Air Force's Triple Option Presents Challenge

The option offense was huge before the turn of the millennium, but it has become a dying breed in recent years. However, the No. 7 Sooners have to line up against one of the few teams remaining who can run the option to perfection when they meet Air Force this upcoming weekend.

Air Force's offense headlines the triple option, which just through watching on tape has been giving OU's defense some fits.

"I really give it up to coach [Bob] Stoops for scheduling tough preseason, nonconference schedules, but I didn't want this one," said junior linebacker Travis Lewis. "This is a team that's going to give you a lot of different formations, a lot of different motions and they just do a lot of weird stuff that in my years we've never seen before."

The last time Air Force and the Sooners met up was when OU won 44-3 in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 2001, but obviously that was with a different group of players. No one on this year's squad has seen the option run during their college careers, but a few have seen it during high school and did not care much for it back then either.

"I actually faced a team like this when I was in high school, and I may have had three tackles that game because it wasn't my style of play," said sophomore defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland. "They fly around, and it's very tricky."

What is the secret to stopping the option, let alone the triple option? The key is discipline, said senior defensive end Jeremy Beal.

"When you're playing a team like this, who runs the triple option, everybody on the whole defense has to be disciplined," Beal said. "You've got to do your job. On a certain play you've got a job and you've got to do that job."

So, the Sooners cannot afford anybody to miss his assignment. The last time OU faced a squad running a different-looking offense was just two weeks ago, and it did not fare too well.

If Air Force throws the kitchen sink at the Sooners like Utah State did, then it could be a long day for OU if it does not bring its A-game. If any defender does not do his job, then Air Force runners could be streaking up and down the field all day, and that is just something the team does not want to deal with, Lewis said.

"Give me Texas, give me somebody else," Lewis joked. "I don't want to play an option team. I'm a traditional four-three linebacker, and I want to play not think, but, again, with this team you've got to do both."

How well Lewis and his defense will do are both yet to be seen, but everyone will find out soon enough if that dominance over Florida State can translate over to Air Force's triple option.

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