Monday, December 29, 2008

The Quick Passing Game in the Spread Offense

By Greg Nejmeh, The College Of New Jersey:

One of the big advantages of the spread offense is to use the quick passing game (i.e., slants, stops, speed ins, sticks) as well as other routes and combinations to exploit the defense. At the most basic level, the quick passing game works well because it is high percentage passing, beats blitzes, minimizes an aggressive pass rush, and allows your best athletes – usually your slot receivers - to make moves on linebackers in space.

To read more and view the diagrams associated with this article, please go to:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Combo Passing Sets In The Spread Offense

We're probably all familiar with using a passing tree to describe the routes to be run on a given play. Often, in the spread offense, numbers aren't enough. An example of this would be if you wanted to run a follow pattern, in which the inside receiver runs a short in and the outside receiver runs a deep in; how would this differ from a follow switch pattern, in which the inside receiver runs the dig, and the outside receiver comes underneath on an in ... say your "4" pattern is a down-and-in route -- is a "44" a Follow or a Follow Switch? Is a 4 route a drag, dig, or square in?

For more details and to read the entire article, go to:

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the Heisman Winner Is... A Spread Offense Quarterback

This Saturday (12/13/2008) will unveil the Heisman trophy winner for the 2008 college football season. The three finalist are all quarterback's from spread offense systems. You have last year's winner, Tim Tebow from the Unversity of Florida - Texas Longhorn's Colt McCoy, and Oklahoma Sooner's Sam Bradford.

Tebow, our player of the year last year (2007) came on strong the second half of the season and is just an amazing player and person.

McCoy, who put up amazing numbers this year and showed the heart of a lion in the Oklahoma game, is our choice here at

Bradford, Mr. Consistent who is extremely accurate with his throws and a great, humble leader.

Good luck to all the finalists... one thing is for sure, for the third year in a row a spread offense quarterback will win the award.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Spread Offense Thanks You Pat White

Last week when West Virginia's Pat White broke the all-time NCAA QB rushing record against Louisville, I had mixed emotions. One part of me was so happy for Pat and his WVU teammates while the other part of me was sad that an era was coming to an end. With college football down to two more games for most teams (some only one), I would only get to see #5 in the old gold and blue twice more... man, that stinks!

When I started this site about a year ago, it was an easy choice on who's mold I wanted the logo of "" made from, I figured that the most inspiring spread offense player(s) over the previous 3 seasons was Pat White (and his partner in crime at the time, Steve Slaton). Hence, I made them the second and third WVU players that a logo was molded after (the first being Jerry West, who's the mold for the NBA logo).
This upcoming Saturday (December 6th at 8:00pm, televised on ESPN2), West Virginia plays the University of South Florida at West Virginia for Pat White's final home game as a Mountaineer. WVU is officially making it a Pat "White Out" event, meaning everyone in the stadium is being instructed to wear 'White' clothing in honor of #5.

The WVU Official Sports website recently released their 'Top 10' Pat White all-time game performances as a Mountaineer, go to: to see them.

The Mountaineer's will make a bowl game this year so that will be Pat's last official game, but do yourself a favor and tune in Saturday night for his last home game.

If you love the modern day spread offense... You'll love seeing the 'Magician' one more time in front of the home crowd.

Thank you Pat White... I can't wait to see you in the NFL.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Simplifying Pre-Snap Motion Out Of The Spread Offense

An area of the spread offense that drives defensive coordinators crazy is the pre-snap motion that many offenses use to out-man or gain an advantage on the defensive alignment. This changes the strength of the offense, and the defense must react quickly to re-align. To view a recent article with diagrams on simplifying the pre-snap motion offense out of the spread, go to:


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Triple Option Shot-Gun Spread Offense - Works In The NFL Too!

OK, now it's getting serious down in Miami with the spread offense. If you saw the game or highlights of their last game vs. Seattle, Ricky Williams went untouched from 51 yards away out of the triple option set. It looked like a Steve Slaton run from his old West Virginia days when him and Pat White would drive defenses nuts.

How often do you see an NFL running back go 'untouched' for 50+ yards (well, see the video below)?? NFL defensive coordinators, look out!! I think 2011 has arrived a little early.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pre-Snap Motion Passing Out Of The Spread Offense

With the impressive passing performance of Texas Tech last night vs. Texas, we thought a pass diagram with a little pre-snap motion out of the spread offense would be an appropriate post.
Great play by Michael Crabtree at the end of the game.... and a heck of a throw by Graham Harrell to his back shoulder.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tulsa Giving The Spread Offense A Good Name

If you haven't seen The Golden Hurricane of Tulsa run the spread offense yet this year, do yourself a favor and watch them this Sunday night at 8:00pm ET (It's a Sunday night college special) vs. UCF (Central Florida) on ESPN.

Back in February, posted a Q&A session with Herb Hand, co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

To view that post, Click Here

#19 (BCS and Coaches Poll) Tulsa is averaging 56.6 points per game, and QB David Johnson has thrown 31 TD's. Tarrion Adams is the leading rusher for the Golden Hurricane, averaging 5.9 yards per rush.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Auburn Fires Franklin - Remain Committed To The Spread Offense

Auburn University fired offensive coordinator and spread offense guru Tony Franklin on Wednesday just ten months into his tenure.

Tommy Tuberville, the head coach at Auburn said he remained committed to the spread offense, but a change in play calling and style was required and he was going with his 'gut felling' on the decision.

"It hurts. It hurts bad," Tuberville said on Wednesday. "It's a difficult situation. It's a difficult thing to do in the middle of the season. My responsibility is to this football team and it always will be. Tony's a good person. When it all comes down to it, it's about production. I didn't think over the last few weeks we were making any progress."

Tuberville hired Franklin from Troy last December after firing Al Borges. Franklin led the offense in the Chick-fil-A Bowl — a victory over Clemson that created a lot of excitement over the new offense at Auburn.

Auburn plays Arkansas this Saturday in an SEC battle.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Missouri Tigers Clearly The Cream Of The Spread Offense

After the first 5 weeks of the 2008 college football season, it's obvious that Missouri's spread offense lead by Chase Daniel is the most exciting and diverse in college football.

Through four games, Daniel has completed 101-of-133 passes for 1,412 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception.

Not to mention one of the most exciting skill players in the country, Mr. Everything Jeremy Maclin.

To read more about Missouri's recent win over Nebraska, Click Here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Spread Offense Gets A Shot In The Arm From... The NFL's Miami Dolphins??

The spread offense in college has been sort of taking it on the chin the last few weeks, with the likes of Auburn and West Virginia having a difficult time getting their offenses in gear so far (Thank God for Missouri...what an offense that is!) this year.

Then out of the clear blue, this past Sunday saw the emergence of the 'South Florida Spread' (no, not Matt Grothe and the USF Bulls in Tampa), the Miami Dolphins!

That's right, the Dolphins of the AFC East took the New England Patriots behind the wood shed with some solid defensive play and a taste of the Arkansas 'Wild Cat and Wild Hog' Offense made so famous by Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

In this case, it was Ronnie Brown who was in the shot-gun orchestrating the famous spread offense formation, surely under the tutelage of Miami's quarterback coach David Lee, from you guessed it... The University of Arkansas.

