NDSU’s next opponent Wofford brings another triple option test to the FargodomeFARGO — Final exams for North Dakota State students begin next week. Over at the football office, cramming for another test began in earnest on Sunday.
By: Jeff Kolpack, Forum Communications
FARGO — Final exams for North Dakota State students begin next week. Over at the football office, cramming for another test began in earnest on Sunday.
Ready or not, here comes another triple option team to Fargo for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Wofford College (S.C.) brings the leading rusher in the FCS in fullback Eric Breitenstein and a ground game that averages 357 yards a game.
Last year, Georgia Southern brought a similar triple option attack to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in the semifinals. Wofford’s attack has some of the same three-back elements as Georgia Southern.
“There are some differences as well,” said Bison head coach Craig Bohl. “I think this offense is more diversified. They’re utilizing many more personnel groups. There are differences with every offense and they certainly have them, but there are also many similarities.”
Wofford’s team rushing average is second in the FCS to Georgia Southern’s 393.2 yards. Southern Conference foe The Citadel is fourth at 300.6 yards per game in a league where each of those teams run a variation of the triple option.
“These guys are experts at it,” Bohl said. “It’s what they do. In one week’s time, we’ll have to get ready for it.”
Contrast that to the Missouri Valley Football Conference, where most teams run a more traditional style of offense and base a running game predicated more on power than finesse.
“Sometimes things go in flocks,” Bohl said. “That’s still an area of the country where option football is still very popular and much of it I’m sure has to do with the old Georgia Southern teams that ripped up everybody. You play them every year and after awhile, you take notice that it’s a challenging style offense.”
The challenge for NDSU will be to contain Breitenstein, who had 247 yards in a 23-7 win over New Hampshire in last Saturday’s second round. That effort, coupled with South Dakota State’s Zach Zenner getting only 46 yards against NDSU allowed Breitenstein to overtake Zenner by one yard for the FCS rushing lead.
Throw away his 35 yards on just 5 carries in an 82-0 blowout of Division II Lincoln University (Pa.), the low output for Breitenstein was 102 yards on 13 carries against Georgia Southern. As a team, it’s obvious: there’s a direct correlation between high rushing numbers and victories.
The two season-low rushing outputs — 215 against Samford and 221 against Georgia Southern — were both losses. The Terriers had 215 against Chattanooga, but squeaked out a 16-13 overtime win.
“Option football is assignment football,” Bohl said. “You have to be sound on all of your assignments. But there have been elements of offenses that we have played through this year that have demanded that we be assignment conscious, so I don’t think it will be anything outside their comfort level. However, nobody has operated the offense at this level.”