The Spread Offense: A Look At the Numbers

Special guest to BearsIllustrated.com, writer J.T. Henderson, provides insight into the spread offense. The Spread Offense: A Closer Look at the Numbers.

The Spread Offense: A look at the numbers

Last year, the Baylor Bears became one of many teams that have converted to the "spread" offense over the last decade. You might hear this type of offense called by many names and termed as different variations: The Run ‘N' Shoot, West Coast, Fun ‘N' Gun. While noticing subtle differences in schemes, the name of the game is to put the ball in the air. It is no doubt an exciting game to watch and it's exciting for potential recruits and players to be a part of the show. With the recent ascension of the Arena League and 7 on 7, it is no surprise that kids in Texas backyards are more likely to recognize a hot route than a belly option.

Let's just take a minute, though, to see if this type of offense is about making a product fun to watch or winning football games. An interesting examination into the numbers reveals a very convincing trend regarding these types of offenses. DON'T ABANDON THE RUN.

In 2006, the top 10 teams in passing yards per game included many solid teams like Louisville, Notre Dame, Hawaii, and Purdue. These teams had a combined record of 81-48 in 2006. This might seem like some overwhelming evidence that the "spread" is the way to go. Why run if you don't need it to win? Let's look a little further.

During the same year, the bottom 10 teams in rushing yards per game included one team with a winning record, Texas Tech (8-5). The rest didn't fare so well, such as: Stanford (1-11), Temple (1-11), Florida International (0-12), and New Mexico St (4-8). There were four teams that appeared on both lists: UTEP (5-7), New Mexico St, Texas Tech, and Baylor. Baylor finished dead last in rushing yards per game in 2006.

The key to a successful season for the Bears just might not hinge on who wins the quarterback battle, or who we find to replace the departed wide receivers. It very well could rest on the shoulders of our offensive line…which might be cause for optimism. Guy Morriss has openly stated that he expects improved line play with three starters returning including Jason Smith at left tackle, Dan Gay at left guard, Chad Smith at right guard, transfer J.D. Walton (Arizona St) stepping in at center, and some promising guys that have been in the program for a couple of years battling for playing time. This level of normalcy for most Big 12 programs has been absent from the Baylor program during Morriss' tenure. Redshirt freshman having to start, players filling positions, and little to no depth have plagued the Bears in recent years. The spring depth chart had no freshman listed on the two deep…undoubtedly the first time since Morriss has been here. If the line avoids injury, and we can find a running back to step up, then it might just be an exciting fall in Waco. After all, there's nowhere to go, but up.


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