Sunday, December 30, 2007

How Important is a Balanced Attack In The Spread Offense?

When you think of the spread offense, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it running the ball using the zone read, triple option, and quarterback 'single wing' type plays like West Virginia and Oregon (with Dennis Dixon)? Is it throwing the ball all over the field both vertically and horizontally like Hawaii? it a balanced mix of rushing the football and passing the football like Florida?

I must admit, when I personally think of the spread offense today (at this moment), the first thing that comes to my mind is the use of the quarterback in the rushing game...the Coach Rodriguez style of the spread that has made West Virginia a national powerhouse over the last 3 years. But is this style of the spread offense the best style? Is this style the 'formula' for ultimate success?

Maybe the reason I think of the spread in this rushing form is because it is the newest, freshest, or the 'buzz' out there in college and high school - not necessarily the 'best' form or style.

I mean don't get me wrong, when Oregon, Appalachian State or West Virginia had teams scrambling to figure out how to defend their respective rushing dominant spread offenses, it was some of the funniest stuff to watch as both a fan and a coach. It was so good that you wondered 'how the heck are they doing that?'... gashing some pretty good defenses with these shot-gun spread running plays?

On the flip side, if you tuned into West Virginia's two defeats this year versus South Florida (who has beaten WVU two years in a row with great defense) and Pittsburgh, you would have shook your head saying "What's all the fuss about?"

As a former offensive coordinator myself, I must admit that one of the hardest things to do is get away from something that is so successful so often. Is it pride, ego, stubbornness, or the fear of not enough preparation or more importantly game exposure to 'Plan B' that prevents coaches from shifting gears when a defense hasn't stopped you all day?

Remember, there is only so much time in a day and more importantly so much 'game experience' for alternative measures to be confidently ran when the scoreboard is on.

So as a coach...what do you do? Your racking up tons of yardage and points using a lot of the same stuff simply because the defense can't stop you, do you stop calling what's working (going against the 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' motto) and try to 'balance' your attack? Risking a possible turnover or more importantly loss of offensive momentum and scoring to prepare for the future (just in case)?

Obviously the capabilities of your player's will have a lot of determination on how balanced you are willing to be.

It's a fact that Patrick White from WVU couldn't run Colt Brennan's offense at Hawaii (or vice versa) but how 'balanced' could these two guys really be?

Colt Brennan threw for 4,174 and rushed for 65 so far this year

Patrick White threw for 1,548 and rushed for 1,185 so far this year

If you looked at these two stats from two great college QB's, you would say that West Virginia is the more 'balanced' offensive team, but is either team really 'balanced'?

Then you have the Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow from Florida, his stats so far this year look like this:

Passing: 3,132
Rushing: 838

Not very balanced stats, but during my observation of this year, I would have to say that Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen of Florida do the best job of 'balancing' an attack and more importantly staying with that balanced attack game plan then any other spread offense in the nation.*

Is it because of Tim Tebow's skills? or a philosophy the Gator's have that staying balanced in the spread is the right formula to keep defenses honest and stressed?

The Gators did lose 3 games this year in the very tough SEC conference.

* (As a side note, Butch Jones from Central Michigan also did a great job of balancing his attack in the Motor City Bowl this year.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Spread Offense Dominates the 2007 Motor City Bowl

One of the best quotes I heard this year was ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit mentioning at the Heisman trophy presentation earlier this month, "Scoring in college football reached an all-time high this season (2007), the reason being the execution of The Spread Offense by teams throughout the country".

Right on Herbie....

Purdue outlasted Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl by a score of 51-48.

Both teams used the shot-gun spread offense, with Purdue more of a passing team, and Central Michigan more of a running attack, though balanced with some timely passing mixed in.

Both coaches, Joe Tiller and Butch Jones are from the spread offense fraternity of coaches.

Tiller is more of an 'innovator' of the spread passing game, while Jones comes from the Rich Rodriguez coaching tree as an assistant at West Virginia.

In last nights game, Curtis Painter (Purdue QB) and Dan LeFevour (Central Michigan QB) but on a show that would make Tim Tebow and Patrick White blush.