See Coach Lee explaining his offense - Click Here

On Sunday, Brown gained 113 yards on 17 carries and the Dolphins out gained the Patriots 461 yards to 216.

Ronnie Brown, typically used as a tailback, received six direct snaps resulting in four touchdowns (three runs, one pass).

This will be interesting to see how it develops as the year goes on, will you see this package every week by Miami? Will other pro teams consider trying this or a similar spread offense/single wing package with a great athlete?

Time will tell... remember our prediction on the college spread offense making its way into the NFL - click here - Maybe it'll happen sooner!

Keep spreading u'm!


Sunday, September 7, 2008

QB Sweep - Simple And Effective Shot-Gun Spread Offense Play

QB Sweep Diagram (#1) Inside Slot Counter Trap #2 (off QB Sweep action)

Many spread offense's are pumping more and more rushing yards out of their athletic quarterback's (QB's). One of the simplest, yet effective plays out of the shot-gun is the QB Sweep (see diagram #1 above). This is also a great play to put in with your Tailback (TB) because it allows him to do what he is used to doing.

The QB will simply read the block of the #3 receiver (or inside slot). If the they get the hook he will sweep outside. If they kick-out, the QB will cut up and inside the block.

If you really want to keep the defense honest, compliment the QB sweep with the inside slot counter trap (see diagram #2 above). This could be either an inside hand-off or flip (schuffle) toss.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Patrick White THROWS 5 TD Passes To Lead West Virginia In Opener

Pat White, the 4 year starting quarterback of the West Virginia Mountaineer's highly productive spread offense and a leading preseason Heisman candidate in 2008 broke another Mountaineer record on Saturday, this time not with his magic leg's, but with his arm.

White threw 5 touchdown passes against Villanova, a top 'sub-division' football program that consistently challenged the Mountaineer offense by placing 8 and 9 guys in the box in an attempt to slow up the anticipated 'zone read' rushing show by White and Noel Devine.

When new Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart hired Jeff Mullen as the WVU offensive coordinator in early 2008, he did so knowing that Mullen was a 'take what they give you' type of offensive coach, something the Mountaineer's have been accused of ignoring the past few years under the past regime of Rich Rodriguez.

Mullen stated after the the 48-21 West Virginia win Saturday, “I was pleased with his decision making. Fundamentally and athletically, the kid has been blessed before I ever got a hold of him”. “I was just real happy with where his eyes went to on every pass play in order for those completions to occur."

“I’m a guru right?” Mullen joked. “There were a number of times today and during Patrick’s career when you go, ‘Wow, that wasn’t a very good call and then old #5 gets you out of that bind. He’s certainly a blessing to coach.

White finished with career highs in completions (25) and attempts (33). Six incompletions were the result of drops or poor receiver play, an area Mullen and Stewart expect to improve on.

Pat White, who has been compared at times to Vince Young looked more like Steve Young versus Villanova, standing tall in the pocket and firing accurate passes from his strong left arm.

This latest development out of Morgantown must be sending shivers up the spines of defensive coordinators having to face White and the Mountaineer's this year.

Just when you thought the 'game plan' executed so well by Pittsburgh and South Florida last year against the Mountaineer's powerful run game was a possible 'formula for success' (then again, White was hurt and not 100% in both of those games...), Patrick White shows us yesterday that his hard work in the off season and guidance from Jeff Mullen (previously at Wake Forest) has really improved his passing ability, giving the WVU offense the much needed balance it has needed the past three years.

The Mountaineer's have a great challenge ahead of them this week as they head to East Carolina, themselves coming off a great win over a ranked Virginia Tech team.


WVU Highlights vs. Villanova (Pat White, 5 TD Passes)

Friday, August 8, 2008

College Rule Change Favors A No Huddle Spread Offense

College Football made some revisions this off-season to its 266 page rule book that will significantly help an already established offense that runs out of the no huddle spread offense in 2008 and beyond.

The 25 second clock, that was once reset after officials marked the ball, is now a secondary player. This year, a 40 second clock starts immediately at the end of every play. Only for reasons such as a penalty, time-out, or measurement will an offense receive a full 25 seconds from the spot of the ball.

This could be tough on offenses that rotate personnel often into the game, and it could have a big impact on a team huddling prior to coming to the line of scrimmage.

Chalk one up for the no-huddle spread offense teams out there in college football, you're ahead of the game and this important rule change.

Check out an article on this subject by Ivan Maisel of below:

Go to:


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Are Your Ready For Some Spread Offense

As the 2008 College Football season draws closer, we thought this video of all of Tim Tebow's touchdown's last year, his heisman trophy season would get you in the mood for some serious 'spread offense' (or single wing.... looking at the video).

Enjoy Below:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How To Defend A Spread Offense Passing Attack

In this article, I will present how we defend against a predominately pass offense that runs just some zone read in the spread offense. The first thoughts in my mind are down and distance and where the ball is on the field. Our calls will change as the field become shorter, the score of the game and time left on the clock. I classify my thoughts in four general categories: A. Five in the box , B. Five and a half in the box, C. Six in the box and D. Seven in the box.

To read more, visit this article with diagrams at:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Balanced Offense Redefined - The Spread Offense

You can hear about it everyday from fans with even the most basic knowledge of the game of football. It is something that some spread offense coaches meticulously strive for, despite the fact that there are no points awarded for it, and some of the most successful coaches at any level completely disregard it. “It” is balance in play calling.

To read this entire article, please go to:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Running Backs As Blockers In The Spread Offense

The running back position in the spread offense requires not only the ability to carry the ball and catch the ball, but also an aggressive desire to block on both running plays and passing plays.

This article will be split up between explanations of two pass blocking concepts followed by run blocking explanations using the running back(s) out of the backfield.

To view the entire article with diagrams, go to:

Friday, May 2, 2008

Using the Running Back as a Receiving Threat in The Spread Offense

The running back in today’s spread offenses is meant to be more than just a running threat; he must also be a threat out of the backfield and spread out wide as a receiving weapon as well. This gives the quarterback another viable option in the passing game and will likely give the defense different problems that may alter what they do, which is the whole point.

To read more about this spread offense article with diagrams, go to:

Friday, April 4, 2008

Defending The Spread Offense Option Attack

When defending the spread option, the first thing we think about is what form of structure we want for our defense. As all football progresses in cycles, what we are really defending is the triple option without a seal block. The offense is trying to seal our LB by the action of the RB. We choose to defend the spread attack using a 3-4 (5-2) defensive structure. We like this defense because it adds an extra athlete to match the athleticism of the offense.

To read more of this article (with diagrams), go to:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spread Offense Q&A - Nunzio Campanile - Don Bosco Prep High School - NJ

It's a pleasure to have Nunzio Campanile in our second coaches Q&A session, Athletic Director and Offensive Coordinator at Don Bosco Prep High School in New Jersey.

1) Coach, thanks for taking the time to speak with us at and congratulations on your second straight New Jersey state title (2006-2007)?

