Spread Offense Making its Way Across the Nation

A variation of one of college football oldest offensive systems has been revised again: it’s called the spread offense, and it’s making frequent stops in college stadiums across the nation.

Thirty years ago, Western Oregon head coach Mouse Davis drew the blueprint for the original system, calling it the run-and-shoot offense, which set 20 Division 1-AA records. In the 1990s, Steve Spurrier made some changes to the traditional setup and won a national championship at Florida with his own version, which he dubbed the fun-and-gun.

In today’s game, Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez is credited with tweaking both Davis’ and Spurriers systems to create the spread offense, which has been the most effective out of the three forms.

The formation looks something like this: no huddle, shotgun snap, one running back (if any), and four or five wide receivers. Its primary goal is to spread defenders from sideline to sideline across the whole width of the field, allowing for the running back and receivers to run to open spaces.

College football’s elite conference, the SEC, has long been known for its offensive innovation, so it’s no surprise that is where the spread has been most successful. Urban Meyer instituted the spread in his first season with the Gators, and led them to a national championship just one year later. Last year, LSU took home the grand prize by running an offense that combined elements of the spread with another formation, the Power-I.

Due to its recent success, the spread is rapidly expanding outside of Division 1, and college football for that matter. In Texas, Florida and California, several high schools have instituted the system in order to prepare players for the next level.

No matter where it is used, it has had a huge impact on the game. Football, whether high school or college, is now faster and much more entertaining. The options that are created from the spread make players more versatile, and almost superhuman. Don’t be surprised if wide receivers occasionally take direct snaps at the quarterback position, or if a quarterback scores more touchdowns rushing than he does passing.

For a relatively new system, the spread has rapidly evolved into the most significant factor in the formula to win games. It has done a lot for college football already, except give insight to defenses on how to stop it.

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