Air Force Assessments: A New Triple-Option QB

Just how smooth – or uneven – are quarterback transitions in college football? Army and Navy received appreciable degrees of production at the position in recent seasons. This is a source of cautious optimism in Colorado Springs, with kickoff just over two weeks away.


As is the case with the other service academy football programs, the Air Force offensive philosophy relies on the triple-option offense and ball control. However, as strong as the system is, and though teams that utilize it generally rank highly in rushing yards per game, it's not a guaranteed method for producing wins. Air Force is breaking in a new quarterback again after the graduation of Connor Dietz, so why not consider similar schools with new quarterbacks and how they fared in year one? In this case, we'll look at Navy and Army, as well as recent first-year Air Force starters.

West Point quarterback Trent Steelman, who just wrapped up his career at Army, led the Black Knights with 706 yards rushing in his freshman year while throwing for 637. He generated eight touchdowns. His sophomore year became his breakout year with 18 touchdowns, just under 1,000 yards passing, and 721 yards on the ground. Keenan Reynolds came in last year for Navy and made an immediate impact with almost (using round numbers…) 650 yards running and 900 passing while totaling 19 scores. Even Kriss Proctor, in the year before Reynolds's emergence, accumulated 1,700 total yards with 21 scores, though he had some prior gameday experience before becoming the full-time starter.

Here's the Air Force angle in comparison to the examples of Steelman (West Point) and Reynolds or Proctor (Annapolis): Connor Dietz last year actually made a noticeable impact (by triple-option quarterbacking standards) in the passing game while chipping in as the Falcons' second leading rusher. Taking over for Tim Jefferson, Dietz showed that the process of breaking in a new starter won't derail the triple-option offense if it is run correctly. What does this mean for 2013? While one can't guarantee success for the new Falcon quarterback, there is precedent to suggest that whoever winds up stepping in could make an impact in year one and may not require the growing pains we sometimes see in pro-style or pass-heavy offenses.

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