FARGO, N.D. — Georgia Southern safety Boyd Sasser sees enough of his team’s offense during spring football. And, he said, it’s not a lot of fun to play against.
“I’m happy I don’t have to go against it week in and week out,” he said.
North Dakota State, meanwhile, will have to seemingly cram several weeks worth of defensive study into a few days this week. Georgia Southern will bring its rare triple-option offense to the Fargodome on Saturday for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision semifinals.
NDSU safety Colten Heagle said he saw a couple of teams in high school run it. Defensive end Cole Jirik ran some option offense as a high school quarterback, but nothing like the Eagles’ look, he said.
“I’ve never faced anything like this, so it’s a nice, new challenge,” Jirik said. “It’s definitely more film work, because we’ve never seen something like this.”
It’s more work for the coaches, too, like defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton. He was literally running near the Bison locker room Tuesday afternoon so as to not waste a minute.
The last time NDSU faced anything similar was in 2008 at Cal Poly.
Hazelton said he and other Bison coaches have been on the phone talking to friends in the football business on how best to stop it. The key is to find coaches who have played triple-option teams like the Eagles, Georgia Tech, Navy or Air Force.
Then the ultimate trick: Coming up with a plan that the players understand.
“It is like a foreign language to them a bit,” Hazelton said. “You talk to them, show them on paper and they’re confused. It’s the same process the coaches go through. It’s overwhelming right away and then you break down their job.”
GSU quarterback Jaybo Shaw runs the show, but the Eagles throw an arsenal of running backs at opponents. Six players have at least 42 carries. Only 10 yards separate the team’s leader in Robert Brown, who has 937 yards, and Dominique Swope, who has 927.
“The big thing in the triple-option is stopping them on first down,” said Heagle, who said he has been cleared to play after missing the first two playoff games with a thumb injury, “and get them to second- and third-and-long.”