Thursday, October 29, 2009

Classic Spread Offense (Oregon) vs Classic Pro Offense (USC) This Weekend

This Saturday will pit a great PAC-10 football match-up between the University of Southern California and The University of Oregon (USC at Oregon - 5:00 pm Pacific/8:00pm Eastern on ABC).

With USC, you have the classic pro set , quarterback under the center offense that features a lot of "I" formations and one back sets with at least one tight end in the game at all times.

With Oregon, you have a classic spread option offense, with the dual threat quarterback exclusively in the shot gun with a lot of zone reads, bubble screens, powers, counters, and sprint out passes.

“They feature the quarterback running, even more so than Ohio State,” Carroll said. “This is a team that’s dedicated to having the quarterback run the option, so he’s much more part of the normal running game than just a guy who scrambles around.”

Here's some clips of the Oregon Ducks spread offense vs. California this year:

Keep spreading u'm!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dolphins WildCat Offense Should Get More Interesting After A Bye Week

The Miami Dolphins will be fun team to watch the rest of the season if you enjoy the single-wing/wildcat formation. Coming off a bye week and an exciting victory two weeks ago against the New York Jets, I'm sure the Dolphins coaching staff has been adding to the creativity of the wildcat sets.

One area that has been expanded/improved on already is running the formation out of a more 'balanced' look, as opposed to the traditional unbalanced wildcat in the "1.0" version.

I actually wrote about a predicted 'WildCat 2.0' from the Dolphins back in June based on the success and failures of the '1.0' version created by Gus Malzahn, now at the University of Auburn.

My next prediction is that the final piece of the puzzle for Miami, Pat White will get more and more snaps as another dual threat change of pace.

Below is a grouping of all of the WildCat plays the Dolphins ran against the Jets, enjoy!

Keep spreading u'm!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Defining The Sprint Out Pass In Football

By Scott Seeley ( for

If run correctly, the Sprint Out is an effective and essential weapon in a high school offense. Unfortunately, it is usually run incorrectly. Perhaps this is because coaches don’t see it run in the NFL and rarely see it in major college football. *However, the reasons you don’t see it run in the NFL are the very reasons it is so effective in high school football. You, as a quarterback, can learn how the sprint out should be run, and in turn, make it more dangerous as an offensive weapon for your team.

Let’s examine the reasons you don’t see the sprint out run in the NFL:

1) It utilizes the quarterback as a running threat.

* When run correctly, the quarterback attacks the corner with the option to run or pass; if you were paying a pocket style quarterback $4-$20 million, you wouldn’t want to leave him alone on the perimeter where a strong safety or outside backer can lay him out.

* NFL quarterbacks are rarely good runners or comfortable carrying the football in space.

2) In the NFL, the hash marks are the width of the goal posts.**

* A sprint out takes away the portion of the field in the opposite direction of the play; in this case, even if you sprint to the wide-side of the field, you are eliminating 2/3 of the field as a threat.

3) The defenses in the NFL are much more sophisticated than high school.

* In the NFL, they run more man-to-man, combo, and zone blitzes; I don’t mean to imply you can’t run the sprint out against a man-to-man defense, you can, but in this case, the quarterback will be running most of the time.

As I stated before, these are the very reasons it can be extremely effective in high school football:

1) It utilizes the quarterback as a running threat

With the quarterback attacking the corner, it forces the defense to commit to either the run or the pass with a split-second decision; if the defense covers the receivers, they can’t stop the run; if they commit to the quarterback, they must come out of coverage. Normally, even if the QB is in a one-on-one situation against a defensive player, chances are he will gain positive yardage.

* Usually, a high school quarterback is a good runner or comfortable carrying the football in space.

2) In high school football, the hash marks divide the field into thirds

In high school, a sprint out pass to the wide side of the field still leaves roughly ½ the field as a threat; the receivers have more room to get open, and the quarterback has more field to elude the defense if he chooses to run.

3) High schools predominantly run zone defenses

With a sprint out, you flood the zone with the receivers and compile the defensive troubles with the quarterback’s threat to run.

Now, you might be asking, “How is the sprint out run incorrectly?” By examining how it is run incorrectly, we can see how it should be run in order to be most effective.

