol" formation--instead of under center-- because the quarterback doesn't have to turn his back to the defense and readjust his eye level. This also gives the quarterback extra time to read and hold the defense with his option give/pull. The decisions made in this "bonus" time for a usually assertive, unblocked defender in open space is what the play package is fueled on.

Although it's being run out of the "pistol" formation here with a motioning wide reciever on this play, this is the type of overall look the triple option has been for many years.

Quarterback takes the snap, puts it in the dive back's belly, and reads the play-side end man on the line. If the defender goes for the dive back, the QB pulls it and runs option football with the back/receiver pitching it if he wants, or lowering his head as Boyd does here for the score.

But there is a new trend of option football that many coaches are implementing, and one coach on the forefront of this movement is the highly-innovative offensive coordinator for the Tigers, Chad Morris.

Although this play is not the perfect ideal example, it shows enough of what you might see early on against the inexperienced Georgia defense. Here the play is what's known as a "read option". At least that's what it looks like at first.

Now, I use this example because it was one of the few ones I could find from Clemson last season. You can also tell that the players are still getting accustomed to it, mainly on the offensive line.

Once Boyd pulls it from the running back's belly it is thought to be a QB keeper. Even the TV announcer says, "Boyd on a keeper!" Except it's not though.

From the looks of this particular video you can see that the O-line is not aggressively run blocking or getting up field to block for the option read. Instead, they are making sure to not advance upfield (in order to avoid a penalty), knowing to trust their QB to give it to the RB if there is an open lane.

While this looks like nothing other than a "read-option play-action pass", what it performs as is a different sort of triple option. It becomes one that is not hinged on just running the ball, but passing it as well.

It's a combination concept that's Chris Brown calls "packaged" plays. He does an excellent job explaining the concepts of these package plays, and providing a few more compelling examples of them at work.

Fact is Clemson, who was 7th in the nation last year with 1,062 plays ran from scrimmage, is looking to go even faster, and this is the vehicle to do it in.

"This is the same type of game that we just played in our bowl game," Swinney told The State. "The margin for error is very small. Three or four plays are going to make the difference."

With so much firepower returning on offense--mainly Watkins and Boyd, who could run Clemson's schemes in their sleep--I believe you'll see a package of this sort a few times during the game in order to throw off the youthful Bulldog defense.

Coming up tomorrow, I'll break down the most important piece(s?) of Georgia's offense.

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