It is my pleasure to welcome you to TheSpreadOffense.com. My name is Mark Colyer, the founder of this web log (you know, 'blog') as well as the website: SpreadOffense.com
Just a little history on myself, I've been involved with the game of football since I was 6 years old (that would be 33 years). When my older brother (John 'JC' Colyer) joined the town Pop Warner team (The North Arlington Leaders) in 1974. My father, John Sr. was the first booster club president of this newly developed town football program. My father never coached, but he was always involved, and would help out in many ways with both me and my brother.
I was the 'water boy' of my brother's Pop Warner team until I was able to play myself in 1976 at the age of 8 years old.
I still remember the first night football game I ever saw (1976), it was at Breslin Field in Lyndhurst, NJ - The North Arlington Leaders vs. Queen of Peace CYO of North Arlington. This was like Michigan vs. Ohio State, USC vs. UCLA, Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, PITT vs. West Virginia (a real 'backyard brawl') to the town of North Arlington.
The town's parish CYO team was the established program, a powerhouse stacked with talent from 5 neighboring tri-county town's from Bergen, Essex, and Hudson counties in New Jersey (even at the middle school level, the parochial schools can recruit), going up against the 'new' program on the block, the 'misfits' of sorts who either couldn't make the CYO team, or didn't even try.
The energy was incredible, cow bells ringing from the filled stands, fan's screaming, fire engine trucks horn's blowing... for a bunch of 12 and 13 year old kids! The shining lights in the black night on the teams helmet's was breath taking... the crackling of pads and helmets was so exhilarating! I was hooked...like a narcotic, the crisp autumn air and surroundings engulfed me.
As you would expect, the outcome was not good for the town team. The game was close early, but the CYO team ran away with it in the 2nd half, just too much talent for the town squad to handle.
Why bore you with this? (I know, you're saying... this blog sucks... where's the detail explanation of Coach Rod's West Virginia triple option out of twins/open set?) well, that night under the Northern NJ lights I saw my first 'athlete'. That's right... what I call in my older days now a 'stud', 'player', or 'the bambino'.
His name was Paul Cure, he played tailback for the Queen of Peace CYO team. He was a 'man amongst boys' at the age of 13, he ran like a gazelle, and under the lights it was like watching 'Magic', a magician on the grass just run around, over, through, and between everyone else on the field, the end zone was his home. Too much speed and athletic talent!
It didn't matter if his teammates made the 'perfect' block, or if they even knew how to block, Paul Cure was going to make a play...and eventually many BIG Plays!
That night, I knew the sport of football was very special. The emotions from both sides in both winning and losing where incredible...the thrill of victory seemed 'intoxicating', the agony of defeat seemed 'crushing'.
I also realized that the only difference between these two totally opposite emotions and outcomes was one thing, 'Paul Cure', an 'athlete' put into a position by his coaches of mismatches to exploit the other team.
There simple middle school toss sweep was just as effective as a perfectly executed bubble screen, there off-tackle tailback blast was just as effective as an inside zone read hand-off out of the gun.
I realized this at the age of 8 years old, one 'Magician' executing to perfection amongst 21 others on a field 53 yards long and 100 yards wide caused such an event, and emotional uproar, good for one team, bad for another....how POWERFUL!
Preparation only did so much for the losers... the team that lost was emotionally and mentally prepared. What they weren't prepared for was a physical mismatch... speed, strength, acceleration, change of direction, and endurance.
I went on to see a few more offensive 'Magicians' in my life... one was a teammate of mine from the age of 9 years old up through high school (Darrin Czellecz, I had to mention him), others opponents (as a player and coach), others from the bleachers as a fan, and others in the 'archives' of the sport of football.
Another offensive 'magician' who actually played with my brother in High School, went on to play college at William and Mary in the early-mid 80's, and I eventually reunited with during my coaching years was Bernie Marrazzo.
Bernie, a magician at tailback on the high school football field himself once told me "Mark, in regards to speed on the football field, you either got it, or you're chasing it " ... isn't that the truth!
Here's my personal list of offensive 'Magicians' I've been around:
Paul Cure - (CYO - Pop Warner level - No idea what happened to him)
Bernie Marrazzo - (High School - played with my brother - played at William and Mary)
Darrin Czellecz - (My teammate from Pop Warner through High School - played at Rutgers)
Ed Campbell - (Coached him in high school, my first 'spread QB' from 1995-96 - played at Massachusetts)
Mike Kraft - (Coached him in high school, my spread 'QB' in 1997 - played at Sacred Heart)
I'm sure as coaches and players we all have our list... guys that in our own given situation we would be thrilled to line up in a spread offense, no matter what era we're in.
