GEORGIA TECH: FRIEND OR FOE?

Paul Johnson may have left the Naval Academy, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us still root for him. It’s hard not to. His offense gave Navy a singularity in the cosmos of major college football; something above and beyond the usual “they play hard for 60 minutes!” type of chatter that seems to come naturally to casual observers of the service academies. College football reporters and talking heads thst covered this ingenious combination of run & shoot and spread option couldn’t seem to decide if the offense was innovative or archaic. Navy fans didn’t care either way. To us, the offense was just something uniquely ours. Of course, with the wins, bowl games, and service academy domination, Johnson could have run pretty much anything and Navy fans would still be happy. Beyond the offense and results he produced, he was also a great interview– sarcastic, straightforward, and funny to listen to. Most of us just plain liked the guy. So as upset as we were when he moved on to what he felt were greener pastures at Georgia Tech, most of us hope he finds the kind of success in Atlanta that he didn’t think was possible in Annapolis. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Even those of you who might not be pulling for Coach Johnson still get the enjoyment of seeing skeptics of this offense have to eat their words. (Of course, we knew that would happen all along).

(As a side note, how annoying is it to watch the same “experts” who told you how the option would fail in a BCS conference now try to explain to you how and why it works? Meh, moving on…)

But now, the offense isn’t just ours anymore; our friends at Georgia Tech have joined us in the pleasure of hearing the same cliches every year about how the option won’t work.  As fun as it can be having a second chance to see our favorite offense in action each Saturday, do you ever wonder if Paul Johnson being at another school somehow has an adverse effect on Navy? I mean other than the obvious questions people have whenever a new coach takes over a school; hopefully by now you don’t need any convincing as to Ken Niumatalolo’s ability to lead the Mids. But could it be possible that in rooting for Georgia Tech, you are indirectly rooting for Navy’s demise? That Georgia Tech, in using the same offense that helped catapult Navy to success, might somehow be working against the Mids now?

Maybe you don’t wonder about these things… But I do, and there isn’t much to talk about in June, so humor me. On the surface, the idea that one school has an effect on the other probably seems a little far-fetched. And I know that some of you are rolling your eyes right now and thinking that this is going to be some “wah wah wah Paul Johnson” story. Don’t worry, it isn’t. I’m as sick of that stuff as you are. This is more of a reflection on the evolution of college football, and where the service academies fit into the bigger picture.

Perhaps the most obvious potential impact Georgia Tech can have on Navy is in scheduling. The unique nature of the offense is one of the great advantages Navy gets from running the spread option. Except in rare occasions (like when Army scheduled Rhode Island a couple of years ago), the Navy game is the only time opponents will see anything like it. While scout team offenses try their best to replicate what their defenses will be up against, they just can’t do it with the speed and precision that comes with practicing this offense all year the way Navy does. Defenses spend all season learning how to anticipate and be aggressive, then spend a week trying to unlearn that stuff because it’ll get them killed if they try it against a triple option team. It’s a changeup to the rest of college football’s fastball… Except now, Navy isn’t alone. With Georgia Tech employing what is fundamentally the same scheme, ACC opponents are more likely to practice against it regularly. The Mids will take on Duke, Wake Forest, and Maryland in coming years (although the Terps don’t face Tech again until 2011). Both Navy and Georgia Tech are on Syracuse’s 2015 schedule. The Yellow Jackets also have a series scheduled with Tulane, who has been a regular on Navy schedules of the past. Increased exposure to the offense will make it harder for the Mids to catch teams off guard.

Of course, the same thing could be said about Army, who will also be employing the spread option and probably has more in common on their schedule with Navy than Georgia Tech does. But this would be the case regardless of whether either Georgia Tech wins or not. In fact, there might also be an advantage to having an ACC team running the spread option: officiating. Navy uses ACC referees when they go on the road. Every year we see flags thrown for bogus chop block, illegal formation, and illegal motion penalties; the offense apparently confuses officials as much as it confuses opposing coaches. The more that ACC refs become familiar with it, the fewer bad calls will be made. In theory, anyway. I thought I heard Chet say that he’d stop scheduling ACC teams, but I must have been mistaken because we have a new series with Duke on the horizon. If having common opponents is a disadvantage for the Mids, it isn’t so much so that we’d drop a regular opponent like Duke.

