http://www.syracuse.com/orangefootball/index.ssf/2013/10/syracuses_5_keys_to_beating_ge.htmlSyracuse, N.Y. — It’s not often that coaches begin preparing for a single game and a single opponent eight months before kickoff. But that’s exactly what Scott Shafer and his staff did back in February because Saturday is no ordinary game and Georgia Tech is no ordinary foe.
Led by Paul Johnson, who arrived in Atlanta after a successful stint at Navy, the Yellow Jackets run the triple option offense, a throwback to old-fashioned football that favors a ground-and-pound approach over today’s spread mania. It forces opponents to be extremely disciplined, extremely focused and, since the scheme is so rare outside of the service academies in 2013, extremely attentive throughout the week.
That is the task presented to Shafer and his players, fresh off an impressive 24-10 win over N.C. State on the road last weekend. Win Saturday and the Orange is only two games away from becoming bowl eligible. Win Saturday and Syracuse proves it belongs in the Atlantic Coast Conference after back-to-back victories away from the Carrier Dome.
With that, the stage is set, and it’s time to look at the five keys to an SU win:
1. Score early to make Vad Lee throw the ball
On the surface, Vad Lee’s numbers don’t sound so bad. The sophomore quarterback for Georgia Tech has thrown for 758 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in an offense with a No. 1 priority of running the football.
It’s when you take a look at his game-by-game numbers that the wincing begins.
All seven of Lee’s touchdown passes came in the first three weeks of the season, and he has not thrown for a touchdown since Sept. 21. During the last three games — all Georgia Tech losses — he has four interceptions and is completing less than 40 percent of his passes.
So on Saturday, Syracuse would be wise to put points on the board early. If the Orange can open up a lead, Lee will be forced to throw. And that’s been a bit of a struggle for him in the month of October.
The Yellow Jackets want to run the football, and a big deficit on the scoreboard prevents that from happening.
2. Complete multiple passes on the opening few possessions of the game
This game certainly looks like it could be a slugfest, with both teams running the ball and then running it some more until one defense collapses. At times, there could be as many as nine players in the box at the snap of the football.
In order to open up some running lanes, Terrel Hunt needs to complete a few passes early in the game. By connecting with his receivers on the first few possessions, Hunt will force the Georgia Tech defense to respect the pass all game long.
Even if the game plan calls for 70 percent runs — a steady diet of Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley — the threat of a balanced offense is key. Hunt spoke during the week about the importance of getting the passing game on track, and there’s no better time to test the Yellow Jackets than on the opening possession.
3. Do not gamble defensively
Georgia Tech’s option offense has a lot of motion, a lot of variation and a lot of visual trickery that can easily confuse a defense trying to anticipate every play. There’s a reason why the Yellow Jackets rank in the top five in the country in rushing yards year in and year out.
My colleague Nate Mink spoke to several former Navy players, all of which played under Johnson, to take a look at some of the triple option’s patented plays. He learned that even the smallest of subtle details — the width of a linebacker’s stance, the direction of his toes — are details that a quarterback looks at in Johnson’s offense.
That means Syracuse must stay incredibly focused and precise in its alignments on each snap, and players cannot hedge their bets by gambling before the snap.
Take risks, give up huge plays. It’s as simple as that.
4. Avoid three-and-outs at all costs
This may seem like a no-brainer because no team wants to go three-and-out in any game, but it’s especially true against Georgia Tech.
Because the Yellow Jackets run the ball so frequently, they dominate time of possession. Through six games, Georgia Tech ranks second in the country with an average of 35 minutes per game with the football.
Syracuse, for reference, has held the ball an average of 29 minutes per game.
It is imperative for SU to move the chains consistently against Paul Johnson’s team, otherwise it may not see the ball again for six, seven, even eight minutes of game time.
And that’s especially problematic if the Orange gets behind early and has to erase a deficit.
