In his years as a defensive assistant coach and then as a defensive coordinator, new Howard head coach Mark Teague has seen every imaginable offense.
That experience helped him settle on the Hustlin' Tigers' new offense - the pistol triple option.
"As a defensive guy the triple option is the toughest to defend when run correctly," the former East Ridge assistant said.
As option offenses go, it resembles neither the wishbone of the Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal years at Alabama and Texas nor the veer run by a number of coaches. And as a pistol goes, it is not a package within the offense in which a running back takes snaps.
"The first option is the dive play. The second is the quarterback running, and the third is the jet [or slot] guy," Teague said. "We'll typically run one back, but we have sets where we'll have two or even three in the backfield and some where we'll run two tight ends. It may look sloppy early on until we get our timing down."
According to one Internet website, Howard is the only school in the state running such an offense. When asked for a comparison, Teague mentioned both Auburn and Oregon and said his scheme was more similar to that at Auburn, "or you could go back and look at Nevada when Colin Kaepernick (49ers) was the quarterback there," he said. "Some teams have run the pistol and some the shotgun."
The pistol triple option is a hybrid arranging the best of each.
The key will be sophomore quarterback Vincent Bowling, who impressed Teague in spring drills.
"He's young and he's raw, but that's something he's going to have to forget. He has excellent size and he's only going to get better," Teague said.
The Tigers also will have a new look defensively, going from a seven-man front to a 4-2-5.
"It's a defense I'm most used to running. It's versatile and balanced in style," the coach said. "It gives us enough inside to stop the run and enough outside to handle pass coverage, and we can run multiple coverages."
The two outside guys in the "5" of the 4-2-5 are hybrids - part linebacker and part safety.
"The rule of thumb defensively is that you have to blitz. I don't necessarily think so," Teague said. "You have to be sound and play good technique."
- Ward Gossett
HOWARD HUSTLIN' TIGERS
Head coach: Mark Teague (first year here and overall)
Last year: 1-9; lone win was 27-20 over Loudon
Returning starters (O/D/K): 6/6/0
Control panel: While QB Vincent Bowling (6-1, 190, So.) will be in the most pivotal position, much of Howard's offensive success may rest with WR/DB brothers Quattarius Porter (5-11, 175, Jr.) and Ladarius Brown (5-9, 175, Sr.). They'll line up in multiple positions as receivers, defenders and return specialists on both punts and kickoffs.
New producers: They're looking for a guy in the backfield full-time, and the leading candidate is Davon Sherrer (5-9, 180, So.), but much of what the Tigers will accomplish rests on the shoulders of a big offensive line that includes T Tadarius Covington (6-2, 320, So.) and T Udarius Strawter (6-3, 328, So.)
Big guys: Each of the Hustlin' Tigers offensive linemen weighs more than 300 pounds. "I know we won't face a defensive line that size," Teague said. "It could allow us to run the ball a lot more, and if teams start bringing more [defenders] into the box, then it will help the passing game."
Modern 'bone: Howard is going retro-modern twist with its offense, which Teague calls a pistol triple option. And the Tigers will be in a 4-2-5 defense. The question is whether they'll blitz from anywhere at any time.
Modest goals: With three wins the Tigers could equal the total from the last three seasons combined, but to really turn heads within the school, among the alumni and in the community they need to get to the playoffs, something last accomplished in 2008.
(all games at 7:30 Eastern)
Aug. 22 - at Baylor
Aug. 29 - Stratford
Sept. 12 - at Loudon
Sept. 19 - at Hixson*
Sept. 26 - Lancaster Christian
Oct. 3 - Brainerd*
Oct. 10 - Tyner*
Oct. 17 - at Central*
Oct. 24 - Red Bank*
Oct. 31 - at East Ridge*