Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thank You Tim Tebow - From SpreadOffense.com

When I think of the name Tim Tebow, the first thing I think of is 'genuine'. He's a bishop, teacher, world class athlete, humanitarian, role model, scholar, and just plain old good guy all wrapped into one skin. Not to mention, a dual threat quarterback who runs an amazing spread offense for a nationally prominent college football program over the last 4 years.

We all know the accomplishments, the stats, the records, the trophies, the good will missions, etc... over that span. Will we ever see that again, the 'whole package' like I explained above... I highly doubt it.

I guess we can consider ourselves blessed, to have witness it and been around for this special time of Tim Tebow at the University of Florida.

My hope is on Friday in the Sugar Bowl vs Cincinnati, we could see one last jump pass, one last stiff arm, one last bomb for a TD to Cooper, one last bulldozer-ing of a defender, one last inside shovel option pass to Hernandez, one last Gator chomp after a big run, one last explosive speech in the defensive huddle on the sideline, one last biblical eye black, and finally ... one last Gator win for #15.

Enjoy the video, a tribute to Tim Tebow:

Keep spreading e'm.. and Go Gators!



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Most Influential Spread Offense Games Of The Last Decade

When you think of the spread offense over the last decade (2000-2009), there have been some specific games and moments that have helped solidify this offensive style as the most dynamic and exciting offense over the past 10 years. In addition, on the defensive side of the ball there have been a few important stops against spread offenses that have helped define the need for a new style of defense.

Lets take a look of some of these moments and games over the past decade:

1) Appalachian State University vs the University of Michigan -September 2007

The 2007 Appalachian State vs Michigan game was held on September 1, 2007 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

It pitted the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines against the two-time defending champions of the Division I FCS (1-AA), the Appalachian State Mountaineers.

In what was hailed as one of the biggest upsets in all of sports, the Mountaineers shocked the Wolverines 34–32. It was the first win by a team in Division I FCS team over a ranked team in Division I FBS (formerly Division I-A) since the NCAA split the divisions in 1978. The game has been referred to by one sports writer as the 'Miracle in Michigan'.

Appalachian State ran a potent spread offense, lead by sophomore quarterback Armanti Edwards. Many college football experts credited the spread offense system that ASU ran as the ultimate equalizer and the reason for the win.

The game made the front page of The New York Times, which called the game "one of the biggest upsets in college football history" and drew a comparison to David and Goliath.

2) University of Pittsburgh vs West Virginia University - November 2005, December 2007

November 2005 - The 98th version of the Backyard Brawl saw WVU dominate a much slower PITT team 45-13, as admitted by head coach Dave Wannstedt: "They're just faster then us out there, we need to get faster in order to compete".

Pat White rushed for a record 220 yards and two scores, while Steve Slaton rushed for 179 yards and two scores in the game for the potent WVU spread offense.

December 2007 - The 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl had national implications, with West Virginia ranked #2 in the BCS, all they needed was a win over there rival PITT to get into the BCS Championship game vs Ohio State. The Mountaineers were a 4 touchdown favorite in the game.

With the Mountaineers dominating the two previous match-ups in 2005 and 2006, Dave Wannstedt and his defensive staff engineered a great game plan, boxing in the high powered spread option offense of West Virginia, not allowing any big plays as in previous years.

After the 13-9 upset victory, Wannstedt reflected back on the comments he made after the 2005 game, "I guess we finally got faster".

3) University of Oregon vs University of Michigan - September 2007

This game was Michigan's worst defeat since 1968, a 39-7 loss in Ann Arbor. Dennis Dixon threw for 368 yards and a career high 4 touchdowns passes, he also rushed for 76 yards and one touchdown.

The Ducks led 31-7 at halftime, and faced little opposition in the second half. According to Oregon coach Mike Bellotti the game was a "good win because I think there were some questions about how Michigan was going to bounce back, and whether we would be competitive. I think our players took that to heart." This game caused Michigan to open the season with two home losses, both to spread offense teams featuring dual threat quarterbacks.

4) West Virginia University vs University of Georgia - Sugar Bowl, January 2006

The 2006 Sugar Bowl featured the Big East champions, the West Virginia Mountaineers and the SEC champions, the Georgia Bulldogs. The game is thought to have raised the Big East's profile in the wake of losing 3 members to the ACC, and being called by some in the media as 'The Big Least'.

The game was played in Atlanta as the Louisiana Superdome was still unfit to host a game in the months after Hurricane Katrina. Georgia was favored by 2 touchdowns, and had a home field advantage playing in Atlanta.

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese proclaimed the win the most significant football victory in conference history because it gave credibility back to the revamped league.

True freshman Steve Slaton, now with the Houston Texans in the NFL rushed for 204 yards and three TDs in a 38-35 win for WVU.

5) University of Florida vs University of Oklahoma - BCS Championship, January 2009

Tim Tebow's two touchdown passes and Percy Harvin's two-yard run led the Florida Gators to their second BCS National Championship in three years. The Gators defeated the Oklahoma Sooners, 24-14, in front of a record crowd of 78,468 in Miami.

Urban Meyer became the first coach to win two BCS championship games, and one of only five coaches in NCAA history to win two titles in his first four years at a college.

Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford, two high profiled spread offense quarterbacks combined for four interceptions in the game despite throwing for just eight combined over the course of the regular season.

6) New England Patriots vs New York Giants - December, 2007

In their final regular season game, the 15-0 Patriots traveled to Giants Stadium, trying to win a record 16th game of the season. With the game scheduled to air on NFL Network, not available on some cable providers, the NFL arranged a three-way simulcast of the game with CBS and NBC, the first time an NFL game was broadcast on three networks, and the first national simulcast of any NFL game since Super Bowl I.

The high powered pro spread offense of New England lead by Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker won a hard fought 38-35 game. In this game, Randy Moss set the record for most touchdown receptions in a season with 23, and Tom Brady set one for touchdown passes with 50.

These teams met again in Super Bowl XLII a month later, with the Giants upsetting the Patriots 17-14.

7) Texas Tech University vs University of Texas - November 2008

Number 5 ranked Texas Tech led the Texas Longhorns for most of the game, and by as much as nineteen points at one point. Texas rallied to take a one-point lead with less than 2 minutes remaining in the game.

Graham Harrell's last pass of the game was to wide receiver Michael Crabtree who caught the ball near the right sideline and somehow broke away from two Longhorn defenders to scamper in for the winning score with second left to play. The extra point gave Texas Tech a 39–33 lead with one second remaining.

8) University of Texas vs University of Southern California - BCS Championship, January 2006

The University of Southern California (USC) entered the game with a 34 game winning streak, the longest active streak in Division I-A, having won the 2004 BCS National Championship.

Texas brought the second longest active winning streak into the game, having won 19 straight, and also entered as Rose Bowl defending champion, having defeated Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl. Their combined 53 game win streak was an NCAA record for teams playing each other.

Vince Young, possibly the most dynamic dual threat quarterback in NCAA history accounted for 467 total yards (passing and running) in the championship game, which is the best performance ever in a BCS Championship game.

Facing 4th and 5 from the 9 yard line on the games final drive, Young received the shotgun snap and found his receivers covered. He then scampered towards the right sideline and received a critical block from WR Justin Blalock as he won the footrace to the end zone. The score, Young's third rushing touchdown of the game, gave the Longhorns a one point lead with 19 seconds left in the game. Young successfully reached the end zone again on the following two point conversion, giving the Longhorns a 41–38 victory.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Looking Back At The Decade Of The Spread Offense - Coaches

It would be hard to argue that the spread offense hasn't been one of, if not the most influential aspect of American football over the last decade (2000-2009). From the beginning of the decade to the present, the concept and execution of spreading the football field in order to create mismatches in both the passing and running games has changed the game forever on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Lets take a look at the decade and some of the major coaching influences on the spread offense.

