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Previewing the Georgia Tech Triple Option Offense

Deacs have their work cut out for them in defending Jackets’ triple option

Georgia Tech v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Author’s Note: Thanks to our friends over at From the Rumble Seat for their help on the triple option. Be sure to check out their site!

On Saturday at 7:30 pm Wake Forest will take on Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field in Atlanta for the Jackets’ homecoming.

Georgia Tech enters the game with a record of 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC after coming off of Saturday’s 25-24 loss to Miami in a game in which the Yellow Jackets dominated and lead for most of the game.

Tech has convincing wins over Jacksonville State, Pitt, and North Carolina, and lost by only one point to both Tennessee and Miami, which were both games that they should have won but lost late.

The Jackets are led at quarterback by junior TaQuon Marshall who is 22-41 for 388 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season. He has a 53.7% completion rating, and averages 9.46 yards per attempt. He has not thrown an interception all year, has been sacked six times, and has a passer rating of 173.4 For comparison, John Wolford’s is 152.1.

While these passing statistics may not seem overly impressive, it is because of Paul Johnson’s flexbone triple-option offense, where throwing the ball is generally reserved for 3rd-and-long situations.

The main backs who handle the ball in this year’s edition of the triple-option offense are Marshall and sophomore running back KirVonte Benson. The third spot is done by committee with Clinton Lynch, Qua Searcy, Jerry Howard, Nathan Cottrell, J.J. Green, Quaide Weimerskirch, and Matthew Jordan all sharing snaps.

Marshall is the quarterback, and Benson is known as the B-back. The other position is known as the A-back, and is done by committee.

Marshall has 121 carries for 541 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. His season long run is a 65 yarder, and he averages 4.5 yards per carry.

Benson has 91 carries for 516 yards and 4 touchdowns. His season long is a 63 yard rushing touchdown, and he averages 5.7 yards per carry.

Lynch has 15 carries for 140 yards, with an average of 9.8 yards per carry and a long of 48 yards. He was expected to be one of the leading rushers coming into the season.

Searcy has 21 carries for 135 yards. Howard has 14 carries for 135 yards, including a 65 yard touchdown run. Cottrell has 16 carries for 134 yards. Green has 13 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. Weimerskirch has 16 carries for 70 yards, including a 19 yard touchdown run. Jordan has 11 carries for 31 yards and a touchdown.

Needless to say, the Deacon defense will once again have their hands full all game long no matter which back is carrying the ball. Especially given the fact that the third back seems to be a rotating position, so there isn’t one look to prepare for.

With the option offense, the defensive front of Duke Ejiofor, Wendell Dunn, Zeek Rodney, and Willie Yarbary is going to have to get a great push and get to Marshall quickly. Linebackers Grant Dawson, Jaboree Williams, and Demetrius Kemp are going to have to be faster than ever and get a jumpstart on who knowing which back has the ball in order to keep the backs from getting deep into the secondary.

The option offense can also be very uptempo, and could cause our defense to become worn out rather quickly, making it necessary for backups to play up to their highest potential and sub in constantly.

Senior Ricky Jeune is by far the leading receiver with 12 of the team’s 22 receptions on the year for 223 yards, 3 touchdowns, a long of 48, and an average of 18.6 yards per reception. Jeune is the main receiver to keep an eye on, though again, don’t expect too much from the passing game.

Senior J.J. Green is responsible for the other 2 receiving touchdowns on the year.

According to Ben Tankersley (@FTRSBen) of From the Rumble Seat (@FTRSBlog), “Marshall and Benson make up our two primary runners as our QB and B-back, respectively. Our other running back position, called A-backs, is done by committee. We’ve been running a four-man rotation there for the most part this year, with Qua Searcy and JJ Green being the “starters” and Clinton Lynch and Nate Cottrell being the other main two that shuffle in. Coach Johnson typically uses the A-Backs to run in the playcalls.”

So there you have it. A perfect explanation of how the triple-option offense works, courtesy of our sister site.

Freshman kicker Brenton King is 1/1 on extra points and 2/2 on field goals with a long from 31 yards. He is on scholarship, but was the backup to sophomore Shawn Davis until Davis went down with an injury against Miami.

This offense will present a challenge unlike any the Deacs have seen this season. Here's hoping the bye week gave them plenty of time to prepare for the triple option, and that the linebackers are ready to be fast and furious.

Look for more content on the site throughout the week, and be sure to check out From the Rumble Seat.