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.”