Thank you, this past season was a lot of fun. We had a great group of guys that really put the team ahead of their personal interests and it made for a great team in all phases of the game.

2) Tell us a little bit about the spread offense you run at Don Bosco Prep? (Run first philosophy? balanced attack philosophy (run/pass)? Tempo? No-Huddle? Gun vs. under the center? Etc…)

Our offense at Don Bosco Prep is predicated on 2 things, controlling the tempo and balance. The tempo is set by playing fast. We operate out of a no-huddle system on occasion, but we always want to play fast. The more experienced we are, the more likely we are to go no-huddle.

We will use no-huddle to give us a jumpstart or change the pace. We always want to fly in and out of the huddle if we do use one. We have a different thought about balance then many other teams. We never gameplan to be a 50/50 team. Rather, we want to be flexible enough to take what the defense gives us. On every play we have the ability to get into the play that best fits the look that the defense gives. We want to run the ball, but we never want to be too stubborn.

We are willing to throw the ball until the defense gives us the looks we want to run the ball successfully. That may be the greatest advantage of the spread. The formations create a threat to run and throw on every down. We do believe it essential to throw the ball well if you are in the spread. If you can’t take advantage of their attempts to stop the run you become one dimensional. We always want the threat of a balanced attack. This past season we were a predominantly gun team. In the past we have been mixed depending upon the QB.

3) Based on this philosophy, what do you and your fellow offensive coaches look for when preparing for an opponent every week?

We look for basic fronts and coverages. We want to know the other teams best stunts. We always ask, what do they believe in? A good team is not going to drastically overhaul their defense in one week.

If they do, they are not going to be able to make the necessary adjustments to beat us. We also look for physical match-ups. Who are their best and worst players. We want to keep it basic. We feel that our style of offense allows us a great deal of flexibility. We may throw it 35 times against one team and run it 40 times the next week. We love to throw, but devised a gameplan for the past 2 state championship games, in which we ran the ball almost 80% of the plays. To us that demonstrates our balance. We have the ability to take what the defense gives us.

4) What type of student-athlete do you guys get at Don Bosco Prep offensively? Does the type of athlete you guys have dictate the offensive philosophy?

We get a mixed bag of athletes at Don Bosco. Being a parochial school we draw from a wide variety of towns, providing an array of different athletes. Each year it varies in what type of athletes we will have. This past season we had 3 tremendous running backs on the varsity w/ some real strong guys behind them.

We tried to keep them all on the field as much as possible. Some years we have 6 or 7 WRs that rotate. We definitely change our scheme depending upon our players. We will not change our philosophy for anyone. In other words we will always believe in balance & tempo. We will always believe in being a tough physical team that can run the ball. What may change is, the actual scheme or choice of formations we use. We will not be too stubborn to run a scheme that we do not have the players to run, we will be flexible enough to adapt.

5) How long have you been running the spread offense (or a version of it) at DBP? And how has the spread offense evolved over that period at the high school level in NJ and nationally?

We have been running some version of the spread for 7 seasons. 8 years ago we ran a lot of 1 back stuff w/ Ryan Grant at tailback (Green Bay Packers), but we were a predominantly power run offense. We have evolved a great deal. There are so many great ideas out there. We are constantly seeking out advice on better ways to do what we are doing. I watch a lot of football and try to find ways to adapt what other teams are using to improve our offense.

There are so many colleges running the spread that you can find new ideas everywhere. They are usually very accommodating to high school coaches. We tinker with what we do constantly. Mainly, so that others teams do not catch us. We do not want teams to out work us.

As far as the change in spread offenses, I think its been tremendous. I played QB for my father at Paramus Catholic. We ran a version of the Run-N-Shoot in the early and mid-90’s. We were 4 WRs every play. No one was running the spread then. We were one of the only teams even throwing the ball, now everyone is getting into it. That offense really helped my transition into coaching. Many of the principles we used still apply today. Its exciting, it gets a lot of players involved, and the use of the dual threat QB has really changed the game. Now a QB can be a runner and a passer.

People used to think that combo was impossible, now you see it everywhere. We did many of these things when I was in school, but we never got in the gun. It really has changed the game in HS football.

6) Based on this evolution you’ve seen, is it still safe to say that defenses are still playing ‘catch-up’ in trying to figure out this offense (scheme wise)? Especially when defending an offense that has a gifted ‘dual threat’ type quarterback?

Defenses are playing catch up, if the team has the balance we talked about earlier. The dual threat QB has leveled the field. Under center the game is played 11 on 10. The QB’s ability to run has made it an 11 on 11 game. The offense can account for extra defenders w/ options, reads, and hots.

Many teams see the spread and think pass, but its much more than that. We have run the ball more than thrown it every year except one in the past 7 seasons, but teams are still giving us 5 and 6 man boxes to attack. A talented QB forces the defense to make difficult decisions.

Honestly I do not envy the defense in that situation. Often they are in a difficult position either way. Our QB this past season, Brett Knief, was the best dual threat QB we’ve had. I say that knowing the the 3 previous guys were all Div. 1 QBs. Steve Levy (Cal), Mike Teel (Rutgers), & Matt Simms (Louisville) were tremendous players that got better everyday. Simms & Teel were incredible throwers and smart QBs that allowed us to do many things, but they had to surprise you with a big run.

We hope that they are both future pros, but the ability to run in HS is crippling. Brett was a threat to run on every down and he killed teams throwing the ball. That dual threat puts a lot of uncertainty in the defense.

7) Play a little devil’s advocate, what are the biggest weaknesses you see in the run oriented spread offense in college and high school football?

The run oriented spread offense is limited. If a team has great perimeter defenders the defense can load the box to force long yardage situations. This limits the play action game. I will stick w/ our notion of balance. It takes a great deal of work to throw the ball successfully. We believe it is worth the investment of time.

Many teams in the “run oriented” spread only throw when they need to or have huge play action opportunities. This will hurt you when you face a team that is as talented as your team. When you are a threat to throw on every down the defense can not commit to one facet of your offense.

I often feel that a lack of balance kills some spread teams in big games. Plus it is hard to find QBs with those talents. If your QB gets injured will the next guy be able to run the offense. Balance is essential.

8) When this run oriented spread offense first arrived on the national spotlight, a lot of critics called it a fade or ‘gimmick’ offense, what made you and your fellow coaches buy into it and eventually implement it at DBP?

We believe in the spread for a lot of reasons. First it is easier to see what the defense is doing when you spread the field. Second, you take defenders out of the box, which means there are less players to block on every play. It also can eliminate confusion for the linemen in blitz pick-up. Third, it allows you to distribute the ball to more players. This makes the game exciting and interesting. There are many other options for kids today. We try to make the game fun and keep everyone involved.

We feel that the QB is central to the success of any offense. With that said we want to make the QB as effective as possible. I mentioned earlier that I have a Run-N-Shoot background. Coach Toal was a big fan of the “I”. This provided an opportunity to combine the 2. We are now running power run stuff out of 1 back formations. The QBs ability to run provides a numbers advantage. It was simple math.

