The Tonys and the spread: it’s grrrrreat!

Tony Barnhart talks to Auburn OC Tony Franklin (who’s a “little different” because he listens to classical music – geez, nice cliché there, TB) about the spread offense that Franklin is installing at Tuberville U.

I liked this quote from Franklin about one of the goals of the spread and how easy it will be to meet that goal in a conference known for its defensive depth.   It points to a key reason why I think Georgia’s defense will be up to the challenge of SEC spread attacks this season.

“In football the defensive linemen are better athletes than the offensive linemen. That’s just the way it is. But you turn it into an even match by running a lot of plays that force the defensive front to run a lot to get to the ball. Early in the game they are feeling frisky and they will chase after everything. Some plays look like they are not working but they are because the defense is running a long way just to make the tackle.

“Most of the big plays in this offense come in the second and fourth quarters after the defense has gotten tired. This works very well in high school and at the Division II and Division I-AA level of college football because at that level teams don’t have the numbers on defense. It’s more difficult at this level because the good teams are so deep in defensive linemen. But in games where I knew we were overmatched physically, I spent the first quarter and third quarter just running plays hoping to get their defense tired. Then if we could just keep it close we might have a chance in the fourth quarter.”

By the way, although Barnhart tries to hint at it (“Note: Troy rolled up 488 yards in a 44-34 loss to Georgia last November“), Georgia’s defense didn’t run out of gas against Franklin’s offense last year.  Troy took advantage of Martinez rolling out his third string defenders late in the game – Troy’s last score came off of a 91 yard drive with less than a minute left.

Then there’s this:

The biggest misconception about the spread? “It is that the players who run this offense, particularly the linemen, are not tough. Go look at film of West Virginia’s offensive line or Texas Tech’s. Those guys are tough. People think guys aren’t tough because we’re not lining up in the I-formation and blowing people off the ball. But I’ve seen a lot of tough coaches get fired because they couldn’t score any points. Toughness is an attitude that good coaches teach their players. We have one of the top offensive line coaches in the country (Hugh Nall). Our guys are going to be very tough.”

We’ll see.  I raised this very question when Tuberville announced the change.  The stats suggest that SEC teams running pro-style offenses tend to do a better job scoring in the red zone.  If that’s not an indication of power versus power, what is it?  The other “toughness” issue raised isn’t about Auburn’s offense.  It’s about Auburn’s defense.  Those guys will be practicing daily against the spread, which, Franklin’s representations to the contrary, is a finesse offense.  As the season winds on, how are those defenders going to fare against power running teams?

It’ll be an interesting experiment to watch, that’s for sure.  And one thing we know – Tubby ain’t exactly the most patient human being in the world when it comes to coordinators.


UPDATE: More thoughts on Franklin’s spread from Will Collier at From The Bleachers.



Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, Tony Franklin - Misunderstood Genius

5 responses to “The Tonys and the spread: it’s grrrrreat!

  1. dean

    I’m not yet a believer of the spread. It may work for a few more years until more defenses catch up but I don’t see it taking over (college) football for the long haul. It will go the way of the veer, option, wing-T, flexbone, etc……


  2. peacedog

    I believe 280(ish) of Troy’s offense came after halftime, too. IT was kind of a sloppy game with 7 total TOs, and UGA’s 3 TOs keeping it from perhaps becoming a blowout earlier (24-7 after two fumbles, and Troy had a late 1h drive to make it 24-10. Stafford threw that pick early in the third, helping Troy roll off 10 straight points).


  3. Sam

    Interesting comment from Franklin about the offense being most effective when defensive players are tired. It is logical, but I don’t buy it since I have seen several spread option teams come out of the gates fast, including Oregon, WVU. Two comments about his statement:

    1. I certainly don’t remember that being true in the Sugar Bowl against WVU when we didn’t wake up until the 2nd Quarter. I could have accepted our thin ranks being the problem easier than I did just knowing we didn’t come into the game with a healthy attitude.

    2. If he is counting on waiting for the UGA defensive team to wear down, I feel MUCH better about our trip to Auburn in November. We have never had the quality depth we have available this year. Forget 2nd team players, we may have 3rd team players that could start for half of the SEC on defense…..especially Florida, and perhaps TN. I see us playing waves of players to keep fresh legs in games this year. Better develop a better plan Tony, or UGA will have their 3rd straight blowout against the Tigers. (I am not predicting that, I feel Auburn may be our toughest game in the regular season along with LSU.)


  4. Chris A

    Also when your OC says he hopes to stay close in the score until the 3 and 4 quarter does not sound like a great system.


  5. eggsinbasket

    Ok, how the tables have turned. I talked to many Dawgs directly after the GA & Troy game last year and many a Dawg fan stated that was the most impressive offensive team GA had played all year and they were thankful Troy did not have a D nor quality players.

    Now, he gets to Auburn and there are more non-believers than ever. How funny?

    The thing is AU will probably have one of the top three OLs in the SEC (thus a notch above Troy). Next, better complement of TBs in Lester, Davis and Tate. That is two uh ohs! Then you throw in talented QBs in Todd and Burns and this thing will work! During Tuberville’s tenure, only Campbell is more talented than the two currently on campus.

    Finally, the AU D will be better than Troy in every way….what does this add up to:

    Probably the most difficult game on the GA schedule!

    War Eagle!