1) Rich Rodriguez -West Virginia (2001-2007), Michigan (2008-present)

In 2001, Rich Rodriguez was named head football coach of his Alma Mater, West Virginia University. In Rodriguez's first season, the Mountaineers went 3-8. The 2002 team registered the greatest turn around in Big East football history with a 9-4 record, with back-to-back road wins against ranked Virginia Tech and Pitt, and a Continental Tire Bowl berth. The Mountaineers finished second in the nation in rushing with 283 yards per game out of the spread offense that Rodriguez created at Glenville State College, and refined at Tulane and Clemson as offensive coordinator under Tommy Bowden.

Rodriguez was one of the most successful coaches in West Virginia University history. He lead the first consecutive Top 10 finishes in school history, four consecutive New Year's day bowl appearances, the school's first BCS bowl win over SEC champion Georgia in 2005, three Big East championships, eight wins over Top 25 teams, twenty six straight weeks in the Top 25, a 30-6 record from 2005-2007.

It could be argued that Rodriguez invented the 'zone read' concept out of the spread offense, which places a dual threat quarterback into a read situation out of the shot gun, with a split second decision required on whether he keeps the ball or hands it off at the mesh point with the tailback running a zone play, depending on what the backside defensive end on the line of scrimmage does on the play. This play alone has spread in popularity amongst hundreds (if not thousands) of college, high school, and junior football teams throughout the United States over the decade.

The triple option has since been added to the zone read, see Coach Rod explain it here back in 2007.

2) Urban Meyer - Utah (2003-2004), Florida (2005-present)

In his first year at Utah, Meyer was named the Mountain West Conference football Coach of the Year, posting a 10–2 record. He also earned honors as The Sporting News National Coach of the Year, the first University of Utah coach to do so. Meyer's success can be attributed to his spread offense system. At Utah, Meyer's base offense displayed three, four, or five wide receivers and showcased the quarterback in the shotgun formation. With the Utes, he introduced the concept of motion into the backfield from perimeter skill players and turned it into an spread option attack, adding elements of the traditional run oriented option offense.

In 2004, Meyer led the undefeated Utes to a Bowl Championship Series bid, something that had not been done by a team from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference since the BCS' creation in 1998. He remained at Utah long enough to coach the team to a Fiesta Bowl win over Pittsburgh, capping off the Utes' first undefeated season (12–0) since 1930.

In 2005, Meyer was hired as the head football coach of the University of Florida. Immediately, people in the media and some football coaches claimed that the style of spread offense Meyer ran at Utah could never make it in the tough SEC, known for its great defensive speed.

Urban Meyer has compiled a record of 56-10 since 2005 at Florida, winning two national championships and two SEC championships in that period. The Sporting News has just awarded him college football coach of the decade.

3) Joe Tiller - Purdue University (2000-2008)

Joe Tiller was the head football coach at Purdue University from 1997 to 2008. During his tenure with Purdue, Tiller led the Boilermakers to ten bowl games in twelve years. Prior to Tiller's arrival in 1997, the Boilermakers had played in only five bowl games.

He was the first to use the spread offense in the Big Ten, a more pass oriented spread then run. Under Tiller and his spread offense, Purdue annually had one of the best offenses in the Big 10.

4) Mike Leach - Texas Tech (2000-present)

Under Mike Leach, Texas Tech has been known for its high-scoring, pass oriented spread offense. In a 2004 game vs TCU, the Red Raiders fell behind 21-0 late in the 2nd quarter, later to put on an offensive show and eventually win the game 70–35.

Texas Tech ended the 2008 regular season with 11 wins and 1 loss, the best in school history. The season also marked the first win over a #1 ranked team (Texas). The Red Raiders, along with Oklahoma and Texas, shared the Big 12 South division title. On December 2, 2008, the Associated Press named Mike Leach the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Mike Leach is a disciple of Hal Mumme, known for developing the Air Raid offense.

5) Mike Martz - St Louis Rams (2000-2005)

Mike Martz became the head coach of the Saint Louis Rams on February 2, 2000 after Dick Vermeil retired immediately after winning Super Bowl XXXIV. He led the Rams to a 10–6 regular season record in 2000, but they lost in the 1st round to the New Orleans Saints 31–28.

The 'Greatest Show On Turf' went on to post a 14-2 record in 2001, before losing in Super Bowl XXXVI to the New England Patriots on a last second field goal.

Martz's spread offense relied on getting all five receivers into pass patterns that stretched the field vertically and horizontally, setting up defensive backs with route technique, and the quarterback throwing to a spot where the receiver could make the catch and turn up field for large 'run after catches' or RAC.

Pass protection was critical, because at least two of the five receivers would run a deep in, skinny post, comeback, speed out, or shallow cross pattern. Mike Martz credits the offensive system as being influenced by Sid Gillman and refined by former NFL coach Don Coryell of the San Diego Chargers.

6) Chip Kelly - University of Oregon (2007-present)

Chip Kelly's potent spread option offense attack was an instant success at the University of Oregon. In 2007, his first season with the Ducks as Offensive Coordinator, they led the Pac-10 in scoring (38.2 ppg) and total offense (468 ypg), and also amassed the most yards in the history of Oregon football.

In March 2009, Chip Kelly was named head coach of Oregon, his first head coaching job at the collegiate level. Kelly became the first Pac-10 football coach to win an outright conference championship in his first season, sending the University of Oregon to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1995.

On December 7th, 2009 Coach Kelly was named Pac-10 Coach Of The Year. He is the second Ducks coach to earn the honor, the other one being Rich Brooks , who won the award twice.

Chip Kelly's spread offense is a favorite here at SpreadOffense.com, check out some of the video clips of the Ducks at Spread Offense TV

7) Gus Malzahn - University of Arkansas (2006), University of Tulsa (2007-2008), Auburn University (2009 - present)

Gus Malzahn is known as one of the innovators of the wildcat offense, and has been described as one of the games most innovative offensive minds, not just in the college ranks, but in all of football.

Malzahn joined Houston Nutt's University of Arkansas staff after the 2005 season, as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Malzahn was part of the Razorbacks 2006 successful season in which they won the SEC Western Division championship, and installed the 'WildCat/WildHog' formation with the help of quarterbacks coach, David Lee.

In January, 2007, Malzahn received an offer from the University of Tulsa to be co-offensive coordinator (with Herb Hand, formally of West Virginia the other coordinator) and Assistant Head Coach. During the 2007 at Tulsa, Malzahn emerged as one of the premier offensive minds in college football, as Tulsa ranked first in the nation in total yards per game, ahead of Texas Tech and Hawaii, and with a more balanced spread offense attack.

The 2008 Tulsa Golden Hurricane offense was the nation's most balanced spread offense attack, ranking 5th in the nation in rushing and 9th in the nation in passing.

On December 28, 2008, Gus Malzahn was named offensive coordinator of Auburn University.

Gus Malzahn's spread offense is also a favorite here at SpreadOffense.com, check out some of the video clips of Malzahn's offenses in action at Spread Offense TV

8) Josh McDaniels - New England Patriots (2005-2008), Denver Broncos (2009-present)

Josh McDaniels will go down in spread offense lore as the offensive coordinator who lead the New England Patriots 2007 offensive squad to 67 touchdowns (50 passing and 17 rushing) and 589 total points.

