Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Coaches Forum Opens at SpreadOffense.com

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

Source: CSTV.com

The college football staff at CSTV.com 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 http://radio.sportingnews.com

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 SpreadOffense.com 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.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Spread Offense - Single Wing D-Mac Style

Darren McFadden will be missed in college football, he'll be remembered as one of the true symbols of the spread offense evolution. His trademark wild cat and wild hog formations will be studied, copied, and built upon for years to come.

Enjoy the video below of some coaches chalk talk on the Arkansas wild cat formation. Thanks D-Mac for the memories!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Learning The Spread Offense - Valuable Resources for Coaches

Spread Offense Playbook - Download Now!

Stopping The Spread Offense - Defensive Playbook - Download Now!

One of the best quotes I ever heard and still truly believe is: 'Leaders are Readers' or in the modern era 'Leaders are Readers and watch Video'.

Below are both free resources and pay for resources for coaches looking to educate themselves on the spread offense:

1) Free Resources

I can't stress how important it is to use recording technology to your advantage if you want to learn and study something, especially the sport of football. The ability to tape games via a DVR machine (usually available through a cable company, satellite provider, or telephone TV service like Verizon FIOS) or a standard video recorder right from the comfort of your home is very valuable free resource.

If you're a coach that is passionate about running the spread offense or a coach passionate about stopping the spread offense, I would have to ask if you've taped most of the following 2007-2008 college bowl games:

Appalachian State vs. Delaware

New Mexico vs Nevada


Purdue vs Central Michigan

TCU vs. Houston

Oregon vs USF

Auburn vs. Clemson

Florida State vs. Kentucky

Florida vs. Michigan

Missouri vs. Arkansas

Air Force vs. California

Texas Tech vs. Virginia

USC vs Illinois

Hawaii vs Georgia

West Virginia vs Oklahoma

Kansas vs. Virginia Tech

US Army All American Bowl (High School)

Tulsa vs. Bowling Green

LSU vs. Ohio State

I may have even missed some, but that's A LOT of spread offense to evaluate and learn from. It may not be too late if you missed a lot of these because ESPNU and ESPN Classic do a good job of replying these games for a few weeks after the bowl season.

These games are so valuable for learning and seeing what some of the best spread offensive minds are thinking and more importantly what some of the best defensive coaches are doing to stop it (or at least trying to do too stop it).

If you ever read 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu, he mentions a very important point: "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer". If you want to be a great offensive spread coach, you need to know what the defensive coaches are thinking and planning to stop you (and vice versa).

The ability to breakdown film as a coach is a critical skill, not just your teams or your opponents, but what I call 'third party' film. Imagine in your head what you might call that 'third party' play based on your terminology and formations.

When I coached, I had a lot of 'specialty' plays that I stole from the likes of the Ol Ball Coach (Spurrier) and Bobby Bowden, plays like the Gator Counter and the Seminole Toss Pass.

I still have boxes of old VHS taped from the early 90's thru the early 00's that I just can't part from (my wife thinks I'm nuts) with game upon game that I recorded.

Get detailed on paper with notes if you see something you really like, what are the lineman's splits?, are there any influence blocks (or joker type techniques on the O-Line) taking place?, is the slot receiver acting out the bubble screen?, what's the play tempo like?, what's the down and distance?, where on the field is the ball?, what are the backfield splits?, etc.

Try not only praising the video, but be critical of plays when you evaluate 'third party' film. Is the quarterback carrying out his option fakes or carrying out the zone read bootleg fake on the hand-off? Is the tailback carrying out his fakes if he doesn't get the ball on the zone read? Are the X and Y receivers blocking aggressive enough on the bubble screen? Coach the other teams on the video as you would coach your team.

Besides video resources, another free option is to simply call a college or high school in your area that runs the spread offense and ask the coaches if they would clinic with you and your staff. Most staff's are very open to this, especially if you have some solid recruits that may be of interest to them in the future. Even if you don't and you're say a Pop Warner coach, most coaches will be glad to assist.

2) Pay For Resources

There are many good resources that you can pay for, many of these I have personally used and others I am going off references from other coaches.

I personally prefer video over books when it comes to coaching instructional stuff. The ability to rewind, slow mo, pause, and taking notes while watching is very valuable as opposed to reading it.

What I do enjoy reading is more motivational type stuff, life balance, or organizational books to help build teamwork, character, discipline, work ethic, and courage (the 'intangibles' of football).

Before I get into my favorite spread offense instructional videos, let me share some of my favorite motivational, positive attitude, life balance, organizational, and leadership books.

1. Sun Tzu For Success - Gerald Michaelson
2. Turning The Thing Around - Jimmy Johnson and Ed Hinton
3. Power For Living (Christian based) - Jamie Buckingham
4. Finding a Way to Win - Bill Parcells and Jeff Coplon
5. The Secret - Rhonda Byrne
6. Creating Your Own Destiny - Patrick Snow
7. You Can Heal Your Life - Louise L. Hay

I have attached below an Amazon.com online search box for your convenience. Just so you know this is a mix of books that I feel will make you a well rounded leader and person, both on the football field as a coach and in life. To me, balance is the key to be a great leader, motivator, and teacher.

