Even in a spread era, it’s still the tight end, stupid.

Absolutely fascinating post over at Smart Football about the chess match going on between offensive coordinators successfully deploying spread offenses, defensive coordinators and their moves to get more speed on the field to counter spread attacks and offensive coordinators’ counters to those counters that’s well worth your time to read.

For example, take a look at this.

… Even if you don’t have a tight end in the program, start to develop one.  Over 80 percent of coaches polled by X&O Labs attack odd defenses by using various tight end formations. Whether by using 11 personnel (one tight end, one back), 12 personnel (two tight ends, one backs), or 21 personnel (one tight end, two backs), the tight end is pivotal in the run game.

We’ve all seen how productive spread offenses like Oregon, Boise State and Florida have been within the last three years.  What separates those teams from traditional spread teams is the implementation and execution of the tight end on normal downs.  According to our research, using a tight end in spread personnel accounts for two valuable advantages:

1.      It changes the structure of the defense: No longer can that safety/linebacker play in space, which is exactly what he wants to do.  Now he’s forced to cover down on a bigger, stronger opponent giving you leverage to get to the alley.

2.      It provides for an instant mismatch in the run game: Many of these hybrids don’t like to get their hands dirty.  These types, who usually weigh in the 180-210 pound range, are forced to balance up and fit in the framework against bigger tight ends.

It’s definitely food for thought for those of us who believe that programs like Georgia’s which continue to run pro-style offenses have an advantage recruiting that position over spread teams.  And that pro-style offenses offer the best way to attack three-down linemen defensive schemes with power running games.

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5 Comments

Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

5 responses to “Even in a spread era, it’s still the tight end, stupid.

  1. TennesseeDawg

    Charles is the perfect hybrid TE/WR player. Fast and quick as a WR and big enough to block and create a mismatch. Without AJ or any recognizable WR threat, he has to come up huge for us next year.

  2. Josh

    The deployment of lighter, quicker defensive linemen to counter increasingly prevalent spread attacks, combined with the relative scarcity of your proto-SEC defensive line types in the first place (they don’t grow John Henderson’s and Marcel Dareus’s on trees), leaves modern defenses susceptible to pro-style running games. Saban is many things, but he’s no idiot.

    I like to think that Richt and Bobo are just several years ahead of their time, rather than falling ass-backwards into the upward slope of the next coming fad.

    I guess if we win 10 games next year, it doesn’t matter.

  3. Will Trane

    Glanced through the Kuchar piece. The article spoke about attacking the overhang players and the alley with the Y TE on the ball and the U back off the ball. Most people still have trouble understanding the field. Most look at it vertically. The spread uses the horizontal as well. They look to attack the grass or open area. The key to that is the base play, read zone or bubble.
    There are differnces between the TEs at UGA and UF / Boise. In 09 in Jax look at how Meyers utilized Cooper and Hernandez…Cooper had to 2 TDs in the 1st setting the tone. One was defended pretty well. The 3-4 or a 3-5 D allows the D to cut down the space. But the key for me and what I took from the article is one kid at UGA and he aint a TE. It is Ogletree. This is where Martinez had issues. That is why you saw UGA begin to shift personnel at corners and safety as the season went on. The Brandon Spikes, the Eric Berry, that is the kid you want in your D against the spread. You want about 2-4 of those kind. They match well against the slightly smaller TE how has speed (vertically and horizontally on the field) and against the read zone play (the big QB and small fast RBs who can cut the tackle box). UGA would do well to employ a TE and a SE (such a White) and go the edge with a RB (if we had one) with cut back and outside speed.

    At time UGA defended the spread well, except for the play of the DE, like at Auburn on about 4 plays. Ask Justin Houston about that position in the AU game. But the read zone and the inside zone (see SC) can cause 3-4 some issues if you do not have the complete roster.

    Why do you think there is no huddle in the spread and they look to the sideline? They want to see where the alley or space is. Sometimes best for the D to hang back and not show a balanced look or stack.

  4. Russ

    With the TEs we have (and have had), I’ve often thought we should do more to get 2 of them on the field at the same time. Maybe one can be used like Hernandez at UF. White, Charles and Figgins are all very good TEs. If Figgins is moving to FB, then we need to make sure we get some passes to him as well.

  5. Coach Mrvos-the man

    Having a TE on the field creates an unbalanced situation for the defense (rather than just having a G & T on each side of the center). When you make the D declare a strong side, the O gets the advantage – this is especially true for the running game. You also at times see the O “flop” the TE to the opposite side to create a mismatch (Bobo likes to do this a lot). The D then has to either shift or “flop” the whole DL which creates an O advantage. ALTHOUGH, spreading out with 4 receivers and no TE, makes OLBs spread out of the D formation which creates running lanes (ala Oregon). Just depends on how you want to skin the cat.