UW Ready for Deceptive Running Attack
Air Force Brings Option Offense to Seattle
Sept. 2, 2005
It's a rushing attack that hasn't been seen in the Pac-10 since a guy named Tuiasosopo played quarterback at Washington.
The Air Force Falcons bring to town this weekend their own version of the once electrifying option offense.
Many Husky glory days were spent watching speedy quarterbacks race down the field before pitching to a running back and sending them on their way to the promised lan. However, this attack will be a little different, look a little less organized and won't be run by the team in purple.
Air Force will show the Huskies the Wing-T, also known as the Triple Option to some. High school football fans from Seattle might have heard of it before since it is run masterfully by the four-time defending State Champion Bellevue football team. However, only three Division 1 schools run the offense. And the last time Qwest Field saw an offense like it was when that Bellevue team snapped the 151-game winning streak of De La Salle last fall.
The offense includes two wingbacks, who line up behind tight ends on both sides, with a fullback directly behind the quarterback. Many different plays can be run out of it, mostly rushing, but some passing, and the main goal is to deceive the other team. This well-organized attack has to be run to military precision and is a far cry from the NFL-like passing attack of the Pac-10.
"We're definitely glad this is our first game," senior Evan Benjamin said. "We've had a couple weeks to prepare and watch film."
Every player agreed that the only way to stop the Wing-T is to stay disciplined. There will be players running all over the place, going in motion and pretending they have the ball.
"They try to mess with your mind," senior Joe Lobendahn said. "If you miss your assignment they will take advantage of that and there will be a big play."
Players have been going over film and practicing the ways to stop the offense. They know that the key to the offense is the quarterback. The quarterback sells the play, deciding whether the ball should go to the fullback diving up the middle, to either of the wingbacks, or whether he should keep the ball and run himself.
Air Force boasts a quarterback who is projected to pass for 1000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in sophomore Shaun Carney. Carney earned the starting job in the summer as coach Fisher DeBerry moved his competition to other positions.
Defensively the Huskies are working on man defense where each man will have an assignment on a specific player. If each players stays with that assignment, such as a linebacker with the quarterback and another linebacker with the pitch man, the defense should be successful. Any breakdown could result in a big play.
"We have to read the lineman and the fullback, and keep our eyes on our responsibility," Benjamin said. "We are working on staying on our assignments and watching a lot of film."
The Wing-T is as flashy an offense as there is in football. Camera men are routinely fooled, thinking that the fullback has the ball, before noticing a wingback sprinting down the sideline with no one within 30 yards of him.
That too is what happens if the defense breaks down. If the defense is run well then there could be a lot of tackles made in the backfield and if Air Force struggles passing the ball, the Huskies could have a good day.
"It's pretty fast," Benjamin said. "They take advantage of people second-guessing."
The last time two times the UW squared off against Air Force was in the 1998 Oahu Bowl and the 1999 regular season, where they were overwhelmed by the Falcons rushing attack. The previous two match-ups against option offenses were both against Nebraska during the days of Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch. The Huskies lost both of those games, too.
Even though they rarely see this type of offense, Husky players are much more confident about their chances this year. Many saw an offense like this in high school and the defense has put in the preparation both on the field and in the film room.
Air Force will likely run its system perfectly and the Huskies know they will have to play great defense. With the work they've put in, no one can say the Huskies are winging it.