Recruiting the triple option

The Macon Telegraph has a couple of articles up on how the ’08 recruiting classes are shaping up for the two in state D-1 schools. On the surface, there aren’t any surprises. Georgia, coming off a seven game winning streak, a #2 spot in the final AP poll and high hopes for next year, is doing swimmingly well in recruiting.  (Just ask Zebrie Sanders.)   Georgia Tech on the other hand, with the hiring of Paul Johnson, is looking at a sea change in offensive philosophy that’s reflected in how its incoming class is shaping up.

Yet there’s something in the Tech article that’s intriguing. Here’s a point that Johnson’s new running backs coach made about Tech’s recruiting:

… Monken said more traditional, straight-ahead rushers likely won’t fit well in Georgia Tech’s new scheme.

“This position is unique because we ask them to do so many different things,” Monken said of his backs. “Running backs in our offense won’t be like your traditional runners. When they’ll have the ball, they’ll mostly be taking it to the outside.”

Because speed is important in getting those backs to the sidelines in the triple option, the players’ size is one variable Georgia Tech’s staff may find less important than at other schools, Monken said.

“With our offense, you don’t require guys to be as big as some other running backs who run in between the tackles,” Monken said. “We may look at a guy who may be undersized but has speed. But, of course, if you’ve got a kid with size who can run fast, you certainly want to do what you can to recruit him.

“But everybody wants those guys, and sometimes there’s just not enough of them to go around.”

That’s sort of a Moneyball approach to talent: figure out what the market is undervaluing, take that and make it work in your system. Given the limitations of the Georgia high school educational system and Georgia Tech’s curriculum, there is some logic in the Jackets avoiding pitched battles with UGA over the recruiting pool available to Tech. And from Johnson’s perspective, this approach doesn’t have much downside. Any way you look at it, the talent pool he has access to now is bigger that what he had either at Navy (easier sell now, believe it or not) or Georgia Southern.

Will it work? That’s the $64,000 question. He’ll get better talent than he’s had – but he’ll be facing much better defenses week in and week out than he’s played, too. I’m really curious to see how this experiment turns out.

Of course, remember that this only applies on the offensive side of the ball.  On defense, Johnson will have to fight for the same kids Tech’s always gone after.  And he’ll have to do it without Tenuta.

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7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

7 responses to “Recruiting the triple option

  1. dean

    The traditional triple option will not work in college football today, even in the ACC. There is just too much speed on defense for it be successful. I mean you have DL and LB’s running sub 5 (sec) – 40’s or there abouts.

  2. stick jackson

    Yep. I think he was the perfect hire for them. The idea that they are ever going to consistently outrecruit UGA, Clemson, FSU and VT for the same players so that they can run the same quas-pro style offenses is just unrealistic. Might the stars align for a year or two every now and then? Sure, if The Fridge or his equal is coaching the offense. Otherwise, nope.

    It’s not a coincidence that the Calvin Johnson Years were also The Years of the Dawg.

    Paulball will allow them to recruit small, fast backs (as noted) and also second-tier dual threat QBs who are “athletes” for other schools. Sure, those schools will be after these guys too, but they’ll want them as DBs, punt returners, etc. PJ can offer them a chance to be an every down star. The spread option means that there are more and more good high school athletes who have looked at a defense and made throws, as opposed to the old run-only style.

    As for how fast defenses are now, if you can’t scheme for the gimmick offense (and not every defensive coordinator can), all having speed on D means is that your guys will be running away from the play even faster than a slow guy would.

  3. dean

    “As for how fast defenses are now, if you can’t scheme for the gimmick offense (and not every defensive coordinator can), all having speed on D means is that your guys will be running away from the play even faster than a slow guy would.”
    Such as Floridas or Hawaii’s?
    Unless they are poorly coached I serioulsy doubt they’ll be running away from many plays.
    I’m not saying they will not win a game I’m saying they will not compete at a high level relying solely on the triple option.

  4. Dawg 05

    You don’t have to compete at a high level in the current ACC landscape. Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, and Virginia aren’t stopping anyone on defense. Miami and FSU are way down. You don’t have to score much to beat Wake. BC will be worse next year. That leaves Va Tech as the only team to beat. I think the triple option will do the job enough to get to Jaxonville.

  5. dean

    Dawg 05,
    Your point is a valid one. The ACC is not high level competition. I was mainly referring to the DAWGS. However with the recent hires of Cutcliff at Duke, Davis at NC, and Osborne at NC State the odds are in favor of the conference becoming much more competitive on a national level.
    But back to topic at hand. The triple option has become obsolete in D1 football. If it’s not due to the speed of the opposing defense then why? You don’t see as much even in D2 (or whatever it’s called now). This brings us back to the question of why would top shelf recruits want to play in an offense, which is not effective in todays landscape nor does it prepare them for the next level?

  6. This brings us back to the question of why would top shelf recruits want to play in an offense, which is not effective in todays landscape nor does it prepare them for the next level?

    That’s the whole point here – Johnson will have a much easier time of it looking for niche players that fit his system well than he will fighting UGA for kids that believe they’re going to play on Sundays.

    Personally, I think you’re selling his offense short. For him to have made Navy competitive, given the talent shortage there, is impressive.

    If Wake can sneak into a BCS game as the ACC champ, so can Georgia Tech.

  7. Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about: Tech just got a commitment from a RB out of Texas who’s a burner, but only 5-7.