The most common mistakes when running the sprint out:

1) Not sprinting

By definition, the sprint out requires the quarterback to SPRINT. The QB should be sprinting to a specific point (about ten yards laterally and seven yards deep) before turning and attacking the corner. With few exceptions (an extremely talented QB against specific defenses with a designated “hot” receiver), the quarterback should not even look at the defense or the receivers until he makes the turn at that point. Often, what you see is more of a roll out in which the QB either drops too deep or runs too slowly; this minimizes the immediate threat to the defense, allowing them time to adjust and pursue, and reduces the running threat the QB should pose.

2) Not attacking the corner

When the QB reaches that turning point (10 x 7 yards), he MUST turn and attack the line of scrimmage. Too often, you see the quarterback running toward the sideline instead of toward the line of scrimmage; that is not a sprint out, it’s not really a roll out, I don’t know what it is, really, except a bad football play. The defense is taught to “string the play out” toward the sideline; in this case, the quarterback is doing it for them. If properly run, the quarterback is running TOWARD his receivers when he decides to pass or tuck it and run.

In order for the QB to be a true and immediate threat to run, he must attack the line of scrimmage, thereby forcing the defense to make a decision. This is what the whole play is predicated on: making the defense commit!

3) Waiting for the receiver to make his break/make eye contact with the quarterback

The sprint out is a quick hitting play. The quarterback often must throw the ball BEFORE the receiver makes his break. Too many high school quarterbacks wait too long to throw the ball, not only on the sprint out, but on other passes, too.

The quarterback must be trained to throw the ball to the spot his receiver is going to be open (aka: anticipate the route and throw), whether or not the receiver is looking at him when the pass is released. This ability is deadly to a defense; failure to do so allows the defense time to react to the pattern. This requires precision, timing, and familiarity with the receivers which is only accomplished through practice and repetition.

The receivers, as well, must be trained to look for the ball in the air, to be ready to catch the ball as soon as they make their breaks.

4) Bad throwing mechanics

No one said football was going to be easy. The throw on-the-run is a skill that has to be developed through much practice and repetition.

While running, the passer must twist his torso perpendicular to the target in a quick, cocking motion. Many passers do not get their shoulders far enough around – while still running – especially when sprinting out in the opposite direction of their passing arm.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The throwing motion and subsequent release must immediately follow the cocking motion. This uses the momentum of the motion to assist the throw, like loading and releasing a spring. Many times QBs hesitate, creating two distinct motions, back and forth, which depletes the momentum and causes the pass to sail or flutter.

When running in the same direction of the receiver, the passer does not have to “lead” the receiver. A lot of quarterbacks don’t realize this. It’s simple physics. The ball is already traveling that way when it’s released, so it naturally “leads” the receiver.

The Sprint Out Drill

Set up the cones as shown in the diagram above. The quarterback should practice the sprint out portion of the drill to the point where he can do it by 'feel' (Kinesthetic Awareness) before receivers are added. As always, the proper stance, represented by the “X”, is the beginning of the drill (refer to the stance section). Use the cadence you will use to start each repetition. The explanation is for a sprint out to the right, simply reverse the drill when running to the left.

Here's a video below of Tate Forcier from the University of Michigan executing a sprint out pass out of the spread offense.

Pivot (A)
Pushing off with the ball of the left cleat, open the hips to the right wide enough to allow an immediate sprint toward the cone.

Sprint (B)
Sprint! Put the head down and sprint directly at the cone, keeping the ball chest high. At this point your job is to GET TO THAT CONE NOW!

Turn (C)
When you get to the cone, lift your head and make the turn toward the line of scrimmage; this is when you’ll pick up your receivers and read the defense. Don’t slow down.

Attack the line of line of scrimmage (D)
Use a STEEP angle of attack, as shown on the diagram. This forces the defense to commit NOW!

Decide (E-F)
Make your decision to throw or run QUICKLY. Don’t hesitate. It’s more important to make the decision to run or pass quickly than to always make the right decision. If you throw the ball on the receiver’s break, you have a good chance to complete it even if he is covered. If you decide to run, the sooner you decide, the more yardage you will pick up, even if it turns out you should have thrown it. The more practice and experience you get, the better your decision making will be. For starters, just decide FAST.

Throw or Run

If you run, tuck it, protect the football, and go. You are now a running back. Use the field in front of you to your advantage.