If scheduling wasn’t the first thing you thought of when pondering the long-term impact Georgia Tech might have on Navy, then recruiting probably was. It isn’t like Navy was beating Georgia Tech for recruits to begin with, but they didn’t really cross paths on the recruiting trail as often, either. Now that the Yellow Jackets are running a similar kind of offense, it stands to reason that they’ll be looking for a similar style of player. While that is probably true, Paul Johnson didn’t leave for Georgia Tech to play with the same players he could get in Annapolis. Anyone that Georgia Tech is recruiting would probably be considered a “reach” player to the Navy coaching staff. In the end, it probably won’t make much of a difference to Navy’s chances of success. There are exceptions to that, though. While it’s unlikely that there were too many Navy players who would’ve started at Georgia Tech last year, one that probably would have is Kaipo. If a Kaipo clone was coming out of high school right now, Coach Johnson would most definitely be going after him. We won’t see the most profound recruiting impact in the world, but that’s not to say that there won’t be some effect. But again, this is something we’ll see regardless of whether or not Georgia Tech is winning.

I doubt that any of this is news to you. This is all standard stuff. To really understand the impact of the rising popularity of this offense, you need to step back from the micro comparisons of us vs. them and instead look at the macro world of college football.

The offenses at Navy and Georgia Tech are best described as the spread option, but for some reason people tend to focus more on the “option” part than the “spread” part. They really aren’t much different than other spread offenses, though. Fundamentally, all spread offenses operate based on the same basic principle of creating space for speedy players. It’s a concept that is increasingly popular among college coaches. While the offenses employed by Paul Johnson and Ivin Jasper might be unique in execution, they’re really just a different manifestation of a trend that’s fast becoming the norm. When the offense is viewed in that context, you realize that the long-term effect on Navy would have been the same even if Johnson had stayed in Annapolis.

The rise of spread offenses has meant that players once considered out of place in I-A ball are now becoming some of the most sought-after recruits. Running backs don’t need to be big in a spread offense; they just need to be fast. Run-first quarterbacks that used to be converted to wide receivers or safeties are now getting the chance to play their natural position. These are the kinds of players that the service academies have targeted for years, but it’s going to become more difficult to recruit them as the spread becomes more prevalent. Eventually, Navy will be forced into trying something else. Look at the history of service academy football when compared to the field. When the wishbone and the option were in their heyday in the 70s, George Welsh was winning games at Navy using what would now be considered a more conventional offense. The wishbone fell out of favor in the 80s, precisely when Air Force started using it with great success under Ken Hatfield. The lesson here is that it isn’t the option that’s the key to service academy success; simply being different is the most important thing. For baseball fans, it’s sort of the same concept as Moneyball. While big-market clubs would target the guys who hit for average and had high RBI totals, Oakland would seek value for their dollars by targeting players who excelled in other statistical categories (OBP and SLG, for example). The result was that they’d get good players, but just not necessarily the ones in high demand. The same could be said for Navy football recruits now. My guess is that 15-20 years from now, spread offenses will be the norm in college football, and the most successful service academies will be running something completely different. As football evolves, so must Navy.

One day there will be Army fans complaining about the option and saying that you just can’t win at a service academy without the west coast offense. Like any evolutionary process, though, that will take some time. It certainly isn’t anything we have to worry about now, or even 5 years from now. The world is going to end in 2012 anyway.

So cheer away for Georgia Tech if you are so inclined. You don’t need to worry if Paul Johnson is good or bad for Navy. There are larger forces at work.

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37 Responses

  1. I like your big picture thinking. A couple of years back I speculated on the same kind of thing in that the move to the spread by so many teams would eventually facilitate the non-BCS and lower division “innovators” to move back to the concept of “three yards a cloud of dust” to counter smaller but faster defenses (I hope you don’t mind me humoring myself by posting an old link : http://pitchright.blogspot.com/2008/01/competitive-parity-in-division-i.html )

    I think with GT, it hurts us in that defending the option is about what kind of athletes you have on the field. The athletes on ACC defenses get experience against better players at GT than they would against Navy, so over time I think those defenses at a Duke or a Wake may end up developing the kind of muscle-memory ability to better play the triple option against us.

