1. The spread is a formation, not an offense: “Some people spread the field to run it, like West Virginia. Others spread the field to pass it, like Texas Tech. It’s what you do after you spread the field that defines your offense. We spread it to figure out what is going to work in any particular game and then we just do that. At Troy we basically ran it half the time and threw it half the time. We just always took what the defense was giving us. (Note: Troy rolled up 488 yards in a 44-34 loss to Georgia last November). Our plan at Auburn is to throw first and run second but if we find a running play that works, we’re going to do that. I’m not hung up on who gets the ball and how we do it. I just want to score points.”
2. Tempo is everything: “A big part of this offense is to dictate the tempo of the game to the defense. We are no huddle all the time and will play at three speeds: Super fast, normal fast, and freeze. At super fast we snap the ball as soon as the official lets us. At normal fast we might snap it with 17 or 18 seconds left on the play clock. At freeze we might wait until there are only two or three seconds left on the clock. But the idea is to make the defense think that you’re going to snap the ball immediately every time you run a play. That way it’s hard for them to get into a rhythm and to make adjustments on the fly.”
3. The goal is to make the defense tired: “In football the defensive linemen are better athletes than the offensive linemen. That’s just the way it is. But you turn it into an even match by running a lot of plays that force the defensive front to run a lot to get to the ball. Early in the game they are feeling frisky and they will chase after everything. Some plays look like they are not working but they are because the defense is running a long way just to make the tackle.
“Most of the big plays in this offense come in the second and fourth quarters after the defense has gotten tired. This works very well in high school and at the Division II and Division I-AA level of college football because at that level teams don’t have the numbers on defense. It’s more difficult at this level because the good teams are so deep in defensive linemen. But in games where I knew we were overmatched physically, I spent the first quarter and third quarter just running plays hoping to get their defense tired. Then if we could just keep it close we might have a chance in the fourth quarter.”
4. The biggest misconception about the spread? “It is that the players who run this offense, particularly the linemen, are not tough. Go look at film of West Virginia’s offensive line or Texas Tech’s. Those guys are tough. People think guys aren’t tough because we’re not lining up in the I-formation and blowing people off the ball. But I’ve seen a lot of tough coaches get fired because they couldn’t score any points. Toughness is an attitude that good coaches teach their players. We have one of the top offensive line coaches in the country (Hugh Nall). Our guys are going to be very tough.”
5. Players love this offense: “This is really simple. If guys are going to invest all this time at practice, when the game comes they want to touch the ball and make plays. All this offense does is put the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays in enough space to where if they make a defender miss, they have a chance to score. We make a lot of changes at the line of scrimmage and so the defense has to change with us. If the defense misses a signal, we might walk in for an easy score. If we miss a signal then we just might have a bad play but we live to run the next play. It puts a lot of pressure on the defense. Offensive players love that.”