The Baltimore Sun wrote a fantastic article about the triple option, again dispelling some of the myths of the offense and explaining why it works directly from Army and Navy.
“I could tell what he was doing was pretty special,” Niumatalolo recalled. “We could move the ball against anybody. So I knew then that this wasn’t a gimmick offense.”
…………..Army ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game, Navy third. Air Force, which also runs an option offense under coach Troy Calhoun, ranks fourth. The nation’s leading ground attack, New Mexico, runs the triple option out of a pistol formation under former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie.
…………..The offense yields more than yardage. Army, Navy, Air Force and New Mexico are all headed to bowl games. “It still works,” Niumatalolo said. “The core is the same. Other things come and go, but option football, it’s sound. ”
………….The very sort of people attracted to the academies — disciplined, resourceful, committed to a mission greater than themselves — happen to be perfect fits for the triple option.
………….”You got a bunch of guys who have chips on their shoulders, who’ve been told they weren’t good enough to play, weren’t fast enough, weren’t big enough,” Reynolds said after finishing practice with the Ravens on Wednesday. “They have an opportunity to play big-time ball, they’re very disciplined with the military factor, and that offense takes discipline. You’ve got guys who buy in because they know if they buy in, they have a chance to beat teams they grew up watching. So you throw that all in a mix and you get the success of the triple option.”
………..The theory of the offense is simple: You only have to block nine of 11 defenders because you neutralize the other two by “reading” them.
………..”We’re not throwing little bubble screens,” Niumatalolo said. “When we throw it, we mean it. We’re going downtown.”
………..When it’s working, the -option can answer any question a defense poses. “You can’t really stop it,” said Navy senior Jamir Tillman, a fleet, 6-foot-4 receiver who has sacrificed many touches to the altar of the triple option. “If we win our individual matchups, there’s no way to contain everybody.”
………….”He’s one of the smartest men I’ve ever met,” Niumatalolo said. “Now that I look back over 27 years of coaching, there are some coaches who make the game way more complicated than it is. But coach Johnson was always a clear, simple, precise teacher, and so the game was very simple.”
………….”Fundamentally, the only thing the option requires is for you to be knowledgeable, tough and smart enough to understand what the system is trying to do,” Romine said. “You don’t need a superstar.”
…………..So if the triple option has worked for nearly 50 years, why don’t we see more of it? “People want the bells and whistles now,” Jasper said. “They want to see the big play, and in their minds, our offense is just not exciting.”
………….”If you’re the other guys competing against Ohio State or Michigan, why would you do what they do?” Niumatalolo said. “That doesn’t make sense because you don’t have the same kind of personnel.”
………..”Option principles are based off numbers. If you do this, we do that. If you have more guys here, we go there, ” he said. “Football’s really not a complicated game.”
Football is a simple game. A systematic approach to football wins. Don’t fall for the bells and whistles.
Photo: Department of Defense photo by E.J. Hersom