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Jimbo Fisher dislikes RPOs, will continue to use his own version of them

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The FSU coach had no qualms sharing his strong feelings towards run-pass option plays.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Run-pass option plays may be the single most polarizing topic in college football.

RPOs, as they are informally known, have been a trending topic of late as some coaches are strongly in favor of the plays, which are often of questionable legality, while other coaches are vehemently against them. (Nick Saban went so far as to say it’s the one rule he would change in all of college football.)

Jimbo Fisher sits somewhere in the middle on the topic.

“We do probably 8 to 14 [RPO plays] a game. I think it’s dumb and it’s unfair to defenses. Guys more than a yard down field, that’s a penalty,” Fisher said on Tuesday. “But we do them. You have to.”

Now, this is not entirely the case. The RPO as FSU uses it is not like the RPO which has been widely criticized. Watch this, one of the more heinous exploitations of the RPO which has ever gone unpenalized:

Look at the offensive lineman who is easily six yards downfield by the time the play is finally decided to be a pass which turns into a big gain. That is what is so wrong about RPOs as a whole. Plays which delay before deciding if they are runs or passes are fine, so long as linemen don’t go downfield, something which is only allowed on running plays. Instead, with no flag thrown for ineligible receiver downfield, plays such as this one are practically indefensible.

Here’s an example of how FSU used RPOs last season:

In this example, a bubble screen, the pass is behind the line of scrimmage, in which case linemen can be downfield legally.

Also notice that the pass is almost immediately after the snap.

To some, this may just look like a screen pass all the way, and it may be, but Fisher claims otherwise.

“Our bubble screens, our screen game is all RPOs,” Fisher said. “Those aren’t scripted, they’re decisions. All those touchdowns to Kermit, all those throws we do, all the screen game we do, that’s all that.”

And Fisher has no intentions to change his philosophy on the matter.

“Just because I say I don't like them doesn't mean I'm not going to do them, because I'm going to adapt to the rules,” Fisher said. “We do them and we'll continue to do them.”

It will be interesting to see if Florida State actually takes greater advantage of the rules going forward.