It’s never easy preparing to face an option team. Luckily for No. 20 UCF, which travels to play Navy on Saturday, it has a coach on its staff with some experience running an option offense: head coach Scott Frost.
As a quarterback for Nebraska, Frost led the Huskers’ option attack and went a combined 24-2 in two seasons (1996-97) as a starter, accumulating 2,677 passing yards, 1,522 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns. UCF runs a much different offense with Frost as head coach, but he got in the mix as one of the Knights’ scout team quarterbacks to help his defense get used to the challenge of defending the Midshipmen’s vaunted triple option.
Who is that under center? pic.twitter.com/ECoiHFdYCw
— Gerrod Lambrecht (@GerrodLambrecht) October 17, 2017
“You see him in there running around getting us prepared,” UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin said per the Associated Press. “It’s crazy because he is running so fast that if you are slacking it’s going to show. When you see Coach Frost outrunning you you know you are doing something wrong. It’s kind of good when you can get a good look from your head coach. It makes you work that much harder.”
Frost was coy about his role at practice.
“We’re gonna use quite a few different guys to try to get our guys ready — anything we can do,” he said. “It’s hard to simulate their looks and especially at the tempo they run it and the execution they run it, so we’ll do whatever we have to do to try to get the guys ready.”
Dating back to his time at Nebraska, Frost has long admired the option offense. He had high praise for Navy quarterback Zach Abey, too. Abey is fourth in the country with 1,016 rushing yards.
Frost had a funny way to describe the plight of the option quarterback these days.
This former option QB's take on current option QBs is priceless… pic.twitter.com/IHWGaUKfRk
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 16, 2017
“I love option football. I lived it. I feel like option quarterbacks are like giant pandas. They only exist in zoos and military academies,” Frost said. “They got a good one. (Abey’s) what makes their offense go. He’s a tough runner. He’s smart. He makes good decisions. I always root for option teams and option quarterbacks because of my background.”
What’s the challenge of being a good option quarterback?
“I think it’s just a skill. I can’t tell you how many repetitions I took and how many repetitions their kids get at the reads and the plays and running with the ball and pitching it last second and the timing of it. It’s just different than what most people ask their quarterbacks to do,” Frost said. “You gotta have a tough kid that’s tough under center. I think Navy has that. You can tell by his statistics that he’s the one that makes it go.”
Frost said UCF put in some work on defending the option both in spring and fall camp to make sure they weren’t caught flat-footed when the the Navy game rolled around. UCF was scheduled to play another option team, Georgia Tech, last month, but the game was canceled because of Hurricane Irma.
Navy, which leads the nation in rushing (397.5 yards per game), has a scheme that is a little different than Georgia Tech’s, Frost said.
“A lot of the schemes are the same but they have their own personality and style,” Frost said. “I think these guys are really well-coached. They know what they’re doing. If they find a hole in your defense, they’re gonna keep exploiting it, so it’s a big week for our defense to prepare. We have some work put in already for it and we’re going to build on it as the week goes along.”
Frost, in just his second season at UCF, has the Knights off to a 5-0 start for the first time in program history. UCF is one of two undefeated AAC teams, joining rival South Florida, which is off to a 6-0 start and ranked ahead of the Knights at No. 17. Navy is coming off its first loss of the season, a 30-27 decision at AAC West foe Memphis.
Every game in AAC play is critical moving forward, both in the race for the conference title and the opportunity to represent the Group of Five conferences in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Saturday’s game, Frost’s first trip to Navy, kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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