The New England Patriots in 2007 became the first NFL team to pass more than half the time from the shotgun spread offense formation. That offense was perhaps the most dynamic single season group in NFL history.

9) David Lee - University of Arkansas (2003-2006), Miami Dolphins (2007-present)

David Lee was named “Innovator of the Year” in 2008 by the Sporting News for introducing the “Wildcat offense” to the National Football League.

Bill Parcells, the VP of Football Operations for the Miami Dolphins hired Lee to be the Dolphins quarterback coach for the 2008 season, where he still holds that position.

In college, Lee worked with Gus Malzahn in 2006 at Arkansas where they installed the 'WildCat or WildHog' formation, showcasing Darren McFadden in the single wing formation.

Currently with the Miami Dolphins, David Lee works closely with Offensive Coordinator Dan Henning and Tight Ends Coach George DeLeone to implement the Miami WildCat formation.

This formation features Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and Pat White as the 'wildcat' or single wing back accepting the snap.

10) Greg Davis - University of Texas (2000-present)

Greg Davis is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Texas. In 2006, he was awarded the Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant coach for the 2005 season which included a national championship victory in the Rose Bowl over USC.

In that season, Vince Young established himself as one of the most dynamic dual threat quarterbacks in NCAA history, and Coach Davis implemented many zone read concepts into the Longhorn offense, using Young's dynamic running and passing ability out of the spread offense.

One of Davis's best known skill sets is his ability to coach the quarterback position. During his 11 years at Texas, Davis has developed Chris Simms, Major Applewhite, Vince Young, and Colt McCoy.

In the next two posts, we will look at some of the biggest players and individual plays in the last decade dominated by the spread offense.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spread Offense vs West Coast Offense

I found this interesting video from the coaches over at the BigTen Network. Of course a lot of things need to come into play when developing an offensive philosophy as a coach, including personnel, assistant coaches, the league you play in, and others.

I always like to use Steve Young, the great QB from BYU in college and the 49ers in the NFL as an example of having a QB who can excel in both offenses. Now Young never played in the modern day spread offense that uses the dual threat QB on designed running plays, but there is no doubt he would have excelled, just as he did in the West Coast Offense.

Keep spreading u'm!



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ndamukong Suh Is The Kryptonite Of The Spread Offense

The Big 12 conference saw its offensive production and scoring numbers drop in 2009 compared to 2008. In 2008, Big 12 teams averaged 35.6 points per game across the conference.

In 2009, nine of the league’s 12 teams have seen their scoring averages fall, and eight of those have dipped by at least 4 points per game.

Now one area you have to look at is the quarterback position, Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) and Chase Daniel (Missouri) both graduated, and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) has been out of commission since opening day with a shoulder injury.

The only returning quarterback out of the 'big 4' QB's from 2008 was Colt McCoy.

“Graham and Chase graduated and Sam got hurt,” McCoy said, outlining the star quarterbacks lost from last season’s record run of scoring.

“Every year is going to be different. It’s not normal to have a year like last year,” said McCoy, whose Longhorns rank second in the nation in scoring. “I think we had four or five guys we were talking about the Heisman every week, all in the Big 12. That’s rare in any conference.”

Well this year, two players will represent the Big 12 in New York City Saturday night at the Heisman trophy presentation, those being McCoy, and Ndamukong (his first name translates to: 'House Of Spears' - Nice!) Suh.

Suh, a defensive tackle out of Nebraska is a rare combination of size, strength, smarts, and speed on the defensive side of the ball.

Here's some of Suh's stats in 2009:

Total Tackles: 82
Solo Tackles for loss: 16
Sacks: 14
QB Hurries: 21

Big Suh is a 3 technique defensive tackle, and the stats above are just incredible from that interior defensive position. He is so versatile, that he can easily play the 1 or 5 technique positions also.

Here's a video on Suh, courtesy of ESPN

In last Saturday's Big12 championship game vs Texas, he sacked Colt McCoy 4 and a half times and tied a school record with seven tackles for loss.

In a year when defenses around the country made great strides in slowing down the spread offense, Big Suh gets our vote at www.SpreadOffense.com for the 2009 Heisman trophy.

Keep spreading u'm,


www.SpreadOffense.tv (video sharing platform)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Tidbits - Spread Offense

Happy Thanksgiving to all our loyal readers out there, I hope this holiday season brings you much joy. Remember the 3 F's, Faith, Family, and Football!

1) Isn't it great to see Vince Young back starting at quarterback for the Titans and playing at such a high level in the NFL?! There was a play on Monday night that caused me to have a flash back of the the 2006 Rose bowl game. Brian Cushing (USC), now with the Houston Texans was chasing Vince Young (Texas) down the sideline on a scramble, and it was like 'Hey, I've seen that before!"

2) Tim Tebow plays his last game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, or “The Swamp" Saturday at 3:30pm vs Florida State. Urban Meyer has shown a lot of emotions this week in press conferences when Tebow's name has been mentioned.

To see videos of Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators over the years, Click Here

3) Nevada takes on Boise State Friday night for the WAC championship (10:00pm on ESPN2), immediately following the 'Backyard Brawl' with Pittsburgh traveling to West Virginia (7:00pm on ESPN2).

Nevada (8-3, 7-0 WAC) is the first team in NCAA history to have three 1,000-yard rushers in one season. The Wolf Pack lead the nation with an average of 373 yards rushing per game. No one else is within 60 yards of them. Nevada is known as the inventor of the 'pistol formation', a spread offense extension that has really become popular though all levels of football.

To see videos on the pistol formation run by various teams, Click Here

Have a great rivalry weekend folks!

Keep spreading u'm!



Monday, November 16, 2009

Buffalo Bills Get Into The Wildcat Mix With A Nice Pass Play

Just in case you didn't see the highlights of this play on Sunday, the Buffalo Bills did a little 'Tebow-esk' on the Tennessee Titans. Running back Fred Jackson lined up in the wildcat (or single wing spread offense) and executed a nice QB play-action pass that ended in a long touchdown pass to Lee Evans.

As suspected, the Titans secondary began to creep up into the box when they saw Jackson in the shot-gun pre-snap (thinking run), and could not adjust to the play-action pass.

See the video below:

Keep spreading u'm!


www.SpreadOffense.tv (video sharing platform)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NFL Playbook Breaks Down Miami's WildPat Offense

I found this nice video of the NFL Network guys breaking down last weekends Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots game, particularly the new series the Dolphins used with Pat White in at quarterback running the spread option offense.

Click Here to be directed to the segment, good stuff! Also, Click Here to listen to Bill Belichick 'mic'd up' for the game Sunday... and his classic pregame prediction: "I kind of got the feeling this is going to be a little bit of a Pat White game". Damn, that guy is a great, smart, prepared football coach.

Keep spreading u'm!



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pat White Pitches The Ball To Ricky Williams - NFL Spread Option Football

Just when you thought it was safe to watch an NFL game without hearing the word 'spread option offense', the following play below happens!

For our loyal readers, you know we predicted this occurrence would hit the NFL by 2011, so much for our Nostradamus moment... how's 2009 hit you doubters who pelted us back in early 2008 for saying 2011!

For those of you who didn't see Pat White's first play on Sunday afternoon, it was a 33 yard option keeper down the left sideline (see video below).

Now kudos to the Patriots, they adjusted very well to the spread option ... much better then last year when the Phins launched the 'wildcat' on them. To me, that's the ultimate complement to the spread option offense, when Bill Belichick admits that they spent 30% of their defensive practice preparing for the wildcat/spread option offense the week before the Dolphins game.

