The Spread Is Dead

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2008 at 2:15 PM

The always-incorrect Gary Danielson:

"I said it before the season -- and I was out there by myself -- I think we've seen the spread has peaked, like the wishbone did in the mid-70s," Danielson said Thursday.

The top ten teams in total offense so far, spread teams in bold:

  1. Tulsa
  2. Texas Tech
  3. Missouri
  4. Houston
  5. Louisiana Lafayette
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Nevada (pistol variety)
  8. Oklahoma State
  9. Penn State
  10. Illinois

Might want to cancel the funeral.


Cock D

October 13th, 2008 at 2:21 PM ^

Once you get saturation, people will start to determine ways to stop it - if such ways exist.  For the sake of the program, I hope that we don't get burned as late adopters.


October 13th, 2008 at 3:41 PM ^

Is to have better players than the offense, and to be able to tackle in space.  Coaches arent idiots, as soon as the first spread team was on film, their were wyas to stop it.  Just like their isnt one perfect offense or formation, there isnt one perfect defense or formation.. there is only a perfect exectuion of a defense or an offense



October 13th, 2008 at 2:25 PM ^

  1. Danielson's only possible good point in that article was this."The object when I played was not to get the quarterback hit," Danielson said. "When you subject your quarterback to that much contact, and he gets nicked, you lose your running game and your passing game."
  2. When Pat White hurt his thumb or gets hurt in any way, West Virginia struggles to win. 
  3. But the spreads effectiveness is not in question. It's formations and ideas are here to stay and will be in use for a long time. 

Yinka Double Dare

October 13th, 2008 at 2:30 PM ^

Boy, good thing we ran that conservative offense last year then, otherwise Chad Henne might have been hurt for half the season.

Oh, wait.

I don't think there's any evidence that spread QBs get hurt more.  Teams suck in any offense when they have to go to the backup unless their starter wasn't good in the first place.


October 13th, 2008 at 2:58 PM ^

  • I am not saying one way or the other is better. Meaning Pro-Style versus spread for protecting qb's. I did not say that. I am just saying his only point is that if you lose your starter, it is tough to bring in the backup and get the same rhythm in there. The spread is a rhythm oriented offense and each guy brings different intangibles. And that's why at Michigan, from here on out, you will see A LOT OF QB'S GETTING REPS. 

Yinka Double Dare

October 13th, 2008 at 4:16 PM ^

In our old offense, if the starter would go out we were usually in trouble on offense (see, e.g., Henson getting hurt with Navarre playing instead, Mallett last year instead of Henne) except for a situation where you've actually been playing 2 QBs because you aren't sure which one is better for some reason.  Last year we did OK only because we could just give the ball to Mike Hart (or even the backups) and have him run behind Jake Long.  If we had Jake Long this year I suspect our running plays would also work better.

It isn't necessarily the rhythm issue, with the spread option or any other offense.  It's the fact that the backup is, in 99% of situations, just not as good as the starter is, and therefore the offense is worse when he's on the field.


October 13th, 2008 at 2:34 PM ^

Here, does this sound stupid?


"I said it before the season - and I was out there by myself - I think passing the ball has peaked".




"I said it before the season - and I was out there by myself - I think running the ball has peaked."


The "spread" can be any type of offense. It is not the wishbone. It is not the wishbone. It is not the wishbone. It is not the wishbone. It is a formation. It is a formation. It is a formation. It is a formation you can run from. It is a formation you can pass from. It is up to the coach to determine how they will run plays out of the various spread formations they use. It is not the wishbone. It is not the wishbone.  

chitownblue (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 2:36 PM ^

It's sheer idiocy to call the spread an "offense". It's a formation. Do PSU and Texas Tech have that much in common? No.

The Squid

October 13th, 2008 at 2:39 PM ^

"I'm not saying you can't win in the spread, but I don't see why Michigan needs it," Danielson said.

