The “triple option” or simply the Option offense has been making a comeback recently with teams such as Georgia Southern adopting the offense in a show of tracing back to their roots. What comes with the offense is of course a singular name, Paul Johnson, who is currently the head coach of Georgia Tech.
The Option offense is traditionally predicated on heavily emphasizing the run. Often times upwards of 75 to 80% of the offense’s plays will be run oriented. The passing game is complimented by either Play Action passes or dropbacks with Run-and-Shoot elements as is the case with Triple Option teams.
The recent success Air Force had in nearly defeating Oklahoma, and Georgia Tech had in defeating Georgia, shows that the Option is still a potent offense that can be used effectively and dominantly.
So what makes the Option or Triple Option work? It is all about reading the defense and in particular, the edge rusher whether it be a DE or OLB. In the Triple Option, the QB has three options depending on how the defender plays the ball. He can hand it off to the FB for an inside run, keep it himself and go inside or outside, and finally pitch it to the Wingback/Halfback.
One big reason it allows for offenses to match up well against “bigger” programs is that they dominate the time of possession with a heavy ground game. Since the bigger programs are quite often better athletically, keeping their offenses off the field allows the Option/Triple Option teams to wear down defenses with sustained drives. The lack of a heavy dose of passes also largely takes the ball hawking skills of secondaries out of the equation and forces them to help more in run support, areas where they may be weaker.
Here are some video examples of Option offenses that have been working in the past and in the present.