As for Pat White, he finished the game with 45 yards rushing and 0-1 passing. I think the '0-1 passing' needs to be the next part of the package that's worked on and refined to truly round out this 'WildCat 2.0' series for the Dolphins.

Below is the video of Pat White and Ricky Williams executing the spread option offense for a touchdown versus the New England Patriots.

Here's Pat White's first snap of the game, a 33 yard gain off the pistol speed option play.

Keep spreading u'm!


http://www.spreadoffense.tv/ (video sharing platform)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oregon Zone Read Of The 3 Technique

This is a great article on the analysis of the Oregon Ducks zone read with a unique twist of reading the 3 technique defensive tackle.

As the article explains, "Reading the 3 technique DT player is not unknown in football by any means. In fact it is quite common with option teams that run midline option especially from under center. The play can be devastating when executed with the right players. To the best of my knowledge however it is relatively uncommon in Division I college football to read the 3 technique DT out of shotgun with more of a zone blocking scheme like Oregon employs."

To read the full article with some great frozen video clips, Click Here. (Courtesy of Trojan Football Analysis)

Here's a video piece of all of Jeremiah Masoli's runs versus USC

Keep spreading u'm!


www.SpreadOffense.tv (video sharing platform)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just When You Think You Got It Figured Out - Oregon Rips USC 47-20

One of my favorite movie quotes is from the movie 'Shooter' starring Mark Wahlberg, it goes something like this: "Just When You Think You Got It Figured Out... You Don't! ... Isn't that right Gunny!!"

All last week, many college football writers felt the urge to open up the 'spread option offense is figured out or even dead' dialogue again, dusting it off and deciding that 'this time' finally in 2009 it has been figured out.

And I guess I really couldn't blame them.... since around the country it seemed the likes of Florida, Auburn, and even Texas had shown serious kinks in their spread offense armours.

But then came yesterday, Auburn scored 33 (vs Ole Miss), Florida scored 41 (vs Georgia), Texas scored 41 (vs Okla State), and oh ya... Oregon scored 47 (vs USC).

Click here for highlights of the game, courtesy of ESPN.com

Post game interview with Oregon head coach Chip Kelly below:

Keep spreading u'm!


www.SpreadOffense.tv (share your videos here)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Classic Spread Offense (Oregon) vs Classic Pro Offense (USC) This Weekend

This Saturday will pit a great PAC-10 football match-up between the University of Southern California and The University of Oregon (USC at Oregon - 5:00 pm Pacific/8:00pm Eastern on ABC).

With USC, you have the classic pro set , quarterback under the center offense that features a lot of "I" formations and one back sets with at least one tight end in the game at all times.

With Oregon, you have a classic spread option offense, with the dual threat quarterback exclusively in the shot gun with a lot of zone reads, bubble screens, powers, counters, and sprint out passes.

“They feature the quarterback running, even more so than Ohio State,” Carroll said. “This is a team that’s dedicated to having the quarterback run the option, so he’s much more part of the normal running game than just a guy who scrambles around.”

Here's some clips of the Oregon Ducks spread offense vs. California this year:

Keep spreading u'm!



Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dolphins WildCat Offense Should Get More Interesting After A Bye Week

The Miami Dolphins will be fun team to watch the rest of the season if you enjoy the single-wing/wildcat formation. Coming off a bye week and an exciting victory two weeks ago against the New York Jets, I'm sure the Dolphins coaching staff has been adding to the creativity of the wildcat sets.

One area that has been expanded/improved on already is running the formation out of a more 'balanced' look, as opposed to the traditional unbalanced wildcat in the "1.0" version.

I actually wrote about a predicted 'WildCat 2.0' from the Dolphins back in June based on the success and failures of the '1.0' version created by Gus Malzahn, now at the University of Auburn.

My next prediction is that the final piece of the puzzle for Miami, Pat White will get more and more snaps as another dual threat change of pace.

Below is a grouping of all of the WildCat plays the Dolphins ran against the Jets, enjoy!

Keep spreading u'm!



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Defining The Sprint Out Pass In Football

By Scott Seeley (scott.seeley@verizon.net) for SpreadOffense.com

If run correctly, the Sprint Out is an effective and essential weapon in a high school offense. Unfortunately, it is usually run incorrectly. Perhaps this is because coaches don’t see it run in the NFL and rarely see it in major college football. *However, the reasons you don’t see it run in the NFL are the very reasons it is so effective in high school football. You, as a quarterback, can learn how the sprint out should be run, and in turn, make it more dangerous as an offensive weapon for your team.

Let’s examine the reasons you don’t see the sprint out run in the NFL:

1) It utilizes the quarterback as a running threat.

* When run correctly, the quarterback attacks the corner with the option to run or pass; if you were paying a pocket style quarterback $4-$20 million, you wouldn’t want to leave him alone on the perimeter where a strong safety or outside backer can lay him out.

* NFL quarterbacks are rarely good runners or comfortable carrying the football in space.

2) In the NFL, the hash marks are the width of the goal posts.**

* A sprint out takes away the portion of the field in the opposite direction of the play; in this case, even if you sprint to the wide-side of the field, you are eliminating 2/3 of the field as a threat.

3) The defenses in the NFL are much more sophisticated than high school.

* In the NFL, they run more man-to-man, combo, and zone blitzes; I don’t mean to imply you can’t run the sprint out against a man-to-man defense, you can, but in this case, the quarterback will be running most of the time.

As I stated before, these are the very reasons it can be extremely effective in high school football:

1) It utilizes the quarterback as a running threat

With the quarterback attacking the corner, it forces the defense to commit to either the run or the pass with a split-second decision; if the defense covers the receivers, they can’t stop the run; if they commit to the quarterback, they must come out of coverage. Normally, even if the QB is in a one-on-one situation against a defensive player, chances are he will gain positive yardage.

* Usually, a high school quarterback is a good runner or comfortable carrying the football in space.

2) In high school football, the hash marks divide the field into thirds

In high school, a sprint out pass to the wide side of the field still leaves roughly ½ the field as a threat; the receivers have more room to get open, and the quarterback has more field to elude the defense if he chooses to run.

3) High schools predominantly run zone defenses

With a sprint out, you flood the zone with the receivers and compile the defensive troubles with the quarterback’s threat to run.

Now, you might be asking, “How is the sprint out run incorrectly?” By examining how it is run incorrectly, we can see how it should be run in order to be most effective.

The most common mistakes when running the sprint out:

1) Not sprinting

By definition, the sprint out requires the quarterback to SPRINT. The QB should be sprinting to a specific point (about ten yards laterally and seven yards deep) before turning and attacking the corner. With few exceptions (an extremely talented QB against specific defenses with a designated “hot” receiver), the quarterback should not even look at the defense or the receivers until he makes the turn at that point. Often, what you see is more of a roll out in which the QB either drops too deep or runs too slowly; this minimizes the immediate threat to the defense, allowing them time to adjust and pursue, and reduces the running threat the QB should pose.

2) Not attacking the corner

When the QB reaches that turning point (10 x 7 yards), he MUST turn and attack the line of scrimmage. Too often, you see the quarterback running toward the sideline instead of toward the line of scrimmage; that is not a sprint out, it’s not really a roll out, I don’t know what it is, really, except a bad football play. The defense is taught to “string the play out” toward the sideline; in this case, the quarterback is doing it for them. If properly run, the quarterback is running TOWARD his receivers when he decides to pass or tuck it and run.

In order for the QB to be a true and immediate threat to run, he must attack the line of scrimmage, thereby forcing the defense to make a decision. This is what the whole play is predicated on: making the defense commit!

