Even the staunchest University of Mary football fan will agree that the Marauders’ first season running the triple option offense was, well, a failure.
Coaches with no prior experience with the complicated system teaching it to freshmen and sophomores then throwing them into the fire was a losing proposition.
The Marauders were outscored 479-116 and outgained 5,390-2,569 in total yards.
Those numbers were unsustainable so head coach Josh Kotelnicki searched for an offensive coordinator whose expertise is the triple option.
Enter Bob Jones, who said at U-Mary media day on Thursday that the triple option is all he knows. “We hired experts to teach it better,” Kotelnicki said prior to the start of fall camp.
Jones spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant coach at Springfield College in Massachusetts. He coached the offensive line in 2015 and the half backs in 2016.
“The triple option is all I’ve ever known. I’ve played in its since middle school, through high school and college. It’s been in my blood the whole time I’ve been coaching.”
Jones’ debut as offensive coordinator will be a true test as the Marauders play host to Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference favorite Minnesota State-Mankato.
Jones said one of the first orders of business was to get his players to accept the offense as their own.
“The first thing was the mentality of this being who we are and this being our identity. That’s true no matter where I’ve gone,” Jones said. “Any triple coach, wherever they go, says this is our identity, this is what we are going forward.”
It is an adjustment for players, most of whom have never run the triple option.
“Hopefully for our guys, the triple offers the opportunity to have a lot of ownership in the offense because they control a lot of stuff out in the field,” Jones said. “It’s an opportunity for our guys to put their marks on the schemes.”
Last year, the Marauders burned through four quarterbacks, losing three to injury.
Jones said the odds of that happening again are long.
He said three quarterbacks have emerged in camp, including junior Colton Farmer, who played in six games, completing 31 of 56 passes for 357 yards. He is U-Mary’s top returning ball-carrier.
Jones said red-shirt freshman Logan Nelson and sophomore Garrett Weissinger also are competing for the starting nod. He’s not ready to reveal a front-runner. “Usually when you hear a coach say they have three quarterbacks they have none,” Jones said. “All are making reads at a high level.”
Jones said other players have stepped up as well.
“Guys like (senior slot) Brennan Doan have been really instrumental for me as a coach,” Jones said. “He’s like a second coach out there on the field.”
Jones said things are clicking between himself and Kotelnicki, who is coaching the offensive line.
“The great thing about coach K is that as offensive line coach he and I are talking every day,” Jones said. “We’re on the same page.”