“How long he can endure remains to be seen.”

More evidence that the spread option attack is going mainstream – the media is starting to run pieces on how to slow or stop it.

CFN’s Pete Fiutak has a short piece up that’s basically a Q & A with various folks about certain aspects of the spread attack.  The two most interesting answers came from Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour, who Georgia will see in its second game, and Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly.

LeFevour was asked what he does to get set in each play.  Here’s his response:

“Look at the defense from front to back. Identify the box up front in the middle, and go to the shell to see the corners and safeties what they’re doing. You have to put the whole picture together in an instant. I’m given the freedom to change a certain play here and there, but the plays are designed to run, most of the time, no matter what the defense is doing.[Emphasis added.]

Nawrocki was asked why spread QBs don’t translate well to the NFL.  In part, he answered by noting that

… QBs in the Jeff Tedford / Mike Leach /Urban Meyer /Steve Spurrier systems rarely are asked to read more than a third of the field and tend to complete primarily short, dink-and-dunk passes that allow for quicker decisions to be made and more accuracy. Their systems do not promote the development of a quarterback but rather hide their shortcomings while padding stats that can easily fool not only the average fan but even the most experienced evaluator.

Compare that with, say, the decision making process that a college QB in a pro-style offense, like Stafford, is asked to go through on each play call.

If the people that Fiutak interviewed aren’t impressed with the future of the spread option QB in the pros, at least they’re not saying it doesn’t have a place in the college game.  By contrast, Dennis Dodd is ready to start shoveling dirt on the college spread attack.

The final blow

The spread will die out for the same reason the wishbone died out.

It doesn’t translate well to the NFL. Eventually, blue-chip offensive players will see their skills don’t necessarily translate well to the pros. They will start gravitating toward programs that can exploit their talents. Goodbye spread.

“We do point it out in recruiting battles,” said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who still runs a pro style offense. “(The NFL) looks at that from not only working with a quarterback but an offensive tackle who protects a drop-back passer.”

“If you ran (the spread) in the pros, you’d get killed,” Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis said. “I could never do it in a heavy dose myself because the quarterback gets exposed.”

Few of those great option quarterbacks in the ’60s and ’70s had meaningful careers in the NFL. Draft experts are still perplexed as to how Tebow’s talents translate to the next level. The same for West Virginia’s Pat White. Daniel took advantage of an NFL Draft evaluation after his junior year but decided to stay in school to sharpen his skills — and win, of course.

As good as he is, Daniel’s pro future is uncertain. His immediate past, though, may become a historic touchstone when the spread eventually dies out.

That’s cold, brother.

Three quotes from the article are worth noting.  First, Dennis Erickson has a good point as to why there will continue to be a place in college ball for the spread:

“It’s all about mismatches,” Erickson added. “That spread stuff if you’re throwing it, you can get guys who can run who aren’t heavily recruited.”

Second, there’s something Missouri’s Chase Daniel had to say about the kind of defense that can slow a spread attack down.

“If you were asking a defensive coordinator what to do (against Missouri), I’d say have a ridiculously good defensive line and play good coverage behind them. How many have that?”

Well, maybe this guy.

Head hunt: Willie Martinez is old school. In the offseason, Georgia’s defensive coordinator posts the schedule in his office and obsesses over every opponent with one thing in mind.

“Defensively, you’ve got to punch the quarterback,” Martinez said. “You look at one of our goals, we’re going to find out how tough he is.”

The effect of a smackdown — legal, of course — is cumulative. Georgia led the SEC in sacks last season and returns one of the best defenses in the country. Martinez doesn’t claim to have a secret, just a method. The Bulldogs lost to South Carolina’s Blake Mitchell, no one’s superstar, but also contained — make that punished — Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow in the Cocktail Party.

“A knockdown of a quarterback can be effective,” Martinez said. “Is he a guy who is tough enough to take those (hits), legally? If he runs the ball you better punish him. That’s what makes Tebow so tough, he’s a physical kid. He can endure. How long he can endure remains to be seen.”

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19 Comments

Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Strategery And Mechanics

19 responses to ““How long he can endure remains to be seen.”

  1. KG

    These experts do realize that the Patriots run a pro version of the spresd right? They seem to have had a fair amount of success IMHO. Has anyone not noticed how closely connected Belichick is to Gainesville?

    BTW, OU and Neb used to put plenty of OL in the NFL as well as RBs, WRs, TEs, etc. There might be a slight effect on QBs but then when you take into account that more and more HSs are going to the spread and maybe it won’t be “colleges” that have to adjust to the new type of QB. Troy Aikman started his college career running the wishbone.

