Stopping the triple option is all in the timing.
This year, unlike 2014, the Temple football team has all the time in the world to prepare for Army’s confounding—but not as confounding as Navy’s was—triple option. The Owls have six full months before the opener with Army, and they should probably be setting aside some practice time each day to get the reads down.
Before you say “it’s just Army” please note that the Cadets gave Penn State all it could handle a year ago before falling, 20-14. Temple should always take the approach that it is not too good to lose to anyone and not too bad to beat anyone.
Army is just one part of the schedule that sets up beautifully for the Owls because, if you are going to play a triple option team, opening day is the best week to play one.
The Owls failed miserably in a 31-24 loss to Navy in 2014 because of a number of reasons. It was the second game of the season and they had only one week to prepare for the triple option after the high of going down to Vanderbilt and coming away with a 37-7 win over an SEC team. (Ohio State “held” Navy to just 17 in the opener the week before, admittedly with far better talent than the Owls.)
The triple option is designed to take advantage of defenses by allowing the quarterback to make his reads during the play, not before. That means the defense is rarely in position to make the play and any pre-snap reads are useless.
The Owls should be mentally prepared to not get to down when Army gets its yards. The key is limiting big plays and forcing turnovers. That’s one of the reasons why quick penetration against this kind of offense (the kind a 5-2 might afford) could cause bad reads and turnovers. The Owls also have the kind of speed on the back end of their defense that will probably help them from giving up big plays.
Blitzing would be a bad idea because a 5-2 could provide plenty of penetration without giving up numbers. Blitzing teams usually run past their assignments in a triple option. Staying home and keeping contain is the way to stop the triple option.
The “A” and “B” gap is the key to stopping the triple option. The first read the QB makes is to the A gap fullback and if, say, nose guard Averee Robinson blows up the center, the “B” gap option is either the QB going outside or pitching to the trailing halfback. A Sharif Finch honing in on the QB means that stopping the pitchman falls to a DT like Michael Dogbe or the new guys, Karamo Dioubate or Greg Webb. There is always single-digit linebackers like Avery Williams (2) or Stephaun Marshall (6) coming up on support.
Obviously, a savvy coordinator like Phil Snow knows all of this so the extra time he has to work on it should make for a better outcome than the week he had to prepare for the 31-24 loss to Navy.
Thursday: Ash Wednesday at Matt Rhule Football Camp