WTF does that mean? Who said Michigan "needs" the spread? UM is running the spread because that's what Rodriguez runs. UM hired Rodriguez because he's a great coach not because he runs the spread.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 2:55 PM ^

Any idea what the word "peak" means in this context?  It means that the spread is at its climax now, and after this there will be less and less use of it, since so many teams are using it.  You know, just like when the wishbone was the rage and being used to roll up tons of yards?  So citing information that shows that there are currently a lot of teams using it to generate a lot of offense doesn't really make sense, becuase the point was "this is the best its going to get, and its on the downhill slope now".  


Just look at the big 10 right now... Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State (arguable, but will be next year for sure) are all using a varient of the spread.  If thats the case, is there really going to be an advantage for Michigan when its finally implemented here down the road?  The other team will be doing exactly what we are doing, and in the case of OSU, Illinois, and Penn State, with just as much talent.   I'm guessing preparing for RRs spread isn't going to be the nightmare it has been at that time.  


So remind me again why were are taking a year like this to implement the spread?  


October 13th, 2008 at 2:59 PM ^

....probably did not see Tebow and the spread formation shred the shit out LSU......wait, he broadcasted that game?!?!?!

Comments sound even dumber now.

Danielson, by the way, has also pushed the meme that movers and shakers behind the scene dont like RR and want him out.....heard him say it during the Tenn-Fla broadcast back in September, so keep your ears open for him to push that one again as well.


October 13th, 2008 at 3:34 PM ^

He plays your dad's version of Football. I think he implies alot, or rather the subtext of what he's really saying is more or less that he does not like the spread. Maybe he is, in his mind, a football purist of sorts. To him, it must be a fad. I think some of the older QB's believe, or must believe that the spread, as a formation, does not develop QB's. Or does not develop what he thinks a QB should be. And I don't know if that is true or not. No way really to test it. Kurt Warner has run about every offense known to man in his career. He's 38 and starting over Matt Leinhart. He is almost 19 years older than Michigan's starting 19 year old QB Steven Threet. So I'd ask him or someone whose run a bunch of offenses as a QB what they think of it. I'm sure you'd get a mixed bag of responses. One thing I've noticed from listening to Griese all these years is that he always talks about rhythm passing and spread QB's. Against Wisconsin, I think it was Griese who kept talking about Threet's rhythm. I think it was on Brandon Minor's dropped pass that Griese said something like,"Steven Threet is in a really good rhythm and that was a perfectly thrown pass." So I often wonder, if the QB's of old, like Gary(with a silent r) Danielson sometimes hate the spread from a passers perspective. Could be wrong but I just wonder.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 3:12 PM ^

It's not even a formation.  It's just a philosophy to use the whole field and create mis-matches with speed.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 3:12 PM ^

Actually, the spread can be summed up like this:

 Get the best players the ball a lot and let them run.


October 13th, 2008 at 3:41 PM ^

I think what he is saying is that for a long time spread offenses (note the plural because I totally agree with dex) offered a different look that underdog teams could use to level the playing field and get some wins against more talented teams.  Now we are seeing a majority of teams use the spread (is this true? I wonder how many teams in 1-A use the spread), which reduces its effectiveness.  I think the fact that 9 of the top 10 offenses are spread teams is only an argument in favor of the spread being at its peak.

I believe someone else had similar concerns.


October 13th, 2008 at 6:20 PM ^

just like the Wishbone WAS at its peak in the mid-70's. 

The problem is that he seems to be implying that the Spread is post-peak.  Just because teams are no longer shocked to see it does not mean that it is on the decline. 

Most of the successful teams are running the Spread, and will be for quite some time.  The underdogs and innovators by necessity will eventually come up with something else (they always do), but there is no heir-apparent right now. 

No need to burn that WVU playbook you downloaded of the internet just yet.




October 13th, 2008 at 3:46 PM ^

Its fashionable to bash Danielson, and I don't defend that comment, other to say that the more pro style offenses on top programs are doing well also.  But on balance, I actually think in-game, during the broadcast (as opposed to interview comments) that he is one of the top game analysts around.  I've been impressed, and when he used to be with ABC and did our games, he often pointed out problems with our schemes that you seldom saw in other media.


