Friday, August 28, 2009

50 Front Defense vs. A Spread Offense Look

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

For reference, we call our three down-lineman:

Tackle (T)

Nose Guard (N)

End (E)

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

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

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

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

The linebacker call is a:

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

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

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

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

The defensive backs and linebacker pass coverage call is:

'Cover 3', With the following responsibilities:

Strong Corner: Deep 1/3

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

Mike: Hook to Curl

Buck: Hook to Curl

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

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

Free Safety: Deep 1/3 (middle)

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

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

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

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


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Weak Side Blitz Package vs Spread Shot Gun Look

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The linebacker call is a:

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

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

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

The defensive backs and linebacker coverage call is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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

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

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

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

* Go directly to the video page at:

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

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

Keep spreading u'm!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Long Tail Of The Spread Offense In Football

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading the 'front heavy' popular formations are:

Spread Option Offense

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

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

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

Pro Spread/Shot Gun Offense

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

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

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

Single Wing Spread Offense

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

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

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

WildCat Offense

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

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

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

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

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

And others....

Run and Shoot Offense

Pistol Offense

Air Raid Offense

Spin Offense

A-11 Offense

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

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

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

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

Keep spreading u'm!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If The Spread Offense Shot-Gun QB Is Obsolete... I Guess So Is Simple Math??

I haven't been able to find the actual coaches name at 'the' Ohio State University that supposedly called the 'shot-gun by the quarterback' in the spread offense obsolete (no longer in use; gone into disuse; disused or neglected - often by preference for something newer, which replaces the subject; Imperfectly developed; not very distinct).

That's a little scary if this is true, considering one of the most dangerous players at the quarterback position both running and throwing the football is Terrelle Pryor from Ohio State.

You gotta love Coach Rod's replies to the questions asked about this, and the spread offense overall:

“I could care less what he says,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody’s opinion is an opinion. We study everything, and our ultimate goal is to win. We sit down as a staff, and coaches and say what can we do that gives us the best chance to score points and win ballgames. For us it goes back to running the system we know.”

“Because of the so called spread, there’s so many variations of the spread that’s different, it’s going to be an easy mark — ‘They’re not winning because of the spread.’ It ain’t the spread, it’s the execution of it.”

And to get to my point in the subject line, I just wrote an article on the famous 'Power' play run in football.

It's not an encyclopedia of information, but if you know football, you'll get the point ... that being in the single wing spread offense (with a dual threat QB) offers a clear advantage, obvious to even the beginner of American Football.

Keep spreading u'm Coach Rod (aka: The Chairman Of The Board of The Spread Offense) and all you other spread n shred'ers out there....

--Mark (video sharing platform)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Could NFL Defenses Handle All The Pre-Snap Motions and Fakes?

When I started coaching back in 1993, we ran the Wing-T offense, with the classic buck sweep (244, 123), FB gut/trap/bend (130, 239), and waggle pass all there. It was learned by Ricky Rodriguez (not the Coach Rod we all know from West Virginia fame... this was a coach who actually coached me in high school and played football at Northern Arizona - Herb Hand has a funny story about a time at a coaches seminar that both "Coach Rodriguez's" attended and a call from Nebraska I believe came in and the hotel staff directed the call to the wrong Rodriguez) who learned it from Chuck Johnson, a great HS coach in the state of NJ.

All the faking, all the pre-snap motion by the wing backs, the QB carrying out all his fake progressions on the buck sweep ... it was extremely difficult on a defense, a high school defense.

Last year I remember watching a Miami Dolphins game and Phil Simms was calling the game. Simms has attended many New Jersey high school football games, with his sons Chris and Matt playing at two of the best programs in the state.

Simms made a comment that stuck with me: "The Miami Dolphins offense with all the pre-snap motion, wing back sets, wildcat, and hand-off fakes makes me feel like I'm watching a high school football game." Simms was not being derogatory in his comments, because the Miami offense was moving down the field, picking up chunks of yardage both on the ground and in the air.

I was thinking the same thing... and the defense, unlike many NFL defenses that love flying 'down hill' to blow up power plays, ISO's, and inside/outside zone plays was flat footed.

