Tennessee’s 2017 season-opener is still more than four months away, but the Vols have already gotten a jumpstart on preparing for Georgia Tech’s simple, but maddening triple-option offense.
The Yellow Jackets ranked No. 9 in the country in rushing last year, averaging more than 250 yards per game. It’s a stiff challenge for Tennessee, as the Vols’ defense is still going through a transition with multiple new assistants and was terrible against the run in 2016 (No. 104 nationally).
On Tuesday, Tennessee’s defensive linemen worked on shedding cut blocks, while the corners and safeties practiced staying in their gaps and flying to the football.
“We started implementing (Georgia Tech stuff) like two weeks ago in practice,” end Darrell Taylor said. “We’re trying to work on that, see what we can do with it, try to get better at it.”
Tech coach Paul Johnson’s flexbone, triple-option gave the SEC fits last year, as the Jackets won all three contests against the conference with wins over Vandy, Kentucky and UGA. In the three victories, Georgia Tech averaged more than 260 yards on the ground and attempted a total of just 41 passes. Getting an early start on Tech is important for a Tennessee team that hasn't faced a triple-option offense in years.
Some players saw it in high school, but only secondary coach Charlton Warren — who played and coached at Air Force and was 2-0 against Tech at North Carolina — has any recent experience defending the attack.
As Taylor stated, the “hardest part” about preparing for the unique offense is simply resisting the urge to do more than just your job. It’s all about assignment football.
“The hardest part is just doing your job, because if you’re supposed to take the dive and you see the quarterback run past your face, it’s tough (not to react),” he explained. “It’s just about doing your job, staying where you’re supposed to be.”