Notre Dame football: Enjoy the Glory of Navy’s Triple Option
The beauty of the triple-option
We don’t simply enjoy the unique beauty of the triple option offense. It is, if you put yourself in the right mindset, something that everyone should enjoy. So, pay attention to it. There is a lot to be looking at, and when it flows properly it’s a great thing.
This starts with the offensive line. They cut block, which means that they dive into the legs of the defensive line, “cutting” them down. It’s a way for undersized offensive linemen to take on stronger defensive linemen. It can also lead to dangerous chop blocks and will never let the Navy offensive line get to blocking on the second level.
The thing is they’re not supposed to be getting to the second level. They’re supposed to take out the defensive line. In the triple option offense, they want linebackers to run free because they want to force those linebackers to make decisions.
Most of the time, defensive linemen are taught to beat getting cut with their hands. That means that they stay low, and if the offensive lineman wants to go low, the defensive lineman helps them, pushing them into the ground while dodging the cut itself.
Linebackers are who the option is traditionally designed to beat. The first give is a fullback up the middle. There are a few different variations on this.
The important thing to remember, though, is that the quarterback is going to give the ball to the fullback based on what the edge defender does. If they stay outside, then the offense has numbers up the middle. If they crash down, then the numbers advantage will be on the outside. So, the quarterback’s job is to keep the ball.
A linebacker is going to step up to meet the quarterback, but if the triple option has done its job properly, it will only be one linebacker against the quarterback and wingback (running back). The corner should be blocked by the wide receiver. This means that the linebacker needs to either take care of the ball carrier, in this case, the quarterback or eliminate the pitchman. The rule of thumb is to always go after the ball carrier, hitting the quarterback so that they’ll be more tentative to run at you or make a pitch that’s too quick in the future.
If the pitch comes too quickly, it can easily be defended by one linebacker. That’s why the quarterback needs to make the linebacker commit and punish them for that choice. It also means your quarterback needs to be very tough.
For the defense, this means that corners need to be elite at getting off blocks and making tackles at the line of scrimmage. It’s the only way to even out the numbers advantage.
Some people might want you to overload the box against Navy, including moving safeties up to prevent these number advantages. However, Navy works to be just effective enough in the passing game to keep you on your toes.