If you pass:

* Cock your shoulders perpendicular to the receiver by twisting your upper torso quickly, bringing the ball to your ear. Keep sprinting!
* In a continuous motion, snap the shoulders 180 degrees while releasing the ball with the proper throw (refer to the throw).
* Although your legs are moving, from the waist up the throw should look no different than any other throw. You must practice this until your upper body is almost separate from the lower body.
* Throw it hard. Get it there fast. It’s your job to get it there, it’s the receiver’s job to catch it.

At first, repeat the drill 10 times, then switch sides. If possible, have someone time you from the snap of the ball to the cone; try to decrease the time. When you become proficient at the sprint out, add a receiver. It is incredibly valuable for a quarterback to drill with at least one of his receivers. That can really make or break a season. However, if no one is available, set up targets to throw at. Use your imagination.

If you have a receiver to work with, run different routes – short outs, curls, medium outs, deep outs, flags … whatever you will run off this during the season. Mix it up. Have fun. Try to get multiple receivers to drill with you. Have someone play defense; if he commits to you, throw, if he covers the receiver, run. Make a game out of it. But always, ALWAYS, follow the steps precisely.

*The reason you don’t see it much in major college football anymore is because they are usually grooming pro football players (though with the spread offense and the popularity of the 'dual threat' QB, this is balancing out). Also, many of the top college coaches now have either worked in the NFL, or want to, so they run what they know, or what they think will look good for their careers. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Arizona State and Air Force that run the sprint out as a regular part of their offense.

**In college football, the hash marks are between the pro and high school hash marks.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Power - The New Staple Of The Spread Offense

The 'Power' has been a popular play for years out of the "I" formation as well as one back formations with the quarterback taking the snap from under the center.

Over the past two seasons, you are now seeing this effective run play become a staple out of the shot gun spread offense, like the zone read option. Whether out of a single-wing/'wildcat' set or out of a traditional shot-gun set with running back(s) flanking the quarterback, this play is allowing for some very creative play calling by coaches at all levels.

As you will see at the end of the video below, the Florida Gator 'inside shovel' pass is power blocking by the offensive line.

This video is a great collection of 'Power' plays out of the spread offense.

Keep spreading u'm!


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Wild Horse Formation - Denver Broncos

I was really impressed by the 'wild-horse' single wing formation created by head coach Josh McDaniels and staff of the Denver Broncos while watching them beat the New England Patriots yesterday.

What was most unique about it was it resembled the 'wildcat' that is spreading in the NFL, but was more of a balanced set (as seen below), and it allowed for the quarterback, in this case Kyle Orton to shift back under center once the defense showed its hand on how it would defend the single wing with Knowshon Moreno at the Superback (or single wing QB).

Here's a look at the basic 'power' out of the Wild Horse that we've learned to love out of the Wild Cat or any other single wing type set across football the last few years.

I really like the double tight end set out of the single wing, it creates some serious gap issues, not that the single wing doesn't do that already with the '11th gap' it creates, but double tights really amplifies the effect.

Now, here's the shift I discussed briefly above:

Here you'll see that Kyle Orton shifted back to an under the center QB set from the flanker (FL) position once the defense showed its hand versus the single wing wild-horse with Moreno staying put in the one back set.

This play above shows Orton and the Denver offense executing a pass play after the shift back into a more traditional set. Even Phil Simms who was calling the play-by-play was very impressed with this 'shift' back wrinkle by the Broncos out of the Wild Horse as every play after them shifting produced positive yards with the defense being somewhat out of position.

Good stuff !

Keep spreading u'm!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Would We Do Without The Spread Offense?

I just got done watching a little NFL football on this lazy Sunday afternoon in October and I thought to myself... "Man, this is kind of boring?" Series after series of pro-set I formations with the quarterback under center. A lot of ISO's and Power's out of the 'I' just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

Then, I thought about yesterday (Saturday) and all those great spread offense college teams I was watching... Houston, Florida, Michigan, Texas, etc... had me turning the channel like a mad man, trying to catch all the action. Even on Friday nights, watching ESPNU and the national high school football games, with most of those teams in the shot-gun spread offense.

I think that's the keyword... the 'action' that the spread brings to a football game. I'm sure there's no conclusive evidence out there, but I believe that spreading the formation with offensive players horizontally across the field and using a dual threat quarterback out of the shot gun does 'excite' the game.

