Wisconsin’s game on Saturday might send the older football fan back to the days before the forward pass was considered normal.
The Badgers are set to face off against the Army Black Knights—one of the only teams that still run the old-school triple-option offense.
Army enters the contest with a 4-1 record on the season thanks to wins against Georgia State, Western Kentucky, UConn and Miami (Ohio). They do so scoring more than 34 points per game…but only throwing the ball 5-7 times.
The triple-option is a ground-based attack designed to catch defenders out of position and slowly and methodically march down the field.
So, here is what Wisconsin fans can expect to see on Saturday. It is a beautiful football attack that requires intense planning and discipline to stop.
The Army quarterback has three options, hence the term ‘triple-option.’ There’s the initial handoff to the halfback, an available toss or a quarterback run.
But Army also runs more traditional downhill run plays out of similar pre-snap looks in order to keep the defense off guard. The changes are minute, but they completely alter what defenders see from the offensive linemen and quarterback on the play.
Army does a great job of changing the tempo of the plays (sometimes the outside toss is thrown immediately) and changing how the offensive line executes its attack on the defense. They operate well when it’s a guessing game on defense, and when some of their options are so successful that they open up others.
Wisconsin should be well-equipped to stop the Army attack thanks to a dominant front seven, intelligent and athletic linebackers and a defensive coordinator in Jim Leonhard that has had this game on his mind for months.
But the question must be asked, how many forward passes will we see attempted on Saturday?
Army averages 6.6 per game, Wisconsin averages 28 (19.5 in its two victories).
My non-scientific over/under is 25. Make of that whatever you wish.