October 13th, 2008 at 4:37 PM ^

is the preferred FORMATION of most college football teams.  It is the most preferred FORMATION because it usually exposes opposing defenses lack of of depth in the back 7 and negates your pass rush when run efficiently.  Teams can recruit like fuck, but only a few teams have the personnel to defend it effectively.  Or you could face a team like Michigan, which is going through severe growing pains that allows any opposing front 4 to maul our shitty Oline.

 And if you think running the spread exposes the QB to more injuries, well, you've watched too many Florida games.  Only Tebow is batshit enough to pull it off.  Spread QBs often litter the leaderboard in terms of fewest times sacked, actually.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 5:21 PM ^

Dear Michigan Fans,

I will start by saying RR is the biggest a-hole I have ever met in person. I will forever loath him for the attitude he gave my 72 yr old father at a donor lunch-in 3 years ago.

That being said, I would give anything to have this guy coaching back at WVU. WVU is down 22pts a game and 141 yards per game. We are just as talented this year as we were last year. The difference is the coaching.

Rod has a ruthless passion for winning and will do anything to ensure that happens. Patience is a virtue that you will need at Michigan. It's not just bringing the players in to fit the system. The players have to learn downfield blocking schemes to enable RR's style of the zone read. Everything he does is unorthodoxed compared to traditional big ten football.

Your biggest problem is that I don't see him staying at Michigan very long. This guy has a GOD complex and will not take any shit off of anyone. Next thing is that he loves Clemson. Yes it is a step-down from UM but he could easily become a worshipped idol at his former school. HE has monster recruiting ties in that area. I'm not trying to start anything but beware of coming down on RR. He won't stand for it and will jump ship for greener pastures!!!!

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 5:22 PM ^

Not all spread offenses (but RRs) use the up-tempo offense. Few if any defenses seem to have a problem with this any more.

Unfortunatley, this means less TOP for the offense when the ball is hiked with 15 seconds on the clock instead of 5. So, the defense is on the field more for the spread offense.

And, if the offense sputters, this can be a problem.


October 13th, 2008 at 8:14 PM ^

If we run more plays, we get off more possesions, and that is like a longer game. In a longer game the better team is more likely to win than in a shorter game. If you tack two more quarters onto the end of Appy State,  Michigan probably wins by 10+. In a few years Michigan will be the more talented team on the field at least 10 times a year, and they will be less likely to blow games because of this.

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 8:44 PM ^

Unfortunately, in the up-tempo, the opponents also get more possessions and more plays. And, their defense gets to rest longer on the sideline (since their offense is taking more time off the clock) than our defense.

BTW, if any team is "the most talented team on the field" shouldn't they win most games (regardless of offensive scheme).


October 14th, 2008 at 3:29 AM ^

Are you stupid you fucking dipshit?  time of possession is only important when applied to how worn down a defense gets.  And it might be overrated in that regard. 


It doesnt matter how fast the ball is hiked.  The ONLY thing that matters is the number of plays faced.  Who gives a shit if up-tempo offenses give less TOP for the offense.  Their D is still facing the same # of plays.  Actually, if a D faces the same number of plays in less time, it will get more tired.  time of possession is effing pointless and a slow pace has no helpful effect on tiring out a team. 

If the offense goes three and out... so what.  30 seconds difference isn't going to make a huge diff. in how much your D caught their breath.  Any 3 and out hurts your defense.  A fast tempo makes if tougher for their defense to catch their breath between plays ( defense runs more than the Offense during any given play) and makes it tougher to subst. different position groups into the game.

B/c the offense isnt going to hike the ball until they are ready anyways, there is NO downside to playing up -tempo

Enjoy Life

October 14th, 2008 at 12:00 PM ^

Uh, you honestly think we are the better team on the field? Based on our record we should be "shortening the game".

And, you're saying getting to rest on the sideline for longer is not better?

I have seen no evidence of the up-tempo wearing down or confusing the defenses.

We've had this discussion earlier. I do favor NOP rather than TOP. But most folks came down on the TOP stat.

In this case it doesn't matter:

NOP for M:66

NOP for T: 72

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 6:46 PM ^

Brian's list of teams running the "spread offense" is not really what Danielson was talking about. 

For example, Oklahoma:

"Sam Bradford, The 6-4,
214-pounder showed maturity beyond his years and scary-good
decision-making ability. While he's a good athlete, he's not a
runner and he needs protection.

