Tech Challenge

Ole Miss, who will face Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl December 30th, will have to do something they have never done defensively, face a highly successful triple option offense. Rebel Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack is well aware of the challenge.

The biggest concern in facing the Yellow Jackets - the concern opposing coaches lose sleep over - is facing something different, something they have not seen before.

For the Ole Miss defense, that worry is Georgia Tech's triple option offense.

While one might stop short of classifying the Yellow Jacket offense as 'prolific,' it's safe to say they have put up some fairly gaudy numbers.

Georgia Tech is averaging 36.6 points a game while rushing for 3,740 yards, a 311.7 yards per game average.

Senior TB David Sims, a 6-0, 225-pounder, leads the charge with 846 yards and a 5.6 yards per carry average, but senior Robert Godhigh, a 5-7, 190-pounder, gets the most out of his chances, gaining 694 yards and averaging 10.1 yards per carry.

Sophomore QB Vad Lee, a 6-1, 215-pounder, runs the attack and while his numbers are not earth-shaking, his decisions in running the triple option have been mostly spot on.

And while their passing stats - 1,548 yards via the air - aren't as eye-popping, the element of surprise when Tech goes up top is effective.

For Wommack, who coached for two years with Tech Coach Paul Johnson, the challenge of stopping, or slowing down, the GT offense is real.

"Paul is a very, very good coach who has been running this system for a long time and knows what he is doing," said Dave. "It works as well as it does because they run it so well and because opposing teams just don't see it. It is difficult to prepare for because of your players being unfamiliar with triple option football."

So what are the keys?

"It's assignment football. Assignment, alignment and tackling are the big things," said Wommack. "You have to execute well on every play. If you make a mistake, it's normally a big play for them. They are sixth in the nation in rushing offense. That tells you all you need to know. They come at you relentlessly with their attack and you better be in the right places.

Serderius Bryant
File Photo

"Then, when you cheat in a little, they run play-action out of the triple option look and try to catch you napping."

With a little extra time to prepare a bowl affords, versus a normal four-day game week, the Rebel coaches have slowed down their teaching a bit.

"We are taking the approach of walking before we run," Wommack continued. "Last Friday and Saturday, we kind of walked through what we want to do and we will speed things up gradually.

"I think that will help indoctrinate the guys to the triple option offense better and allow it to sink in a little more. It's team defense all the way. Everyone must do their part. If one player gets off track, they read it and exploit it. If you are going to play this offense, a bowl is the best time. You don't want to play them the first game of the season and you don't want to play them in the season when you have very limited time to install a different defense and mindset. Now, in a bowl, is the time to play them."

Georgia Tech likes to cut block defenders off the edge, so Wommack and the defensive coaches have been running specific drills to counteract that style of play.

"We've been working hard on cut blocks and tackling coming off cut blocks. This time of year, we wish we didn't have to go as physical as we are going right now, but if we don't practice like that, we have no chance," he stated. "The guys have been doing a good job with that part of it."

The Tech offense when Wommack was there compared to the Tech offense of 2013 is more "opened up."

"Paul has added a lot of different formations since I was there. They do more things out of the option look and they are passing the ball a little more than they usually do," Dave explained. "I can draw a lot off my time there, there's only so much you can do with a one-plus offense, but it's just so different for our guys to hone in on.

"We are trying to get as good a look as we can from our scout team and rep it a lot to get what they do stamped in their minds. It will be about eye discipline. They run some trap option stuff and misdirection plays - the whole ball of wax."

Wommack said this game is personal for him, but not for the reasons you might think. There is no animosity between him and Johnson.

"It's personal because it's the next game and we need to finish the year strong and one win ahead of what we did last year," Wommack closed. "As I said, Paul is a terrific coach who has proven it everywhere he has been.

"This is a big challenge for me, our defensive staff and our defensive players. No doubt about it."

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