    Great conversation starter all the way around, Mike.

  2. Yeah, this is something I touched on last year when I wrote about the appeal of non-BCS football. About how football isn’t necessarily cyclical, but still constantly evolving.

    http://thebirddog.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/life-on-the-outside/

    I’ve often wondered if a bona fide west coast offense would work at a service academy. Not what gets called the WCO nowadays, but the pure, strict WCO as was drawn up by Sid Gillman and Bill Walsh for the Bengals. That was basically the NFL’s “option” offense when it was rolled out; the scheme to make up for a talent gap.

  3. You know I’m too young to remember such things Mike. Give me some examples I’ve actually seen lol

  4. Good point on the chop blocks (I well remember the Wake game this year down in Winston-Salem), but how ’bout this wrinkle: what if the increased visibility of the option into the BCS also increases the volume of those who want cut blocks outlawed? In other words, if GT linemen make a few nasty (but legal) blocks that unfortunately injure some defense studs at “big time” programs, could we inadvertently run the risk of having the rules modified, thus changing option football?

    Alas, it’s June and we only have to suffer through baseball now until it’s time for football practice. Actually, College Football Live is going state-by-state so I think Maryland’s turn is on 1 July.

  5. Interesting topic over here Mike. Though I can’t say too much about how Navy should cheer for CPJ, I will say that I would be extremely interested to renew the series with Navy again now that the two of us run similar offenses. At the very least, it would be intriguing.

    In regards to officials understanding the difference between a chop block and a cut block, Paul Johnson himself will be conducting a clinic for officials as to how to make the right call. So there is some direct influence for ya.

  6. Mike — I love this topic ! — It took me back to the one and only time on the scout board when I got fired up enough to have people throw stones at me — luckily it was not quite off the historical stack (page 20 of 21!) — I even noticed “goalie” getting on me —

    http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=240&f=2434&t=3146342&p=1

    once again I will say that if somehow PJ had failed it would have delayed the inevitable gathering of corporate knowledge by future Navy opponents thus delaying our having to find something else “completely different”

  7. I read back over that very old thread, and really liked it when I said this, especially given what your very well written blog post said:
    ———————————–
    Posted: 10/7/2008 3:02 AM

    RE: You guys might appreciate this one…

    —————————-
    chbags: I don’t know how it came across that I was trying to pat myself on the back. I wasn’t even posting for the sake of having anybody agree with me, although having now seen a couple of seconding posts it does make me wonder how many more out there cringe any time they sign on and see a new topic along the lines of “How well is Georgia Tech running the TO?” … and I will say it here because I have said it before elsewhere, I too am very interested in how it is going down on Techwood … but I choose to go to their site to see what’s going on. Heck, if we had not had Rutgers at home on the 20th I was headed to ATL for the Mississippi State game. I have been talking smack to my Bulldog friends about how the T.O. would expose that SEC defensive powerhouse for 5 years now — the only problem is that I wanted it to be N-A-V-Y giving out the beat down.

    I actually do see a little of notal’s point about GaTech’s success (and immediate success as pipe said) bringing the Navy name up on broadcasts that other wise have nothing to do with Navy, and this I agree would be good. How to measure the advertising benefit, like a failing airline sponsoring a race car or the Navy or Army letting an athlete out of a comittment, is the whole art of the deal. I guess I am just proposing for argument’s sake that our loss of “uniqueness” might be more damaging.

    By the way, I love having this same discussion with some of my GaTech friends that I have known for over 15 years … including the one that I was sitting with when we beat them in Atlanta in ’96.

    *this would be “toying”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7Bvk70VsI4

  8. I’m not worried to much about our/PJ’s offense. Teaching and running a pure triple option attack isn’t easy. There probably are only a few dozen coaches out there capable of teaching it correctly.

