Lions adjust to running new offense

Quarterback Chris Alexander prepares to pass the ball during practice Sept. 27.

Bobby Wallace’s option offense is “back for the future” in his second stint with the Lions, though it is different  than that of Wallace’s championship teams of the ‘90s.

“We ran the true option when (Cody Gross) was the quarterback,” Wallace said. “Now it is more of a zone read, which we incorporate the (triple) option with, so it is a different offense.”

Cody Gross is the offensive coordinator for UNA and was quarterback for all three of the Lions’ national championships.

“The option has been good for many years, in a lot of different ways,” Gross said. “It was good here years ago in a different way.”

Gross said the option offense gives the Lions multiple options for who can carry the ball.

“There are three guys that can carry the football on (any) play — it’s the dive back, the quarterback or the pitchman, and then off of that you have play action,” Gross said. “The simplest way of describing it is that it is a triple option, so there are three options.”

Gross also said the players seem to be enjoying the switch.

“As far as offensive lineman, I think I know this, our offensive linemen love it,” Gross said. “So that is a key too.”

Will Furlong, senior offensive lineman, has been in two different offensive systems.

“(I like) run blocking, all the time — run blocking is way better than pass blocking,” Furlong said. “(In) pass blocking, you back up and people run at you. (In) run blocking, you run at people. Run blocking is more enjoyable.”

In the past, the Lions ran more passing offense. Furlong said the players seem to be handling the transition to the new option offense well.

“It was different as first,” Furlong said. “The terms (were different) and they wanted certain little things different, and you have to change that over time when you are used to doing things different. It took a little time, but it is all good now.”

Wide receiver Daniel Almon said the change has created a bigger challenge for opposing teams.

“Last year was more of a straight-up spread — pretty much, we threw it 60 percent of the time, and teams could really come to expect that,” Almon said. “So a lot of times, they would be dropping most of the team into coverage, where it is harder to complete passes. This year is more of the spread option, so a lot of the teams have to (defend against) the run first, so that can open up some easy passes.”

The Lions are ranked 11th in the nation in rushing yards per game, led by running back Lamonte Thompson and quarterback Chris Alexander.