There are many forms of the spread system. One of the extreme versions is the pass-oriented Air Raid typified by Mike Leach at Texas Tech, and coaches Dana Holgerson, Kevin Sumlin, and Kliff Klingsbury originating at the Houston Cougars. Others include, Mike Gundy's Oklahoma State Cowboys, Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia Mountaineers, Mark Stoops's Kentucky Wildcats, Mike Leach's Washington State Cougars, Tommy Tuberville's Cincinnati Bearcats, Kliff Kingsbury's Texas Tech Red Raiders and Kevin Sumlin's Texas A&M Aggies. This version employs multiple spread sets and is heavily reliant on the quarterback and coaches being able to call the appropriate play at the line of scrimmage based on how the defense sets up. California Golden Bears head coach Sonny Dykes, who coached under Mike Leach at Texas Tech, uses a variant of the pass-oriented spread system that makes more use of the tight end and running backs.
The other extreme is the spread option - consisting of a slot receiver, a tailback, and a dual-threat quarterback - used by Gus Malzahn 's Auburn Tigers, Rich Rodriguez's Arizona Wildcats, Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes, Dan Mullen's Mississippi State Bulldogs; Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks, and Hugh Freeze's Ole Miss Rebels. Despite the multi-receiver sets, the spread option is a run-first scheme that requires a quarterback that is comfortable carrying the ball, a mobile offensive line that can effectively pull and trap, and receivers that can hold their blocks. Its essence is misdirection, making it effectively the old triple option, except that it utilizes spread sets. One of the primary plays in the spread option is the zone read, invented and made popular by Rich Rodriguez. The quarterback must be able to read the defensive end and determine whether he is collapsing down the line or playing up-field containment in order to determine the proper play to make with the ball. A key component of the spread option that utilizes a run-capable QB is that the threat posed by the QB forces a defensive lineman or linebacker to "freeze" in order to plug the running lane of the QB; this, in effect, creates a virtual block on the defensive player, without the offense needing to put a body on him.
A third version of the spread offense is the Pistol offense used by Chris Ault's Nevada Wolf Pack and some high schools across the nation. The Pistol focuses on using the run with many offensive players, and it calls for the quarterback to line up about three yards behind the center and take a short shotgun snap at the start of each play. Instead of lining up next to the quarterback like in the normal shotgun, the tailback lines up behind the quarterback at normal depth. This enables him to take a handoff while running toward the line of scrimmage, rather than parallel to it from the standard shotgun. Since Ault installed the Pistol in 2004, his Wolf Pack has been among of the NCAA's most productive offenses. In 2009, they led the country in rushing and total offense, and were also the first team in college football history to have three players rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.
Perhaps the most extreme example is the spread option used by Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets which runs about 2/3 of the time and typically uses two wide receivers, two slot backs (known as A-backs) and a fullback (known as a B-Back) out of a formation known as the Flexbone Formation. The offense often uses motion by the slot-back to create a numbers advantage where the offense will have more players than the defense on the play side. The results speak for themselves, as Georgia Tech's rushing attack consistently ranks at the top of the nation in rushing yards and plays over 20 yards. Despite not throwing often enough to qualify for NCAA official statistics, Georgia Tech's offense also ranks high in Passing Efficiency due to the high passing yards per attempt.
Another version, used by Larry Fedora of the North Carolina Tar Heels, is a balanced attack that relies on the quarterback to keep the defense honest and open up lanes for the running backs.
In addition, a new offense known as the "spread-flex" is emerging among many programs. This offense combines the flex-bone and the spread offense together in order to cause confusion for defenses and to take advantage of mismatches. This dynamic offense has worked its way up into the smaller colleges and universities such as Air Force who use it very effectively. It can be effective in many ways to spread the ball out to the wide receivers as well as using a lot of pre-snap shifting and motion to run the option zone read plays. The offense combines elements of the triple-option offense at Navy, Army, Air Force, and Georgia Tech and the version of the "Air Raid" offense crafted by Leach.
Read more about this topic: Spread Offense
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