Defending the Air Force triple option demands that opponents make many more reads than have to be made against conventional offensive systems. Fakes and misdirection are staples of the triple option. To counteract the misdirection the Cougar players know they will have to remain sound in their assignments.
"What they do they're very good at," said David Nixon. "They're probably the best team in the nation at running the option. I remember going against them as a true freshman and the speed and precision they have when doing it wasn't easy to adjust to. I'll be better prepared for it this time."
The Cougar coaching staff from the head coach on down is very familiar with the triple-option. The have all gone against the academy a number of times. The game plan will be sound, but it is the execution by the players that will determine how successful Air Force will be.
"Coaches know what they're doing," said Nixon. "From day one they had a very good plan and now it's up to us to prepare for it the best we can. Every week you have game plans and different assignments and Air Force is no different."
Many players on the team have seen the triple-option numerous times and have found success against it. Having such a reference they are confident in their ability to defend against it.
"Oh, I'm very familiar with the option," said Kehl. "That's what my team ran in high school. I saw it every day for 4 years when I was in high school. Of course Air Force runs it at a much higher level, but the game plans and the assignments are the same. You can't go in thinking it's all that complicated, because it isn't. If you keep your assignments and stay disciplined then you'll stop it."
So far this year, the Tulsa offensive system was most similar to Air Force. It was a system that used a lot of misdirection, which forced the defense to read multiple keys off the snap. BYU's defense saw success against Tulsa holding their potent offense in check.
"Yeah, it's sort of like Tulsa," said Nixon regarding BYU's preparation for Air Force. "There's no offense exactly like the other, but Tulsa was the offense that was most similar to Air Force, and we'll be concentrating on a lot of the same stuff we did this week that we did against Tulsa. So yeah, having played Tulsa probably gives us a bit of an advantage."
As Nixon mentioned, no two offenses in the country are exactly the same although many have similarities. Air Force runs a very unique offense that will find success against an unprepared, lazy, or inconsistent defense.
"You look at what Air Force did earlier this year against Tennessee," said Kehl. "Tennessee obviously had much better athletes, but Air Force almost won that game and beat them on offense pretty good. That's the thing against Air Force, if you don't prepare right and aren't sound in your assignments then they'll kill you, probably more so than most teams."
All in the Family
Helping prep the Cougar defense for the triple option this week is Reed White who is a walk-on transfer from Arizona State. White is the cousin of fellow Cougar quarterback Max Hall and the son of former Dallas Cowboy Danny White.
White took most of the reps during today's practice. Other players may get their shot at preparing the team for the option. Among the players who may get some reps are safety Kellen Fowler who was recruited by Air Force to play quarterback out of high school. Maybe the best member of the team at running the option is quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman.
"Oh, that would be great if he ran the option in practice," said Nixon. "I'd love to go against coach although it probably won't happen. He was really good at running the option when he was here, that's for sure."
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