LeFevour threw for 292 yards and four scores and ran for 114 yards and two TD's for the Chippewa's.

Painter threw for a school-record 546 yards and three touchdown passes, setting up Chris Summers' 40-yard field goal as time expired.

The 99 points tied the second-highest total in a bowl game that ended in regulation, trailing only the 2003 Insight Bowl where California beat Virginia Tech 52-49.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hawaii tops West Virginia in ESPNU's Simulated College Football Final

The Hawaii Warriors defeated the West Virginia University Mountaineers in the championship game of a simulated college football Division 1-A playoff 45 -41 held by ESPNU.

Why report on this? Well, we thought it was nice to see two spread offense teams, one dominant in the passing game (Hawaii), the other the running game (West Virginia) make it to the final through EA Sports simulated NCAA Football platform.

See some highlights of the simulated title game below.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Nice Wrinkle by BYU in The Spread Offense

I had not seen the Brigham Young University football team play this year being I'm on the east coast, but I had a chance to watch them last night in the Las Vegas Bowl versus the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

I was very impressed with one neat 'wrinkle' in their spread offense, that being the way they align at the line of scrimmage during their no huddle pre snap period.

What BYU does is come directly to the line in a tight pro-set I formation, then they shift into a wider shot-gun spread set, with the offensive linemen really opening up their splits during this shift.

I also saw them run a few plays out of this tighter pro-set formation from the I (sort of a quick tempo play), keeping the defense honest and requiring them to defend the offense prior to shifting.

Nice job by BYU... again another 'wrinkle' in the ever evolving spread offense.

Here's a small video clip of a BYU preseason practice.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Zone Read - Playing the Numbers

The zone read is considered by most shot-run spread offense coaches as the 'bread and butter' run play of this offensive system. It's comparable to the buck sweep in the 'Wing-T' or the ISO in the 'I formation'.

Lets breakdown two important areas of the zone read that make it so effective:

  1. The Quarterback 'cancelling out' the backside (DE or OLB) line of scrimmage threat

  2. Counting the 'numbers' in the box and favoring blocking angles

1. A key component of the shot-gun spread offense is the ability of the quarterback to 'cancel out' the backside Defensive End (DE) at the mesh point with the Running Back.

What we are saying here is that at the critical point where the quarterback has to decide whether to keep the ball or hand it off (the mesh point), the defensive end (or possibly an outside linebacker) responsible for backside contain has to make one of two decisions.

Decision #1 is to crash or knife down the line of scrimmage for the running back, Decision #2 is to 'stay home' and box out the quarterback for a potential keep.

If the QB reads decision 1, he keeps it for a backside bootleg run or triple option pitch progression, if the QB reads decision 2, the QB hands it off to the running back (and fakes the bootleg run), thus 'cancelling out' or blocking in effect the backside end.

2. One thing the zone read allows is the offense to dictate 'numbers' and 'angles' during the pre-snap period. This is why 90% of spread offense teams go with a no huddle, it makes the defense show their hand in regards to alignment, allowing the offense to change the play based on 'lucky or ringo', 'rip or liz'...coaches and player lingo for go 'right or left' with the play.

If the defensive alignment shows more defender to the left (using the centers crotch as the mid-line) in the box, then the call at the line would be 'ringo', meaning we're zoning right, thus the QB will be reading the left defensive end on the zone read.

This number is usually a 4 vs. 3 defenders scenario that determines the call. If the numbers are even (say 4 left and 4 right), a lot of coaches teach their quarterback to read the defensive front alignment, looking to run to the '1 technique' tackle side as opposed to the '3 technique' tackle side, looking for better zone blocking angles.

If you don't want to take that path with your quarterback, you can also pick the side in an even defensive alignment scenario based on your team's preference, wide side of the field, or player strength (or a defenders weak side), or audible to the bubble screen if appropriate.

Mastering these two areas of the shot-gun zone read can really go a long way in producing some serious offensive production.

