AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Fisher DeBerry wants to clear the air: His triple-option Air Force teams were very much passing oriented.
“About every play,” the retired coach said. “The only difference is it happened to be a pitch behind the line of scrimmage.”
DeBerry loves that jest, and used it all the time whenever his Falcons followers complained the team didn’t throw enough.
The triple option has been part of the DNA for Air Force, Navy and Army for decades because it helps level the playing field. It’s hard to defend and doesn’t require mammoth offensive linemen. At its core, the system runs well with a quarterback who has plenty of moxie — quick decision making, too — and a fullback with a nose for getting through a tiny crease.
Expect plenty of triple-option play when Army (8-3) faces Navy (6-5) on Saturday with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on the line.
“We run,” said Army coach Jeff Monken, whose team has won three games this season without completing a pass. “That’s what we do. We don’t have to pass.”
A quick note on the triple option: While the quarterback is obviously the headliner, the fullback actually plays a big role. The fullback dive keeps defenses honest. The third option is always to give the ball to the tailback.
It’s a difficult system for an opposing defense to decode in a short amount of time. DeBerry said he heard from plenty of opposing coaches who dedicated time to stopping the option in the preseason, just to squeeze in some early work.
“You definitely have to study it, like you do in a class,” Navy senior co-captain slot back Darryl Bonner said. “When I got here, I thought I knew what I was doing out there. No, I did not. There’s so much to it. Not only do we have to run it, but we have to do it perfectly. It is a great equalizer.”