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Hokies leery of Paladins' triple option with a twist

Associated Press • Sep 13, 2019 at 10:21 PM

BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech is once again game-planning to defend the triple option, only this time it’s not against Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech.

Furman of the Football Championship Subdivision brings its version of a triple option — with a twist — to the Hokies’ Lane Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

Paladins redshirt freshman quarterback Darren Grainger also is adept at throwing the ball. He threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions last week in a 48-42 loss at Georgia State, which was coming off a stunning 38-30 victory against Tennessee.

“I watched the film last night and their quarterback is playing at an incredible level,” Hokies fourth-year coach Justin Fuente said. “He runs it, throws it, and then the triple option spreads you out.

“They do a little bit of everything. I was even more shocked to learn he’s a redshirt freshman.”

Fuente has experience with Furman coach Clay Hendrix, who objects to his offense being labeled as a triple option because while the Paladins employ that style, they also do numerous other things in the course of a game.

“I don’t see us as a triple-option team by any stretch,” said Hendrix, who spent a decade as an assistant at Air Force. “It’s part of who I am, it’s part of who we’re going to be whether it’s triple, whether it’s double — find a way to force somebody to be option sound, and then having the ability to throw off of it. ... I think our strength is we are pretty multiple in what we do and we certainly have shown that we can throw the football.”

“They had the option and everything else; that’s a totally different animal that we got to be prepared for,” Fuente said.

Defensively, the Paladins have been challenged, allowing an average of 517.5 yards per game.

“We’ve got to tackle better. We’ve just got the do the things that we have total control over, being where we’re supposed to be,” Hendrix said.

Here are some other things to watch for when Furman (1-1) visits Virginia Tech (1-1):

GRIND IT OUT

Virginia Tech has averaged just 114.5 yards rushing per game, a figure that will have to improve to balance things and make it easier on quarterback Ryan Willis. Furman seems like a good opponent for that to happen.

The Paladins’ Devin Wynn is averaging 107 rushing yards by himself through two games.

FCS DOUBLE

The Hokies have two FCS foes on their schedule this season — they play Rhode Island on Oct. 12 — after dispatching East Carolina from the slate following a dispute last season. Only one victory in such games counts toward their bowl eligibility, and with a nation’s best string of 26 straight bowls, they need a win.

DANGEROUS OPTIONS

The Paladins’ incorporation of triple- and double-option sets in their repertoire make them challenging for any opponent, and the added threat of passing effectively out of those formations could make them dangerous.

INTANGIBLES

Teams that are overmatched on paper typically make headlines with a mix of special teams and defensive plays that lead to easy scores. Do the Paladins have a “Beamerball” performance in their arsenal?

WHERE’S GORDON

The Hokies would do well to pay attention to wide receiver Thomas Gordon, who has 13 catches for 216 yards through two games. He’s got just one touchdown but will definitely be a focal point for Grainger.