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Previewing Air Force: The Triple Option Attack



Just in case you didn't know. The triple option offense is exactly what it sounds like. On any given play the offense has three options to run the football based on how the defense reacts. Once the quarterback receives the ball from the center he can hand it to the fullback, the halfback or just keep it himself. Its an offense that is designed to pound and wear out a defense, control the time of possession and to eventually turn three and four yard runs into thirty and forty yard runs. Its also an offense that Air Force runs to perfection.



There was a time when no one ran the triple option better than the Oklahoma Sooners. By placing some of the nation's best athletes in the backfield and attacking the edges with their speed the Sooners rode the wishbone attack to three national championships from 1974 - 1985.


While the wishbone is the traditional way to run the option attack it certainly isn't the only way. Regardless of the formation it is run from the triple option is run the same way and forces the defense to worry about which of the three threats is going to carry the ball. The key to running it successfully is the quarterback's read on the defensive end. If the end pinches down then the quarterback is going to keep the ball and take it to the edge. If the blocking is done right then there should only be one defender left there and he'll have to decide to go after the quarterback or to take the pitchman. If he chooses the pitchman then the QB keeps it and heads up field. If the defender goes for the quarterback then the pitch is made to the running back.

Now, if the defensive end decides to come upfield or directly at the quarterback then the QB will simply hand the ball to the fullback for a straight ahead dive play. Of course there are other variations such as misdirections and something that Air Force does well is to start out like a triple option play but just run a straight dive or sweep or something along those lines as well as the play-action pass.Other formations that the triple option is ran from are the veer, I-formation and even the spread.

Through their first two games of the season Air Force has been dominant with their option attack. They currently have the nation's leading rushing attack with an eye popping 423 yards per game on the ground and are seventh nationally in scoring with an average of 50 points per game. Quarterback Tim Jefferson has carried the ball 17 times this season for 97 yards (5.7 YPC) and three touchdowns. In the backfield both fullback Jared Tew and halfback Asher Clark have carried the ball 30 times each. Clark has sprung for 205 yards (6.8 YPC) and a score while Tew has gone for 142 yards (4.7 YPC)

When Jefferson does connect on a pass its usually for a big play. Kevin Fogler (2) and Kyle Halderman (3) are the only two players on the team with more than one reception but they are averaging 33.5 and 22 yards per reception respectfully. Jefferson has passed for 247 yards three touchdowns and an interception through the first two games of the season.