Here is my list of favorite spread offense instructional videos:

1. The Shotgun Spread Offense Series - Bruce Eien, Brethren Christian (CA) High School Head Coach
2. West Virginia Spread Offense - Rich Rodriguez, Rick Trickett, Calvin Magee - West Virginia University
3. The Zone Option Package - Brian Hughes, C.W. Post College Assistant Coach/Offensive Coordinator
4. The Run Game Within the Spread Offense - John Reagan, University of Kansas Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator
5. The Simplified Spread Offense - Dennis Dunn, Louisiana College Head Coach (former Evangel Christian Academy (LA) Head Coach)
6. Transitioning From the Wing-T to a Spread - Lew Johnston, Western Branch HS (VA) Head Coach
7. The Basics of the Single Wing Offense - Mike Rude, Johnston City High School (IL) Head Coach;Illinois High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame

Defending The Spread Offense Videos

8. Defending the Spread Shotgun Wing-T Offense - Lew Johnston,Western Branch HS (VA) Head Coach
9. Defending the Spread with the 50 Defense - J.T. Curtis, John Curtis Christian School (LA) Head Coach,2006 USA Today National HS Coach of the Year
10. 12 Keys to Defending the Spread - Brian George, Indiana University Co-Defensive Coordinator / DL
11. Defending the Spread with the 3-5-3 - Bert Williams, Georgia Military College Head Coach

Coaches Clinic's:

Glazier Clinic's 2008 Schedule

Nike Football Clinics 2008

I have produced hyperlinks above so simply click on the titles to view these fine videos and clinics. If you're interested in purchasing them, follow the directions once the page launches.

One area I'm not going to elaborate on but is critical for a successful spread offense is your off-season strength and conditioning program. This not only builds strong, fast, athletic athletes, it also goes a long way in building teamwork, togetherness, and comradery amongst your players and staff.

"The key is not the will to win . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” - Bobby Knight.

Best wishes in your off-season preparation, and keep spreading them!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Terrelle Pryor Showcases His Spread-ability in San Antonio

Terrelle Pryor has been called the next Vince Young. He certainly looked the part Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl high school all-star game in San Antonio, Texas.

Pryor ran the spread offense for the East team with exceptional poise and execution, leading his team to a 33-23 win over a talented West team.

Pryor split playing time with two other quarterbacks, but ended with 155 all-purpose yards, 79 rushing and 76 passing and was named the games MVP.

The physically dominant quarterback out of Pennsylvania stands 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds.

He still has not announced a college choice for next season. He is reportedly considering Florida, Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, West Virginia, and Oregon.

The national signing day is Feb. 6.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

West Virginia's Venomous Spread Stings Oklahoma

Just when you thought the wheels popped off the WVU Mountaineer spread offense after their crushing loss to PITT on December 1st, they unleashed a venomous attack on the Oklahoma Sooner's in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl 48-28.

West Virginia amassed 525 yards of total offense (349 on the ground) against a Sooner team that was allowing 91 yards of rushing a game.

Patrick White was responsible for 326 yards of total offense, and showed why he's one of the most explosive dual threat quarterback's in NCAA history.

A few articles ago we discussed how important a balanced attack was in the spread offense and pointed to WVU as one of those programs that may need to add more passing into their attack.

Well, the interim staff over in Morgantown did just that, as White connected on some timely passes the entire night which kept OU off-balanced.

Another impressive showing was by Noel Devine, the true freshmen back-up tailback at WVU who ran for 108 yards and 2 TD's (filling in for the injured Steve Slaton).

Great job Mountaineer's and Coach Bill Stewart, the new Mountaineer Head Football Coach.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Capital One Bowl - Filled With Spread Offense Vibes

How cool is the atmosphere at the 2008 Capital One Bowl with Florida playing Michigan.

You have in the house down in Orlando Tim Tebow (this year's Heisman trophy winner and our player of the year), Coach Urban Meyer and Coach Dan Mullen from the Gators (two top Executives of the spread offense), Michigan throwing in a new spread offense wrinkle in Coach Carr's last game, and the Chairmen of the Board Rich Rodriguez at SpreadOffense.com on the sidelines as an observer (Michigan's new coach).

Wouldn't it be nice to grab this group after the game for some spread offense talk, a little clinic stuff for us spread fanatics!

Enjoy the bowl games - a lot of shot-gun spread offense is being displayed throughout the country.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

How Important is a Balanced Attack In The Spread Offense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passing: 3,132
Rushing: 838

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Spread Offense Dominates the 2007 Motor City Bowl

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

Right on Herbie....

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

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

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

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

See some highlights of the simulated title game below.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Nice Wrinkle by BYU in The Spread Offense

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Zone Read - Playing the Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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