FOOTBALL | Yale’s best option

Running back Tyler Varga ’15 takes the snap. He runs to the outside, fakes the pitch and runs untouched into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown run.

Varga’s score gave Yale an early 7–3 lead over the Columbia Lions on Oct. 27. Yale would go on to lose 26–22, but the first-quarter run by Varga illustrates the success that the Bulldogs can have running the option.

Although head coach Tony Reno stated that the option has always been a part of the Elis’ offensive package, it has moved to the forefront in recent weeks due to injuries. Reno added that more than half of Yale’s 54 offensive plays against Brown last Saturday were option plays.

“We’ve been doing that since day one, whether it’s with backs or receivers,” Reno said. “You make people defend the perimeter [with the option].”

Yale normally lines up for the triple option with the quarterback in the shotgun flanked by two tailbacks. After receiving the snap, the quarterback has the choice of handing off to his first running back, who would then run up the middle. If a defensive lineman is in the way of his first running back, the quarterback keeps the ball and runs towards the outside with the second back.

The quarterback then reads the defensive end. If the defensive end presses the quarterback, he will pitch it to his tailback. But if the defensive end stays on the outside to contain, the quarterback will run it himself.

Running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 said that the option fits well with the team’s offense.

“The option makes the most of our available personnel and utilizes our strengths,” Cargill said.

Yale’s backfield trio of running backs is led by Varga, Cargill and Kahlil Keys ’15. These three running backs have combined to run for 1,313 yards this season on 5.2 yards per carry.

With Varga taking the majority of the snaps the past two weeks due to injuries to the team’s quarterbacks, the option has taken Yale’s running game to a new level. The Elis dashed for 262 yards at Columbia two weeks ago and 201 more at Brown on Saturday.

Even when Yale’s quarterbacks return to full strength, the Elis could benefit by continuing to focus on the triple option.

Running the option almost exclusively, Georgia Tech has never finished worse than fourth in the nation in rushing yards since 2008, during which time the Yellow Jackets have had a combined record of 39–25. The Yellow Jackets are just one example of how a team can be successful with an unbalanced offense.

Using the option more would also take the pressure off rookie quarterback Eric Williams ’16, who leads the Ivy League with 14 interceptions thrown. Getting an athlete like Williams in the open field where he can make plays with his legs would make him a more successful quarterback. Additionally, Williams would have better throwing lanes available down the field once the defense has to commit to containing the option.

Yale ranks second in the Ancient Eight with 195.2 rushing yards per game.


  • EliFBfan

    Number 1, Yale needs a football coach. What did anyone expect from a guy whose claim to fame was being a special teams coach? Yale football is currently paying the price for a poor decision, all very predictable. A completely wasted year. I am sick of Reno’s “culture change” nonsense as an excuse for the fact he can’t coach.

    Yale football is also paying the price for a series of very fundamental mistakes from an unqualified coach beginning with the choice of a freshman quarterback, who by the way can’t throw. Certainly Reno’s top recruiting priority needs to be the quarterback position, Williams the freshman does not bode well for the future of Yale football, neither does Reno.

  • sonofmory

    i think your handle should be EliFBFairWeatherFan

    • EliFBfan

      It’s a statement of fact that the team is a mess and morale is low. Reno has simply not done a good job on any level especially where the players are concerned. The guy just has no experience that would suggest he has the skill set to run a program. There are many bright spots on the current team that bode well for the future and with the probable return next year of Chris Smith and Deion Randall there’s a good chance for positive improvement. Provided of course Reno learns from his obvious mistakes.

  • eli1

    Yale has the least talent of any team in the league. You can’t blame Reno for that. If anyone deserves blame its Tom Williams for his lousy recruiting and Dick Levin who continues to handicap the football team at every turn

  • jamesdakrn

    Can we just get rid of the academic index and start recruiting dudes who score 900 total on their SAT’s but has a 44 inch verticals?

  • twothousandandeleven

    i can’t wait for another couple of years of losses to harvard followed by a completely useless coaching change (if the downward trend continues we’ll probably hire a pop warner coach next) followed by declining interest amongst an already depleted and frustrated fan base

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