CHARLESTON — Tom O’Brien was concerned enough about The Citadel’s triple-option offense that he ordered a couple days’ practice on it in August.
Now that the North Carolina State coach has seen the Bulldogs’ option in action, he sounds even more worried.
“They will certainly come here thinking they can whoop us,” said O’Brien, whose 2-1 Wolfpack play host to The Citadel (3-0) today.
The Citadel, ranked No. 10 in FCS by The Sports Network, has run up big numbers in wins against Charleston Southern and top 10 FCS squads Georgia Southern and Appalachian State.
The Bulldogs rank third in the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing offense (370 yards per game), ninth in scoring offense (41.3 ppg) and 10th in total offense (466 yards per game).
Junior quarterback Ben Dupree has rushed for 349 yards and four touchdowns in three games, including 180 yards and two scores in last week’s 52-28 win at Appalachian State.
“The Citadel is playing with a great amount of confidence,” said O’Brien, whose squad has beaten Connecticut and South Alabama after an opening loss to Tennessee. “Their quarterback is extremely dangerous. He can run around you, by you, through you or past you.
“And when you have to defend that, sooner or later the ball is going to go flying over your head. That’s what they do.”
N.C. State defenders are familiar with what the Bulldogs do, as ACC foe Georgia Tech runs a virtually identical option attack. Citadel quarterbacks coach Craig Candeto played quarterback for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson at Navy, and coached for him with the Yellow Jackets.
But the Wolfpack have played Georgia Tech twice since O’Brien came to N.C. State in 2007, winning 45-28 in 2010 and losing 45-35 last year.
In the two meetings, Georgia Tech averaged 36.5 points and 271.5 rushing yards.
“I think our coaches know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We just have to make sure our players know what is going to happen.”
That N.C. State-Georgia Tech film can also help The Citadel.
“As you can imagine, we look hard at those games to get a feel for what they might do against us,” Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins said. “They are big and physical up front, and they have an All-American cornerback who has a chance to be a first-round draft choice.”
That would be junior David Amerson (6-3, 194), who has two interceptions this season and set the ACC record with 13 last year.
N.C. State is 29-3 all-time against FCS squads, including 5-0 under O’Brien. But all three of those defeats were against Southern Conference schools, including losses to Furman in 1984 and ’85.