Now Miami wasn't running the Wing-T offense, but the simple execution of carrying out good fakes by the QB and RB's and the pre-snap movement of the 'wing backs' (which in the NFL is now the H-back... excuse me) was tough on the defense. It made them less likely to fly down-hill or hesitant on their reads, which is good news to any offense.

Oh, and this wasn't even the wildcat formation, this was Chad Pennington under center, who to me is an excellent technician at QB, whatever you ask him to do.

I posted a couple of weeks ago a video showing Miami seriously gashing Seattle last year out of the triple option spread set.

Look at the video again (click above)... and keep an eye on the Seattle strong safety (it's a quick blurr... but you'll see him) fly out to the perimeter and literally run right past Ricky Williams who had the ball on the inside zone. Do you think that strong safety was faked out? Possibly told during the preparation week to 'watch the jet sweep out of the wildcat to the perimeter'. It actually reminded me of what I used to see in film sessions coaching high school football against good wing-t teams.

One thing is for sure... easy touchdowns in the NFL are hard to come by, especially in the ground game. Imagine if running the ball becomes easier? How much more will that open up the passing game?... the true jet fuel of NFL offenses.

Just something to ponder, and something we may see more of on Sundays.

Keep spreading u'm!

--Mark (video sharing platform)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Will The NFL QB Protection Rules Help Pat White Run The Zone Read?

Let me lay out a scenario that we may see this upcoming NFL football season, and you tell me what the Referee will do, who's responsibility it is to 'protect the quarterback' in the NFL from unnecessary hits.

It's November 19th and the Miami Dolphins are playing the Carolina Panthers on the NFL Network.

Pat White is in at QB for Miami, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams joining him in the classic 2 back (3, including White) shot gun spread option set.

The ball is snapped, and White, Williams, and Brown begin running a classic triple option play out of the shot gun. White 'zone reads' the initial inside zone hand-off to Williams, decides to pull the ball as the backside defensive end (Julius Peppers -- yikes!) executes a perfect 'square shoulder' anchor technique in the murky B-C gap area on the LOS.

White... who can run this play in his sleep with all the reps he's had over the past 5 years now attacks the perimeter as his instincts tell him with Ronnie Brown in a perfect pitch relationship, 4x4 (four yards deeper than the quarterback and four yards in front of him).

Peppers, who's instincts like White's are well situated in his DNA to attack QB's decides to coil and fire like a Cobra snake in a static stance at White... landing his face mask into White's chest/lower face mask area.

White gets the pitch off perfectly to Brown who gets the edge and registers a nice 10 yard gain.

The referee, who's one of many jobs in the NFL is to call all roughing penalties vs. the quarterback watches as Peppers and White roll off of each other...

Does the referee ever call a flag on this hit? Is there factors in the hit that would make the referee call or not call this 'roughing the quarterback'??

Would love to hear comments on this... knowing how the NFL is proactive in protecting their quarterbacks.

Keep spreading u'm!


Friday, July 24, 2009

Nick Saban Discusses The Spread Offense at SEC Media Day

Nick Saban was asked at the 2009 SEC media day about the spread offense he's seeing so much in college, and you could tell by his answers he was focused the most on the University of Florida style of spread offense, featuring a dual threat quarterback.

To read the entire article, go to:

Keep spreading u'm!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NFL Defenses Are Too Fast For The Spread Offense Run Game

"NFL Defenses Are Too Fast For The Spread Offense Run Game" - If I have to read that one more time I may have to call Dell for a new computer screen, because this one may take 'the leap'.

Imagine Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, etc... all conceding to the fact that NFL defenses where just 'too fast' for me to be a productive running back in the NFL? No matter what offense you'd run out of... West Coast, Pro-I, Two Tight End - One back, etc...

Please, enough about the NFL defenses being too fast... all your doing in the shot spread option offense is adding an athletic dual-threat quarterback to the equation, not re-inventing football!

In 2006, Atlanta's Michael Vick became the first NFL quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Where defenses 'not too quick' that year? No, Michael Vick was just quicker, and more agile, and more athletic... just like L.T. is at the TB position, Randy Moss is at the WR position, or any other superior offensive player.

