I've noticed some comments about whether or not to limit coaching candidates to ones that run some form of triple option.
I also saw a lot of comments, during the season, advocating more balance in run/pass play selection. I respect most everyone's view point. I just thought I would take some time and discuss why I think triple option offense is important. Additionally, show some statistics and see if run/pass play selection is really needed, a reasonable expectation, or what winning triple option teams do.
Sorry for the length of this, but getting this out and off my mind helps me to move on to other stuff.
Why is running the triple option so important? Note: I would never turn away or eliminate a candidate because of the offense or defense they run. But its hard to find a successful head coach at a military school that doesn't implement this offense and mentality.
Ok so why is this offense such a good fit for The Citadel IMHO?
I'm calling from memory, but I remember one of Barry Switzer's reasonings in his book Bootleggers Boy.
The lineman do not have to sustain blocks for long periods of time. A crease is needed because it is quick hitting. No OT has to lock up and sustain a 5 second block like a toss sweep out of the I formation for example.
Above expands our pool of offensive lineman to recruit from. We often can get in on someone that is too small for "sustained blocking" offenses, but is hungry with quick feet, and will do a good job for us.
A defense can have superior athletic talent, but if they're not disciplined they'll be exposed by this offense. It can neutralize the talent gap.
Opponents don't see it very often and it's frustrating to defend with cut blocks being thrown at you.
It does not have a ton of "plays" to learn, and requires the players to be disciplined and follow the rules of the offense. When you're a military school teaching/training self-discipline, and have players with a demanding schedule.....it's a good fit. Note: this offense has complexity even though there's not a ton of plays to learn. The sophistication is in reads and variances of the plays at the line of scrimmage.
It grinds clock. Grinding clock keeps an opponents offense off the field and makes them press when they're on the field. As 84 pointed out today we were undersized on the dline and Furman got their yards at will on us. Honestly I don't know that we're ever going to have huge d lineman or a stock of top flight press corners.
The same happened up at Furman in 2012. We couldn't get pressure on the QB or stuff the run to save our lives. However, we had an offense road grading Furman's defense up and down the field grinding the @#$% out of clock and scoring. So Furman had very limited opportunities to score on us. We kicked their tails that day.
Our school is about being straight ahead and aggressive. Not everyone at our school is going active duty, but the spirit of our school is supposed to make people with "fighting heart." "Chuck it and duck" offenses full of finesse just doesn't fit our outlook, attitude, or how we go about doing business. It sure doesn't form a "fighting heart."
There's more, but I hope maybe that helps answer "why is this offense so important"?
Balance-"We need to pass more. Everyone knows what's coming. We should have balance between run and pass."
The Citadel taught me to deal in facts. Not hopes, wishes, and feelings. I'm sure it did a lot of others on here as well.
So I went to the NCAA website for stats and took down the following stats for teams that run the triple option. This is their season statistics for 2013. Here are the teams you'll see listed: Navy Air Force Army The Citadel Wofford Georgia Southern
Here's what I took down for stats: Record for 2013 Percentage of run plays called Yards gained Average run play in yards Percentage of pass plays called Yards gained Average pass play in yards Average time of possession per game Rank in turnover margin Rank in fewest penalties committed. (the last two are pretty good indicators for team discipline or things we should do well at The Citadel and figures into wins and losses)
Navy 9-4 84% run play selection 3864 yards 5.46 yards per run 16% pass play selection 1098 yards 15.47 yards per pass completed. Penalties #1 for fewest Turnover margin tied for 9th best. Time of possession 31:10 per game (above does not count bowl game against MTSU except for won loss record)
Air Force 2-10 79% run play selection 3152 yards 4.94 yards per run play 21% pass play selection 1259 yards 13.53 yards per pass completed Penalties #22 for fewest Turnover margin tied for 86th best Time of possession 27:34 per game
Army 3-9 82% run play selection 3742 yards 5.4 yards per run play 18% pass play selection 936 yards 12.48 yards per pass completed Penalties #6 for fewest Turnover margin 66th best. Time of possession 32:09 per game
The Citadel 5-7 80% run play selection 3279 yards 5.21 yards per run play 20% pass play selection 1001 yards 12.83 yards per pass completed Penalties #1 for fewest penalties in FCS Turnover margin tied for 54th best Time of possession 32:10 per game
Wofford 5-6 83% run play selection 3204 yards 4.95 yards per run play 17% pass play selection 939 yards 14.23 yards per pass completed Penalties #14 for fewest penalties in FCS Turnover margin 96th best Time of possession 28:54 per game
Georgia Southern 7-4 86% run play selection 4227 yards 6.3 yards per run play 14% pass play selection 1002 yards 19.27 yards per pass play completed The ranking in FCS for penalties and turnovers were not available on NCAA for some reason. Time of possession 31:34 per game
So here's what this tells me (realizing the score on the scoreboard is the only stat that truly matters).
Key indicators for successful TO teams this year (Navy and Ga. Southern).
There isn't balance between run and pass (or for any other triple option team for that matter). It could be argued that the teams selecting to pass more....lost more games on average. AGAIN SUCCESSFUL TRIPLE OPTION TEAMS (Or any known triple option team I could find) DO NOT HAVE BALANCE BETWEEN RUN AND PASS PLAY SELECTION OR YARDS.
When the more successful TO teams do pass....they go deeper and get more per play. I would imagine with option look play action and throw go routes or at the very least medium range passing. It takes a QB with some height plus arm and a speedy wideout to make it happen. Average completion for Navy 15.47 yards. Georgia Southern 18.27 yards. Air Force 13.53 yards. Army 12.48 yards.
Turnover margin can sink everything. See Air Force and Wofford as opposed to Navy. As my former athletic cadre squad corporal, Mr Everette Sands, tells his running backs in Columbia daily: "Ball security....is job security....for you...and me." The teams that accomplish ball security are winners.
That's what the facts tell me. I did look at previous seasons this is a typical year and not an anomaly.