    IMO, the difference in line blocking and techniques will keep us relevant even in a “spread” world.

    The spread is here to stay though. High schools that employ the spread get more meaningful summer practice time through passing leagues. Basically, you can install and run your entire offense during June in HS with your skill guys, while teaching and concentrating on line work/running plays during the fall camp.

    Good June discussion thread.

  9. “If scheduling wasn’t the first thing you thought of when pondering the long-term impact Georgia Tech might have on Navy, then recruiting probably was.”

    Actually, my first thought was coaching. In the unlikely event PJ failed at GT, the misconception that his offense couldn’t work in the BCS would have been reinforced; thus possibly making it less likely that Niumat & Jasper get hired away by bigger programs, even if they enjoyed similar success at Navy that PJ did (or at least, that it wouldn’t happen as quickly).

    OTOH, PJ’s success at GT could make his offense the “next big thing”, causing other ADs to look to poach PJ disciples to try and emulate GT.

  10. Yeah, we’ve talked about that here before. I don’t know Ivin Jasper and won’t guess what motivates him to stay or go, but one thing that I’m positive about is that he will be sought after.

  11. The “little guy” always has to be innovative and creative to beat the “big guy.” Look at what Urban Meyer created at Utah to fight the BCS baddies and now that system is catching on. A little less successful example is Hawai’i’s run and shoot.

    Creativity, generally speaking, doesn’t come from the big time guys but rather tha small schools that are allowed more flexibility and don’t have boosters breathing down their throats.

  12. Birdman, you’d totally dig the post I linked in my first comment. You’re absolutely right.

  13. i have to admit that i’m really not concerned. as a former coach and someone who is looking at getting back into coaching soon, i have many coaching friends. they do not think too highly of this offense. they dont believe it works, and they point out the beating lsu gave georgia tech in the bowl game as an example. nevermind that lsu’s dline finally played like they were capable of playing and georgia tech’s oline got exposed. they feel the loss was because teams figured out the offense. most of the “spread option” teams they follow are florida, utah, and west virginia. i guess it’s prettier because they have 4 wr’s and are in the shotgun. i belive the offense is a long way away from gaining any kind of acceptance. there are only a handful of college teams who run this and those coaches have been doing that for many years. it’s still different. now, when it does get accepted, it still comes down to execution and making adjustments. the notre dame game was a good example. notre dame sees it every year, but when navy made the right adjustments and executed right before halftime they scored with no problem. i’m not worried about people seeing it. in fact, everytime i heard navy during the georgia tech-lsu game i smiled. that’s free publicity. i have rooted for paul johnson since 1998 in his georgia southern days and will continue to do so. and i dont believe that georgia tech’s success will have any negative effect on navy at all.

  14. i’m more concerned about them doing what they do best and not evolving just to say we’re trying something different. yeah, it does make a difference when teams see it more often, but being unpredictable and ready for any in-game adjustments are needed can take care of these. going back to the 2005 colorado st game, me and the entire colorado state defense knew the option was coming after that long kickoff return in the 1st quarter, but next thing you know reggie is catching a long touchdown pass. yeah, some new wrinkles in the offense could help. but the offense has been around for many years and has done just fine. it’s all what you do with it.

  15. I think Tim is right. The biggest concern is coaching. PJ seems to be the flavor of the month on a lot of college football websites, and AD’s are fully aware that there are a lot of PJ’s disciples in Annapolis.

    As for recruiting, GT just got a commitment this week from a kid that Navy had also given an offer to (an O-Lineman). I don’t know how good a chance we had of getting the kid anyway, but it’s one example of a player that we lost in a head-to-head with GT. Bummer.

    Regardless, I can’t help but pull for PJ. Maybe that’s counterintuitive or “disloyal,” but whatever. GT is my #2 team.

  16. Yeah, I think it was after the Wake Forest game when I said to prepare for teams coming after Coach Jasper. I also think that was a reason why he stayed at Navy rather follow PJ to Tech; to be able to call the plays himself. A good career move.

