The Miami Hurricanes will host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Paul Johnson’s Flexbone triple option offense. Coach Johnson has put together a 73-49 overall record in Atlanta as the head coach of the Jackets. “PJ” as he’s known around the country will run his triple option, but also incorporate some jet sweep, fullback zone dive and midline as well as load and counter option.
Miami is sitting at number 11 in the S&P+ polls courtesy of SB Nation’s Bill C and the Jackets are sitting at 23rd with the major difference being the kicking game where Miami is ranked 36th and GT is ranked 93rd. The Jackets triple option will be a lot for Miami to handle as the ‘Canes have been missing assignments and blowing coverages all season to date.
So what is the inside veer? It’s Tech’s typical triple option play where TaQuon Marshall will read the play side defensive end. If the end sits home, Marshall gives to the fullback on the dive play. If the end “squeezes” or comes down and plays the dive, Marshall pulls the ball and runs the option relationship with a wingback.
From there, the QB is reading an outside linebacker or safety. If that defender plays the “pitchman” or wingback, the QB keeps. If that defender gets stuck in the middle- he runs the ball. If that defender plays the QB he pitches the ball to the wingback.
This is a true triple option and requires the QB to make split second decisions and reads. It’s a tough play and it takes up most of the Georgia Tech spring and summer sessions to rep this over and over. The risk is what happened to the Jackets against Miami last year- which is that once you get the QB to pitch there’s a lot of variables that can happen. Sure, the play can go for 20 yards or more, but also it can result in a fumble recovered for a touchdown just as easily against an athletic and aggressive defense.
The Miami 4-3 over front eliminated the wishbone back in the 80’s using speed on the edges and having linebackers and safeties that ran just as fast as cornerbacks. In today’s world- Manny Diaz ran a 5-2 defense against Tech last year which is akin to the Southwest Conference defenses back in the day that tried to stop Spencer Tillman and the Sooners from putting up 50 points per game.
When the Vols had shut down the Tech veer option game, Paul Johnson had to search for an alternative offense to get yardage. Tech was having a rough first quarter until PJ started calling his counter option. While it’s not a triple option, the counter option is a great compliment play and is a double option. The QB can still keep and the WB can still get a pitch. Now though, the play side offensive guard will trap for him and the fullback will lead block instead of being an option player on the dive.
The Vols gave up a few big runs to the counter option before stopping the play on the goal line for the win.
To mix up the inside veer and counter option, The Jackets have to run a QB counter that takes the QB away from the motion, and the fullback and wingbacks. PJ will use the QB Counter, which is much more famous now as a spread play that fakes outside or inside zone and has the QB keep with a guard or guard and tackle as a lead blocker (see Clemson QB counter here).
The QB will fake to the B-Back (Fullback) to the left, which is the same way the wing goes in motion. This draws the eyes of the safety and the linebackers. Then the QB pivots and runs to the right. His blockers are the left guard and tackle. As the right tackle, right guard and center block down, the left guard and tackle pull around looking for the first person they see so they can make a block. The QB just follows behind them hoping to run into the end zone untouched.
The moral of this story heading into Georgia Tech is that Tech had a bye week to sit back, heal up, and watch Miami fail to tackle Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers while also giving up 200+ yards through the air. A dual-threat type like Marshall must be excited after seeing the lack of contain and missed tackles. Shaquille Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and Zach McCloud have to have a better week of identifying the offense and finding the football. They have to play their assignments.
The defensive backs can’t be a) bad at contain and b) blowing assignments like they have. Safeties against the triple have to be able tacklers and willing to take on wingback blocks while keeping an eye on the wingbacks and receivers who will streak deep for long gains in the Flexbone offense.
The defensive tackles in McIntosh and Norton have to play their role while the ends like Harris, Thomas and Jackson will need to stay home and sound- they can’t bite down on the dive or there will be no defender on the QB against the inside veer.
I think Miami comes away with another 24-20 victory.