See video below of some exciting shot-gun, spread offense zone read plays (of course 'speed and agility' from your player's help make it all look great).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Spread Offense Player Of The Year in 2007: Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the University of Florida and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner has been named "The Spread Offense Player of the Year" in 2007 by

Tebow became the first player in major college history to run for at least 20 touchdowns and throw 20 TD passes in the same season. He accounted for 51 touchdowns, including a SEC record 22 rushing, and set a school record with 3,970 yards of total offense. He also was the second-rated quarterback in the country, completing 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards.

If you think about the consummate 'dual threat' quarterback, Tebow's face is in the dictionary as the visual example subtitled: "The Tough Version".

The difference between Tebow and the likes of Patrick White, Dennis Dixon, and Armanti Edwards is his tough, physical style of running.

Tebow's not going to go blazing 60 yards through a defense like White, but he'll loosen your chin strap with bone crushing runs that truly wear a defense down.

I always said there's two ways to wear a defense down, through speed and power.... well at Florida, Tim Tebow is the power, Percy Harvin and the gang are the speed.

The most amazing stat this year is the accuracy and effectiveness of Tebow's passing game (completing 68 percent of his throws for 3,132 yards), imagine what it takes for this guy to make a bone jarring run on one play, and then a 30 yard bullet throw the next (with great effectiveness!) play.

Congratulations to Tim Tebow, the 2007 College Player of the Year.

Other Finalists:

Patrick White - WVU
Dennis Dixon - Oregon
Darren McFadden - Ark
Armanti Edwards - ASU
Percy Harvin - Florida
Chase Daniel - Missouri

Enjoy the Video Below!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Terry Bowden to West Virginia?

Rumors are flying around Mountaineer Nation that Terry Bowden will be named the new head football coach at West Virginia University as early as tomorrow, replacing Rich Rodriguez who left for Michigan.

Other strong possibilities for the position are:

John ‘Doc’ Holliday
Bud Foster

We will keep you updated as we hear more.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Spread Offense Of The Year in 2007: Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University has been named 'The Spread Offense Of The Year' by the staff at

The Mountaineer's finished the season at 13-2, and this year's Subdivision college final (formerly Division I-AA) victory was their 3rd in a row.

The victory capped a season in which the Mountaineers upset Michigan 34-32 in the opener, what some have called 'the biggest upset in college football history'.

“They hadn't played against that fast-paced of an offense that I know of,” said Jerry Moore the head coach at ASU since 1989.

Senior running back Kevin Richardson gained 118 yards, and sophomore quarterback Armanti Edwards had 89 in the championship game vs. Delaware.

Edwards, the catalyst to Appalachian State's spread offense, dazzled college football fans this year with his passing and running ability.

"We like to think we've got good team speed. It's a key factor in recruiting and a key factor in determining who's going to play", Moore said.

In 2003, Appalachian State had just finished the season with a 7-4 record. Coach Jerry Moore thought his traditional I-formation offense needed a spark.

So his staff studied Utah's spread-option offense under coach Urban Meyer and made a trip to West Virginia to study the spread attack under coach Rich Rodriguez.

The ASU offensive attack is orchestrated by the entire offensive coaching staff, lead by Shawn Elliott, the offensive line coach and Scott Satterfield, the quarterbacks coach.

"We complement each other. But if something comes up that we don't agree with, we're almost like brothers, we say what we feel. We deal with it and move along," Elliott said.

"Coach Moore is a special person," Elliott said. "That's why no one leaves. A lot of coaches go someplace for the money or because it's a bigger program. But we know what we have here in Boone."

Congratulations to Appalachian State University, the 2007 College Football Team of the Year.

Enjoy the Video Below!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Video: Rich Rodriguez Breaks Down His Spread Offense

Courtesy of ESPN Broadband

Rich Rodriguez, former West Virginia University coach explains his spread offense running schemes known as the zone read and triple option with ESPN.

Rodriguez Heading To Ann Arbor

Rich Rodriguez has decided to leave West Virginia University and become the new head football coach at The University of Michigan.

Coach Rod posted a 60-26 record at WVU in his seven seasons at his alma mater, where he played defensive back for Don Nehlen. The Mountaineer's posted 4 Big East Football Championships during his tenure.

Coach Rod is known as a pioneer of 'The Spread Offense', which he created during his days at Glenville State College.

