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.