5. Stay focused on third down
Despite the recent three-game losing streak, Georgia Tech is one of the best teams in the country on third down this season. Through six games the Yellow Jackets have converted 53.3 percent of the time on third down, seventh-best in Division I football.
As we all know, third down is a time when Shafer and defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough like to dial up the blitz, which creates for a fascinating clash of efficiency vs. pressure.
The Syracuse defenders cannot be reckless when pursuing the quarterback, as Lee is capable of burning a defense with his feet (282 yards, four touchdowns). Instead, they must be patient and wait for the snap of the football to avoid showing their hand too early.
Once again, it all comes back to discipline.
And now the post-game article from Syracuse University (http://www.suathletics.com/news/2013/10/17/FB_1017135556.aspx)
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense was too much for Syracuse (3-4, 1-2 ACC) on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (4-3, 3-2 ACC) rushed for 394 yards and finished with 482 yards of offense in a 56-0 win against the Orange.
Georgia Tech backup quarterback Justin Thomas was the game’s leading rusher, tallying 95 yards on 10 carries, including a touchdown run. He led four Tech rushers that finished with better than 50 yards. Zach Laskey had 75 yards and found his way into the end zone three times. Starting quarterback Vad Lee carried 14 times for 72 yards and two scores. David Sims recorded 56 yards on 12 carries.
In addition, Lee completed all three of his passes for the Jackets, finishing with 88 passing yards including a 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Defensively, Marquez Hodge had a career-high 12 tackles, all solo. Hodge earned his first career start as the Orange played a 3-4 defense for a lot of the game Saturday. Josh Kirkland also received the first start of his Syracuse tenure in place of the injured Dyshawn Davis. Kirkland was credited with six tackles, including three for a loss, tied with Jay Bromley(vs. Clemson) for the most TFLs by an SU player in a game this year.
Tech opened the scoring after a blocked punt by Chris Milton gave the Yellow Jackets the ball on the Syracuse 24-yard line. Four plays later, Synjyn Davis hit paydirt from four yards out with 7:16 left in the first quarter.
The Jackets scored again with 46 seconds remaining in the stanza on a six-yard run by Laskey that put the hosts ahead 14-0 entering the second quarter. Laskey’s touchdown capped a nine-play, 71-yard drive following an interception of Hunt by Georgia Tech’s Quayshawn Nealy.
Two second-quarter touchdown runs by Lee extended the margin to 28-0 going into the locker room at halftime.
Georgia Tech’s first completion of the game was a 46-yard TD strike from Lee to Darren Waller early in the third quarter. Laskey scored his second touchdown of the day less than three minutes later on a three-yard run, increasing the Georgia Tech lead to 42-0.
Touchdown runs by Thomas (50 yards) Laskey (one yard) closed the game’s scoring.
The Yellow Jackets controlled the clock, holding a 37:39 to 22:21 advantage in time of possession. They ran 72 plays (67 of which were rushing attempts) to Syracuse’s 55.
The Triple Option Shows No Mercy…
The Big Idea in 171 Words
Here’s the problem. If you can’t block defensive linemen, you’ll never move the ball, you’ll never score points, and you’ll never win a game.
You need to understand why this disconnect occurs to overcome it and win.
“I know many coaches would rather install an offense the traditional way by researching it, visiting colleges that run the offense, and then picking coaches for information.
I have used that same strategy, and I know that it takes about three years to really gain an understanding of the offense and get players to execute it at a high level.
Consequently, in the research method, you do not have any collaboration with experts that are readily available when questions arise or resources that have consistency.
We wanted to give our players an offense that they could be successful with immediately.
We also concluded that by the time we visited colleges, bought DVDs, playbooks, and sent players to college camps to gain skills, we would have invested many times the cost of the camp.”
–Dr. Jimmy Woods, Head Football Coach, Timmonsville High School.
Went from 1-9 (2010) to the state semifinals (2011) in one year after their three-day camp with Triple Option Football Academy Owner, Lou Cella.
Here’s the solution. The Triple Option Football Academy.
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