Coach Rod's offensive system at West Virginia produced very impressive numbers, especially on the ground as WVU consistently produced Top 5 in the country rushing teams.

Two WVU quarterbacks under Coad Rod became Big East Offensive Players Of The Year, Rasheed Marshall and Patrick White (twice).

Here at, we consider Coach Rod, "The Chairman of The Board" of The Spread Offense.

Rumors of possible successors for Rodriguez at WVU are: Calvin Magee (current Offensive Coordinator), Terry Bowden (a WVU graduate), Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Butch Jones (former Assistant Coach at WVU, currently the Head Coach at Central Michigan), and Rick Trickett (former Assistant Coach at WVU, currently at Florida State).

Enjoy the video of a Coach Rod pregame talk below from 2005, thanks Coach for seven great years at West Virginia... you'll be missed in Morgantown. Best of Luck in the future, and keep 'spread-in u'm'.

Two Simple Spread Offense Components For Success... Or Maybe Not?

As a coach at the high school level who ran The Spread Offense and hearing from different college coaches who run it at clinics, two very simple components need to be executed properly in order to run this offense.

  1. The Center Shot-Gun Snap
  2. The Bubble Screen QB Throw

1. The Center Shot-Gun Snap

The center shot-gun snap is the 'ignition' point for every spread play, this is what sets everything in motion, allowing the perimeter skill players to 'see' the start of the play as hearing a snap count is impossible from those distances.

The actual snap of the ball itself is what I feel is the most important, because a bad or inaccurate snap can really throw off the entire flow and continuity of the play. What I mean by inaccurate is that the quarterback prefers the shot-gun snap to be between their number on the front of the jersey, allowing them to securely catch the ball, then go through their play flow, whether that is a zone read, triple option, straight hand-off, QB sweep/draw/wrap/counter/ISO, bubble screen, or straight pass.

I've heard Rick Trickett (O-Line coach at Florida State, formally at West Virginia and Auburn) say that he demands that his centers get 100 shot-gun snaps in 'a day' in the off-season (are your centers doing this?), that's how important mastering this simple yet extremely important element of the spread offense.

2. The Bubble Screen QB Throw

The bubble screen is one of those components of The Spread Offense that really makes things hard on the defense, placing them 'between a rock and a hard place' in trying to decide on perimeter support for the run (especially against the zone read or triple option), and how many players to commit to 'the box', as your outside linebackers and strong safeties need to cover receiver #2 (the inside twin receiver), taking them out of the box.

The other component of the bubble screen that has become even more interesting is when offenses 'fake or act out' the bubble screen, making the perimeter defense freeze (if only for a split second), which may be the difference on an inside zone read run going to the house, or for a 6 yard gain as the 'box' defenders are all covered by blockers and perimeter help cannot support the inside play.

Now, looking at the above scenarios you're likely saying, 'lets put this great play in', again easier said then done. Just like the shot-gun snap above from the center needs to be executed correctly, the bubble screen pass and catch need to do the same.

I've heard coaches at clinics describe the bubble screen throw by the quarterback as like 'turning the double play' in baseball between the second basemen and shortstop. The quarterback first has to catch the snap cleanly, rotate his body correctly, whether to his throwing arm side or his backside. Usually some kind of zone fake hand-off precedes the throw, so a clean fake between the QB and Super-back must occur (no 'dislodging' the ball during the fake) if the case requires it.

I mentioned above how centers in Coach Trick's programs are required to do a lot of 'off-season' work, well I would strongly suggest the same with the 'pitch and catch' of the bubble screen. Rep's, rep's, and more rep's!

Remember, a bubble screen (based on ball placement on the field, hash-marks, formation, etc..) could be thrown as short as 10 yards or as long as 25 yards. All of these distances need to practiced, over and over again.

Receivers or 'athletes' need to be aware of the rules of a forward pass vs. a lateral on bubble screens. I would teach them to always assume the bubble screen is a lateral (thrown behind the line of scrimmage, this also allows for the release of O-linemen downfield, a big part of the bubble screen).

Mastering these two 'simple' components of "The Spread Offense" will go a long way in driving defenses crazy and eliminating costly mistakes on offense.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coach Rod to Michigan?

Rumors are flying that Rich Rodriguez (The 'Chairman of the Board' around here at talked with The University of Michigan on friday about their head coaching position.

As we all remember, Coach Rod walked this line with Alabama last year before deciding to stay at his alma mater (WVU).

I know the 'Mountaineer Nation' is up in arms that two years in a row now Coach Rod has 'played the field' or 'tested the waters', personally I think it's great for WVU.

How? Because think of it this way, Coach Rod can learn something from talking to the higher arch's at Alabama and Michigan, two storied programs that have a heck of a lot more tradition then West Virginia (and likely more 'insight' on what it takes to become successful and more importantly for WVU 'stay successful').

I've never been in these meetings, but I would think both sides are doing a lot of 'listening' to each other, both learning about each other.

Did last years Alabama courting hurt Coach Rod's recruiting at West Virginia last year? No way, they had a great class come in, the likes of Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, and Brandon Hogan. Sounds like to me it didn't hurt... it likely helped.

Maybe Terrelle Pryor, the highest sought out 'dual threat' QB recruit will hear this from Coach Rod now: "Terrelle, West Virginia is the place to be, I've had my chances to go to Alabama and Michigan the last two years...two programs with loads of football history, and I chose to stay at West Virginia because we are at the pinnacle of greatness (in addition, I'm the "Chairman of the Board" of The Spread Offense), where do you choose?"

We'll see what happens, but my guess is Coach Rod stays in Morgantown.

The Mountaineer's play Oklahoma on January 2nd in the Fiesta Bowl.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is it a Hoax, Gimmick, or Evolution?... The Spread Offense

It's amazing how 'change' brings out the best and worst of us, not only in sports, but in life. I love when I read through the college football teams blogosphere's and those fans of teams who run more of a conventional offense calling 'The Spread' a hoax, or "gimmick offense".

So, I decided to look up the definitions of both:

hoax (n.) : subject to a playful joke - something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

gimmick (n.) : an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, one designed to attract attention or increase appeal - a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal

I think if you look at these two definitions, I would tend to lean towards 'gimmick' over 'hoax', but the "deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage" part of the hoax definition has me intrigued! (Gosh, all these long words... is this English class!).

When I think of 'The Spread Offense', my first thought IS gaining an advantage over the defense based on player numbers (no more 9 blockers vs 11 tacklers scenarios in the running game), tempo (usually in some sort of a no huddle), field or 'grass' (meaning using the entire 53 yards across and the hash-marks to your advantage), and the isolation of skill players or 'athletes' (the need for the defense to tackle well in 'one on one' situations in the open field, making 'gang tackling' harder by the defense).

My mother used to say that 'most trends and styles eventually come back', and I guess in football you're seeing the return of "The Single Wing Offense", but on steroids!! (I know, steroids are a sore subject, you get what I mean though).

The three major changes, two evolutionary of the game and one technological are:

1) The Forward Pass and its complex pass routes

2) The Spread Formation across the entire field

3) On field Headsets linked to the coaches box for real time feedback and play changes

Lets go back to our definitions and now define:

evolution (n.) : development, a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage); "the development of ...

My vote for "The Spread Offense" is: evolution

Now...join the evolution and spread 'em out!! (and enjoy the show, it's a lot of fun).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Add Auburn to 'The Spread Offense' list

News out of Auburn University's football program is that they have hired Tony Franklin to be their new offensive coordinator, starting immediately.

Tommy Tuberville hired Franklin from Troy on Wednesday to replace Al Borges. Auburn was 8-4 this season, but struggled offensively.

Auburn ranked 101st out of 119 teams in offense, while high-scoring Troy was 17th running Franklin's no-huddle attack.

Troy led the nation with 81.5 plays per game in Franklin's second season as coordinator. He previously coached at Kentucky under Hal Mumme.

Tuberville said that Auburn will still be physical and run the football, noting that Troy had about a 50-50 mix this season. "The biggest difference in philosophy is he's going to set up the run by passing, while we've set up the pass by running the ball."

The spread means that the quarterback has to be multi-dimensional. "He's your main man," Tuberville said. "He runs it, he throws it, he hands it off, he does it all. . . . Everything is built around the quarterback."

Auburn will play Clemson in this year's Chick-fil-A Bowl, and Tuberville didn't rule out a 'sneak-peek' of the spread in that game, though with only about 10 days of practice, it may make it very hard to execute.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Corona Centennial has quite the spread

The unstoppable offense featuring Scott and Bass will try to knock off undefeated De La Salle in the CIF state Division I championship bowl.

December 12, 2007 - Source: Los Angeles Times Sports

There can't be anything more frightening for a high school football coach these days than trying to figure out how to stop Corona Centennial's seemingly unstoppable spread offense."You have to rely on a fumble," Santa Ana Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson quipped, and his team defeated the Huskies, 51-37, on Oct. 4 despite surrendering 681 total yards.

The genius of the offense devised by Coach Matt Logan is that the Huskies can run or pass with equal effectiveness out of a shotgun formation. And they have athletes, Matt Scott and Ryan Bass, at the quarterback and running back positions that no other team in the state can match. "I think a lot of the spread offense is predicated on who is playing quarterback and who is playing running back, and they have two of the best I've ever seen," Concord De La Salle Coach Bob Ladouceur said. De La Salle (12-0) gets the last crack at Centennial (13-1) on Saturday night in the CIF state Division I championship bowl game at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

Bass has rushed for 6,337 yards and scored 99 touchdowns in his three-year varsity career, but Scott is the trigger man, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior with three years of quarterback experience but only two years as a varsity starter. His speed and ability to execute a no-huddle offense makes him the standout player on display this weekend. He has rushed for 1,010 yards and passed for 2,326 yards. "His development the last two years has been absolutely incredible," Logan said. "The best thing he does is he's so smart out there. It sometimes gets lost with all he does. "The signs of Scott's emergence as a bona fide top college prospect could be seen during the summer. Dressed in a tank top, with muscles visible, he showed off a powerful right arm and the ability to roam the field with the quickness of a running back. Arizona offered him a scholarship and he quickly accepted.

Bass is also headed to Arizona. Another important aspect to the Huskies' offensive success is that no-huddle scheme. It creates such a quick tempo that defenses have a difficult time adjusting, let alone getting substitutes into the game. "It's really hard to simulate in practice," Logan said. Centennial has five coaches talking with each other on headphones, thinking a play ahead. Once the play is signaled in, Scott can look at the defense and decide how to proceed."We try to get the defense tired and overpower them," Scott said. What's unusual about the offense is that it's run-first. The conventional wisdom about a shotgun formation has been that it's pass-first. Logan was told countless times he'd have trouble devising a consistent rushing attack, especially as the ball nears the goal line.

But Scott and Bass have proven the perfect fit for a formation that spreads the defense and dares opponents to cover individuals one on one."They're very impressive," Ladouceur said. "They're better than any team we've faced."Of course, Centennial isn't unbeatable. Mater Dei figured out how to defeat the Huskies -- the Monarchs outscored them in a nonleague game that featured a state-record 1,302 total yards. Scott rushed for 177 yards and passed for 178 yards.That's the dilemma for defenses. Do you force Scott to run? Do you force Scott to pass?At times, he is capable of pulling off the same athletic feats as some of the best college quarterbacks. "I would love to put myself up with Tim Tebow and Dennis Dixon," he said. "They're great quarterbacks. Unfortunately, I'm not there yet. "He's getting closer with every game.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Welcome to

It is my pleasure to welcome you to My name is Mark Colyer, the founder of this web log (you know, 'blog') as well as the website:

Just a little history on myself, I've been involved with the game of football since I was 6 years old (that would be 33 years). When my older brother (John 'JC' Colyer) joined the town Pop Warner team (The North Arlington Leaders) in 1974. My father, John Sr. was the first booster club president of this newly developed town football program. My father never coached, but he was always involved, and would help out in many ways with both me and my brother.

I was the 'water boy' of my brother's Pop Warner team until I was able to play myself in 1976 at the age of 8 years old.

I still remember the first night football game I ever saw (1976), it was at Breslin Field in Lyndhurst, NJ - The North Arlington Leaders vs. Queen of Peace CYO of North Arlington. This was like Michigan vs. Ohio State, USC vs. UCLA, Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, PITT vs. West Virginia (a real 'backyard brawl') to the town of North Arlington.

The town's parish CYO team was the established program, a powerhouse stacked with talent from 5 neighboring tri-county town's from Bergen, Essex, and Hudson counties in New Jersey (even at the middle school level, the parochial schools can recruit), going up against the 'new' program on the block, the 'misfits' of sorts who either couldn't make the CYO team, or didn't even try.

The energy was incredible, cow bells ringing from the filled stands, fan's screaming, fire engine trucks horn's blowing... for a bunch of 12 and 13 year old kids! The shining lights in the black night on the teams helmet's was breath taking... the crackling of pads and helmets was so exhilarating! I was a narcotic, the crisp autumn air and surroundings engulfed me.

As you would expect, the outcome was not good for the town team. The game was close early, but the CYO team ran away with it in the 2nd half, just too much talent for the town squad to handle.

Why bore you with this? (I know, you're saying... this blog sucks... where's the detail explanation of Coach Rod's West Virginia triple option out of twins/open set?) well, that night under the Northern NJ lights I saw my first 'athlete'. That's right... what I call in my older days now a 'stud', 'player', or 'the bambino'.

His name was Paul Cure, he played tailback for the Queen of Peace CYO team. He was a 'man amongst boys' at the age of 13, he ran like a gazelle, and under the lights it was like watching 'Magic', a magician on the grass just run around, over, through, and between everyone else on the field, the end zone was his home. Too much speed and athletic talent!

It didn't matter if his teammates made the 'perfect' block, or if they even knew how to block, Paul Cure was going to make a play...and eventually many BIG Plays!

That night, I knew the sport of football was very special. The emotions from both sides in both winning and losing where incredible...the thrill of victory seemed 'intoxicating', the agony of defeat seemed 'crushing'.

I also realized that the only difference between these two totally opposite emotions and outcomes was one thing, 'Paul Cure', an 'athlete' put into a position by his coaches of mismatches to exploit the other team.

There simple middle school toss sweep was just as effective as a perfectly executed bubble screen, there off-tackle tailback blast was just as effective as an inside zone read hand-off out of the gun.

I realized this at the age of 8 years old, one 'Magician' executing to perfection amongst 21 others on a field 53 yards long and 100 yards wide caused such an event, and emotional uproar, good for one team, bad for POWERFUL!

Preparation only did so much for the losers... the team that lost was emotionally and mentally prepared. What they weren't prepared for was a physical mismatch... speed, strength, acceleration, change of direction, and endurance.

I went on to see a few more offensive 'Magicians' in my life... one was a teammate of mine from the age of 9 years old up through high school (Darrin Czellecz, I had to mention him), others opponents (as a player and coach), others from the bleachers as a fan, and others in the 'archives' of the sport of football.

Another offensive 'magician' who actually played with my brother in High School, went on to play college at William and Mary in the early-mid 80's, and I eventually reunited with during my coaching years was Bernie Marrazzo.

Bernie, a magician at tailback on the high school football field himself once told me "Mark, in regards to speed on the football field, you either got it, or you're chasing it " ... isn't that the truth!

Here's my personal list of offensive 'Magicians' I've been around:

Paul Cure - (CYO - Pop Warner level - No idea what happened to him)

Bernie Marrazzo - (High School - played with my brother - played at William and Mary)

Darrin Czellecz - (My teammate from Pop Warner through High School - played at Rutgers)

Ed Campbell - (Coached him in high school, my first 'spread QB' from 1995-96 - played at Massachusetts)

Mike Kraft - (Coached him in high school, my spread 'QB' in 1997 - played at Sacred Heart)

I'm sure as coaches and players we all have our list... guys that in our own given situation we would be thrilled to line up in a spread offense, no matter what era we're in.

In conclusion I would like to say this.... I've been involved in some form of the Spread Offense for about eleven years now (since 1996). I truly feel that if you can find the right 'athletes' or 'magicians' to execute this offense, you will be very successful and have a lot of fun.

For me, I stumbled upon the 'spread' in 1995 as a high school coach (offensive coordinator). Our team was having a difficult time protecting our passer (a kid named Ed Campbell, listed above). My father (a loyal fan of the teams I coached) mentioned to me about 3 weeks in a row to try the 'shot-gun' to give the quarterback some extra time. I said "Dad, the're crazy!" My Dad was thinking more of the Dallas Cowboy, Roger Staubach shot-gun, strictly for passing purposes to get more time in the pocket.

We finally installed it for the last two games of the year (we had nothing to lose, our pass protection was horrible), and it was very successful not only for passing, but for allowing our quarterback (a very mobile and tough kid) the ability to improvise with his feet and gain some good chunks of yardage. This was out of the pro-set we ran our shot-gun sets those two games in 1995, not nearly the 'spread the field' I would use the following year.

That upcoming bowl season (January, 1996) pitted Nebraska vs Florida in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title. Tommie Frazier was the quarterback at Nebraska, and of course 'The Ol Ball Coach' was at Florida flinging it around (one of my favorite plays is still the old 'Gator Counter', the toss pitch, TB misdirection play, with the option of handing it back to the QB for a pass).

This was my defining moment with The Spread Offense: Tommie Frazier in the Fiesta Bowl got in the shot gun, twin receivers to both sides (yes, Nebraska... the ram it down your throat I formation team, two tight ends team) and ran a QB counter (faking a zone hand-off to Lawrence Phillips out of the gun) Frazier than ran behind a kick-out and gut block from the backside guard and tackle. The play got about 12 yards, and my jaw dropped!!

Right there... I GOT IT!! It's now 11 on 11... with players spread from number to number across the field, no more QB handing off the ball and watching 10 on offense play 11 on defense (actually if you think about it, it's 9 vs 11 when the ball is handed off, the QB and running back with the football cannot assist in blocking 11 defensive players). Life is about numbers, and a quarterback handing off never allows for a 'zero-sum' scenario. Sure... great offenses function perfectly in this state of a numerical mismatch and many running backs are in the hall of fame as a result.

I truly believe this phenomena is catching the attention of A LOT of football people at the college level. For example, I heard Lou Holtz on a radio show mention that "The Spread Offense as it is now in college football may require a rule change allowing the defense to play with 12 players".

Kirk Herbstreit mentioned at the Heisman trophy presentation this year, "Scoring in college football reached an all-time high this season (2007), the reason being the execution of The Spread Offense by teams throughout the country".

Getting back to my high school team, the next season (1996), with my athletic, fast, and strong quarterback returning as a senior, we installed my version of The Spread Offense. Ed Campbell ran for 850 yards (7 rushing TD's) and threw for 1,000 in 10 games that year (we also had a 1,050 yard rusher at tailback and a fullback who ran for 700 yards). We averaged 38 points per game, and went 8-2 on the season.

Putting all the 'intangibles' a player needs to succeed aside (which I know are very, very important - heart, determination, work ethic, character, guts, desire, etc...) ...finding the right group of six athletes to execute the spread could make you look very good as a coach.

And of course there's the O-Line, the guys up front who get no recognition in the success of 'the spread' but without them all those 'athletes' are not running for touchdown's, but for their lives!

I hope we can become acquaintances as this blog and our main site develop.... my goal is to offer valuable information, and keep all 'ego's' aside in developing a resource to help us all become great at running, coaching, preparing for, training for, playing in, being recruited by, evolving, and enjoying the football spread offense.

Please, send the ideas of what you want to see from either site I'm developing.... no idea is too creative or 'out of the realm' (If we can afford to do it!).

I am also looking for quality content articles related to the spread offense (running it, defending it, training for it, coaching tips, off-season tips, college, recruiting for it, high school, pro's, pop warner, you name it) once our site: launches in January 2008 , and we're paying $20 per good content articles.

If interested in submitting articles, please contact me.

I look forward to everyone's feedback and participation.



Mark Colyer


ph#: 1-201-966-8076 (ET)