“The triple option is kind of like Novocain, it keeps working on you,” Donley said. “You better change things (through the game). Good triple-option football teams, which they are, have an answer for everything you do (defensively).”
The fifth-ranked Cougars begin their 16th season on the road in Iowa with the tough assignment of facing the unknowns of an opening game against such a unique attack as the triple option.
While Saint Francis graduated plenty of talent on defense, including linebacker and leader Brody Kalbaugh, Conley says it does not matter what you do or do not bring back against the option, it is all about fundamentals.
“You have to be disciplined,” Conley said. “You have to take care of two guys and take care of the pitch. You have to have your base structure of what you want to do defensively.”
Fortunately, William Penn has already played one game, which Saint Francis scouted a victory over No. 9-ranked Bethel (Tenn.) on the road.
“They just spanked them,” said Donley about William Penn's victory. “It was out of control in the first quarter.”
Having multiple weeks to prepare for the triple option coming out of training camp will undoubtedly give the Cougars an advantage, although it did not seem to help Bethel last week.
“Having only one week to prepare for the option makes it a lot more difficult, just ask Indiana,” said Donley, referring to the Hoosiers' loss to Navy last weekend. “If you are not disciplined and ready to handle it, it is tough.”
Saint Francis owns a 5-0 record against William Penn.
Saturday is the first of three consecutive games against ranked opponents to start the season for the Cougars. The contest against William Penn will be followed by a nightcap at home against No. 10 Saint Ambrose and then a visit to No. 17 Grand View University one week later.
Donley feels his team is ready not just for the triple option, but also the rest of the season.
“It seems like we've been in camp six months,” Donley said. “The kids have worked hard and we had a good camp.
“We have an awfully difficult team to get ready for, but we have done our best preparation and the kids are ready to play somebody.”