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Troy defensive coordinator Shiel Wood has been around the triple option for much of his time as a college football player and coach.

He played wide receiver for option attack teams at Wofford from 2001 to 2004 and was later on the Wofford coaching staff. He spent time on Paul Johnson’s coaching staff at Georgia Tech and was at Army for two seasons before first-year Troy head coach Jon Sumrall added Wood to his staff.

On Saturday, with Army coming to town for a non-conference game against Troy at Veterans Memorial Stadium, he’ll put those years of being around the option to work toward defending it.

“Tremendous benefit to have Shiel and Eric McDaniel, who was the D-line coach [at Army] as well,” Sumrall said. “[Wood has] really good familiarity with the different layers and nuances to this offense.”

Wood spent the past two seasons as the co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Army. He saw the offense during practice, particularly during fall camp and spring, and, at times, sat in meetings with the offensive coaching staff. He is well-versed in what Army head coach Jeff Monken and Brent Davis like to do on offense.

“It’s effective because they know what they’re doing,” Wood said. “They’ve been doing it a long time. The coaches that coach there have been in this scheme for a long time. The players, it’s a system that’s been consistent with them, over a number of years. They are very well coached, there is attention to detail, they play really hard. From a coaching standpoint, these guys have done this for so long that they’ve seen a lot of different [defensive] looks over the years. They’ve got adjustments that they can make in-game, maybe in a drive, if you give them things maybe they haven’t prepared for [or] didn’t expect. They’re really able to adjust well during games.”

Traditionally, Army is near the top — or at the top — of the national rushing statistics. This season, through eight games, Army is ranked second with 302.5 yards per game. Air Force is the national leader at 324.4 yards per game.

What makes life even more difficult for opposing defenses is Army spreads the football around in the running game. Quarterback Tyhier Tyler and 255-pound running back Tyson Riley are the team’s rushing leaders, but they only have 330 and 328 yards, respectively. Eight ballcarriers have at least 160 yards while Tyler and fellow quarterback Jemel Jones each lead the team with six rushing touchdowns.

“There aren’t a whole lot of teams that run the traditional, under center, three-back style of offense or an option style offense, if you will,” Wood said. “The familiarity for your players, unless you’ve played a team like this in college, it’s likely that you’ve never seen it before.”

Wood said the preparation is getting the defensive coaches on the same page. Perhaps the next step is making sure the scout team can give the defenders a proper look during practice this week. Then, it’s making sure the players know the approach and perfect it before game day.

“I’m grateful to have [Wood and McDaniel],” Sumrall said. “I do think their insight of how they try to attack you will help. You still have to get it translated to our players, because they’re the ones who have to go out, execute and play the game at a high level. How much the coach knows doesn’t really matter. I tell our staff that all the time. It’s a players’ game. It’s not about how much we know. It’s how about much we get our players to know and execute at a high level.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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