9) Look into your crystal ball and tell us what the state of the shot-gun, run orientated spread offense will be in high school, college, and professional football in five years?

While the game of football will continue to change or at least cycle itself, I believe this offense will continue to be a part of college and high school football for a long time to come. The opportunity to showcase your best athletes is too important, for the spread to disappear.

The development of athletic QBs will also continue to be an important element in HS & college football. This offense has found a way to combine the triple option w/ the Run-N-Shoot. Both of those offenses are essential parts of the HS & college game. Teams use these ideas to hide deficiencies in the line or elsewhere in their personnel. While I believe elements of the spread will be extracted for use in the pros, it will never be a major part of pro football.

The QB is too valuable in the NFL to expose him to as many hits as he takes in the spread. While I love the offense its growth is hurting the development of college QBs for the NFL. It seems many are less prepared for the nuances of a pro offense.

10) Coach, what would be your advice to a High School or Pop Warner coach looking to install and implement the shot-gun, spread offense for the first time?

There is a lot that goes into it. We started by tailoring the formations around our existing offense. We were already big proponents of inside & outside zone. They are still the basis of our run offense. We do a lot now, but when we started we were simple. Less is more sometimes. Too many people want to do everything they see on TV every week. I say find out what fits your team and work at it religiously. Once you master it then add some more. We get better at coaching it every year, through trial & error. We had to take a long hard look at our terminology. We changed a lot of our language to streamline our playcalling and allow for the no-huddle.

We also spent a great deal of time on the snap. Our first attempt at the spread in 2001 was scrapped because we had trouble with the snap. The next year the same center had only one bad snap the entire season. We just stuck with it. Now it is not an option to scrap it. The shotgun has become too integral in what we do to scrap it. We make sure to work on it every day. This game still comes down to fundamentals. If you run the spread it is not a magic solution that allows you to stop working on the little things. Take the stuff you believe and tweak it.

11) How can High School or Pop Warner coaches get in touch with the staff at Don Bosco Prep?

The two best ways would be email or phone. The phone number in the football office is (201) 327-8003 x 155. The number in the athletic director’s office is (201) 327-4704 x 120 that is my direct line. My email is:

Our head coach is Greg Toal and our offensive line coach is Chuck Granatell. We would all be glad to share the little bit that we know, since many people have helped us throughout our time at Don Bosco and before.

12) Tell us how some Don Bosco prep alumni are doing at the college level? And a little about your tough schedule ahead in 2008?

Currently, Mike Teel is the QB at Rutgers University. Brian Toal will be back on the field at Boston College along with Ryan Lindsey & newcomer Alexander DiSanzo. Corey Wootten is playing at Northwestern University, Michael Ray Garvin is playing at Florida State. Matt Simms, Brian Roche, & Darius Mann are playing at Louisville. Matt will hopefully step into the QB role there in the coming years. Marquise Liverpool is playing WR at Temple. Justin Trottau is playing at the University of Florida and Sam Griffin is at the University of Cincinnati. There are a few that I am leaving out and I apologize, but we are very proud of the success that our guys are having at the next level. They are almost all contributing greatly to their programs’ success.

Next season the Ironmen will be hitting the road in the early part of the season. We travel to St. Xavier in Cincinnati, OH. We than play Valley Forge Military Academy at home. Our third game is at De La Salle High School in Concord, CA. St. X and De La Salle are two of the most decorated high school football teams in the country. We follow that by playing some of the best teams in New Jersey including; Bergen Catholic, St. Joe’s Montvale, Montclair, & Ridgewood. We feel that this is probably the most ambitious schedule in the history of New Jersey high school football. We only have that opportunity because of the guys mentioned in the previous paragraph and their teammates. We’re truly honored to be involved in such great games this upcoming season.

13) Coach, final question. You have one game to play to save planet earth vs. the University of Mars and the President of The United States has chosen you to run the offense. You need to pick a dual threat quarterback to lead your spread offense to victory. You have 4 weeks to prepare for this game in the coliseum in LA, and the only rule is you can’t choose a quarterback that you currently coach… who’s in the gun for you for this game?

That is a really difficult question. I tend to favor a great passer that can run. There are many great guys out there, but the dual threat makes it interesting. If it were a current player, I would choose Tim Tebow from Florida. He is not the most accurate passer but he manages the game real well. More importantly he has all the intangibles that it takes to lead a team. I have had the pleasure to meet his high school & college head coaches. Both men raved about his toughness, discipline, dedication, and athletic ability. I want the QB to be the toughest guy on the team. Tebow probably fits that description the best.

About Nunzio Campanile:

Nunzio Campanile is the first year athletic director at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, NJ. He has been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Don Bosco for the last eight seasons. In that period, the Ironmen have played in seven New Jersey state championship games, winning four. The Ironmen have finished ranked in the USA Today four times in the last eight seasons, finishing as high as #2 in the nation in 2003. The 2007 season had the Ironmen ranked #3 in the nation on Maxpreps. In those eight seasons, the Ironmen have averaged over 40 points per game and have compiled a record of 88-5. Nunzio Campanile played quarterback at Paramus Catholic High School in NJ and at Amherst College. He graduated from Montclair State University in NJ.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spread Offense Run Game Answers vs. The Blitz

Written By Joe Dailey

Today’s discussion will revolve solely around handling the zone blitz in the run game. This has been a very popular topic and I have seen a number of ways people go about handling the blitz. For this discussion we will focus our conversation on the Zone running scheme out of a 2 by 2 formation versus various zone blitzes.

We are all familiar with the interview Rich Rodriguez did for ESPN explaining some of the things they did at West Virginia. If I remember correctly, the reporter interviewing Rich Rodriguez pointed out four distinctive things West Virginia would do on any certain play.

Those being:

1) Hand it off to the back
2) Read the Defensive End.
3) Read-Option with a back
4) Throw Bubble

These are all valuable answers to counter act what defenses are doing to handle the spreading of their defenders. In the video, Rich did not get into great depth schematically on what they will do versus zones blitzes and other situations. I’m sure if he wanted to; he could have done so with great depth. In the absence of his explanation I have proposed a simple solution to handle different types of zone blitz encounters that an offense will face in a given season. Note this is not the best way or the only way to solve some zone blitz problems, but it provides an offense with some decent solutions to the blitz.

The main goal in the Spread Offense, philosophically, is to consistently take advantage of what defenses lack to defend. By this, I mean what can we do schematically to spread a defense thin and ‘gut em’ down after down? And what can we do to counteract their zone blitz packages with minimal effort and communication in the run game? In order to be effective running the ball in the spread offense, you need to have sound answers versus pressure in the run game.

Through research, trial and error, I’ve come to find there are some simple answers to handle the zone blitz in the run game that will allow offenses to stay on course of positive yardage play after play. These answers came to life after simply applying some “common sense” protocol to handling the blitz.

Answer’s to the Blitz

After watching hours and hours of film, reviewing some of the notes I’ve taken over the years, reading books on handling the zone blitz and watching numerous clinic tapes on handling the zone blitz, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can build in answers to the blitz without whispering a single word. You ask how? Simple! By teaching your players to play with their eyes! Sounds cliché? Well it’s true!

