Say what you want about the tenets of Bill Snyder’s offense, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

Bill Connelly starts with a pretty interesting premise.

The word “spread” has come to describe about 38 different styles of offense in college football. If you line your tight end up detached from the line, you’re a spread. If you utilize mostly four wideouts, you’re a spread. Hell, if your quarterback lines up mostly in the shotgun, you’re a spread. These all have kernels of truth in them, but at this point, the spread has mostly lost its meaning. Saying a team runs a “spread” offense tells you almost nothing about what kind of offense the team actually runs.

At its heart, though, the spread ethos is about putting playmakers in space and giving them room to make plays. It originally developed as an underdog tactic of sorts, as a way to spread out and harry more talented defenses and hopefully force some mistakes. But there is a certain level of tactical superiority to the idea, and after a while, a lot of the most talented teams in the country began to employ more and more spread tactics.

And uses that to get to the following line of inquiry:

But who actually spread you out the most in 2013? Whether a team is actually doing it well or not, the spread is designed to create numbers advantages and get the ball-carrier away from a mass of tacklers. That often leads to solo tackles. So which offensive systems led to the most solo tackles?

There are some interesting results, with this leading the way.

The most interesting team on the list might be right at the very top, however. Kansas State was the most spread-’em-out team in the land according to this method. That seems quite strange, at least until you read what Mike Nixon wrote about KSU back in 2012.

No matter what the defenses throw at them, the Wildcats can adjust and exploit the holes of the defense. Mixing in a balance of traditional offset I-formations, single-back two tight end formations, several three-, four-, and five- wide spread variations, and even a dose of the Wildcat, KSU creates endless headaches for opposing coaches.

Even better yet, the Wildcats are extremely balanced in their run/pass splits out of each formation. While some teams become extremely predictable when they line-up in particular formations, KSU seems to do an incredible job of self-scouting to ensure they do not fall into any formation tendencies and become predictable. Whether it’s a strong play-action game out of the offset I-Formation or running a quarterback lead draw out of a shotgun spread formation, the Wildcats make sure opponents are threatened across the board in every formation they show.

The Air Raid gets the attention, but KSU creates a spread ethos in a way that includes a lot of tight ends and fullbacks (and about two good receivers). The Wildcats are incredibly unique, and considering they ranked 14th in Off. F/+ in their first year after Collin Klein left, it appears they know what they’re doing.

It’s funny how much Bill Snyder’s name comes up when you study college ball.  He’s a damned good coach.



Filed under Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

15 responses to “Say what you want about the tenets of Bill Snyder’s offense, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

  1. 3rdandGrantham

    In my opinion, the three most impressive college coaching jobs/performances over the past 25 years or so include Bill Snyder, Lute Olson and Jim Calhoun. All three took over programs that were absolutely nothing, if not laughing stocks in their respective conferences. And all three turned their programs into consistent winners (powerhouses in the case of Arizona and UConn basketball) with limited resources/limited inherent advantages that still exist even today.

    Bill Snyder absolutely should be on any top 10-15 list of college football coaches of all time.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Bill Snyder, a great coach and a class guy.


    • mdcgtp

      I think Calhoun was an amazing coach who was overshadowed in his era by Coach K, Roy Williams, and Pitino, but he was an awesome coach. the difference was that by virtue of the Big East, being in the north east, and the fact that basketball only requires a handful of elite players enabled him to do things that structurally Snyder could not.

      History has proven that a significant number of guys who have gone on to additional success have in some way spent time with Snyder. That said, I always struggle with how to put a guy like his accomplishments into context.

      On one hand, K-state went from a job to a consistent competitor to borderline “elite” team under his leadership. On the other hand, even at his best, his teams played some of the weakest NCAA schedules, benefited from OU and Texas being “down” at various times with his absolute peak coinciding with Nebraska’s decline as well. Further, I am just guessing, but I would imagine his recruiting has never really improved beyond a certain level due to reliance on JUCOs, the inherent limitations of K-State, and the fact that he is probably not that good a recruiter. For better or worse, recruiting is part of the job!

      that said, the Senator’s last line says it all. When you study college football, his name comes up a LOT. I am ECSTATIC that we have added a little of that experience to our staff in Ekeler.


      • 3rdandGrantham

        Agree with all. Perhaps Snyder’s success is most impressive as he has to fill a roster with 85 players compared to 12 or so basketball ones (in which a 1-2 alone can make a team special). Calhoun did have the advantage of being close to NYC and all that talent in the NE, but the program was nothing when he got there, so he certainly deserves a lot of credit. On the flip side, he’s has a number of NCAA allegations/violations over the years, including a few serious ones that he somehow managed to escape from without a ton of damage.

        Lute Olson, IMO, is even more impressive than Calhoun, though he won less championships. Arizona is just sitting out there by itself in the desert, and before Lute was absolutely nothing with no real prior success of any note. The job he did there was nothing short of amazing. Class guy and squeaky clean program too, like Snyder’s.


  2. The guy is 75 years old and makes nearly 2 million a year coaching college football at a high level. Impressive stuff.


  3. The other Doug

    Is KSU’s offense what Muschamp was trying to run at Florida?


  4. Bob

    I was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, KS from 87-90 and I felt like I was in the College Football’s version of the Bermuda Triangle. To the north, there was Nebraska and to the south OU. I was sandwiched between Mizzou, KU and K.State and it was absolutely awful. We didn’t get many Georgia games so I spent a lot of Saturdays watching that crap.

    At least Mizzou and even KU had had the occaisional good team that could challenge for a Big 8 trophy. But K. State was a wasteland. No one wanted to come to Manhattan, KS and play football. They were arguably the worst program in the history of what was then Div I college football.

    The fact that Bill Snyder could take that program and make it what it became is nothing short of remarkable. And yeah, they played very weak OOC schedules, but it was necessary to build the program and give them boys some confidence. I have so much respect for the guy it isn’t funny.

    And he even revived the program after his successor managed to have them fall off the edge of relevancy again. A great coach and from everything I have heard, a very classy one to boot.