Long time reader, first time poster.
It’s become a pretty widely accepted belief that Bama has the strongest stable of running backs in the country for 2010. As OTS pointed out in the newest A-Day piece, our backup tailback would be starting on any other team in the country and most teams would kill for any of his backups. So, other than having fresh batches of domination ready for each possession, what can we use all this depth for?
I put on my Gus Malzoney High-School-Offensive-Jeenyus Hat Jim McElwain Wrinkle-Inventing Hat and tried to think of the best way to get as many simultaneous backfield threats on the field as possible. Think about the wishbone formation. I’m not talking about switching offensive schemes, but using it about as often as we used the wildcat in 2009. It’s a great way to get Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson (or Eddie Lacy if he can prove himself) on the field at the same time (as the Halfbacks), and while we don’t use a FB normally, Jeramie Griffin fits the bill pretty well for the FB dive. Our backs are all triple threats that can run, block, and catch, so the possibilities are nearly endless. The offensive line could adapt easily because the skills they use in the Screen/Draw game (releasing linemen and getting to LBs) transfer easily to the option game. The interesting question is what to do at QB in this formation. Obviously the foundation of the wishbone is the triple option. Bama doesn’t run much option because our QBs lately have been pocket passers. Greg McElroy has shown the durability to take a hit when he has to run the ball, but I don’t relish the idea of having him do designed runs multiple times per game.
If any of our tailbacks were comfortable taking snaps from under center, we could do that and put four RBs on the field at once. This negates the passing threat out of this formation, so what about a backup QB? McCarron is possibly too small and definitely too valuable and Sims will probably redshirt. I think Star Jackson could be our man. He’s buried on the depth chart, athletic enough to run the option, and can pass decently well. Using him during the occasions when we run the wishbone would give McElroy a valuable breather in a year where, we hope, the offense will spend a lot of time on the field. Additionally, using Jackson at QB and Griffin at FB allows for plenty of time to practice the Dive option, which is the most intricate part of the triple option. The two depth chart victims could use some of their practice time specializing in their niche of the offense.
This formation can be used for passing, play action, draws, and maybe even screens. Much like CNS likes to talk about "being multiple" on defense, the simple amount of threats in a formation like the wishbone is enough to throw any unsuspecting defense into panic and if a team spends any significant amount of time preparing for it in the week (or two) before the game, the coaching staff has already gained an advantage.
Maybe I’m excited about seeing a completely stacked backfield. Or maybe I just want to find out if opposing defenses bring spare pants to the stadium.