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Independence Bowl: Comparing The Option Offenses Of Georgia Tech And Air Force

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The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Air Force Falcons both employ run-heavy, option-based offenses. You only have about four hours from the time this joint was published left to joke about how little time this game will take, because only a seasoned ironist should joke about such a thing after the game is actually over.

The teams don’t run the exact same offense, however. Air Force’s is a modernized form of the classic triple-option offense run by previous coach Fisher DeBerry, while Tech runs the strain Paul Johnson has been developing since finding himself offensive coordinator at Hawaii. Of course, modernizing a classic option offense means incorporating some of Johnson’s work, and Air Force has had plenty of chances to get a look while playing Navy every year.

Still, they’ve retained their own identity. The Falcons run from a variety of formations, including shotgun and I-formation varieties, while the Jackets tend to operate exclusively out of some form of bone, typically the flexbone.

Air Force also uses a tight end much of the time, while Tech doesn’t line anybody up at tight end. Though Jacket A-backs are in position to take on many of the tasks normally expected of a tight end, such as blocking and running pass routes, they don’t line up on the line of scrimmage.

In the video below, you can see Air Force’s varied looks, including a Jacketly flexbone:

Both offenses rely on the same core principles of option football, from misdirection and distribution reads to cut blocking. Lots and lots of cut blocking will happen in Shreveport tonight. As far as intricate blocking assignment differences and playcalling tendencies go, there are certainly differences, but none that would really interest the common fan.

Mainly the shotgun thing. Johnson’s offense has only worked from the shotgun once that I can recall, in this year’s game against the Georgia Bulldogs in a situation that would’ve compelled just about any team to back the quarterback up.

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