Of course we all like to see great plays on the field no matter what formation players are in, because at the end of the day it is a players game... that I agree with 100%.

But I relate it to a fast break team in basketball, pressing the action and being aggressive on offense, this I feel the spread offense in football does cultivate.

Now don't get me wrong, the NFL does have its exciting coaches and players like Josh McDaniels in Denver, the 'wildcat' in Miami, and of course Peyton Manning when he's running the no huddle spread offense of the Colts to perfection.

I guess I'll just have to wait until Urban Meyer becomes a head coach in the NFL.

Keep spreading u'm!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unbalanced Formation Out Of The Spread Offense

In my coaching days, I was a big believer in using unbalanced formations on offense to keep the defense on its toes, and give us an advantage at the point of attack, especially when the defense didn't adjust quickly. Whenever you can make the defense think a lot on the field and add to their preparation and thinking on the field... you're doing a good thing for your offense.

Below is a video of a simple, but effective unbalanced spread offense set with a shot gun zone read play. I always like to use unbalance early in a game, maybe the second series or sometimes even the opening drive of a game when the excitement (and sometimes lack of mental focus on the defense) could pop a big one for you.

Keep spreading u'm!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Auburn Tigers 2009 - Running The Spread Offense In The Left Lane

After last years disappointing season at Auburn, which lead to the firing of offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and head coach Tommy Tuberville, 'war eagle' fans must to very excited about the early success of the 2009 version of the Auburn Tigers football team.

New head coach Gene Chizik's team is 5-0 after an important SEC win last night over Tennessee.

New offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and his potent high pace spread offense has been very impressive this year. During the Tennessee game, the Vol's needed to call time out twice as a result of pure exhaustion from defending such a high pace spread offense.

Here's a video of Auburn's offense vs. Mississippi State

Keep spreading u'm!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oregon Ducks Spread Offense Highlights

After a slow start in the opener, it looks like the Oregon spread offense is starting to find its identity and swagger like we have expected from Chip Kelly and the Ducks.

Below is some clips of Oregon vs Oklahoma State last year in the Holiday Bowl.

Keep spreading u'm!


Monday, September 28, 2009

QB Throwing Mechanics While Under Pressure

What a nice video below by Dub Maddox of Jenks HS in Oklahoma. He's explaining some quarterback throwing techniques and drills to help your quarterbacks maintain strong passing ability in the face of defensive pressure. This can not only help your QB's maintain arm strength in the face of heat... but can keep them from getting their hand, thumb, or wrist injured on a defenders helmet.

Keep spreading u'm!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Ten Spread Match-Up: Michigan vs Indiana - 9/26/2009

Michigan vs Indiana is a great spread offense game to watch today. Both teams are undefeated, and you'll get to see the spread option offense of Michigan, and the pistol formation of Indiana. The game is at 12 noon (Eastern) on ESPN2.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is It Time To Remove "Gimmick" From The Wildcat In The NFL?

Now that the one year anniversary of the wildcat formation (notice I don't call it an 'offense', because it actually falls into a formation category in the long tail of the spread offense family) is behind us, and the Miami Dolphins celebrated the one year birthday with another display of solid execution in the wildcat, could we all stop calling it a 'gimmick'?

Think back to the creation of the the 'zone blitz' on the defensive side of the ball, when Dick LeBeau, Defensive Coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers unleashed it on the NFL in the early 90's... was that called a 'gimmick'.. or 'brilliance'?

Think about it... what's more 'gimmicky', dropping a 300 pound defensive linemen into pass coverage, or putting an athletic running back into a single wing shot gun formation?

In Super Bowl XLIII when James Harrison returned an interception 100 yards for the Steelers on a zone blitz call, I don't remember any of the TV announcers saying: "Boy, that zone blitz gimmick really had the Cardinals offense off balance on that play".

Anyone who knows anything about football knows that schemes are only as good as the execution of the players performing the scheme.

Lets start praising the player execution of the wildcat formation, and not some made up 'gimmick' pixie dust that TV announcers and certain journalists will have you believe is the only thing making the wildcat a success in the NFL.

Keep spreading u'm,


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rich Rodriguez Explaining The Outside Zone and Perimeter Game

Rich Rodriguez (aka: Coach Rod) has been running the zone read out of the spread offense since his days at Glenville State College (WV), 1990-1996.

