For all the bitching the NFL does about how spread offenses are a drag on player development, it sure seems like being a quarterback for Mike Leach has its pluses in that department.
Quarterbacks in his Air Raid offense are expected to know the ins and outs of every position on the field, but Leach affords them far more control in calling plays and making reads than most college (or professional) coaches would dare.
It doesn’t happen often, but Leach says there are games when his quarterback heads onto the field about 60 percent of the time with nothing more than an offensive formation. In those cases, it is the quarterback’s responsibility alone to give the offense his own play call, unless he decides to audible on the formation altogether.
It’s a level of trust between Leach and his quarterbacks that he calls “one of the strengths of our offense.” According to several former quarterbacks who played for Leach, it also serves to form what they describe as the most unique relationship between a coach and a player in all of college football.
“You don’t find that in a lot of offensive coordinators or head coaches,” former Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons said. “Some of them might be a little egotistical that you’re going to run what they call. … That freedom that Mike gave you — and it came from him trusting that you could make the right call — that was a big part of my success.”
Considering the level of micromanagement that goes on these days – everyone loves the get to the line early so the coaching staff can rework the play call based on the defensive set move, right? – you’d think that kind of responsibility would pay dividends at the next level. Not to mention that Leach’s teams don’t have to get to the line early to check sideline play cards…