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Monday, May 04, 2009

Homer Smith on spreading receivers

Is "spreading" always a good idea? Maybe not, according to Coach Smith:

Misconception #31

[Misconception:] Relatively weaker offensive players have a better chance in a passing attack from spread formations.

Relatively weaker linemen have a better chance passing quick from the shotgun - yes. If you have good passing and receiving, a disparity in the line can be overcome.

However, if the defense has one man who can play one spread receiver man-for-man all over the field, the wide spreading of that receiver can be disastrous. Weaker receivers should stay within six yards of one another and cross. Two weaker receivers can make three stronger defenders cover them.

A weaker lineman must not be left alone on a stronger defender in front of the spot from which the QB throws. No lineman should be left alone in this situation.

A weaker back should not have to block a stronger lineman.

Now, what really enables the weaker to go against the stronger is faking - receiver faking, ball faking, all kinds of faking.

No - passing and spreading is not, alone, a better way for weaker players to play.


Brian Manning said...

Great point - it's more of "intelligent use of spreading can be a good thing."

Tom said...

Bingo. The 2005 Florida offense was testament to this. You cant spread 5 guys out wide if only one or two of them is a credible threat to beat their man. Where spreading the field is REALLY valuable is when you have a Harvin or someone who demands 2 defenders and you line him up with other credible threats and use misdirection and constraint plays to keep the defense from being able to figure you out. Then you get extra guys pulled out of the box and it really opens your running game.

brad said...

But can't spreading a weak player away from a play essentially take a defender out of the equation allowing a weak player to eliminate a defender from the play that he would never have a hope of blocking.

I beleive Lou Holtz once said, you could split out Venus De Milo and the defense would still put someone out ther to cover her. Also you often hear the old adage of putting the son of the big booster split our wide away from the play.

If that same offensive player is close to the play can't his man more easily cover him by alinement and make the play?

Tom said...


I believe on an isolated basis, yes that may work, but what you want to do by spreading the field is to pull multiple defenders, not just one. You want to make 3 defenders cover 2 receivers, 2 defenders cover 1 receiver, etc. If your only option at receiver is someone who is not a threat, why not put in another running back or lineman or someone who can be more productive for what you're trying to do?

Chris said...

Tom's got the right idea. It's not that spreading is bad, it's just that it is often neutral. Yes, if you are asking a player to make a one-on-one block he can't make maybe the spreading is better, but there are limits to those kinds of gains.

Anonymous said...

The key to success for the offense when the defense has more talent is to tie down as many defenders as possible. As Coach Smith said, one way is faking. Offenses such as wishbone and the old Wing-T force the defenders to play assignment football.

Another way is by stacking receivers. It is really tough to play two WRs in a stack with only two defenders.

Finally, TEs and H-backs have the potential to force the defense to account for them with two defenders. They create another gap for a gap control run defense, yet they still have to be defended vs. pass. And they can pass protect while still forcing the defense to account for them in coverage (they can still release late).


whitemike52 said...

Gosh- where was this blog 5 years ago!

Went to the spread in my infancy years of coaching high school football- a team played us in a Bear Cov 0 and I laughed about how we were going to kill them- yeah right! I spent almost the entire first half missing on fades/slants against better defenders and next thing you know we're down 3 scores...

Lesson learned

Thanks Chris

Ted Seay said...

Coach Smith's point is that one-for-one exchanges of players work to the advantage of the defense -- he wants situations where one offender (to use his memorable but endlessly amusing term) can occupy two defenders, or two can occupy three, etc.

Archie Cooley completely understood this principle, of course -- you stack or diamond trips-quads (some very good receivers in their own right, some merely filling uniforms) as far across the formation as you can from Jerry Rice, and then you force the defense to choose its poison...