    This is little more than wishful thinking for recruiters from traditional offensive schools. Any effect would be 5-10 years down the road anyways and coaches don’t get that long to make excuses if they can’t win or recruit right away.

  2. kckd

    The pro version of the spread is not a pro version of the spread option. I haven’t seen Brady doing much running lately. And has been shown, from all the gator whining last year, if your QB can’t run it doesn’t seem to work as well. Or are you now saying that bum shoulder wasn’t such a big deal??

  3. kckd

    Aikman did not run the wish bone, the wish bone was put in after he was injured because the best thing they had at QB behind him was a runner.

  4. Greg

    What? You’re referring to the defense and talking about losing to Blake Mitchell when SC scored only 16 points…Blake Mitchell certainly didn’t win that game and our defense didn’t lose it.

  5. peacedog

    Nebraska’s Option offense made use of lots of traditional, off and between the tackle running plays. The kinds of plays backs (and OL) would be a part of when moving to the next level.

    Also, I don’t think people who recruit for “traditional” offenses have anything to worry about. Indeed, more spread offenses will invariably lead to less competition for certain recruits they might prize.

  6. kckd

    Maybe I’m missing it, but where has Blake Mitchell and SC been discussed here?

  7. Great stuff. Dodd is right, players with pro potential (other than WR) don’t want to play in the spread option. AU lost a RB to Ole Miss. That’s right Ole Miss last season, and Trent Richardson should be committed to UF, but isn’t due to the spread.

    The spread will also suffer a demise because as more teams run it, the more defenses will adjust. And as team’s adjust to it, more opportunities for power attacks exist (smaller, lighter linemen)—which makes this all cyclical.

    As for the “spread” it can be defeated. You guys slowed Tebow, and Auburn seemed to do a good job on UF. I’d also say Alabama did a decent job in the Cotton Bowl, and in Meyer’s first season.

  8. Jim

    How long can Tebow endure? He might make it through College but even Hershel was injured each year he played. Tebow would have to change his style for the Pros as they would grind him down. Ask Vince Young.

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  10. Sam

    Lot of meat in this article Senator. Bingo on Dodd’s comments, that is exactly why Murray chose UGA over Florida despite growing up a UF fan. Bingo also on Erickson’s remarks about why there will be a place for the spread in CFB. There aren’t enough Mannings, Elways, or Staffords to stock the Top 25 teams so the spread can be an equalizer. But as Weis said (who would have thunk he was brighter than Meyer), if you expose the QB that much you had better be prerpared to play your backup. That is why is why Florida has more than just their defense to worry about. Dinging up the fingers, hands, and wrists on a QB is substantially more significant than on your RBs…even with a physical speciman like Supernman.

  11. AceG8tr

    Long enough to make it 16 out of 19. . .
    :-)

  12. UgaMatt

    We’ll see Ace. I just hope his shoulder is fine this year. God knows UF has gone to well enough with that excuse.

  13. KG

    I’m going to personally address all this spread misinformation in my next post on O&BHue. This is getting ridiculous.

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  15. This is one instance where being specific about the “spread option” versus the generic “spread” would have helped. The spread option in particular would likely be disastrous in the pros, but not the generic spread offense.

    Variants of an offense that puts wide outs virtually from sideline to sideline have come and gone in the NFL for decades. That’s all you need to have a “spread” attack – an offense that takes up a lot of horizontal room instead of being clumped together.

    The Patriots and Packers last year ran a lot of spread formations. Farve in particular loved those sets. And that defense that Chase Daniel described? It’s none other than Monte Kiffen’s Tampa 2 that the Bucs have used since the mid to late ’90s.

    In the end, as always, it’s not the Xs and the Os but the Jimmys and the Joes. Scheme can hinder or help, but in the end it’s players making plays that wins ball games.

  16. RedCrake

    Mark my words, Tebow goes down against Tennessee or LSU.

    Now, I would never hope for an injury to a collegiate athlete (okay, maybe just this once–but with this schedule I’ll take what I can get) but I can’t see Tebow running that frequently and coming out unscathed this year. UF has shown me nothing to make me believe they have a legit running game aside from Tebow.

    Look on the sunny side Gator fans….now you have an excuse for losing this year.

  17. KG

    The spread isn’t just sending a few receivers out wide. It is commonly identified by a shotgun snap, wide OL splits, zone blocking schemes and 4 receiver-1 back set. If your offense includes those types of facets then it’s probably a spread offense.

    For example the Bill Walsh West Coast offense also likes to spread the field – aka stretch a defense horizontally but it is NOT a spread offense (QB under center, man blocking scheme, heavy use of TEs and FBs, etc). Whether you like to run or pass from the formation is preference. The basic principles are the same for Missouri and West Virginia. Only the execution and focus differ.

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