  17. It’ll be interesting to see if IJ starts to open things up more this year. He seemed pretty conservative with the playcalling last year. Maybe that was a function of the completely unstable quarterback situation.

    Hopefully there will be more variety this season, particularly in certain situations.

  18. Fascinating topic, particularly for one who was a fan of both Tech and Navy before PJ worked either place.

    I firmly believe that the service academies (and indeed any struggling or “stuck” program, academy or not) should run a contrarian offense, something that most opponents see only once or twice a year. Football history is filled with schemes there waiting to be resurrected and tweaked — the single wing (a meager form of it now seen in “Wildcat” packages), the double wing (still run by scores of high schools nationwide), the wishone/inverted wishbone, variations of the old T formation, Nebraska’s I-bone, the old Maryland “stack” I, Wofford’s “wingbone,” etc. (What I’m really waiting for is some coach to find some Colgate game film from the 30s, consult with some rugby guys, and come up an attack based upon 11 fast guys with good hands and willing to engage in multiple laterals.) A program with an open-minded AD with a spine will be willing to hire a contrarian coach, and here’s hoping Navy and Tech never forget it.

  19. Mike – just seeing you mention IJ and the reg season wake game reminded me of the Rutgers game the week before … I sit in the back of the lower section on about the 20 on home side — after the last few seconds clicked off after the pick to secure the victory and everyone came to silence for Blue and Gold, IJ and the staff could be heard yelling and screaming as they came tearing down out of the press box and over to the #2 portal to run down to be with the rest of the team — they could barely stop themselves for a couple of seconds.

  20. I think we overlook the many skills that PJ brings as a coach when we constantly focus on the offense. The triple O in many ways is a placebo that gives a team the feeling that they can compete with anyone. What PJ did at Navy was maximise his use of talent. He got well disciplined kids to believe in a program. He got better and more quality athletes. He drilled in a “no mistakes” type of mentality and let’s not forget he also worked hard at the kicking game. Navy has had a string of place kickers that could probably start at most major schools. So yes the TO is important but overall PJ and Coach N are just are good quality coaches. They know that there is a fine line between winning and losing at a Service Academy and they take the steps to move the odds in their favor.

  21. We aren’t overlooking anything. Like I said, we liked PJ for a lot of reasons, and they’ve been discussed many, many times here before. And I have the same confidence in Niumat that I had in PJ, But this really isn’t about them. It’s about how service academies evolve relative to the rest of college football, and what effect (if any) comes from the spread of what was once unique to the Naval Academy.

  22. i wouldnt say that things have changed much. there are still only 3 teams running it “navy, georgia tech, and army. it’s not like there’s one or teams per conference running it. in the 90′s navy, air force, army(to a certain extent), and hawaii ran it. so it hasnt really become evolved. the “spread” offenses i believe will be copied more are the teams like oregon, missouri, hawaii, and texas tech. most people, despite success of navy and georgia tech, still view the offense as old and gimmicky. yeah, navy does have many acc teams on their upcoming schedules, but that doesnt mean they will stop it. i bet ohio state hasnt seen it except on film. i still say it’s unique and the job Coach N does means that they will adapt and fit the offense to what they feel their players do the best.

  23. please excuse the numerous grammatical errors in my post. it’s late and i’m typing too fast and not paying enough attention.

  24. Rob, the whole point of this post was to downplay any short-term impact. I know it’s still unique. But 20 years from now, I don’t think it will be.

  25. i dont know if it will be either. but, who knows? i do know it’s going to take success with the offense for at least another 5-8 years before people really start opening to it. too many people still buy into the stereotypes. too many programs whose fans run the show, and dont want to see anything other than a 5 star quarterback throwing for 5,000 yards a season. unfortunately for them, they are starting to see that it just doesnt get people to the NFL that often either. I think, honestly, that USC’s offense, or any NFL-style offense that is brought into college will be copied more so than any type of “spread” offense. just my thought. let me just say that even after 5-8 more years of success, that it will take many more years for people to really warm up to it. even with that being said, i cant believe that in 20 years there will be anymore than about 15 teams running it. which is a small number.