It kind of reminds me of the bully who you've never actually seen fight, but has the reputation of being the toughest guy out there... I think we may see pretty soon the NFL defenses reputation of "too fast for the spread run game, dual threat quarterback gimmick" be put to the test.

Keep spreading u'm!

--Mark (video sharing library)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 Offers A Buffet Of College Spread Offense Articles

Today, July 21 2009 must be 'Spread Offense Day' at They released today a buffet style menu of articles dedicated to the spread offense in college football. A lot of good stuff from some great coaches on 'that dieing offense' ... HA!

Here's the link to all the articles:

We thought it would be fit to put Coach Rod as the picture... still the 'Chairman of The Board' of the shot gun spread option offense.

Keep spreading u'm !


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Does NFL Technology Favor The No Huddle Spread Option Offense?

I was wondering the other day if the NFL with its micro-phoned helmets that allow a coach to communicate with the Quarterback in real-time makes the no huddle spread option offense more conducive then college and high school?

Just to clear up one thing, this microphone communication in the NFL shuts off automatically with 15 seconds left on the 40/25 second play clock, but that still gives the coaches up in the booth time to relay an initial defensive look downstairs that can be sent in to the dual threat QB on the field.

We've all seen it during college and high school games, the QB in a no huddle shot gun spread offense checking with the sideline between one to three times prior to the snap, then audibling the best possible play to the rest of the offense based on the information from the coaches box. At these levels, the coaches and spotters (usually the back up quarterback's) need to hand signal the audibles to the QB on the field.

I believe I once read an article where Rich Rodriguez was asking the NCAA to look into microphoned helmets at the college football level.

One point to bring up, beginning last NFL season (2008), the defense also uses the same microphone technology, designating one player (usually the "Mike" linebacker or strong safety) to get the play call(s) from the sideline.

It'll be interesting to see if this advancement in real-time coach to player communication at the NFL level assists at all as the spread option offense makes its way into the NFL.

Keep spreading u'm!

--Mark (video sharing library)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 College Football Schedule - Spread Offense Action Galore

I recently took a look at the 2009 major college football schedule and if you're a fan of the spread offense, get ready for a buffet type feast of action.

Below I decided to list some must see early season games (with TV coverage, if available) showcasing shot gun spread offenses going against one another.

Auburn vs Miss State - Sept 12th
Auburn vs West Virginia - Sept 19th (ESPN 2)
Ball State vs Auburn - Sept 26th
Boise State vs. Oregon - Sept 3rd (ESPN)
Bowling Green vs. Missouri - Sept 12th
Florida vs Troy - Sept 12th
Illinois vs. Missouri - Sept 5th (ESPN)
New Mexico vs. Tulsa - Sept 12th
Oregon vs Utah - Sept 19th (ESPN)
Utah State vs Utah - Sept 3rd
TCU vs. Virginia - Sept 12th (ESPN)
Wyoming vs. Texas - Sept 12th
Texas vs Texas Tech - Sept 19th (ABC)
Brigham Young vs Oklahoma - Sept 5th (ESPN)
Indiana vs Michigan - Sept 26th
Ohio vs. North Texas - Sept 12th
Houston vs Texas Tech - Sept 26th (ESPN 2)
Tulsa vs Oklahoma - Sept 19th (FSN)

I'll get another listing out as the season progresses, but get those DVR's warmed up and set your email calenders with the above for now.

Keep spreading u'm!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Maybe A Taste Of What We'll See? - NFL Spread Option Football

How many times in the NFL do you see a running back go untouched for a 50 yard touchdown? Watch the video below, as Ricky Williams of the Miami Dolphins did exactly that in a game last year vs. Seattle.

Oh ya, the play was ran out of the shot-gun spread option formation, with Ronnie Brown playing QB. Now, imagine putting Patrick White at QB, with Brown and Williams in the tripe option set.

I'm predicting fun times ahead, not only on Saturday's, but Sunday's!

