By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Kyle Webster, Kellen Cox and Shane Hartzler are taking an additional course this semester at Missouri Southern that will not appear on their transcripts.
Introduction to triple-option offense 101.
New Lions head coach Daryl Daye, who quickly admits he’s an old-school football coach, prefers a running offense. Since he and his staff arrived on campus in early January, they have been teaching the triple-option offense to three quarterbacks currently on campus.
“It’s 100 percent different than what I’ve been through,” said Webster, a junior who will start fall camp No. 1 on the depth chart. “Every snap I’ve ever had from my high school career to now has been shotgun ... no-huddle, passing, pass-first, run-second. Now it’s a complete turnaround ... under center every snap, reading D-linemen, making run plays and then pass secondary to it.
“It’s a complete 180 but I’m loving it so far. It’s a blast.”
It’s also a change for Hartzler, a freshman who was redshirted last season.
“In high school (at Kearney, Mo.) we actually ran this exact same basic formation, but we didn’t run the triple option,” he said. “We ran (isolation), counter-power out of it. There is a lot of carryover, but there is some difference, learning the triple option and the mesh and everything.”
Cox had had the most experience as an option quarterback, going back to his prep career at Mount Vernon. But he’s spent his first three seasons with the Lions at wide receiver.
“Coach Daye and Coach (Bob) Howell (offensive coordinator) said they heard I had run the triple option a little bit in high school and they wanted me to make the change to quarterback,” Cox said. “I said absolutely, yes sir. From then on, I started meeting with Coach Howell and Shane and Kyle. We started meeting pretty much every day, watching film and going through the playbook, getting stuff down, getting our reads ready.
“Some of it is similar to high school This is more of a true triple-option offense ... in high school we just mixed it in a little bit and we were still a spread team. ... But the basic idea, it’s pretty much the same idea.”
Howell gave his three pupils high marks as spring football workouts ended Saturday morning.
“We started from square one completely,” Howell said. “I told them let’s get through first grade before we go to second grade. We started in January introducing the offense to them.
“Our kids are understanding the philosophy. I think we’re right on track, right where I wanted to be. Mentally was what I was most scared of, but I’m pleasantly pleased. Knowing situations, now we’re able to change the direction of the play and help us get out of bad calls.”
Hearing about the change to an option attack didn’t cause any panic.
“I was actually excited,” Webster said. “It was something I knew I had to get accustomed to, under center taking the snap. I knew it was a run-heavy offense, and I made some plays on my feet last year. I figured I could carry it over to this offense and do well. So far it’s working out. I’m really enjoying it.”
“I was kind of unsure about it at first, but I do really like it,” Hartzler said. “It’s going to be a fun offense to run. Actually compared to the offense when I came here in the fall, that was so much more complex. This offense has been a lot easier than what (the former offense) was.”
“There was more concern when I found out we were doing the triple option and still thinking I was going to play receiver,” Cox said. “But now that I’ve made the move to quarterback, I feel comfortable with it. The coaching staff has welcomed me in, and Kyle and Shane have done a great job with me. So it’s been an easy transition for the most part going back to quarterback, easier than I thought it would be.”