TheBirdDog is a Navy football blog that understands and follows Triple Option football as good or better than anyone. This week, he did a write up of last year's UGA vs. GT game. It's sort of an autopsy of what went wrong, and it looks at how difficult Johnson's triple option is to defend.
He starts by pointing out that the Triple Option as run by Paul Johnson isn't the Wishbone of the '70s and '80s, and that's relevant because he believes that Willie Martinez used some old Dave Wannstedt concepts for defending OU's option. Wannstedt was the Miami defensive coordinator when the Canes beat Nebraska and Miami by a combined score of 71-33 from 1986-1988. Martinez was a defensive graduate assistant on the '86 Miami team working for Wannstedt.
Wannstedt's Pitt team lost to Paul Johnson's Navy in 2007 by a score of 48-45. In other words, the writer's point that defending Johnson's option is different than defending the Bone is a valid point. Although, I don't think we were using the entire Wannstedt script verbatim.
The link above includes some play by play videos with diagrams that show what went wrong or right for UGA. It also shows opportunities for Tech to improve in running their offense next year. After reviewing his videos and reading his article, I still come up with the same opinion. Willie's strategy wasn't fundamentally flawed to some unworkable level like many Dawg fans think. Was it without blemish? Obviously not.
But, watch those videos and focus on our safeties instead of the ball carrier. What you'll see is epic fail. You'll see our safeties running into blocks aimed at other defenders. You'll see shoulder brushing nudges instead of tackles. Long runs followed by horse collar tackles resulting in add-on 15 yard penalities. When Willie benched one of the starting safeties for Bryan Evans, Evans performed ok. But we didn't have the healthy depth at safety to bench the other starter.
You're going to have a tough time convincing me that the same DB coach that instructed Jermaine Phillips, Terrell Bierra, Sean Jones, Thomas Davis and Greg Blue suddenly forgot how to coach safeties. At some point, the player simply has to want to deliver.
And in their defense, you don't get better at tackling by not practicing tackling for 2 months. If Richt is really committed to tackling to the ground this season instead of going "thud" all year, we should look more competent defending the option. With healthy young players providing some depth at Safety, we can also pull our starters before they are in total meltdown mode.
Will we defend the option like LSU did with a month to prepare? I doubt it. But we can look better.
Tech will improve offensively as well. But our team's tackling was so bad from mid-season to Thanksgiving that the opportunity for improvement defending the run in any form is extremely high.
(ht - Nathan)