Stay smart against the triple option
The primary tenet of Army’s offense, the triple option, can be extremely difficult to defend against if done well. The defense must demonstrate speed, concentration and quick decision-making by all 11 members on every play in order to slow it down. When running the triple option, the quarterback takes the snap and quickly decides between a series of three options. First, he must decide to either hand the ball off to a fullback or keep it himself for a rush around the line. Then he must choose to either continue to run it himself, fake the rush and instead pitch the ball outside to a running back trailing parallel to him.
To keep Army’s rushing unit under control, Yale will need to be smarter and quicker than an offense that is tried and tested in what it does. As the slightest over-commitment or hesitation can result in an easy first down or long score, the Bulldogs must focus on every play and avoid the temptation to risk a big gain.
Yale had success defending the triple option in its 27–10 win over Cal Poly last year, holding the Mustangs to 10 points and 225 rushing yards despite their season averages of 28.5 points and 309 rushing yards per game. But Yale’s Football Bowl Subdivision opponent will bring on a greater challenge tomorrow, and the Elis need to be ready for it.
Trust the passing game
With four different quarterbacks seeing time under center last season, Yale’s passing game did not get much of a chance to build momentum, and the Elis finished tied for fifth in the Ivy League with 210.8 passing yards per game. Yale proved last week that this year is now a different story, and offensive coordinator Joe Conlin should feel comfortable responding to Army’s triple option with an aerial assault.
Quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16 skillfully led the Elis’ spread offense in Yale’s 54–43 win over Lehigh, utilizing all his receivers and a combination of short and long passes to march down the field. He finished with 31 completions on 40 attempts for 376 passing yards, the 10th most ever for a Yale quarterback in a single game.
If Yale’s blockers up front can take on Army’s fast defensive line, the Elis’ three running backs have also proven themselves strong playmakers. But if the cadets are blocking up holes on the line, the Bulldogs should trust Roberts to make plays down the field.
Follow the process
As Yale saw last week in its 21-point comeback, it is possible to overcome adversity if one stays focused and sticks with the game plan. Head coach Tony Reno’s “follow the process” motto could not have been any more true last week, and it should remain fresh in the Bulldogs’ minds heading into tomorrow.
If Army gets out to an early lead, as Harvard did last November and Lehigh did last week, the Bulldogs cannot let the score get to them. They will have the adrenaline of a big crowd on their side, as well as the determination to honor one of the most historic non-league rivalries in college football. By always concentrating on the play in front and following the process, Yale may be able to catch Army flatfooted.