Allen Kinney shares some thoughts about Barrett Sallee’s post on Texas A&M’s spread offense which I had previously criticized here. After reading what Allen posted, I’m wondering if some of this debate is fueled by differences over semantics – not exactly a surprise when you talk about the spread.
For example, I think Allen has it right when he says,
There are so many versions of the “spread” as it relates to offensive schemes that the term itself doesn’t have much utility now. The offenses run by Urban Meyer and Mike Leach really have little in common. In reality, teams are mixing and matching so many offensive concepts today that trying to fit any scheme into catch-all buckets is generally pointless.
But then he falls into the same rationale that Sallee cited originally, and, as I posted before, it’s not convincing.
… Sallee is absolutely correct that teams running spread offenses along the lines of the Air Raid generally haven’t been found near the top of the SEC standings. But how many have really tried? Sallee points out two notable pass-happy flame-outs: Dave Clawson’s offense at Tennessee in 2008 and Tony Franklin’s half-season at Auburn.
The idea that Clawson’s offense in his one-year disaster at UT was pass-happy comes as a surprise to me. The Vols ran the ball 100 times more than they threw it in ’08; the 2007 offense threw the ball more than it ran. As for Franklin, it was clear from the get-go that Tuberville was never committed to running the spread offense the way Franklin envisioned. (Neither were Franklin’s fellow assistant coaches.)
As for pass-happy offenses succeeding in the SEC, the nineties saw two pass-oriented systems work and work well: Spurrier’s Fun ‘n’ Gun and Mumme’s Air Raid. Now that’s not to say that the two programs saw equal success in terms of wins and losses, just that both were effective in moving the ball and scoring points.
And that may be where the discussion breaks down here. Sallee seemed to be making the argument that Kingsbury’s offense can’t work as it is in the SEC. That’s a different argument than saying TAMU won’t win in the SEC this season if it runs some version of the Air Raid attack.
There’s no question that the SEC is a defense-oriented conference. It’s also a conference loaded with talent, as Allen points out.
… The chances that Kingsbury and Sumlin’s offense will continue to put up the same Nintendo-like numbers they’ve become accustomed to are slimmer than the prospects of finding a vegan restaurant in Tuscaloosa. The overall level of talent in the SEC is simply better, and Big 12 immigrants A&M and Missouri, another pass spread team, will find themselves even lower in the talent stack than they were in their previous home.
The odds of success in the SEC drop dramatically if you can’t stop the other guy fairly consistently (unless you’re blessed with a transcendent talent like Cam was). Any offensive system can only take you so far, even if it’s one a coaching staff is committed to and even if it’s one run with proficiency. And that’s how TAMU should be judged this season, although I suspect that Allen’s correct when he says that if things don’t go well, it’ll be the system that takes the brunt of the blame.