3) Waiting for the receiver to make his break/make eye contact with the quarterback

The sprint out is a quick hitting play. The quarterback often must throw the ball BEFORE the receiver makes his break. Too many high school quarterbacks wait too long to throw the ball, not only on the sprint out, but on other passes, too.

The quarterback must be trained to throw the ball to the spot his receiver is going to be open (aka: anticipate the route and throw), whether or not the receiver is looking at him when the pass is released. This ability is deadly to a defense; failure to do so allows the defense time to react to the pattern. This requires precision, timing, and familiarity with the receivers which is only accomplished through practice and repetition.

The receivers, as well, must be trained to look for the ball in the air, to be ready to catch the ball as soon as they make their breaks.

4) Bad throwing mechanics

No one said football was going to be easy. The throw on-the-run is a skill that has to be developed through much practice and repetition.

While running, the passer must twist his torso perpendicular to the target in a quick, cocking motion. Many passers do not get their shoulders far enough around – while still running – especially when sprinting out in the opposite direction of their passing arm.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The throwing motion and subsequent release must immediately follow the cocking motion. This uses the momentum of the motion to assist the throw, like loading and releasing a spring. Many times QBs hesitate, creating two distinct motions, back and forth, which depletes the momentum and causes the pass to sail or flutter.

When running in the same direction of the receiver, the passer does not have to “lead” the receiver. A lot of quarterbacks don’t realize this. It’s simple physics. The ball is already traveling that way when it’s released, so it naturally “leads” the receiver.

The Sprint Out Drill

Set up the cones as shown in the diagram above. The quarterback should practice the sprint out portion of the drill to the point where he can do it by 'feel' (Kinesthetic Awareness) before receivers are added. As always, the proper stance, represented by the “X”, is the beginning of the drill (refer to the stance section). Use the cadence you will use to start each repetition. The explanation is for a sprint out to the right, simply reverse the drill when running to the left.

Here's a video below of Tate Forcier from the University of Michigan executing a sprint out pass out of the spread offense.

Pivot (A)
Pushing off with the ball of the left cleat, open the hips to the right wide enough to allow an immediate sprint toward the cone.

Sprint (B)
Sprint! Put the head down and sprint directly at the cone, keeping the ball chest high. At this point your job is to GET TO THAT CONE NOW!

Turn (C)
When you get to the cone, lift your head and make the turn toward the line of scrimmage; this is when you’ll pick up your receivers and read the defense. Don’t slow down.

Attack the line of line of scrimmage (D)
Use a STEEP angle of attack, as shown on the diagram. This forces the defense to commit NOW!

Decide (E-F)
Make your decision to throw or run QUICKLY. Don’t hesitate. It’s more important to make the decision to run or pass quickly than to always make the right decision. If you throw the ball on the receiver’s break, you have a good chance to complete it even if he is covered. If you decide to run, the sooner you decide, the more yardage you will pick up, even if it turns out you should have thrown it. The more practice and experience you get, the better your decision making will be. For starters, just decide FAST.

Throw or Run

If you run, tuck it, protect the football, and go. You are now a running back. Use the field in front of you to your advantage.

If you pass:

* Cock your shoulders perpendicular to the receiver by twisting your upper torso quickly, bringing the ball to your ear. Keep sprinting!
* In a continuous motion, snap the shoulders 180 degrees while releasing the ball with the proper throw (refer to the throw).
* Although your legs are moving, from the waist up the throw should look no different than any other throw. You must practice this until your upper body is almost separate from the lower body.
* Throw it hard. Get it there fast. It’s your job to get it there, it’s the receiver’s job to catch it.

At first, repeat the drill 10 times, then switch sides. If possible, have someone time you from the snap of the ball to the cone; try to decrease the time. When you become proficient at the sprint out, add a receiver. It is incredibly valuable for a quarterback to drill with at least one of his receivers. That can really make or break a season. However, if no one is available, set up targets to throw at. Use your imagination.

If you have a receiver to work with, run different routes – short outs, curls, medium outs, deep outs, flags … whatever you will run off this during the season. Mix it up. Have fun. Try to get multiple receivers to drill with you. Have someone play defense; if he commits to you, throw, if he covers the receiver, run. Make a game out of it. But always, ALWAYS, follow the steps precisely.

*The reason you don’t see it much in major college football anymore is because they are usually grooming pro football players (though with the spread offense and the popularity of the 'dual threat' QB, this is balancing out). Also, many of the top college coaches now have either worked in the NFL, or want to, so they run what they know, or what they think will look good for their careers. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Arizona State and Air Force that run the sprint out as a regular part of their offense.

**In college football, the hash marks are between the pro and high school hash marks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Power - The New Staple Of The Spread Offense

The 'Power' has been a popular play for years out of the "I" formation as well as one back formations with the quarterback taking the snap from under the center.

Over the past two seasons, you are now seeing this effective run play become a staple out of the shot gun spread offense, like the zone read option. Whether out of a single-wing/'wildcat' set or out of a traditional shot-gun set with running back(s) flanking the quarterback, this play is allowing for some very creative play calling by coaches at all levels.

As you will see at the end of the video below, the Florida Gator 'inside shovel' pass is power blocking by the offensive line.

This video is a great collection of 'Power' plays out of the spread offense.

Keep spreading u'm!



Monday, October 12, 2009

The Wild Horse Formation - Denver Broncos

I was really impressed by the 'wild-horse' single wing formation created by head coach Josh McDaniels and staff of the Denver Broncos while watching them beat the New England Patriots yesterday.

What was most unique about it was it resembled the 'wildcat' that is spreading in the NFL, but was more of a balanced set (as seen below), and it allowed for the quarterback, in this case Kyle Orton to shift back under center once the defense showed its hand on how it would defend the single wing with Knowshon Moreno at the Superback (or single wing QB).

Here's a look at the basic 'power' out of the Wild Horse that we've learned to love out of the Wild Cat or any other single wing type set across football the last few years.

I really like the double tight end set out of the single wing, it creates some serious gap issues, not that the single wing doesn't do that already with the '11th gap' it creates, but double tights really amplifies the effect.

Now, here's the shift I discussed briefly above:

Here you'll see that Kyle Orton shifted back to an under the center QB set from the flanker (FL) position once the defense showed its hand versus the single wing wild-horse with Moreno staying put in the one back set.

This play above shows Orton and the Denver offense executing a pass play after the shift back into a more traditional set. Even Phil Simms who was calling the play-by-play was very impressed with this 'shift' back wrinkle by the Broncos out of the Wild Horse as every play after them shifting produced positive yards with the defense being somewhat out of position.

Good stuff !

Keep spreading u'm!



Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Would We Do Without The Spread Offense?

I just got done watching a little NFL football on this lazy Sunday afternoon in October and I thought to myself... "Man, this is kind of boring?" Series after series of pro-set I formations with the quarterback under center. A lot of ISO's and Power's out of the 'I' just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

Then, I thought about yesterday (Saturday) and all those great spread offense college teams I was watching... Houston, Florida, Michigan, Texas, etc... had me turning the channel like a mad man, trying to catch all the action. Even on Friday nights, watching ESPNU and the national high school football games, with most of those teams in the shot-gun spread offense.

I think that's the keyword... the 'action' that the spread brings to a football game. I'm sure there's no conclusive evidence out there, but I believe that spreading the formation with offensive players horizontally across the field and using a dual threat quarterback out of the shot gun does 'excite' the game.

Of course we all like to see great plays on the field no matter what formation players are in, because at the end of the day it is a players game... that I agree with 100%.

But I relate it to a fast break team in basketball, pressing the action and being aggressive on offense, this I feel the spread offense in football does cultivate.