Original Video

"The NFL has always been ahead of the college game, but what's happened now is that so many (college) teams are running some version of the spread, and doing it so well, that it's catching the NFL's attention," college football analyst Todd Blackledge said. "And these talented players the NFL is getting are so accustomed to it, you now have NFL people thinking that one of the ways to get the most out of them is doing what they're most comfortable with."

Keep spreading u'm!

--Mark (video sharing library) (main site)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gators' spread offense catching on in the NFL

This recent article by Chris Harry of the Orlando Sentinel makes a pretty strong statement that the NFL is looking to make an even quicker transition to the current college spread offense you see today.

Remember, we predicted back in February, 2008 (yes, before the 'wildcat' craze even hit the NFL) that by 2011 you would see the transition in full effect, it looks like we may have under estimated the disruptive innovation of the shot gun spread option offense.

To view the full article, go to:

Keep spreading u'm,
Mark (main site) (online video sharing library)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wildcat 2.0 - What NFL Teams May See In 2009 From The Miami Dolphins

With all the OTA's taking place in the NFL the past few weeks, it's a sure sign that preseason training camps will be here before you know it.

As a blog dedicated to the spread offense, I thought I'd let the coach in me take an educated guess at what Dan Henning, David Lee, and George DeLeone are cooking up in the laboratory down in South Florida for 2009 as it relates to the 'wildcat' formation and their new player, Pat White.

First, lets look at the current wildcat formation:

Now I'm not claiming to be smarter than Gus Malzahn and David Lee who ran this offensive set very successfully at Arkansas with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, but I see some real limitations here that can be improved upon, now that you have a dual threat QB like Patrick White who can get into the shot-gun.

1) Strictly related to personnel (nothing to do with the formation itself), with White in the huddle, you will no longer require Chad Pennington to be on the field, which was no threat at all to the defense (though, he did throw an easy reverse pass touchdown out of the wildcat in a game last year, but that play is not a sustainable threat at this stage of the evolution of the formation in the NFL). Remember that White can easily get under center and run the Dolphins 'regular' offense, which is what he's learning now in mini-camps, OTA's, and eventually preseason camp. So in that case, the defense can't 'assume' White is coming out on the field just to run the wildcat or a spread offense.

With Pennington not on the field, you now add another 'athlete' to the offense, someone who can catch the ball, block well on a run to that side (we all know in the spread offense how important stalk blocks are for breaking long runs or screens), and run a reverse/mis-direction play.

2) The 'Y' or Tight End not being an eligible receiver is a crutch in the current wildcat formation. I fully understand the 'over' or unbalanced concept, but trust me the likes of Bill Belichick and Rex Ryan are in their lab's too... sniffing out every weakness and leverage point against the current set. I feel a more 'balanced' formation that allows for equal playmaker's across the entire 53 yards of the field will help this offense, and accent Pat White's skills, as well as the rest of the skill players on Miami.

Note: One play that really caught the Pat's off guard last year was when the Dolphins put Anthony Fasano (TE) at the eligible Tackle position in the current unbalanced wildcat, and sent him on a corner route where Ronnie Brown hit him for an easy touchdown.

See it here:

Lets take a look at what could possibly become 'Wildcat 2.0' in 2009.

In the above formation diagram, you'll notice a more 'balanced' set, and the thing I really like about it is it makes Ronnie Brown (H), Ricky Williams (Z), the flanker (FL), the X and the Y (TE) all threats on every play.

I would call this a 'TE-trips - open, empty' formation if I was still coaching, and one that can accomplish a lot of great things.

First thing is you can motion either Williams or Brown (speed or jet motion) in this set to create mis-direction or simply zone read with White of the mesh (Did you say 'Zone Read' in the NFL!) - Ya, you have the all-time NCAA leading rusher as a QB in the backfield with two seasoned running backs who want to take this thing to the next level... and Ricky Williams really impressed me with how he carried out his run fakes last year in the wildcat, these guys truly love it!

And the pass game, look at the horizontal balance now for White to shoot a ball out to Ted Ginn Jr. or the many other talented receivers on Miami.

Only time will tell, but my impression of wildcat 2.0 should make the Miami Dolphins (or any other team wanting to balance out the traditional wildcat) more effective in 2009.

Keep spreading u'm!