Not exactly the prototype "spread" quarterback.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 7:05 PM ^

You are consistently making the same mistake. The "Spread" is not an offense. It is a formation. As such, it does not require a mobile QB - look at Texas Tech, how much do they run with Harrell? Missouri with Daniels?

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 7:09 PM ^

So, what is the point of Danielson or Brian stating that the spread is dead or that these teams run the spread if it not an offense?

Virtually every team runs a spread formation at some time.

Give me your definition of what "spread" means in the context of Danielson's comment or Brian's.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 6:06 PM ^

Brian - I think you're a tad premature in debunking the prehab method based on a few injuries we have had this year.  Odoms, Threet, and Minors injuries, for example, all sound like contact based.  (and Hemingway has mono right?) You can't really prehab getting blasted by a helmet. Prehab is for preventing soft tissue damage.  McGuffie showed a little prehab magic when he got up after doing a full split with defender on his back. The Barwis effect is not magic, and it probably won't have a very large effect. It's more like an added bonus that will show itself over time.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 6:58 PM ^

I hear what a lot of people are saying about the spread.  My question is, didn't RR pretty much invent this "formation" err offense.  Also, did anybody else see what this "formation" err offense did to two traditionally fast and athletic defenses in Oklahoma and Georgia.  The sliced and diced their way to LOTS of yards and points.  Just because you run some version of the offense  i.e. O$U, Purdue does not guarantee success.  We hired a coach, not a "formation" err offense. 

I understand everyone's frustration.  Hold steady friends.  Once we get a real offense line and an athletic quarterback, you will see 60 points on the scoreboard at newly renovated Michigan Stadium.


Go Blue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

chitownblue (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 7:12 PM ^

Because the personell package they put on the field matches "the spread". It is a personell package - like "the i-form" or "the pro-set". The default personel package for these teams is 3 to 4 WR's spread from numbers to numbers - hence, spread.

Do you really think that Texas Tech and us are running the same offense?

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 7:24 PM ^

Whooo, hooooo!

Hence my point about lists or statements about the "spread".

There are enough variations that any/all statements are meaningless because they are not specific enough to know which F'ing teams you are talking about!


October 13th, 2008 at 7:37 PM ^

You folks that say spread is a formation (not an offense), does that mean that Michigan is running the same offense as last year using a different formation? I don't understand your point...

Enjoy Life

October 13th, 2008 at 7:50 PM ^

I think only Chitownblue is using this line of reasoning (spread is a formation).

I presume most "folks" have a specific offensive strategy in mind when they say spread.

When talking about M, the term spread means the "option spread" requiring a running QB that often is not a very good passer and a "read" on the option.

Whereas Oklahoma uses the "pass-oriented spread" requiring a Pro-style QB that is not a good runner with no "read".

Jim Harbaugh S…

October 13th, 2008 at 7:48 PM ^

If I want a shitty former Lions' QB's opinion of football I'll listen to Andre Ware.


 (NOTE - if they bring back Scott Mitchell I will listen to him.)



If anyone watched college football live today on espn - Jesse Palmer (who is a very good analyst - yes he was the LOLBACHLOR LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ - n0o ROSE!!!!!!!!111oNE - the dude knows his shit) said no matter WHAT offense Mich ran we would suck because we have inexperienced qbs.


chitownblue (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 7:48 PM ^

We're not. The offense we're running is the Spread Option - it is an option offense (vaguely like Nebraska) run from a spread formation. It is, often, run-heavy.

Texas Tech also plays from a spread formation - but they throw nearly 80% of the time - an attack based heavily on what Hal Mumme invented.

They are completely different offenses run from the same formation.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 13th, 2008 at 7:58 PM ^

Tuesday Morning Quarterback has also voiced the same concerns
about the spread offense in relation to the option craze of the
70's. At point the majority of college football teams were
running some type of option offense and then by the late 80's hardly
anyone was running it. Football is cyclical, eventually
this will fad will recede. That doesn't mean Michigan can't run
it successfully, but running the spread isn't the magic elixir people
want it to be.