Defending the spread

An alternative history of the SEC, by Chris Huston:

SEC football changed when Urban Meyer took his coaching talents to Gainesville.

A league that had won just two BCS titles between 1998 and 2005 suddenly figured a few things out.  Mainly, it realized that it’s not enough to just roll the ball out there on the field and expect superior talent to overcome your opponent.

Players mattered, sure, but so did plays.

It’s almost quaint to think back to the many observers who scoffed at the notion that the spread offense would thrive in the SEC.  But a couple years into the Meyer tenure,  the verdict was in and crystal clear.  And most of the rest of the league quickly followed suit.

In 2006, only one team in the league scored more than 30 points per game.  A year later, six teams averaged over 30 points per game.  By 2010, seven teams did so, with 10 overall averaging 29 or better.  And most of them did so by utilizing some sort of spread, or sprinkling in variations of it as part of their offense.  Even normally-stodgy Alabama found success running plays out of the Pistol, Wildcat and passing spread formations.  [Emphasis added.]

See what he did there?  When you get to the point that you label every offensive formation that isn’t a pro-set as some variant of the spread, you’ve rendered the term meaningless.

I previously explored Florida’s scoring history under Meyer in this post.



Filed under SEC Football

14 responses to “Defending the spread

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    The spread is kind of like martinis. A few years back martinis got chic with women, and next thing you all kinds of sweet fru-fru drinks are called martinis. Somewhere, James Bond is disappointed.


  2. heyberto

    Related but slightly off the original point of the post.. why is it that the spread succeeded so well, particularly at UF? I have always chalked that up to their ability to recruit top notch players that a school of any offense would recruit. It didn’t hurt that they always had a Charlie Strong Defense.

    There’s a few teams running that base offense that haven’t enjoyed UF’s success. After seeing what happened with Tebow gone, I really started thinking you need that Tebow/Newton type QB to make it really work. Is the double threat QB the thing that’s needed to make that offense virtually unstoppable?

    But seriously, how much do heartburn did Urban have watching Cam Newton making Tebow look like yesterday’s news at Auburn last season? There just aren’t that many of those kinds of QBs around.


    • SCDawg

      Alex Smith ran it well at Utah. I think Relf will do all right at MSU. Both can run well.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I think there have been more than one would think, they just have been played at tight end, fullback or on D by short-sighted coaches who didn’t realize what they had. Cudos to Meyer and Malzahn for at least recognizing their talents and using them to the teams’ advantage.


  3. Go Dawgs!

    The SEC was still the best league in the country from 1998-2005. The reason that there weren’t more national championships is that leagues which were relative pillowfights like the ACC, Big East, and Pac 10 kept providing easy paths for undefeated powers. The SEC didn’t just suddenly become a dominant league because the spread suddenly appeared.


  4. James Stephenson

    The spread is this guys Religion, like the Global Warming people and Baptists. He is preaching his word, the word of the spread.

    He is also an idiot.


  5. Biggus Rickus

    I think my favorite part is this: “Not surprisingly, no SEC team has won a scoring defense title since 2005.”

    In 2006, LSU, Florida and Auburn finished 4, 6, and 7 nationally in scoring defense. 2007 was a bad defensive year with nobody showing up until LSU and Georgia at 17 and 18. 2008 was a return to normal, with Florida, Alabama and Tennessee in the top 10. Alabama finished second nationally in 2009, with Florida fourth and LSU just outside the top 10. And last year Alabama was third with LSU just outside the top 10. So, while it is true that no SEC team has led the nation in the statistic, at least one team has finished fourth or higher every year but one. And there were usually three teams in the top 10 or very nearly in the top 10.


    • Go Dawgs!

      But if no team was THE best in the country defensively, then the spread is obviously the most powerful force on the planet. Cower in fear as the spread burns your fields and ravages your women. Your facts don’t concern the self-proclaimed pundit.


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    That team hasn’t recovered since Charlie Strong left. And chris leak wasn’t a spread QB, not to mention ‘bama and LSU not running the spread when they won mnc’s either.


    • James Stephenson

      W Cobb, we all brought this up to the Spreadologist, however, he came back and said Alabama did in fact run a version of the spread and did LSU. Oh and he also said they did not tweak the offense for Leak, when most assuredly did.