Coach Rod, in his second year now at the University of Michigan is seeing similar success as in his second year at West Virginia University with his spread offense system.

Below is a video of Coach Rod back in the day explaining his 'Outside Zone/Perimeter Game'

Keep spreading u'm!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tate Forcier - Nicely Done Young Man!

I remember Bill Parcells unleashing one of his many classic coaching comments after a great performance by Tony Romo back in 2006... 'Lets not enshrine him in Canton or the Ring of Honor just yet fella's... OK!" in his classic south Bergen County NJ accent.

Well on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Michigan it was hard not to start thinking about a great future ahead for Tate Forcier and the Michigan Wolverines.

Matt Millen was surely impressed, doing the game in the booth for ABC who has seen his share of talented football players as a player and NFL executive.

I got the feeling I was watching a little of Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Colt McCoy mixed into one very confident college quarterback, a true freshmen quarterback at that...

His decision making was excellent in the spread offense devised by Rich Rodriguez, aka Rich Rod or Coach Rod.

Is he a physical specimen? No.. but neither was Montana, Tarkenton, or nor is McCoy and Romo.

Forcier just seems to have that 'it' factor... you know, those intangibles that are hard to measure, but result in positive plays and an uncanny knack for raising the rest of the teams ability and intensity.

As for Coach Rod, I'm very happy for him. First off if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be running this 'spread offense' online franchise and the likes of Urban Meyer, Butch Jones, Herb Hand, and many others likely wouldn't be coaching at such a high level either.

Isn't the spread offense fun when fun players execute it?!

Keep spreading u'm!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Bringing Heat To An Empty Spread Offense Formation

These days you find a lot of spread offense teams at all levels of football using an empty formation. Defensively, teams find themselves having to decide whether to apply pressure by blitzing the quarterback or play a more conservative style of defense with more zone and less blitzing.

The below package is a very aggressive blitz package, bringing pressure to the offensive backfield. In return for that pressure, the pass coverage behind the blitz is man to man... placing a lot of pressure on your secondary and linebacker (Sam backer in this situation).

Always remember, football... like certain aspects of life is a 'high risk, high reward' proposition. But, with high risk also comes the potential for harder falls! I always tell coaches who contact me that no one knows your team better then you do (or at least that's the way it's suppose to be). The way you attack an offense should be 80% decided on that factor... what can your team do or can't do physically and mentally. The other 20% is left for the below type stuff, the strategy part of it.

Lets take a look at the below empty set and an aggressive blitz call:

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 empty 'trips/twins' formation above, the defensive line call is a:

'Slide Weak' call for the 3 down lineman, meaning they are aligning head up to their respective offensive lineman (no shade) and at the snap sliding weak (with penetration, the landmark is trying to place their left shoulder pad (in this case, going right) to the offensive lineman's gap arm pit, then re-directing up into the gap), which in this case is the twins side of the formation (the TE/twins or 'trips' side is the strength of the formation).

The linebacker call is a:

'Mike, Buck, Will Cross', a 'controlled' cross stunt/blitz from the three (MBW) linebackers, wanting to wait until the ball is snapped and their corresponding defensive lineman has crossed their face prior to them establishing forward momentum on the blitz (it usually is a 'thousand one' cadence, then blitz).

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 (Sam) pass coverage call is:

'Cover 0 - Man to Man', With the following responsibilities:

Corners: #1 Receivers (man to man) - slight outside shade, 5 yards off the receiver.

Free Safety/Strong Safety: #2 Receivers (man to man) - slight outside shade, 5 yards off the receiver. {I actually have the FS on the strong side of the formation covering #2 and the SS on the weak side covering #2, not a big deal... your call as a coach}.

Sam: Man to man versus the Tight End (Y), #3 receiver. Notice, Sam also has D gap responsibility versus the run, he must keep his outside arm free (maintain outside leverage) and not get hooked on a QB sweep. He also has to 'squeeze' any QB Down (kick out by Guard) play... don't spill it to the outside, funnel it inside by attacking the outside shoulder of the kick-out guard. That play (QB Down) should never materialize though, with all the pressure into the backfield through the strongside A-B-C gaps.

Corners and Safeties have to really watch the 'rub routes' and pick plays here...

Hopefully this package is something you can use in defending an empty set out of the spread offense.

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


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)