There are 926 high school football teams in Texas. It often seems to me that at least 923 of them run a four WR, one back, zone read option, shotgun offense–whether it fits their personnel or not.
As a proponent of football “diversity,” I’m sad, and occasionally a little bit bored. One of the things I have always loved about high school football, and especially Texas high school football, is the wide and creative range of styles and systems coaches bring to their programs.
Look. The Spread is great. It’s great if you have a guy who can legitimately sling it, four frisbee-catching dogs, a bell cow running back, and a big, strong offensive line that can both zone block and pass protect. Of course, if you’ve got all of that, you’re in great shape regardless of what system you run.
But increasingly, I’m seeing what I am now calling “Malignant Spread Creep.” Everybody does it because everybody is doing it. Homogeneity is great for milk. I don’t think it’s necessarily good for football.
Here’s what else I’m seeing. Overmatched team runs The Spread. Overmatched team throws two (ugly) incomplete passes. Overmatched team then either takes a sack or throws a pick on third down. Overmatched team takes 30 seconds off the clock. Rinse and repeat for 48 minutes. Scrawny little rag-arm (sorry, just keepin’ it real) quarterback gets the living hell beat out of him. Team has the ball for all of about fifteen minutes. Opponent winds up with four possessions per quarter.
I’ve heard the arguments for running The Spread. Summertime 7-on-7 has advanced the passing game. Literally spreading the field can help physically overmatched teams (but only if you RUN the ball out of it!).
And then there’s this one. “The Keee-ids like it.”
You know what The Keee-ids really like? Winning. Or at least having a chance to win.
I’m a big fan of “counter-programming” the competition. (It actually is the guiding philosophy behind Radically Rational.)
Make it difficult for your opponent to prepare for you. Make your opponent have to do something he doesn’t like or want to do. Give your opponent a limited amount of time to figure out what to do with you. Stress your opponent mentally. Freak ‘em out a little.
If everybody runs the same stuff, then everybody’s preparation is essentially the same, every week. That keeps good teams in their comfort zones and dooms lesser teams to blowout humiliations.
I’m no codger, and this is not an old man’s “back in my day” rant. If you’re good at The Spread and have the athletes for The Spread, spread the love!
I love high school football and I am blessed with the opportunity to do a lot of radio and television play-by-play. I love preparing for the games almost as much as I love the games and the broadcasts. I get to play with my school supplies, like poster boards and colored pens. I love making my charts.
But I can’t remember the last time that chart included depth windows for “TE” or “FB.”
Might wanna think about it. “Counterprogram” your opponent. Run some clock. Limit your opponent’s possessions. Maybe at least think about introducing your quarterback’s hands to your center’s butt. Get the game into the fourth quarter. And at least give the Football Gods a fighting chance to come through for you.