As the son of a coach I remember growing up hearing “a smarter player is a better player!” I can remember to this day when I first saw this saying come to life. I was a high school Quarterback in the late 1990’s as a freshman. It was my first varsity game. I played the entire season on the freshman squad and was moved up to start at Quarterback for the varsity teams’ last game of the season. All week long I remember preparing for this game as best I possibly could. My pops watched film with me and we studied the opposing team’s defense tirelessly. Game day came and I was crazy nervous. We received the ball first and took it down to the opposing team’s 30 yard line. Since I was a freshman playing Quarterback for the first time, we expected blitz a lot. On the very first play we came out in 11 personnel in a 2 by 2 formation. We had a toss play strong called but there was an audible out of this formation in case we got pressure. Guess what that audible was? Bubble! The weak side linebacker over the slot walked up to the line of scrimmage and assumed his blitz position. The slot receiver and I signaled to each other the bubble sign and at the snap I threw the bubble and the receiver took it 30 yards for a touchdown!

With that said, let’s get to the solution for handling the zone blitz in the spread running game. I am a big advocate for the Zone running scheme out of the shot-gun spread offense. It gives the offense a solid blocking scheme which will never change. It is a scheme that you can’t ware out. It’s simple for the offensive-line to learn and simple for a coach to teach.

It’s as simple as covered or uncovered for the linemen. As for the backs, they have to simply make one read and stick with it. They have a 3 step decision. On the third step you must decide whether to bounce is outside, hit the hole or cut it back. The Quarterback has to make a decision on whether to keep the ball or hand it off based upon whether the defensive end chases or slow plays the read. Receivers must simply stalk block their defender and climb to second level if nothing shows up.


We want to run the zone play regardless of what the defense does. With this line of thinking you must ask yourself how exactly can we do this? Well we’ve found out over the years that by spreading a defense out, you force them to reveal what it is they are trying to do defensively. Are they trying to play coverage with sound run fits or are they trying to apply pressure to disrupt your run game?

Our theory is to run into a zone blitz and away from a zone blitz! That’s right into a zone blitz and away from a zone blitz! We can do this by simply applying our everyday zone blocking rules. Let’s look at them.

Covered Lineman:
*Never get beat away from your help!
*Press your landmark!
*Climb to the second level if your defender runs to your helper.

Uncovered Lineman:
*Get your eyes on the down lineman beside you!
*Anything that comes to you attack and remove it.
*Nothing comes to you track second level.

Additional Ways to handle the zone blitz

I’ve taken what my father taught me in high school in terms of handling the zone blitz in the run game and what is probably taught to most spread teams out of a 2 by 2 formation when they get blitz into a run and that’s to throw the bubble. The only difference is that we don’t handle signal this, we site adjust! By this I mean, we teach our wide receivers to automatically run the bubble when their defender threatens to blitz. The Quarterback will recognize it and throw the bubble.

Now the way we do this is probably not the same as other people but I feel that it can be done with quite ease. We apply this concept to both slot receivers. This is a change up from what we discussed earlier with the slot receivers climbing to the second level if their defender runs away. This time we tell them that we want to throw the bubble to you if the defender over you blitzes. Our thinking is that we want to get the ball to a speedster in space. Or what my receiver’s coach in college taught me “get the ball to a freak and let em’ eat".


What I’ve proposed here is not the one and only way to handle a zone blitz from the gun and the spread offense. It is merely one of many ways. I see people who check to four verticals or jail-break screens that go the distance. What we have here is a simple alternative way to solve zone blitzes with the least amount of communication. We are simply teaching our players to play with their eyes; our offensive linemen playing with their eyes in terms of defenders rotating to different zones and our slot receivers playing with their eyes when the defender over them blitzes.

I hope this article can help some people out there who are looking for different ways to handle the blitz from the gun. This can be used as a tool for teams who lack experience at the Quarterback position and need to find a answer to the blitz without using an audible or teams who are looking to change up the way the handle blitzes and break tendencies.

For any additional information or questions email me at

View this article with play diagrams at:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

USF Has Advice To Offer - The Spread Offense

By BRETT McMURPHY, The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - With Rich Rodriguez now at Michigan, the University of South Florida has suddenly become a hot spot for teams seeking help in preparing for Rodriguez's spread offense.

Ohio State has won the past four meetings against Michigan, but the Buckeyes still sent cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson to meet with USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham and secondary coach Troy Douglas this week.

"Johnson said it was because we've done such a good job against that offense," Burnham said. "And we've had some success."

Under Rodriguez, West Virginia was 22-4 the past two years, including 0-2 against USF. In that span, WVU averaged 16 points, 160 yards rushing and 3.7 yards per carry against USF, compared to 41.2 points, 311.5 yards rushing and 6.6 yards per carry against everyone else.
A Minnesota assistant visited USF last week, and a Colorado assistant - the Buffs play West Virginia this fall - will visit next week.

"They pick our brain and see why we do certain things," Burnham said. "We've done as good a job slowing them down as anybody. With the spread offense, I guess people think we have some answers."

Burnham said he'll only help out so much. "There are a few subtle things I keep to myself," he said. "We don't give away all our secrets."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Spread Offense Q&A with Herb Hand - University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane Football

I'm proud to offer the first of hopefully many Q&A sessions with big time college coaches on the spread offense. - Q&A with Herb Hand, Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach at University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

1. Coach, thanks for taking the time to speak with us at and congratulations on a great GMAC bowl victory?

No problem. The GMAC Bowl was a great experience for our football program, our university and our alumni and fans. Our goal at Tulsa is to be a championship level program and winning a bowl championship certainly falls into that objective.

2. Tell us a little bit about the spread offense you run at Tulsa? (Run first philosophy? balanced attack philosophy (run/pass)? Tempo? Gun vs. under the center, Etc…).

We are a spread – no huddle team. We operate primarily out of the shotgun and strive to have a very balanced attack. In fact, our run/pass ratio was basically 50/50 this year (562 runs/564 passes). We want to control the tempo in every game with our no huddle. We operate at a ‘two-minute’ drill pace as our base tempo. Our goal is to snap the football with 17-20 seconds left on the play clock. We want to press the tempo, but we also want to use the advantage of being no-huddle to eliminate ‘oh-crap!!’ plays (plays where you say ‘oh crap’ before the snap because you know that the play is not going to work). We also have the ability within our system to slow down the tempo to control the clock or to force the defense to show us their hand with our ‘check-with-me’ procedure. We were very fortunate to have players that bought in to our philosophy and executed the system with fairly good success.

3. Based on this philosophy, what do you and your fellow offensive coaches look for when preparing for an opponent every week?

The first thing we look at is formations and how our formations affect the opposing defense. What kind of fronts are we going to see versus our formations? What kind of coverage’s? What are their adjustments to motion? What are their adjustments to unbalanced sets and formations that are set to the boundary? Then we look at situations. What kind of changes can we anticipate within field zones (particularly ‘coming-out’ situations, red zone and goal line)? What kind of changes can we anticipate with down and distance (particularly 3rd downs, 4th downs and 2nd down and 10). We like to look at 2nd down and 10, so that we can have an attacking mentality on 1st down – we want to throw the ball on 1st down and so we need a good 2nd and 10 plan to offset incompletions on those attempts. The last thing we look for is match-ups and how we can create favorable match-ups in our passing game thru formations, motions, shifts, play actions, screens, etc.