In conclusion I would like to say this.... I've been involved in some form of the Spread Offense for about eleven years now (since 1996). I truly feel that if you can find the right 'athletes' or 'magicians' to execute this offense, you will be very successful and have a lot of fun.
For me, I stumbled upon the 'spread' in 1995 as a high school coach (offensive coordinator). Our team was having a difficult time protecting our passer (a kid named Ed Campbell, listed above). My father (a loyal fan of the teams I coached) mentioned to me about 3 weeks in a row to try the 'shot-gun' to give the quarterback some extra time. I said "Dad, the shot-gun...you're crazy!" My Dad was thinking more of the Dallas Cowboy, Roger Staubach shot-gun, strictly for passing purposes to get more time in the pocket.
We finally installed it for the last two games of the year (we had nothing to lose, our pass protection was horrible), and it was very successful not only for passing, but for allowing our quarterback (a very mobile and tough kid) the ability to improvise with his feet and gain some good chunks of yardage. This was out of the pro-set we ran our shot-gun sets those two games in 1995, not nearly the 'spread the field' I would use the following year.
That upcoming bowl season (January, 1996) pitted Nebraska vs Florida in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title. Tommie Frazier was the quarterback at Nebraska, and of course 'The Ol Ball Coach' was at Florida flinging it around (one of my favorite plays is still the old 'Gator Counter', the toss pitch, TB misdirection play, with the option of handing it back to the QB for a pass).
This was my defining moment with The Spread Offense: Tommie Frazier in the Fiesta Bowl got in the shot gun, twin receivers to both sides (yes, Nebraska... the ram it down your throat I formation team, two tight ends team) and ran a QB counter (faking a zone hand-off to Lawrence Phillips out of the gun) Frazier than ran behind a kick-out and gut block from the backside guard and tackle. The play got about 12 yards, and my jaw dropped!!
Right there... I GOT IT!! It's now 11 on 11... with players spread from number to number across the field, no more QB handing off the ball and watching 10 on offense play 11 on defense (actually if you think about it, it's 9 vs 11 when the ball is handed off, the QB and running back with the football cannot assist in blocking 11 defensive players). Life is about numbers, and a quarterback handing off never allows for a 'zero-sum' scenario. Sure... great offenses function perfectly in this state of a numerical mismatch and many running backs are in the hall of fame as a result.
I truly believe this phenomena is catching the attention of A LOT of football people at the college level. For example, I heard Lou Holtz on a radio show mention that "The Spread Offense as it is now in college football may require a rule change allowing the defense to play with 12 players".
Kirk Herbstreit mentioned at the Heisman trophy presentation this year, "Scoring in college football reached an all-time high this season (2007), the reason being the execution of The Spread Offense by teams throughout the country".
Getting back to my high school team, the next season (1996), with my athletic, fast, and strong quarterback returning as a senior, we installed my version of The Spread Offense. Ed Campbell ran for 850 yards (7 rushing TD's) and threw for 1,000 in 10 games that year (we also had a 1,050 yard rusher at tailback and a fullback who ran for 700 yards). We averaged 38 points per game, and went 8-2 on the season.
Putting all the 'intangibles' a player needs to succeed aside (which I know are very, very important - heart, determination, work ethic, character, guts, desire, etc...) ...finding the right group of six athletes to execute the spread could make you look very good as a coach.
And of course there's the O-Line, the guys up front who get no recognition in the success of 'the spread' but without them all those 'athletes' are not running for touchdown's, but for their lives!
I hope we can become acquaintances as this blog and our main site develop.... my goal is to offer valuable information, and keep all 'ego's' aside in developing a resource to help us all become great at running, coaching, preparing for, training for, playing in, being recruited by, evolving, and enjoying the football spread offense.
Please, send the ideas of what you want to see from either site I'm developing.... no idea is too creative or 'out of the realm' (If we can afford to do it!).
I am also looking for quality content articles related to the spread offense (running it, defending it, training for it, coaching tips, off-season tips, college, recruiting for it, high school, pro's, pop warner, you name it) once our site: spreadoffense.com launches in January 2008 , and we're paying $20 per good content articles.
If interested in submitting articles, please contact me.
I look forward to everyone's feedback and participation.
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