The Washington Times - August 3, 2008, 12:13PM

If I was going to be over at Navy football media day on Thursday to pick up some ideas for blog entries, there was no reason not to go with an obvious topic.

Everyone in the ACC seemed to want to talk about new Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and his triple option offense. So why not ask a couple of the guys who actually played in it over the course of their careers with the Midshipmen just how well it will work?


“Georgia Tech is going to be a force to reckon with,” senior slotback Shun White said. “Once the guys down there understand the offense and know what to do and why they’re doing it, the ACC is going to be in for a big surprise.”

Added senior slotback Jarod Bryant: “I think they’re going to do well. This offense, a lot of the teams in the ACC haven’t seen it, so it’s definitely going to be a good team in the future.”

It’s worth starting to wonder whether anyone actually thinks Johnson is going to fail. Really, for a scheme that has prompted plenty of “Will-it-work?” stories and rants, who out there thinks it won’t work?

Might this be a case of there being a perceived conventional wisdom? Maybe. But remember, it’s not like Johnson wasn’t under consideration for other jobs in the past (think N.C. State) before landing in Atlanta.

Back to White and Bryant. Both pretty much agreed it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if” —- and that it might be a year or two before that “when” finally arrives.

“It’s hard,” White said. “I don’t know how those guys down there do it. I just talked to coach [Jeff] Monken, my old position coach, last week and I was asking him how are the guys doing down there. He told me ‘Right now, they’re struggling.’ It’s hard for a drop-back passer to go into that offense, hence their quarterback [Taylor Bennett] transferred. It’s just hard on a lot of guys. A lot of those linemen, with all that pulling, they’re not used to that.”

White brings up an especially valid topic: The role of the quarterback in an option scheme. Sophomore Josh Nesbitt is athletically probably the best fit among the holdovers.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the right fit. And until Georgia Tech can find someone who can master all the nuances of the option, the Yellow Jackets probably won’t be able to unleash as much of the offense as Navy did in recent years.

“It’s tough,” said Bryant, who played quarterback his first three seasons. “I’m sure they’re staying pretty basic with them right now because they need a guy who knows how to run the offense. It’s going to be tough for them. I came from a shotgun, no-huddle offense to coming here and running the triple. It was a big change, but they’re good coaches. They’ll figure it out.”

White has a different perspective on making the offense work. As a slotback, he’s in a fairly vulnerable position every time he’s in position to take a pitch.

So White can appreciate how difficult it is to master that position —- and just how easy it is for a quarterback’s glaring error to be obvious to everyone around him.

“Probably the quarterback would be the hardest position in the triple option because you have to read the option and you have to make good decisions all the time,” White said. “You make one bad decision and you can get somebody killed, especially at slotback. You can hang a slotback out to dry all the time, which has happened to me a couple times in games. The quarterback is definitely the hardest position in the triple option because you have to be smart and you have to know what’s going on.”

 —- Patrick Stevens