Now don't get me wrong, the NFL does have its exciting coaches and players like Josh McDaniels in Denver, the 'wildcat' in Miami, and of course Peyton Manning when he's running the no huddle spread offense of the Colts to perfection.

I guess I'll just have to wait until Urban Meyer becomes a head coach in the NFL.

Keep spreading u'm!



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unbalanced Formation Out Of The Spread Offense

In my coaching days, I was a big believer in using unbalanced formations on offense to keep the defense on its toes, and give us an advantage at the point of attack, especially when the defense didn't adjust quickly. Whenever you can make the defense think a lot on the field and add to their preparation and thinking on the field... you're doing a good thing for your offense.

Below is a video of a simple, but effective unbalanced spread offense set with a shot gun zone read play. I always like to use unbalance early in a game, maybe the second series or sometimes even the opening drive of a game when the excitement (and sometimes lack of mental focus on the defense) could pop a big one for you.

Keep spreading u'm!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Auburn Tigers 2009 - Running The Spread Offense In The Left Lane

After last years disappointing season at Auburn, which lead to the firing of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and head coach Tommy Tuberville, 'war eagle' fans must to very excited about the early success of the 2009 version of the Auburn Tigers football team.

New head coach Gene Chizik's team is 5-0 after an important SEC win last night over Tennessee.

New offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and his potent high pace spread offense has been very impressive this year. During the Tennessee game, the Vol's needed to call time out twice as a result of pure exhaustion from defending such a high pace spread offense.

Here's a video of Auburn's offense vs. Mississippi State

Keep spreading u'm!



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oregon Ducks Spread Offense Highlights

After a slow start in the opener, it looks like the Oregon spread offense is starting to find its identity and swagger like we have expected from Chip Kelly and the Ducks.

Below is some clips of Oregon vs Oklahoma State last year in the Holiday Bowl.

Keep spreading u'm!



Monday, September 28, 2009

QB Throwing Mechanics While Under Pressure

What a nice video below by Dub Maddox of Jenks HS in Oklahoma. He's explaining some quarterback throwing techniques and drills to help your quarterbacks maintain strong passing ability in the face of defensive pressure. This can not only help your QB's maintain arm strength in the face of heat... but can keep them from getting their hand, thumb, or wrist injured on a defenders helmet.

Keep spreading u'm!



Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Ten Spread Match-Up: Michigan vs Indiana - 9/26/2009

Michigan vs Indiana is a great spread offense game to watch today. Both teams are undefeated, and you'll get to see the spread option offense of Michigan, and the pistol formation of Indiana. The game is at 12 noon (Eastern) on ESPN2.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is It Time To Remove "Gimmick" From The Wildcat In The NFL?

Now that the one year anniversary of the wildcat formation (notice I don't call it an 'offense', because it actually falls into a formation category in the long tail of the spread offense family) is behind us, and the Miami Dolphins celebrated the one year birthday with another display of solid execution in the wildcat, could we all stop calling it a 'gimmick'?

Think back to the creation of the the 'zone blitz' on the defensive side of the ball, when Dick LeBeau, Defensive Coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers unleashed it on the NFL in the early 90's... was that called a 'gimmick'.. or 'brilliance'?

Think about it... what's more 'gimmicky', dropping a 300 pound defensive linemen into pass coverage, or putting an athletic running back into a single wing shot gun formation?

In Super Bowl XLIII when James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards for the Steelers on a zone blitz call, I don't remember any of the TV announcers saying: "Boy, that zone blitz gimmick really had the Cardinals offense off balance on that play".

Anyone who knows anything about football knows that schemes are only as good as the execution of the players performing the scheme.

Lets start praising the player execution of the wildcat formation, and not some made up 'gimmick' pixie dust that TV announcers and certain journalists will have you believe is the only thing making the wildcat a success in the NFL.

Keep spreading u'm,



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rich Rodriguez Explaining The Outside Zone and Perimeter Game

Rich Rodriguez (aka: Coach Rod) has been running the zone read out of the spread offense since his days at Glenville State College (WV), 1990-1996.

Coach Rod, in his second year now at the University of Michigan is seeing similar success as in his second year at West Virginia University with his spread offense system.

Below is a video of Coach Rod back in the day explaining his 'Outside Zone/Perimeter Game'

Keep spreading u'm!



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tate Forcier - Nicely Done Young Man!

I remember Bill Parcells unleashing one of his many classic coaching comments after a great performance by Tony Romo back in 2006... 'Lets not enshrine him in Canton or the Ring of Honor just yet fella's... OK!" in his classic south Bergen County NJ accent.

Well on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan it was hard not to start thinking about a great future ahead for Tate Forcier and the Michigan Wolverines.

Matt Millen was surely impressed, doing the game in the booth for ABC who has seen his share of talented football players as a player and NFL executive.

I got the feeling I was watching a little of Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Colt McCoy mixed into one very confident college quarterback, a true freshmen quarterback at that...

His decision making was excellent in the spread offense devised by Rich Rodriguez, aka Rich Rod or Coach Rod.

Is he a physical specimen? No.. but neither was Montana, Tarkenton, or nor is McCoy and Romo.

Forcier just seems to have that 'it' factor... you know, those intangibles that are hard to measure, but result in positive plays and an uncanny knack for raising the rest of the teams ability and intensity.

As for Coach Rod, I'm very happy for him. First off if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be running this 'spread offense' online franchise and the likes of Urban Meyer, Butch Jones, Herb Hand, and many others likely wouldn't be coaching at such a high level either.

Isn't the spread offense fun when fun players execute it?!

Keep spreading u'm!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Bringing Heat To An Empty Spread Offense Formation

These days you find a lot of spread offense teams at all levels of football using an empty formation. Defensively, teams find themselves having to decide whether to apply pressure by blitzing the quarterback or play a more conservative style of defense with more zone and less blitzing.

The below package is a very aggressive blitz package, bringing pressure to the offensive backfield. In return for that pressure, the pass coverage behind the blitz is man to man... placing a lot of pressure on your secondary and linebacker (Sam backer in this situation).

Always remember, football... like certain aspects of life is a 'high risk, high reward' proposition. But, with high risk also comes the potential for harder falls! I always tell coaches who contact me that no one knows your team better then you do (or at least that's the way it's suppose to be). The way you attack an offense should be 80% decided on that factor... what can your team do or can't do physically and mentally. The other 20% is left for the below type stuff, the strategy part of it.

Lets take a look at the below empty set and an aggressive blitz call:

For reference, we call our three down-lineman:

Tackle (T)

Nose Guard (N)

End (E)

Linebackers: Will (Weakside backer), Mike (Middle backer), Buck (2nd Middle backer), and Sam (Strongside backer) - In a true '50' look, Will and Sam are line of scrimmage (LOS) players - some may call this a '3-4' look.

Defensive backs: Corners (2 C's), Strong Safety (SS), Free Safety (FS)

Against the shot-gun empty 'trips/twins' formation above, the defensive line call is a:

'Slide Weak' call for the 3 down lineman, meaning they are aligning head up to their respective offensive lineman (no shade) and at the snap sliding weak (with penetration, the landmark is trying to place their left shoulder pad (in this case, going right) to the offensive lineman's gap arm pit, then re-directing up into the gap), which in this case is the twins side of the formation (the TE/twins or 'trips' side is the strength of the formation).

The linebacker call is a:

'Mike, Buck, Will Cross', a 'controlled' cross stunt/blitz from the three (MBW) linebackers, wanting to wait until the ball is snapped and their corresponding defensive lineman has crossed their face prior to them establishing forward momentum on the blitz (it usually is a 'thousand one' cadence, then blitz).

