Perhaps no school in the nation has a more defined offensive identity than the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Head coach Paul Johnson’s triple option offense has become a staple of the ACC.
Despite the proliferation of pass-happy spread offenses around the nation, Johnson’s Yellow Jackets have rolled along with the power running attack that looks like it belongs more in 1913 than 2013, giving opposing defenses fits in the process.
Using the flexbone formation, calculated pre-snap motion and cut blocking the Yellow Jackets turn what appears to be a simple offense into a complex monster.
The flexbone formation is made up of two receivers spread out wide on the line of scrimmage, a quarterback under center and three running backs — one outside each tackle and another behind center creating a triangle.
From this, the Yellow Jackets have multiple options on each play of who to give the ball to. The quarterback can take it, hand it off to the fullback up the middle, or one of the outside backs can take a pitch or sweep and get out in space.
To cover all of these options a defense has to be disciplined and stick to their assignment. The defensive linemen, linebackers and secondary must all work together to control all possible options. The key word, according to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, is “control.”
“You got to control their run game,” Foster said. “I don't think you can just stop their run game.”
That’s easier said than done, and it’s made even more difficult by Johnson’s ability to read a defense’s assignments and make adjustments to open new holes. Once a defense thinks it has all possible options covered, the scheme changes and they’re caught in no man’s land as a running back scampers free.
That isn’t to say that the Virginia Tech Hokies and Foster haven’t had success against the Yellow Jackets attack. In every one of the five games between the two teams since Johnson became head coach of Georgia Tech, the Hokies have held them to fewer points than they averaged per game that season.
The Hokies have won four of those five meetings.