Say what you will about Leach, he’s good for quote material.
Leach coaches in the Pac-12 now but coached in the Big 12 and SEC previously. He said he faced the most skepticism when he coached in the Southeast.
“First, it becomes it won’t work,” Leach said. “Second, they basically say, ‘oh it’s a system,’ suggesting that people who don’t do it that way — who just run it up the middle, stick all your asses together so one hand grenade can kill everybody — that’s the right way to do it. Since they do it the right way, they’re OK with the fact they lost.
“This is a great time to be in the SEC; everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”
“… who just run it up the middle, stick all your asses together so one hand grenade can kill everybody” — hey, when did he have the time to watch tape on Georgia’s offenses the last two seasons?
In defense of the SEC, I would suggest that any conference would perform better offensively, regardless of scheme, if it deployed better quarterbacks than what we saw last season. Let’s not forget we’re not that far removed from two teams with their asses stuck together finishing in the top five in yards per play.
Even so, before you dismiss Leach as a blowhard when it comes to belittling SEC offenses, remember that he had a big hand in this:
Just to give you an idea of what Mumme pulled off with his newfangled attack, compare Kentucky’s offensive stats from 1996, Bill Curry’s last season there, with the 1999 stats. Notice a bit of an improvement there? Kentucky’s 1999 yards per game average would have ranked the Wildcats fourth in last season’s SEC (and is about 115 ypg more than last year’s UK team averaged).
One more thing about that ’99 team of Mumme’s. The quarterback that season was the immortal Dusty Bonner, who succeeded some guy named Tim Couch. Couch, in his last season at UK, threw for 4,611 yards in 12 games. That total would have led the SEC last season by more than 700 yards (and Arkansas played one more game). That 1998 Kentucky team wound up playing in the Outback Bowl and Couch was a Heisman finalist. How many other seasons can UK claim like that? Maybe I’m missing something, but that strikes me as a pretty good indication that a pass-based spread attack could function just fine in the SEC.
I see no reason lightning can’t strike again. (Hell, for that matter, look at what Missouri did last season.)
The problem, of course, is that you can’t play Air Raid on defense, and that was Kentucky’s Achilles heel when Leach coached there. Will this year’s Ole Miss prove to be different? Hard to say, but don’t forget that Freeze has changed his coordinator on that side of the ball, too. In any event, Ole Miss ought to be entertaining to watch this season, if nothing else.