Chris has a post up at Smart Football worth reading (just like anything else he posts there) about how we’re entering the next era of the spread option, or, as he calls it, the “rise of the terrible spread team“.
I forecast this day some time ago, but this year’s college football season has wowed me with the number of just awful spread teams. Now, there’s some good ones: Florida has great talent, and just about every top team has some kind of “spread” element to their gameplan. But there’s a ton of just awful spread teams. This topic deserves a much more in depth treatment, but the basic gist is what I forecast a few years ago: the offense just isn’t an equalizer anymore, but instead more of an amplifier. If you have great athletes you can isolate them in space, but if you don’t then you’re just giving them one-on-one matchups they can’t win and asking your quarterback to play perfect or you can’t win.
But the biggest reason is simply that everybody is doing it and there’s just not much novelty to it. And it’s not like you can fool a defense with some dizzying array of spread formations when each guy on defense played against spread teams for four years in high school and every week in college. That said, this also makes the cries from these teams and their coaches that there’s a “steep learning curve” with their spread offense ring rather hollow. How much different is it to tell guys to line up differently and read the defensive end on the zone-read? There’s lots of teams who successfully do that who use it only sparingly; it’s unconvincing when teams that rely heavily on the zone-read and zone options claim that they need more time to teach it.
That gets back to something I posted before. LIke him or not, Urban Meyer is a smart guy. He’s already anticipated this. That’s why he’s put such a heavy emphasis on speed guys. The coaches in the SEC and elsewhere that are just now jumping on the spread bandwagon as it mainstreams are still a step behind.