4. What type of student-athlete do you guys target at Tulsa offensively when recruiting?

The University of Tulsa is an outstanding school academically. We are ranked in the top 100 academic institutions in the country. We are also the smallest Division IA school in the country, with only 2700 undergraduate students and 4000 total students. We have some very interesting demographics at Tulsa – 1 in every 11 students is an athlete….also, 1 in every 11 students is a National Merit Scholar (which ranks 12th in the country, right behind Stanford and Vanderbilt). We recruit players that are ready to compete everyday, not only on the field but in the classroom as well. We need to recruit student-athletes that are up to that challenge. With that being said, we put a high premium on speed for offensive skill players. We also want to recruit athletic and physical offensive linemen – we will sacrifice some size for athleticism – with the idea that we can build up our players’ size in our strength and conditioning program. Lastly, we want to recruit guys with a tough disposition that play with a ‘hard-edge’ mentality.

5. You’ve been involved with the spread offense for about 10 years now (6 years prior at West Virginia, then at Clemson), how has the spread offense evolved over that period in college football?

Probably the biggest change in spread offenses over the last decade is complexity and diversity of the run game out of traditional spread formations. The incorporation of the option and the zone read concepts that have developed during that time have really revolutionized spread offenses. I also think that general perceptions of the spread being a ‘finesse-style’ offense have drastically changed during this evolution. People now realize that you can have a very physical run game out of spread shotgun formations.

6. Based on this evolution you’ve seen, is it still safe to say that defenses are still playing ‘catch-up’ in trying to figure out this offense (scheme wise)? Especially when defending an offense that has a gifted ‘dual threat’ type quarterback?

I don’t think that they are necessarily playing catch-up. I think that what you are seeing now from a defensive standpoint is schematic answers to the zone read by giving quarterbacks a variety of looks on the backside of the zone. I think the defenses are putting a priority on athletic defensive ends that have the ability to quickly change direction which allows them to square-shoulder read the backside of the zone. I also think there is a big need for ‘space-players’ – guys that can make tackles in the open field. The defenses that have really given us problems in the past have had very solid safety play, as a lot of spread run game concepts are based on getting the runner in a one-on-one situation with safeties in the open field. Of course, there are answers to run-stopping safeties in play action passes, which are becoming increasingly more effective when you factor in the spacing conflicts that spread formations present to defenses.

7. Play a little devil’s advocate, what are the biggest weaknesses you see in the run oriented spread offense in college football?

I think that balance is the key to having great success in any offense….not just spread offenses. You need to be able to throw the ball…and not only when you have to throw it, but also when you want to throw it. That is why we concentrate on being a good 2nd and 10 team, so that we can have a lot of confidence in throwing the football on 1st down.

8. When this run oriented spread offense first arrived on the national spotlight, a lot of critics called it a fade or ‘gimmick’ offense, what made you and your past staffs keep your conviction in your beliefs through the years?

Success and personnel. The beauty of the spread is how easily you can adapt your offense to match the strengths of your personnel. We knew that with the personnel that we had…in particular the tremendously athletic quarterbacks on our roster…that we could present match-up problems against the defenses we were facing. When you couple the personnel advantages with the influx of option concepts, the run-oriented spread offense has become increasingly successful.

9. Look into your crystal ball and tell us what the state of the shot-gun, run orientated spread offense will be in high school, college, and professional football in five years?

I think the popularity of the zone-read concepts will continue to grow on all levels of football. However, I don’t think you will see a huge influx of zone-read concepts in the NFL. The trouble with running the zone-read on the professional level is the premium that is put on keeping your quarterback healthy. The quarterback in any option based offense is going to take a lot more hits than quarterbacks in a more traditional style offense. On the collegiate and high school level, the athletic-style quarterback also creates a much greater mismatch than he would on the professional level.

10. Coach, what would be your advice to a high school or pop warner coach looking to install and implement the shot-gun, spread offense for the first time?

Keep things simple and do things that help to highlight the strengths and skills of your specific personnel. The spread that we run at Tulsa is very different from the offenses that we ran at West Virginia and Clemson. But we still built our scheme around our personnel, in particular our quarterback.

11. How can high school coaches get in touch with the staff at Tulsa? What’s your clinic schedule this spring for a little X’s and O’s chalk talk? When’s your spring game?

Tulsa Spring Football Coaches Clinic - April 4th (F) and April 5th (Sat). HS Talk every Tuesday afternoon during spring ball. For more details, contact: Teresa Moyer at 918-631-2393 - Spring Practice begins March 11th, with the Golden Hurricane spring game on Saturday, April 19th at 7:00pm.

12. Coach, final question. You have one game to play to save planet earth vs. the University of Mars and the President of The United States has chosen you to run the offense. You need to pick a dual threat quarterback to lead your spread offense to victory. You have 4 weeks to prepare for this game in the coliseum in LA, and the only rule is you can’t choose a quarterback that you currently coach… who’s in the gun for you for this game?

Wow….that is a tough question. I have been fortunate to be around some tremendously successful QB’s….Woody Dantzler, Rasheed Marshall, Patrick White, Paul Smith….I also have been able to watch some great spread quarterbacks in recent years….Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Chase Daniel….I also think that a guy that was ahead of his time, like a 1989 Major Harris would be unbelievable in the spread. I guess if I had to pick one, I would have to go with Vince Young….his combination of size, speed and throwing ability would be hard to beat.

About Herb Hand:

Herb Hand is in his second season at the University of Tulsa. Hand joined the Tulsa coaching staff as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in January 2007. In 2007, Tulsa led the nation in offense, averaging over 542 yards a game. The Golden Hurricane were the first team in college football history to have a 5,000 yard passer, three 1,000 yard receivers and a 1,000 yard rusher on the same team. Tulsa won the 2008 GMAC Bowl by a score of 63 – 7 over Bowling Green. It was the largest margin of victory in NCAA bowl history.

In his 17-year coaching career, Hand has coached 14 all-conference players, four All-Americans and two Academic All-Americans.

Before coming to Tulsa, Hand spent the past six seasons as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator at West Virginia. He helped the Mountaineers reach five straight Bowl Games and win three Big East Conference Championships.

He was a member of the WVU coaching staff that won 11 games in consecutive seasons (2005-06), winning more than 10 games back-to-back for the first time in school history. While at West Virginia, Hand coached in three Gator Bowls, one Continental Tire Bowl and one Sugar Bowl.

In 2006, West Virginia finished with an 11-2 record and was among the nation's top-10 teams for most of the season. He helped lead an offense that ranked second nationally in rushing (303.0 ypg), third in scoring (38.8 ppg) and fourth in total offense (461.3). A year earlier, WVU posted an 11-1 record and was ranked fifth nationally.

