A few days ago I said that going to the spring game would given an idea of the offense that Jones would be using here in Clifton. After attending the game I can safely say that wasn’t the case. The formation rarely changed, the personnel groupings never did. However the game did provide the first tangible indication that Jones had formed his offense while under the tutelage of Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia. If you did not know before hand Butch Jones worked with Rodriguez during the 2005-06 seasons.
The concept that really stuck out in my mind was the shotgun triple option. Traditionally in the shot gun formation you have two option plays, the zone read and the speed option. On each play the QB has two options, either give the ball to running back, on a hand off or pitch, or keep it and head up field. But there is another way to run the play. There are ways to get a third option for the quarterback on a zone play. Two schools of thought exist for getting a third option involved, the Rodriguez school and the Urban Meyer school. That’s right the spread offense is a microcosm for economic thought. The Meyer school has a myriad of ways to get a third option available for use by the QB. There is the shovel option, the two back option, the slot option ect. This video covers most of the common ways Meyer uses to get a third option involved in the running game through motion or personnel groupings.
Jones will use some of the methods above to get an addition option involved in the running game to but those aren’t a staple of the offense. But those methods are deeper in the playbook and with spring practice you can only get so deep. But a staple of the Jones offense will be the bubble option which is rooted firmly in the Rodriguez School. The third option that came into play on Saturday night was the bubble option, which co-opts the bubble screen and the zone read and creates a new method of attack . The bubble screen is a quick hitting play where the inside receiver flares towards the sideline behind the block of the outside receiver on the corner. Purdue is the school that really put the play on the map for the casual Football fan under Joe Tiller. It is usually a site read between the quarterback and the wide receivers on the play side. The most common instance of that would be if the slot receiver is uncovered. But the bubble screen can be used as an extension of the zone read play. If the defense aligns with enough numbers in the box to discourage the the zone read the slot receiver will be uncovered and the third option comes into play without having to motion to change formation, which is how West Virginia used to do it when Pat White was in town. The advantage of doing that way is that you don’t have to change personnel groupings by bringing a second running back on. A more complete write up and description of the bubble option appears here. That play was used with great effect in the spring game. By my count DJ Woods had three of his six catches on the bubble option. I have always assumed that Rodriguez had a big impact on Jones’s coaching style and offense, but I didn’t know the extent and haven’t had much tangible evidence of the fact. The bubble option concept provided some tangible evidence of that connection.