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Tennessee would be wise to consider the triple option

Just hear me out.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

As Tennessee’s search for a new offensive coordinator extends another day, and with no shortage of new names emerging with each passing hour, allow me to introduce one more: Brian Bohannon.

Bohannon is the head coach of the FCS Kennesaw State Owls, who went 10-1 in the regular season this year and are currently preparing for the second round of the FCS Playoffs. He sounds like an interesting candidate, right? Well here’s where some of you will depart, but I beg you to stay with me.

He runs the triple option.

Bohannon was an assistant under Paul Johnson at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. Johnson perfected the spread option offense for decades and will soon coach his final game for Georgia Tech before his retirement.

Bohannon is just a particular example, but my main point is Tennessee is not above the option and would actually be quite wise to consider it.

Johnson won at least eight games five times in his 11 seasons at Georgia Tech, an institution which has significant academic and monetary restrictions relative to its competition.

When Johnson arrived at Georgia Tech in 2008, it had only appeared in one ACC Championship Game; under Johnson, the Yellow Jackets played for three conference titles and won the ACC in 2009. Tech’s last win in a major bowl game came in 1955 under legendary coach Bobby Dodd; Johnson’s Yellow Jackets won the Orange Bowl in 2014. Georgia Tech hadn’t beaten arch-rival Georgia since 2000; Johnson beat the Bulldogs three times.

Georgia Tech was a middling program in a Power Five conference and it elected to do something different — it worked.

As much as some would not like to admit it, Tennessee is a program struggling to compete with its biggest rivals right now. And Vols fans saw just how lethal the option can be when the Vols narrowly defeated Georgia Tech 42-41 in double overtime in 2017.

In addition to the notion of doing something unique, the offense actually fits what Jeremy Pruitt wants to do offensively. So often in 2018, Pruitt and Tyson Helton insisted on trying to establish a power running game, even though the Vols rarely had the ability to do so. An offense which would control the clock and rush for 300 yards per game sounds exactly like what Pruitt would have been looking for this past season.

Tennessee also has better athletes than any team currently running the option. What the Vols’ backfield could do in a system like that would give SEC defenses nightmares.

And I know there are many who will dismiss the notion of a “triple option” offense immediately. But in today’s college football, many teams run variations of the option — you just don’t think about it. RPOs, jet sweeps, and quick screens are all favorites among college offensive coordinators to get the ball in space and create a numbers advantage — exactly what the triple option does.

Tennessee is 3-32 in its last 35 games against Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Vanderbilt has beaten the Vols three consecutive years. 2018 marked the second straight year Tennessee finished seventh in the SEC East.

Tennessee is at a time where it is ready to try something new. So in this Christmas season, open your heart and allow the triple option in.