Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The often imitated, never duplicated off-season series is back
Other than some unimportant game this evening, the off season is here. Time to start up the random off season threads!
MMQB asks: would you rather Penn State run a run-heavy, time-of-possession dominating offense, or an air raid, score quickly and often offense?
The actual answer to this question is why not both? Why can’t you run the ball at will, hold onto it as much as you please, and then carve up the defense through the air when they sell out to stop the run? That’s surely what Kirk Ciarrocca is going to shoot for in 2020, and it’s a noble venture.
But no, that’s not what I asked. If you had to choose only one, which would it be?
On one end of the spectrum, there are teams that eschew the forward pass, as if it had once taken their grandmother’s out for dinner and never called her again. Teams like Army and Navy that run the triple option. They run approximately 48 plays per drive, each drive takes upward of 8 minutes, and the final score of every game is 21-20.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are teams like Washington State (pour one out for Leach heading to warmer climes), who would avoid running the ball if they could help it. There are approximately three plays in the playbook, and two of those plays are four verts. You either gain 15+ yards on every play, or you go three-and-out. There is no in between. Score in approximately 35 seconds, or hand the ball back to your opponent in 35 seconds. Final scores are 52-49.
So which would you rather? Truthfully, as much as it might make my heart hurt knowing that at any time our opponent will land the fatal counterpunch, I’d go with the air raid. Why? Because it’s fun as hell. Running the ball, smashing your opponent in the face, and then standing there while he smashes you back in the face, is old school football. You want to hold onto the ball for the entire duration of the game. It’s what football was back when men were men.
And that style of football is boring. Oh, there’s a certain elegance in the triple option. And I of course want us to run the ball on opposing teams next year. But if I had to choose between plodding down the field on each and every drive, or lighting up the scoreboard with video game numbers, give me the latter, and all of the oxygen tanks for the defensive players who will spend approximately 45 minutes on the field.
What say you? Which would you rather?