The triple option can get you caught up.
Not for obvious reasons, those being a medley of running threats it poses.
It can also be if you’re ill-prepared for it.
“A lot of time with triple-option teams, they’ll lull you to sleep and get you in the pass,” Duke cornerback Byron Fields said Tuesday. “Army tried to get us a couple of times. We have to be ready for that, definitely probably look for some wrinkles in the passing game.”
Duke will face Georgia Tech, a triple-option team, in Atlanta on Saturday, with both teams coming off a bye. Though Duke had the week off, coach David Cutcliffe said the Blue Devils will still dedicate a lot of practice to defending the run. The Yellow Jackets average 234.3 rushing yards a game, good for third in the ACC. They’ll be the first of five straight Coastal Division opponents Duke meets to close its regular season.
“You only have x-amount of practice reps,” Cutcliffe said. “You obviously have to prepare yourself to play against their run game, because coach (Paul) Johnson is versatile in the run game. We still realize we have to do the little things well in the passing game. You have to do some things to be prepared if it turns into that type of game.”
Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas has thrown for 760 yards and nine touchdowns with one interception. He also has 284 rushing yards. Yellow Jackets back Dedrick Mills is tied for second in scoring in the ACC with 10 points a game.
The game will be a good opportunity for Duke leading tacklers Ben Humphreys and his roommate Joe Giles-Harris. They have 55 tackles apiece and are 12th in the ACC with 7.7 tackles a game. Humphreys had 10 tackles against Army’s option, while Giles-Harris added seven in the 13-6 victory on Oct. 8. Army only managed two of 13 third-down conversions against Duke.
“I love playing against triple-option teams, because we’re pretty good at it around here,” Humphreys said. “We have to be on our game on Saturday and improve on the mistakes we made in the Army game, because they’re (Georgia Tech) going to try to exploit them. When you’re playing against a triple-option team, you’ve gotta watch a lot of film. Even if they’re pretty similar teams, their philosophies are the same, they do different things.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Duke at Georgia Tech
When: Noon Saturday