I use the word 'controlled' because based on the down and distance of the play at hand, this could either be a run blitz or a pass blitz, and the last thing you want to do is run by a run play because you blitzed 'out of control'.

This is a critical coaching point, especially at the young levels, being able to teach defensive players how to blitz 'under control' based on the down and distance and more importantly, the real time read of the play... pass or run.
A blitzer is useless if they run themselves past an inside run play (especially to their side) or a mobile quarterback on a pass.

The defensive backs and linebacker (Sam) pass coverage call is:

'Cover 0 - Man to Man', With the following responsibilities:

Corners: #1 Receivers (man to man) - slight outside shade, 5 yards off the receiver.

Free Safety/Strong Safety: #2 Receivers (man to man) - slight outside shade, 5 yards off the receiver. {I actually have the FS on the strong side of the formation covering #2 and the SS on the weak side covering #2, not a big deal... your call as a coach}.

Sam: Man to man versus the Tight End (Y), #3 receiver. Notice, Sam also has D gap responsibility versus the run, he must keep his outside arm free (maintain outside leverage) and not get hooked on a QB sweep. He also has to 'squeeze' any QB Down (kick out by Guard) play... don't spill it to the outside, funnel it inside by attacking the outside shoulder of the kick-out guard. That play (QB Down) should never materialize though, with all the pressure into the backfield through the strongside A-B-C gaps.

Corners and Safeties have to really watch the 'rub routes' and pick plays here...

Hopefully this package is something you can use in defending an empty set out of the spread offense.

Keep spreading u'm (or defending u'm)!



Friday, August 28, 2009

50 Front Defense vs. A Spread Offense Look

The below diagram shows a "50 front" odd defense against a classic spread offense look, twins/open or 'split' - two back - shot gun set.

For reference, we call our three down-lineman:

Tackle (T)

Nose Guard (N)

End (E)

Linebackers: Will (Weakside backer), Mike (Middle backer), Buck (2nd Middle backer), and Sam (Strongside backer) - In a true '50' look, Will and Sam are line of scrimmage (LOS) players - some may call this a '3-4' look.

Defensive backs: Corners (2 C's), Strong Safety (SS), Free Safety (FS)

Against the shot-gun 'Twins/Open' formation above, the defensive line call is a:

'Pinch' call for the 3 down lineman, meaning they are aligning head up to their respective offensive lineman (no shade) and at the snap sliding hard (with penetration) to the closest inside gap, with the Nose Guard (N) always sliding to strength on a pinch call, and weak on a veer call. A 'Veer' call is the opposite of a 'Pinch' call, the alignment is the same (head up), but the defensive linemen would slide hard to the nearest outside gap to them.

The linebacker call is a:

'Sam Go', a 'controlled' blitz from the strongside linebacker, wanting to try and time the snap so he has forward momentum. I use the word 'controlled' because based on the down and distance of the play at hand, this could either be a run blitz or a pass blitz, and the last thing you want to do is run by a run play because you blitzed 'out of control'.

This is a critical coaching point, especially at the young levels, being able to teach defensive players how to blitz 'under control' based on the down and distance and more importantly, the real time read of the play... pass or run.

A blitzer is useless if they run themselves past an inside run play (especially to their side) or a mobile quarterback on a pass.

I always teach linebackers to be run defenders first, they have to have 'forward moving' run stop mentalities, then once pass is properly identified, they need to hustle to their pass responsibilities if they're not blitzing.

The defensive backs and linebacker pass coverage call is:

'Cover 3', With the following responsibilities:

Strong Corner: Deep 1/3

Strong Safety: Flat (rotating from Cover 2 look with Sam blitzing)

Mike: Hook to Curl

Buck: Hook to Curl

Will: Flat (Must stay with the running back on a wheel route/out and up)

Weakside Corner: Deep 1/3 (Man the SE on a post)

Free Safety: Deep 1/3 (middle)

Important coaches point: the weakside Corner and Will are likely going to be converting to man as the play progresses, but at the snap the Corner wants to show Cover 3, aligning 8-10 yards off the SE as this allows for better run support, as opposed to a backside man lock on the SE.

If you notice the gap responsibilities versus the run game, you see the Mike is 'free'd up' to key ball flow - meaning he has no assigned gap responsibility versus the run... a nice aspect to this package.

Hopefully this package is something you can use in defending the spread offense.

Keep spreading u'm (or defending u'm)!



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weak Side Blitz Package vs Spread Shot Gun Look

When defending a shot gun spread option offense that has both a run and pass threat, you need to apply enough pressure to 're-position' the line of scrimmage (LOS) against the run and at the same time, have solid pass coverage versus the pass.

One blitz package that can help do both is a weak side blitz (we're calling the twins formation the 'weak side' as opposed to the tight end side the "strong side", even though the off-set running back is positioned to the twins side [in effect causing a trips look], which some coaches would call the strong side).

As you see in the diagram above, we're in a 3-3-5 (or 3-5-3) stack alignment defensively. For reference, we call our three down-lineman:

Tackles ( 2 T's)
Nose Guard (N)

Will (Weakside backer)
Mike (Middle backer)
Sam (Strongside backer)

Defensive backs:
Corners (2 C's)
Free Safety (1 FS)
Bandit (1 BN) - hybrid type player
Spur (1 SP) - hybrid type player

Against the shot-gun 'Ace' formation above, the defensive line call is a:

'Slant' call for the 3 down lineman, meaning they are slanting into the strong side gaps (slant = 'strong', or to strength, and angle call = away from strength, or 'weak'). Slant and Angle stunts are gap philosophy techniques to try and cause penetration and disturb normal blocking tracks of the offensive line, thus dictating movement at the line of scrimmage.

The linebacker call is a:

'Bandit/Will Go', a 'controlled' blitz from the two weak side linebackers that want to try and time the snap so they have forward momentum. I use the word 'controlled' because based on the down and distance of the play at hand, this could either be a run blitz or a pass blitz, and the last thing you want to do is run by a run play because you blitzed 'out of control'.

This is a critical coaching point, especially at the young levels, being able to teach defensive players how to blitz 'under control' based on the down and distance and more importantly, the real time read of the play... pass or run.

A blitzer is useless if they run themselves past an inside run play (especially to their side) or a mobile quarterback on a pass.

The defensive backs and linebacker coverage call is:

Combo (DBs) and Banjo (LBs), these are specific unit combination coverages that tell two defenders that they're responsible as a 'unit' for either one or two defenders in coverage.

In the case of the 'Combo' call above, the left Corner (C) and Free Safety (FS) are responsible for the 'X/SE' and 'Z' in the twins formation to the left. This means that they're playing a 'zone-man' of sorts based on who enters their 'quarter' of the field... but it's not a true 'zone', because once engaged or committed, that man is yours even if he crosses the entire field in this case, the X/SE may do this on a crossing route, so the FS would be responsible for that (if they both cross, aka 'cross/follow', then both defenders will follow)... plus the 'Mike (M) and/or Sam (S)' could wall-off on any crosser's IF the running back stays in to block [see below]).

The combo on the other side of the field is the Spur (SP) and right Corner (C) with the Tight End (Y) and Flanker (FL).

Again, same principles as the combo to the other side as far as responsibilities in coverage.

The Banjo call is directed to the Mike (M) and Sam (S) who are working as a unit to cover the Running Back in the backfield should he release right, left, or up the middle for a pass or screen. You sometimes hear a 'Banjo... Banjo' call and then see the Mike backer point to the running back and then yell to the Sam (or Will backer on occasions, based on the defense) backer in games on TV.

