Hope you’re well. I was on the ACC coaches teleconference earlier today and asked a few questions that I thought you all might be interested in. I’ve written a little bit about quarterback Tevin Washington and how Maryland tried to make him keep the ball on triple option and option plays, which resulted in his career-high 32 carries. Anyway, I asked N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien about what his team did (Washington led the team in carries in that game, also, as well as the North Carolina game before it), and then someone else picked up the thread when Virginia coach Mike London came on the line right after it.
Part of me hopes (or at least would find it funny) that someone tells Washington about all this fascination over this scheming – which I’m sure he sees in practice every day – and he thinks to himself, “Why is everyone talking about me?”
Q. If I can take you back to the Georgia Tech game, Maryland after they played Tech, it looked like, and certainly coaches thought that they were trying to make Tevin Washington hold onto the ball on the triple option and option plays. Was that part of your plan, also?
O’Brien: You have to choose your poison against them. First thing you have to do is tackle the fullback. Then you have to make a determination on the perimeter who you want to carry the football. If you want it pitched into the perimeter or if you want the quarterback to carry the ball and take shots at him.
To us — I don’t know what Maryland’s plan was — but that’s the way it worked out in our game.
Certainly if a quarterback, the more shots he takes, the less effective he is throwing the ball and doing a lot of different things. So that’s maybe the preferred way to play them.
Q. I don’t know if you were listening in on Coach O’Brien, the last question he got was about Georgia Tech, and he said you have to pick your poison with Georgia Tech. I’m curious, did you hear what he said, and, two, what do you think about that strategy that he just mentioned?
London: I caught the tail end of that and not the specifics of it. You’re dealing with the triple option, and actually you add one more element of it and that is the ability to throw the ball as well as they run the ball. As well as you try to dictate or try to create a game plan as to who you want to carry the ball, you have to be cognizant of the fact that as much as you do that, they do an excellent job of throwing the ball behind you because you get perimeter people involved and you get certain linebackers and do certain stunts, you play man coverages.
There is a game-planning element to it that you try to come up with some things to address the three aspects, the dive, the quarterback, and the pitch, and you try to be as multiple as possible, if you can, to try to change those different looks, because the quarterback has to make his particular reads. So there is a lot of validity to that. That’s part of what we did a couple practices last week, but particularly the last couple practices here this week.
Q. Going back to the question about the option. I’m sure you saw the thing Maryland did with Washington. They had number 11 faking on the drive, and then taking the quarterback on the pitch. Is that something you guys could do?
London: When you watch all the different types of teams — whether it’s 3-4 or 4-3 or lined up, to head-up twos, two techniques at slant and angle — there are all kinds of techniques the defensive coaches have tried to devise in order to change the different reads of the quarterback.
So what Maryland did, I’m quite sure N.C. State did, I’m quite sure some of the other teams have played against Georgia Tech or have played against that offense. So there is nothing that is exclusive to what one team does versus what they do. It’s just that whatever you play, in terms of who you want to carry the ball the most, how you want to change up the looks, who do you want to play the pitch on the perimeter whether it’s a corner, or safety, or rolled up corner, those are all parts of the elements of trying to defend this style of attack.
You look at a lot of game film, of a lot of defenses who tried to defend this, and you’ll see various techniques. I would say all techniques are on the table for us, and we take into account who we have ourselves and our capabilities of showing different coverages or running line stunts or whatever it may be. What you saw was something that other teams have done also.
That’s it. I’ll have notes up later. Thanks for reading.
A note from my colleague Doug Roberson: Georgia Tech won’t host Georgia until Nov. 26. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t already thinking about the game. Tell us your favorite play in the rivalry, and the AJC will try to track down the players involved and tell you what they remember about that game and what they are doing now. Please send your favorite (just one, please) and why to Doug Roberson to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where are they now: Roddy Jones is pursuing a master’s degree at Georgia Tech.
Seriously, though, I hope you’ll help Doug out. This sounds like it’ll be a great story.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat