Talking Option Football is a column written by Jim Reese, Option Central Staff Writer. Coach Reese interviews Coach Tony DeMeo, widely respected Option Guru and innovator of The Triple Gun - an Offensive system that Coach DeMeo created and later refined while leading the last of a series of turnarounds at the University of Charleston, WV.
1) Jim Reese: You've said stats are for baseball and football is all about individual versus individual. What do you mean by that?
Tony DeMeo: Baseball is all about averages. Football is all about the next play. Oregon has had a statistical powerhouse of an offensive team but they couldn't score enough points to beat either Auburn or Stanford in recent years. Averages don't count in football to the extent they do in baseball. You get eight straight hits in baseball, it's very hard to get nine. In football, it's team against team. Every play stands on its own.
2) JR: In your head coaching career, what percentage of the time did you achieve your goal of twenty-five points per game and why was that number so important for your type of offense?
TD: When I coached at the University of Charleston we scored 25+ points 70% 0f the time & won all but 2 games. In 2009, it was over 80% of the time.That's a baseline we shoot for because it is a proven fact it works as a goal. Nationally, teams that score twenty-five points a game win 88% of the time.
3) JR: You refer to the option as the "Equalizer?" Why.
TD: Because you don't have to block two people. The option allows you to neutralize two defenders with good quarterback decisions and then allows offensive blockers the opportunity to double on two other defenders. It allows smaller teams such as the Military Academies with fewer Division 1-A athletes to compete effectively with larger teams through speed and guile and in so doing, it levels the playing field. It also neutralizes the opponents' pass rush.
4) JR: If you were defending against the triple gun, would you throw eight or nine guys up into the box and slant towards the wide side and hope the counter didn't surprise you too much? In short, how would you defend against the triple gun?
TD: If I knew how to defend the triple gun, I wouldn't run it. If I saw eight or nine guys up in the box against the triple gun, all I'd have to do is work on defending against kickoff returns. I switched from the flex and spread offenses because Central Missouri exposed our weakness against the pass rush and so I went to the triple gun. I knew if they could've done it, others would be equally as successful.
5) JR: I love your theory that time of possession is not as important as number of possessions. Others may disagree. Why are you right?
TD: Time of possession doesn't account for Non Offensive TDs. So if you give up a punt return, interception return or KO Return - you have more time of possessions but will lose the game. The fewer possessions your opponent has, the fewer chances to score. Against a surperior opponent shorten the game & how many chances they have to score.
6) JR: In your game films, I am impressed by how often your wideouts blocking downfield made home runs out of doubles. Did you work on that a lot?
TD: Yes, we did because "you get what you emphasize," and we worked on downfield blocking by our wide receivers a lot. And our offense, unlike other single-back featured offenses, allows everybody to handle the ball and that builds morale. The backs pass block so the wide-outs can catch passes and the wide-outs block downfield to give the running backs the chance for bigger gains. It's a team effort and we practice that all the time. As soon as players buy into that, you are off and running. In all team sports. When Michael Jordan bought into Phil Jackson's triangle offense with the Bulls, they were unbeatable.
7) JR: Was it motivation, offensive schemes or talent that allowed you to turn those programs around?
TD: All of the above. The first thing we did was raise the level of what was acceptable in training, athletics, academics and personal responsibility. We raised the bar and created a culture of excellence where only excellence was acceptable. Secondly, when you go to a place that has accepted losing, you must change that attitude and you do that through practice. My mantra is "Hard Work Works" and that starts with practice. Thirdly, create the atmosphere and belief that hard work will create excellence. Also, change strategy. We brought in the triple gun where, unlike the Delaware Winged-T offense, for example, where every player must excel on each play, only the quarterback in the triple gun has to consistently excel. Lastly, you need players, so I went out and got them and because of the uniqueness of the triple gun, I could get undersized but faster players who could excel immediately in this very simple offense. We basically utilized the "Moneyball" approach in recruiting and found players thought by others to be too small or not fast enough or not tall enough but fit in just fine in our triple gun.
8) JR: What was your run/pass ratio out of the Triple Gun?
TD: In 2009 we averaged 40 points & 40 minutes of possession.
9) JR: Your "Thirty Universal Truths" should be required reading in Football Coaching 101. Which three do you consider "most important" for success?
TD: I really think they are all important, but depending on the situation some may be more important than the rest. It's hard to just single out the three best.
10) JR: I am a twenty-five year old first time high school head coach. Give me three ways I can be as successful as you.
TD: Discipline is the most important thing in coaching. Coach your players as if they were your sons. Secondly, hire older coaches who have had more experience than you and have the confidence in yourself so that you can benefit from their knowledge. Thirdly, don't try to be anybody else. Be yourself. Be true to your principles.
Tony DeMeo was a highly successful Head Football Coach at the Collegiate level, an Offensive innovator and the creator of the Triple Gun Offense. Coach DeMeo has published numerous books and DVDs and is a popular speaker on the clinic circuit. Coach DeMeo is a frequent contributor to Option Central, including a new Play of the Day Chalk Talk series that debuted in the summer of 2013