If you notice the gap responsibilities versus the run game, you see the Mike is 'free'd up' to key ball flow - meaning he has no assigned gap responsibility versus the run... a nice aspect to this package.

Note: A play that can pose a 'challenge' to the defense in this package and call is the 'bubble or jailbreak' screen, more the bubble with the Bandit blitzing 'assuming' he can't disrupt the play. The Free Safety and Mike really have to hustle to get to the perimeter to support the Corner.

That's the 'chess match' that makes this all fun!

Hopefully this package is something you can use in defending the spread offense.

Keep spreading u'm (or defending u'm)!



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zone Combo Blocking - The Key To Rushing In The Spread Offense

The key to any good offense is balance, being able to run and throw the football so the defense cannot dictate the game based on your tendencies.

Most spread offenses run a zone blocking scheme with their offensive linemen, and 'combo' or 'slam' blocks are a key technique for the success of the run game.

The link is a short video on some combo/double team blocking:

* Go directly to the video page at:


Notice the offensive line coach explaining the 'Lifter' (#76 in the video), usually the offensive lineman that has a defensive lineman directly over him (or being known as "covered") who is trying to get the top of his shoulder pad to the bottom of the defensive lineman's number (the number on the front of his jersey) and 'lift' him, prior to scrapping off to the linebacker.

The other offensive lineman in the double team (or 'combo' block) is known as the 'Driver'. He (#53, the center) continues to drive the defensive lineman who was engaged in the double team.

Keep spreading u'm!



Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Long Tail Of The Spread Offense In Football

Rich Rodriguez, head coach at the University of Michigan recently said: “There’s so many variations of the spread that’s different" - so when the Chairman of The Board speaks, I decided to dig a little deeper.

In an effort to make the piece more interesting in regards to the many pieces of the spread offense in football, I decided to use 'The Long Tail' model to explain the spread offense 'family'.

For those of you not familiar with 'The Long Tail' - it is a model used in business and certain industries to show how front heavy, high frequency occurrences (usually the most popular occurrences) are followed by the events at the far end of the tail, which have very low probabilities of occurrences.

The author, Chris Anderson argues that though the long tail end of the model is the less popular 'occurrence', they can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few popular occurrences, if the distribution channel is large enough and efficient enough to get the message and instruction out.

Has the Internet and speed of communication over the last 10 years accelerated the branches of the spread offense in the long tail?

Lets take a look at our 'Long Tail' model of the spread offense family:

Leading the 'front heavy' popular formations are:

Spread Option Offense

The spread option offense is a variant of the more generic “spread offense.” It has found unprecedented success and widespread employment in college and high school football. Essentially a hybrid of the traditionally pass-oriented spread offense, the spread option is based on the concept of defensive isolation. The offense "spreads" the defense by aligning in three-to-five receiver sets, using two or fewer running backs in the backfield and often setting the quarterback in shotgun.

This “spread” forces the defense to defend more of the field and isolates its players in “space”. To exploit this, the offense employs double or triple option plays which further mitigates the athleticism of the defense and forces it to play their assignments. When used in combination with a consistent passing game, the spread option offense can yield strong results. The means by which option plays are run from the spread option offense vary greatly. The most popular running play employed in the spread is the read option.

This play is also known as the zone-read, QB Choice, or QB Wrap. A type of double option, the read option is relatively simple play during which the quarterback makes a single read (usually of the backside defensive end or linebacker) and decides whether or not to hand the ball to a running back on a dive or slant track. Others have found even more innovative ways to run the option from spread formations.

Pro Spread/Shot Gun Offense

The "Spread Offense" is a generic term used to describe an offense that operates out of a formation with multiple wide receivers, usually out of the Shotgun, and can be run or pass oriented. One of the goals of the spread offense is to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically, and to take what is normally most teams best defenders (linebackers) out of the game or out of the box (TE to TE at the Line of Scrimmage) by utilizing three or more receivers.

As a result of the Pro Spread influence, the New England Patriots (for example) will frequently run their offense with five potential receivers and an empty backfield should a favorable matchup present itself. With Randy Moss and Wes Welker in the Patriots offense, the Patriots have placed an emphasis on a wide open passing attack.

Now lets look at some of the popular 'Long Tail' spread offense systems:

Single Wing Spread Offense

Although the Single-wing has lost much of its popularity since World War II, its characteristic features are still prevalent in all levels of modern football. They include pulling guards, double teams, play action passes, laterals, wedge blocking, trap blocking, the sweep, the reverse and the quick kick. Many current offenses, such as that of the Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer, use Single-wing tendencies for running plays, while using wide receivers instead of wingbacks.

Once a strong running formation, the single wing has been replaced by formations that facilitate passing, while minimizing the running aspect of the game. Today the single-wing has evolved in what coaches call the spread offense or shotgun, with the emphasis on passing. The most noticeable feature that remains of the powerful Carlisle formation is the long toss from center to the main ball-handler. The main talent and field general has become the quarterback instead of the tailback. The other single-wing backs have moved close to the line of scrimmage and are split farther from the main line. Wide receivers are called split-ends, flex ends, slots, and flankers.

Also, linemen spacing has increased in distance. Moving offensive players farther apart serves the purpose of also spreading the defense. The goal is to make defenses cover the whole field on every play.

WildCat Offense

The wildcat formation, (or wildcat offense) a variation on the single-wing formation, is an offensive football scheme that has been used at every level of the game. The general scheme can be instituted into many different offensive systems, but the distinguishing factor is a direct snap to the running back and an unbalanced offensive line.

The wildcat is an offensive package rather than an offense, in that it uses the same pre-snap motion coming across the formation on every play in the package and every play initially looks like a sweep behind zone blocking. However, after the snap several things may happen once the motion man crosses the player receiving the snap.

The Wildcat was popularized on the college level by current Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, and current Miami Dolphins quarterback coach David Lee in their former jobs as offensive coordinator with the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 2006, Malzahn, and in 2007 Lee, was the offensive coordinator for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Relying on the experience of quarterbacks coach David Lee who had run the scheme at Arkansas, the 2008 Miami Dolphins implemented the Wildcat offense beginning in the third game of the 2008 season with great success, instigating a wider trend throughout the NFL. The Dolphins started the Wildcat trend in the NFL lining up either running back Ronnie Brown (in most cases) or Ricky Williams in the shotgun formation with the option of handing off, running, or throwing. Through eleven games, the Wildcat averaged over seven yards per play for the Dolphins.

"It could be the single wing, it could be the Delaware split buck business that they used to do," Dolphins offensive coordinator Dan Henning said. "It comes from all of that." On September 21, 2008, the Miami Dolphins used the Wildcat offense against the New England Patriots on six plays, which produced five touchdowns (four rushing and one passing) in a 38-13 upset victory.

And others....

Run and Shoot Offense

Pistol Offense

Air Raid Offense

Spin Offense

A-11 Offense

Some reading this may say... "The Run and Shoot Offense is one of the foundations of the spread offense, how can you have it so low on the tail?"

Well, I'd have to say that the popularity of the run and shoot has diminished significantly, sort of like the Sony Walkman to the Apple iPod. That doesn't mean they're not important parts of the family, they just lost their popularity due to either advancements in innovation or technology.

You'll notice in between the Spin Offense and the A-11 Offense I placed the wording 'More Developments'. I truly feel the long tail of the spread offense will develop and evolve more variations, and those new variations will hit the information super highway, landing into coaches laps.

So I guess Coach Rod was right.... the spread offense has so many variations, and expect more to continue to develop.

Keep spreading u'm!