Ian Boyd looks at the key elements that comprise a state of the art college offense these days, which he labels a “pro-spread”:
Pro-spread tactics generally work along these lines:
- The goal is to break down defenses with dropback/progression passing.
- The key to doing so is with receivers who can reliably get open in 1-on-1 matchups.
- A deep threat is the most valuable piece, as in every offensive system, but then your “running back” or “run game” is often divided between the literal run game and then your possession receivers who do heavy work every week moving the chains.
- Hybrid weapons, particularly at tight end, often do some of the heavy lifting by moving around to create distortions in the defense the quarterback can use to diagnose the structure and find the open man.
Given that last characteristic, I thought he’d spend some time talking about what Georgia did last season. I mean, this kind of rings a bell:
The emergence of the RPO (run/pass option) has been key here. When you can pair a power run from 11 personnel with a fullback/tight end hybrid in the backfield and a vertical threat in the slot, you can really put safeties and defenses in a bind.
Defenses are getting wise to RPO football and run/pass conflicts though. What they don’t have great answers for is problems like “how do we cover Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney at the same time if the offense insists on throwing the ball to them regularly?”
As I argued in the last post, dropback passing from the spread is a higher form of offense with fewer answers from defenses. If you can get a skilled quarterback on the same page with NFL caliber receivers and multiple hybrid weapons at tight end and running back, you can solve most anything the defense tries to do.
The catch is that building these offenses is very difficult. You need a left tackle, for one, to build your protections around so your five-man crew can keep the quarterback upright long enough to get to his second or third read.
A deep threat wide receiver is extremely valuable as well. There’s no better way to clear out space underneath for your timing or option routes than to hold at least one safety deep on a hash to prevent a one-throw score.
The hybrid tight end who’s a matchup problem in space is sort of akin to a star running back in a power run game. You want a volume chain-mover who can pick up first downs regularly. Overall you want two really high level passing targets and then a few others who can do something when the defense focuses elsewhere.
But, no, it’s all about you know who.
Alabama went all-in on sophomore Bryce Young last fall and were still pretty sporadic on offense until the end of the year when they started to put it together. Watching them in their close loss against Texas A&M I could seen signs they were close to breakthrough and made a note they might have the best team in the country by the playoffs. They did, obliterating Georgia in the SEC Championship game, but then they lost their NFL receivers and couldn’t get the ball across the finish line.
Can we go ahead and elect Metchie and Williams to the College Football Hall of Fame already?
Sigh. Well, if you can get past that, there’s good stuff from Ian there, as usual. Take a minute and read it.