Despite a roster of undersized players, the Navy football team has prospered thanks to the triple option, which is particularly difficult to prepare for given how few other schools use it with regularity. Over the last decade, the Midshipmen have not finished lower than sixth in the country in rushing. Stopping the option becomes that much more problematic with a quarterback who also is a threat to throw the ball, like Griffin.
“You’ve got to do something with that guy,” Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said of Griffin running the option. “Open up the playbook. He’s such a great athlete, can throw the football, is a great passer and also a great runner. So you’ve got to take advantage of it. It’s good to see and hopefully [the Redskins] might call and ask for some tips.”
Perhaps the biggest liability of the option is the punishment that a quarterback absorbs, both as a ball carrier and pitch man. Former Navy quarterbacks Ricky Dobbs and Kriss Proctor missed games with injuries. Current starter Trey Miller hurt his ankle during this season’s opener against Notre Dame.
Griffin has had back-to-back games with more than 80 rushing yards. He also has taken his share of hits this season. He was roughed up enough sufficiently during last Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at FedEx Field that he spoke during the week about no longer pretending to have the ball — and exposing himself to potential hits — after he hands off on option plays.
“We want to keep him healthy,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Yet we still want him to compete like he does.”
Some observers have said they wonder if Griffin can stay healthy all season if he continues to carry the ball as often as he has in the Redskins’ first three games. Black said he isn’t fretting at this point about Griffin’s ability to remain unharmed while running this offense.
“Honestly, I’m not worried about it yet,” Black said. “I think that as Robert matures as a football player, he’s going to understand when situations come up where he can get out of being hit. It’s just going to take some time for him. I think right now he probably looks at getting hit like he did at Baylor. I mean, when he was at Baylor, he got hit a lot. He comes to the NFL, he’s probably getting hit less than he did at Baylor. So he’s thinking, ‘Oh, this is nice.’ It’s just going to be a learning process for him, a learning process for us. He’ll grow and he’ll work to eliminate some of the hits that are occurring.”