Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Virginia Tech triple option

All 2012 Sugar Bowl coverage can be found on the Bowl Game page.

As mentioned around these parts, Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas isn't much of a runner despite having decent rushing numbers on the year. He's a big, bulky QB who defenses have to account for but not really respect in the running game. He's not going to beat you with his legs. The basic read play that the Hokies use is the inverted veer that Michigan used against Ohio State and Auburn used to win a national championship. However, they will occasionally throw in other option plays. Against Georgia Tech, they showed a triple option look from a two-back shotgun set.

The Hokies comes out in a two-back, two-wide set with an H-back to the playside of the field. Georgia Tech is in their base 3-4 defensive front.

As the ball is snapped, the fullback to Thomas' left comes in motion for the dive option. Meanwhile, running back David Wilson swings behind Thomas to be the pitch man if the QB pulls the ball. I think (?) Thomas is reading the playside linebacker who will be left unblocked by the H-back.

As Thomas pulls the ball, he and Wilson are now on the edge against one defender, the playside linebacker.

The linebacker makes a poor decision and comes up to tackle Thomas. Wilson now has a clear lane to the GT safeties.

As the ball is pitched, the Georgia Tech linebacker turns to pursue. The only unblocked defender on that side of the field is the Yellow Jacket safety who is six yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Wilson is heading for the edge.

Wilson runs for the edge...

...and is eventually wrapped up for a decent gain.

To demonstrate just how little the Hokies run plays like this, the only other time they showed it this game (earlier), Thomas turned the wrong way on the dive option and ended up following his fullback up the A gap on a broken play. This is not an option team Michigan will play, but they do have this kind of stuff in their arsenal that Michigan will have to prepare for.

It'll be interesting to see what Michigan does with these option plays. Against the spread teams in the Big Ten, Mattison was adamant that the unblocked defensive end/linebacker play the quarterback and not the running back. This makes sense when you're playing the likes of Braxton Miller, Nathan Scheelhaase, and Dan Persa. However, against a quarterback that doesn't have the wheels or maneuverability of those guys, it might behoove the offense to play the pitch and force Thomas to get his yards on the ground instead of the much more dangerous David Wilson. However, there won't be a whole ton of this during the game. The key will be if Jake Ryan et al can identify these option plays and execute how Mattison has designed. As long as they do that, the defense has proven to be smart enough to properly defend the option.


Owen Rosen said...


Did you notice VT running any other plays out of that formation?

Chris Gaerig said...

Not in this game, no (nor any other game that I've seen, but it's possible I just haven't seen when they do use it). They will occasionally have a two-back set, but none with the backs lined up behind Thomas like they are here.

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