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N.C. State Vs. Georgia Tech: Can Jon Tenuta Handle The Flexbone Offense?

Jon Tenuta was Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator from 2002 to 2007. He was known for one thing: BLITZING. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t.

His arrival as N.C. State’s linebackers coach heralded a more aggressive Wolfpack defense this year, and so far it’s served them well. They’re tied for third in the nation with eleven sacks in three games. But as N.C. State blog Riddick & Reynolds points out, blitzing an option-based offense is about the worst idea possible:

But the problem State faces this week is this: The TenArcher style of defense won’t work against the triple option of Georgia Tech, for if State tries to bring linebackers and safeties on blitzes, the middle of the field will contain no one to stop a free rushing back.

The only consistent method that seems to slow down Paul Johnson’s attack is well-executed “assignment football.” Each and every player on the field is assigned a corresponding position to defend. It puts the responsibility on all 11 players to tackle their man one-on-one if they have the ball without help from their teammates.

It may be the first time Tom O’Brien has faced the triple option, but it’s not the first time for Tenuta. Navy ran all over his defense last year in South Bend – the fullbacks alone had 210 yds rushing on just 19 carries, while the offense got 404 total en route to a 23-21 win.

If Tenuta’s somehow talked Archer into cutting the Wolfpack loose and sending five or more rushers on every other play, this game’s already won. We’ll assume he’s learned his lesson.

A defense with excellent fundamentals can stop the offense, as Iowa and even Kansas proved. State doesn’t quite have that oh-so-midwestern reputation as a solid, stay-at-home defense, so it will be interesting to see if they can convert from attacking to reacting for just one game.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.