Prior to moving to West Virginia, Hand served as an offensive graduate assistant at Clemson in 1999-2000, as the Tigers participated in the 1999 Peach Bowl and 2001 Gator Bowl. Before that, he was defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator at Concord College for two seasons (1997-98).

From 1994-96, Hand served as defensive coordinator at Glenville State for three years where he helped coach the team to three WVIAC Championships. Previously, Hand was a graduate assistant coach for three seasons (1991-93) at West Virginia Wesleyan, where he coached the linebackers.

Hand began his coaching career as an assistant coach at Framingham South (Mass.) High School in 1990, before moving onto the collegiate level.

A 1990 Hamilton College graduate, Hand received his bachelor's degree in history, and a master's degree in 1993 from West Virginia Wesleyan in business administration.

Hand, 39, and his wife, Debbie, have three children: sons, Trey and Cade, and daughter Bailey.

Bowl Games as a Coach

1999 Peach Bowl (Clemson)
2001 Gator Bowl (Clemson)
2002 Continental Tire Bowl (West Virginia)
2004 Gator Bowl (West Virginia)
2005 Gator Bowl (West Virginia)
2006 Sugar Bowl (West Virginia)
2007 Gator Bowl (West Virginia)
2008 GMAC Bowl (Tulsa)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Coaching Technology For The Spread Offense

It never ceases to amaze me how creative coaches are getting with technology to help their players learn and understand the game of football. The spread offense can be complicated to learn, but we found a great set of videos to help your players get a great simulated look and feel of this offense.

Go to:



Sunday, February 10, 2008

The College Spread Offense In The NFL By 2011

Now that the off season is here, I thought it would be a good time to look into my crystal ball and tell you what I see for the future of the spread offense. I think most would agree that the high school and college game has reached the momentum phase in regards to the implementation of this offense. A strong commitment is being seen at all three levels of college to recruit high school athletes to fit this system.

What about the NFL? How is this momentum phase in major college football going to effect National Football League teams in the future and how they'll draft offensive players out of college?

If you're reading this article, you likely already know the main difference between 'the spread offense' we're talking about today and 'the spread offense' of years past is the ability of the quarterback to run as effectively as a running back with the ball, and still be able to throw the ball with accuracy and effectiveness when needed.

If you think of the spread offense's run by the likes of Warren Moon with the Houston Oilers in the late 80's and early 90's, it was based off a quarterback who threw the football with great accuracy and frequency, and only ran with the ball when flushed out of the pocket.

The spread offense you see in college and high school today actually has designed plays for the QB to run, sometimes up to 5 or more designed runs or 'options' to run in the playbook based on how the defense reacts.

Spread offense's of the past had maybe one designed QB run, a QB draw that was only run near the goal-line.

One of the arguments I always hear is "The current spread offense could never be run in the NFL, the QB's would get killed because the defenses are so good." My rebuttal to that is:

If the defenses are so much better, then aren't the offensive linemen, running-backs, and receivers blocking for the running QB's that much better too? They came from the same talent pool of elite college players as the defensive player's, right?

In addition, wouldn't you agree that a Vince Young type of dual threat NFL QB is much less likely to get creamed by a defense when he runs with the ball then say a Warren Moon of that era? Vince Young is a runner who can throw the ball well enough to win, Warren Moon was a great passer who couldn't be expected to run the ball 10-12 times a game on designed QB runs because he just wasn't that type of athlete.

My impression was always that a quarterback was much more defense-less in the pocket getting sacked then running in the open field on a designed run.

So my point is this, with the likes of dual-threat college quarterbacks Dennis Dixon, Patrick White, Tim Tebow (2007 heisman trophy winner, a dual threat QB), Armanti Edwards, Terrelle Pryor (the most highly recruited high school senior this year), and others making such a splash throughout the college game, and high schools throughout the nation implementing run oriented spread offenses, isn't it just a matter of time before it makes its way into the pro game?

A lot will argue that the spread offense you see in college and high school today is nothing more than a dressed up version of the old Oklahoma Sooner wishbone offense of the 70's and 80's.

This offense never made it into the pros as many predicted, but I personally see a lot differences.

First off, the wishbone offense didn't spread the entire width of the field with big, strong, fast, and athletic wide receivers like the current spread offense, and secondly, the modern day spread is run predominately out of the shot-gun, which allows these talented dual threat QB's more options in the passing game that the wishbone formation did not.

Finally, back to my prediction for the future of the spread offense in the NFL.

By the year 2011, an NFL franchise will make a commitment to the current spread offense we see today in college and high school game by first hiring one of the many college coaches who have evolved this offense.

Names I think of are Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Urban Meyer at Florida, Ron Zook at Illinois, or Chip Kelly at Oregon.

What these coaches will do is have three (3) dual threat quarterbacks on the 53 man active roster every week. These QB's may even rotate into the game and all three may see some sort of action every week, as these offenses work best in a no huddle system.

What NFL owners would be bold enough to try this first? Maybe a Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins, a Jerry Jones in Dallas, or an Al Davis in Oakland.

Imagine an NFL team having quarterbacks Vince Young, Patrick White, and Terrelle Pryor on the same roster in 3 years, sign me up... I'll pay extra for that!

I don't know about you, but I look forward to this day. I personally enjoy watching football much more on Saturday's as opposed to Sunday's, but that will all change as the stars of Saturday create a 'disruptive innovation' at the NFL level by 2011.

-- Mark Colyer -

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Defending The Spread Offense - I'll Take A Shot

Defending The Spread Offense - Downloadable Playbook!
Since we've opened the coaches forum at we've received some great posts and feedback from coaches from all over the world on how to run this exciting offense.
The section of the forum that asks for feedback and insight on how to stop the spread offense has been occupied by tumble weed, like a section of Nevada 100 miles from Las Vegas or something.

So I figured I'd try to give some insight on how to stop this potent offense that has taken the college and high school game by storm. Three areas you need to be good at on the defensive side of the ball are:
  • Defensive Team Speed

  • Excellent Open Field Tacklers

  • Gap Responsibility and Pursuit Discipline

I'm not going to get into whether an odd front is better than an even front, sliding to strength or away from strength, slanting, angling, cover 2, cover 3, combo coverage, etc...

I'll leave that up to the coaches and hopefully you can apply this to any defensive alignment that you run.

1) Defensive Team Speed

It's obvious when you look at the landscape of both the college or high school game that players like Patrick White, Noel Devine, Armanti Edwards, Terrelle Pryor, and Percy Harvin have required defenses to have fast, athletic players to match the speed of these great athletes. When I say 'speed', I don't mean 100 meter dash speed per say, but football speed, which is usually an athlete that not only can run fast in a straight line, but can also run fast, stop, then re-start again at a rapid rate. Change of direction speed, the ability to accelerate, decelerate, then re-accelerate at a rapid pace.

Is a player born with this? Some are for sure. Can a player work on this type of speed? Absolutely! It's called change of direction training, such training facilities as The Parisi Speed School and Velocity Training teach it around the country. Google them both to check it out, I know Parisi's sells videos on it, go to Parisi's website by clicking here, they call it 'Deceleration Training'.