  26. i think johnson is the exception, due to his past success at georgia southern. but i believe most, if not all, coaches who come from one of these places will be on a short leash. they will be given less room for error because many fans still are completely against it. so, the first sign of trouble it will be the end. again, i’m not really concerned about the number of people running it, i’m more concerned with the execution.

  27. I think it should be pointed out that this option is nothing really new. Many variations have been run for many years. The wishbone, dive option, flexbone, etc. The key is to find coaches that believe in the system and can sell it to the players. Many D 1 players now do not buy in as much to the team concept. They want big numbers to build their resumes for the pros. The pro option is pretty much off the table for the Service Academies so the kids will buy into the team concept and sacrifice. PJ will have to walk a fine line because the Ga Tech kids will believe him if they continue to win. It is almost a political battle between passing and running. Right now in college passing is preferred. However, if PJ bucks the norm and can deliver a few top 10 teams the pendulum could swing the other way especially since several of the top college QBs weren’t given a big welcome in the recent NFL draft.

  28. If/when PJ wins the ACC, I wonder if people will admit that he and his system are legit, or if people around the country will just point to it as evidence that the ACC sucks (i.e., “The ACC completely sucks. Look, a stupid high school offense just won the conference. What a joke.”)

  29. Having played and coached, the game is much like golf in that the latest inovations in clubs can be found at the museum in St Andrews. The quality of the coach in recruiting, coaching, and training trumps the X’s &O’s. I dare say that with the right coach the single wing would set everyone back for awhile until the next “new system” comes along. We had the best in PJ and now have a worthy “son” of Paul in KN. Be happy that we have a winning combination.

  30. (1) Recruiting. I see this helping Navy, not hurting it. GT is going to look at guys they can’t take, but think are good, and PJ is going to tip off coach N. Because GT only looks at kids with good academics (highest SAT’s of any non-academy football program), these kids are more likely to be able to get into Navy. GT has not had less than a 3* recruit since PJ has been there, and I don’t see many head-to-heads as being likely. Plus, he is trying to get as many kids from Georgia as he possibly can (every commit this year so far is from the state), which would limit competition, except when Navy tries to pull guys out of Georgia.

    (2) Stealing coaches when GT is successful. Depends whether PJ is viewed as the reason for success or whether the offense is. You might see some schools with disadvantages (size, academics) switch to the spread option and try to get Navy , GT, Army coaches. I don’t see big time programs doing it unless they actually steal PJ himself. Boosters want passing, and the kids at those programs may be too primadona to run it.

    (3) Scheduling/familiarity with the offense. First, PJ says everyone knows what he’s going to do anyway, and that it’s all about execution. If we execute, we we’ll score enough to win. The difference though, is we generally play against programs with the same advantages, advantages Navy does not have as a service academy. So some of the offenses equalizing ability could be lost. However, over time, I see the offenses evolving independently as each coach modifies what they do to fit their talent & competition. I believe GT will ultimately throw more than Navy. Third, GT will play Wake this year, which has faced Navy 3 times in the last 2 years. That game could be a barometer for whether a team can acclimate to the offense.

    The LSU game was lost more because our guys, and especially our special teams let down. A young team can’t do that against a deep, talent, 5th year senior-laden team like LSU.

    (4) Refs. I think it helps, as the offense, it’s techniques, and it’s formations become more widely accepted/normalized.

    In the end it remains to be seen whether the offense will spread further. GT and the service academies are anomalies because of the type of student athletes who attend/can get in, and the offense may be seen as a freakish offense for smart kids. We’ll see.

    Props to the birddog for a cool discussion, and for his amazing Navy Videos.

  31. Re: familiarity… There’s no one defense that will stop this offense. But there are some that are a lot worse than the others. I’ve been watching the Georgia game for the last week, for example, and I assure you that Georgia won’t use that game plan next year now that they’ve seen what happens when you try to defend the spread like it was the wishbone. It was horrible. Now that they’ve experienced the spread option first-hand, they’ll learn from their mistake.

    I agree that the offenses will evolve differently, and I think in some ways that’s already happening. But while the playcalling will change, the fundamentals of the offense will be the same, especially as far as defenses are concerned. Familiarity will still be a factor.

