Stopping the option
Washington trying to control Air Force's potent offense
Posted: Tuesday December 22, 1998 02:15 PM
HONOLULU (AP) -- Discipline and trust are what Washington's defense says it must have to stop the potent option attack of Air Force in the Oahu Bowl.
Those are also the words of the day every day for the Air Force offense, which relied on the precise execution of its triple-option offense to roll to an 11-1 record and the Western Athletic Conference championship.
The Huskies (6-5), fifth in the Pacific 10 Conference, played one option team this season and were clobbered 55-7 by Nebraska, which rushed for 434 yards in the lopsided victory.
Washington defensive coordinator Randy Hart said Monday the memory of that game is long gone and won't cause a crisis in confidence for his unit during Friday's matchup at Aloha Stadium.
"They don't remember what happened in their finals one week ago," Hart said. "That's the beauty of being young -- you tend to look ahead rather than behind."
Air Force gives a triple-option look on every play, mixing in an effective passing game that can burn a team for big plays if it focuses too much on stopping the run.
The Falcons ran for 3,204 yards -- an average of 266.8 yards per game, third best in the nation - and 39 touchdowns this season. They passed for 1,521 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Washington was second in the Pac-10 in rushing defense, allowing an average 131.2 yards a game. Excluding the Nebraska game, the Huskies kept their other 10 opponents to an average of 100.9 yards.
"The first thing you do is figure out who's got the dive, who's got the quarterback and who's got the pitch," Hart said. "They get you thinking support run, support run, support run, then, uh oh, there goes one over my head. They know the option better than the defense knows how to defend it."
Air Force running back Jamal Singleton said the joy of the option is found in the execution, since receivers block as much as linemen and running backs can be blockers, receivers or runners on any given play.
"The offense has to be disciplined, and the defense playing us has to be disciplined," Singleton said. "Everyone has to be accounted for. You've got to have someone taking the running back, someone taking the quarterback, someone taking the fullback on every play. And then be able to play off on play-action."
Washington nose tackle Jabari Issa said the key is doing your job and letting other guys make the play.
"If you don't trust the guy next to you to not make a play, then you're going to try to make a play that you really can't and you're going to blow your own assignment," Issa said. "You can't do both at the same time. It's like trying to catch two rabbits at the same time -- you can't do it.'
Air Force linebackers coach Richard Bell said the team's main concern is the speed of the Washington defense, which the Falcons fear might seal off the outside. The Falcons hopes some misdirection plays will keep the Huskies honest.
"We're scared to death because of the speed Washington brings into the game," Bell said.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.