Appalachian State is best known as the school that upset #5 Michigan in 2007 on their way to the FCS national title. The Mountaineers have since transitioned to the FBS level and Sun Belt Conference. So what has App State done the past two seasons? QB Taylor Lamb has gone 17-6 in 23 starts and even though the Mountaineers lost to Tennessee in overtime top open 2016, they’re still on course for a great season and a nerve-wracking showdown in Boone, NC for the ‘Canes of Miami.
Diagram of the triple option App State used against the Vols
Above, App State runs veer option. In Veer, the front-side DE is left unblocked, if the DE squeezes to the dive, the QB pulls and runs the option pitch with the receiver in high motion. The QB then reads the safety above, if the safety attacks the pitch he keeps. The issue here is it looks like App State expects the OLB to be the pitch read and instead he plays ball as the safety plays pitch. We call this option exchange.
There are many ways to defend the triple option and in the GIF above, the Vols choose to have the D-End play the QB, the OLB play the ball and the safety play the pitchman (player receiving the pitch). This strung out the option or "slow played" it and allowed for help to come down field and make plays.
When you have a strong running game you can use your play-action passing game for deep threat success. App State runs play action and fires to a wheeling running back for a touchdown and an early lead.
Below, you can see the type of offense the Mountaineers plan to run, they’ll run 20 personnel and employ the H-Back as a lead blocker but also a slip guy in the passing game. Tricky plays for over-aggressive defenses like double-PAs, throwbacks, and screens will be there to slow down Chad Thomas and to trick the freshman Linebackers. It’s 4th and 5 and the QB has the RB open in the flat but chooses the deep ball instead. If Miami can apply pressure, maybe the #Canes can force Lamb into making bad decisions.
Another look the Mountaineers gave the Vols was an overload front with a weak side jet sweep. Baiting the over aggressive D-End and running a super fast jet sweep back to the Tight End who reached up field as a lead blocker.
The App State defense brings an even front very similar to FAU to the game and will attempt to bring pressure through blitzes which left them in tough 1on1 match-ups against Tennessee.
There’s a big "bubble" in the screenshot above to the left side of the OL with a 1 tech (NT) and a 5 tech (DE). While the ILB is playing up I can see Coach Richt drooling over running power to that side of the field.
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