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.