2) Excellent Open Field Tacklers

The one big thing a spread offense try’s to exploit is the need for defenses to be in open space, a lot of times with even numbers in that section and that takes away the classic 'gang tackling' concept that so many defenses preach. It's much harder to gang tackle when you're spread all across the field and isolation of areas of the field are what spread offenses are looking for.

Working on open field, individual tackling is of utmost importance for defenses. The ability to break down in the open field, make good contact, then grabbing cloth as you bring down the offensive player is very important to teach your 2nd level players (Linebackers and Defensive backs).

One very simple part of being a good open field tackler is teaching the defender to have their head up, and eyes open right up to impact. This may sound simple, but in individual drills at practice ask your players how many of them close their eyes right before contact. You'll be surprised at the response. It's a natural human reaction to close your eyes before any contact and football is no different, but you need to change that if you want your players to be good open field tacklers.

Angles of pursuit are also critical, and I don't mean just the game saving angles of pursuit, you need to work on the intermediate angles of pursuit, and what to do when you get there (tackle and then strip) and are ready to deliver an open field blow.

3) Gap Responsibility and Pursuit Discipline

I remember when the great Denver Bronco teams of the late 90's gave defenses fits with their zone blocking scheme and the ability of Terrell Davis to cut back on over pursuing defenses. Well now in 2008, you're seeing at the college and high school level spread offense zone teams do the same thing to over aggressive defenses who insist on flying over the top to get the zone hand-off, only to get burned by either the tailback cutting back against the pursuit, or the QB (who's now the best athlete on the team and one of the fastest) tucking it on the zone read and bootlegging the other way.

The ability for a defense to be disciplined in gap responsibility and pursuit starts in practice. It needs to be worked on in individual, group, and team settings.

It all starts with confidence in the team that all 11 players believe in the other 11 and if I do my job then the team will benefit. Now don't confuse what I'm saying with not being an aggressive defense, it just needs to be ingrained in your defensive players that your pursuit angle (meaning anything ran away from you) should never pass the ball carriers 'inside' pocket or armpit at your level.

Once they pass your level, you need to fly to the ball, because a cutback at that point is not a concern at your responsibility level.

Now if the ball is coming your way (play side), you still need to keep your outside arm free and never give the corner, again believing in your play side teammates that they're pursuing and your backside teammates that they're pursuing at the correct angles.

One of the best college teams I've seen do all of the above the last two years has been the University of South Florida, especially in their games versus West Virginia the past two years.

USF's defensive staff would be a great group to go visit and clinic with if you need to stop a West Virginia style run dominant spread offense. Best wishes on your preparation for next year, believe in your plan, your coaches, and players.

Source: Mark Colyer,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coaches Forum Opens at

We're proud to announce the opening of our online coaches forum, go to:

Use this forum to interact with other football coaches throughout the world to discuss tactics, techniques, ideas, successes, failures, or whatever else on the spread offense.

Keep Spreading 'Em,


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Video: Discussion on The Zone Read


The college football staff at break down the zone read out of the spread offense. This video is from 2006, and shows video from West Virginia with Patrick White and Texas with Vince Young.

Click the "play >" button to start the video below.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Washington State picks up former Westmont, De Anza football player

Source: Dennis Knight - Mercury News

Since he started playing football at 9, Chantz Staden's goal has been to earn a Division I scholarship.

The former Westmont standout was disappointed when he was passed by after his senior year of high school. But this week Staden, after an impressive sophomore season at De Anza College, made an oral commitment to play at Washington State.

"This is like a dream come true for me," said Staden, who led California junior college players with 18 touchdowns and 110 points this season. "To play for a Division I school, let alone a Pac-10 team . . . It hasn't really hit me yet and probably won't until I step on campus."

A gifted receiver who can line up anywhere in an offense, Staden rushed for 755 yards in 167 carries and caught 50 passes for 855 yards this season. He earned first-team All-American honors from JC Grid-Wire.

"Chantz is going to fit right in - he couldn't ask for a better situation," said De Anza offensive coordinator Tony Santos, who also coached Staden at Westmont. "Washington State has new coaches and they are going to put in a no-huddle, spread offense. They were looking for a character guy, and they got one. Chantz is a first-class kid."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Evaluating college quarterbacks is no snap

Source: Brian Baldinger

With the offseason here for all but four teams and many of them in need of a quarterback, it's fun to look ahead to the NFL draft with visions of Brian Brohm, Matt Ryan, Colt Brennan and Andre' Woodson dancing in our heads. It's also scary as hell because evaluating college quarterbacks has become a nightmare.

The rise of the spread offense has made the college game so different from the pro game. Even traditional running powers such as Oklahoma are lining up in the shotgun, spreading the field with four or five receivers and throwing the ball all over the place. And that makes it difficult to know what you're getting when you draft a quarterback from that background.

There's a world of difference between taking snaps under center and taking snaps five or six yards farther back. Think about it: Brennan started at Hawaii for three years and never turned his back to the defense. That's huge.

We take it for granted that Peyton Manning can take a snap under center, turn and fake to Joseph Addai, then turn back around and face a defense that probably was disguised when he saw it before, refocus his eyes downfield, locate an open receiver and release the ball on his fifth or seventh step. Manning makes it look easy, but it isn't. And if Brennan has never done it in college, why should we think he can learn to do it in the NFL? Alex Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, is still trying to figure it out. It's hard.

Teams can realistically assess the abilities of Ryan, an NFL prototype quarterback from Boston College, and Brohm, who played in a pro-style offense at Louisville. But how can they judge Brennan, Woodson and so many others who spent most of their time in spread formations? These prospects will be asked to show pro-style skills such as dropping back and executing play-action at the Combine and individual workouts, but those are artificial environments. The real world of the NFL will be less forgiving.

Think of a G.M. who invests a high pick in a spread quarterback as Forrest Gump reaching into his box of chocolates.

With no idea what he's gonna get.

Brian Baldinger, an offensive lineman for 12 NFL seasons, can be heard on Sporting News Radio and seen on FOX Sports. Listen online at

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Steve Slaton Heading To The NFL

Reports out of Morgantown, West Virginia are that Steve Slaton has decided to leave the West Virginia University football team early and enter the NFL draft this April.

Slaton, a junior who has put up some very impressive numbers in his career will be remembered by the staff at as a pioneer player in the latest evolution of the spread offense.

When #10 came onto the scene for WVU in a close loss to Virginia Tech in 2005, he instantly created a spark along with Patrick White that catapulted the Mountaineer's to national prominence.

Steve Slaton ran for 3,923 and scored 55 touchdowns in 3 years at West Virginia. He was the MVP of the 2006 Sugar Bowl after rushing for 204 yards on 26 carries and scoring three touchdowns when WVU upset Georgia.

One of Slaton's most memorable games was in 2005 versus Louisville. Slaton scored 6 touchdown's as the Mountaineer's came back from 21 points down to win in triple overtime.

This year Slaton's carries dropped as WVU shared the wealth between Slaton, White, and newcomer in the backfield Noel Devine.

Thanks for the memories Super Steve... show them what you got in the NFL.