    As for recruiting, I don’t think GT alone will have much of an effect on Navy except with maybe a quarterback here and there. (I apologize for not being more clear about that in my post). It’s the proliferation of spread offenses in general that I think will have long-term consequences.

  32. I think the only real negative is that the ACC teams will see this offense every year besides us. That hurts because it was stated they will have a defensive scheme and package that they use all the time vs GT to use on Navy. One of the best things about watching Navy was to see the Chinese fire drills on the other side of the ball once PJ got his offense rolling and the opposing defense was lost finding the ball..
    As far as the spread option being adopted there is more of a chance with what PJ has done in the ACC. However I doubt it will get wide spread acceptance.
    I’m sure a few struggling prgrams will try to adopt it. Army proved last year that’s easier said than done since line play, spacing and pitch discipline is so radically different. More teams will lean to a West Virginia spread which is more of a passing offense to sell tickets.
    The reason I think the spread option will not be adapted so widely is that most college coaches long to take the next step to the NFL. You get there by throwing the ball and running passing offenses.
    Most coaching coordinators are drones not innovators like PJ. They run what’s supposed to work or what’s hot. They don’t want to be critized for running “a high school offense” . We,. as Navy fans, know that’s a joke but that is a mindset in the coaching fraternity.
    Look at so many NFL teams creating “wildcat” packages and drafting players to run it like Miami did with Pat White. That package is a renamed single wing that’s been around since the stone age of football yet because it’s hot everyone must run it.
    While the disadvantage of ACC seeing Navy’s O run with superior athletes hurt there is one silver lining.
    With a vocal PJ in the ACCit might counter that conference’s referees ,which officate so many Navy game, and Kills us with bogus penalties. The ACC refs might finally learn the difference between a cut block and a chop block

  33. I don’t agree that every coach is trying to get to the NFL. And there are plenty of run-first offenses that aren’t PJ’s/Ivin’s. Look at the teams that ran for 200+ per game last year… Oregon, Penn State, Florida, Oklahoma State, West Virginia… I don’t think the NFL has any influence on what these guys are doing.

  34. Maybe not Mike but I don’t think more schools adapting the offense will hurt Navy as long as KN still teaches it and recruits impact talent like Reggie, Zerb, Shun, Kaipo ect in the coming years. (It looks like he had a great recruiting season this year)
    I’m a longime SF 49er fan from the early 70s. When Bill Walsh unleashed his offense it was innovative and became the standard. Everyone started running the West Coast offense yet the 49ers remained the top offense in the NFL for the next 20 years because they ran it better than anyone. As long as Navy teaches the offense correctly (avoids staff turnover) and has the players to run it Navy will move the ball.

  35. The 49ers didn’t have to recruit…

  36. Mike,

    GT fan here, really appreciate your posts. Good stuff! I actually think that having Tech run the TO helps you guys, because now teams that already have Tech on the schedule can look at Navy as an opponent as well – it can expand the base of teams willing to play you! We hear alot about teams that don’t want to schedule a TO team precisely because they only get to use the prep once, but if they were to be able to use it for Navy AND Tech, then there is some benefit. Just a thought.

    As for your spread offense discussion, I think every team in the ACC is running some version of a spread offense. Even BC ran a veer-style option play with Matt Ryan at QB. I agree that the trend towards the spread means that people are learning how to defend the option better, so this was coming anyway. But, that means it comes down to coaching….and I’d take Paul Johnson every day of the week and twice on Sunday if the differentiator is coaching.

  37. GT and Navy share a very common culture of discipline and a strong belief in service. I say that as a retired Navy officer who did ROTC at GT. Both schools are intellectually demanding and difficult to get through.

    Sports are entertainment and while I very much enjoy college football, it helps to stay grounded in the purpose of the college and the quality of graduates they turn out.

    I like Johnson’s commitment to making kids go to class and do well. (I get this from a player currently on the team.) The academic and culture side of GT probably helped him decide to come here.

    Lets just hope he can improve the special teams and defense like the offense since offense is 1/3 of the game.

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