Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spread 101: Throwing uncovered

I find it hard to believe, that how popular the Spread Offense is, the number of coaches still looking for information on this “offense”. My opinion is the Spread is not just an offense but an offense philosophy. Just take a look at four teams: Texas Tech, Florida, Oregon, and Michigan (West Virginia). All are “spread” teams but are vastly different. So when a coach asks “We want to run spread next year, where do we start?” My response is to choose your run game first, then develop your pass game.
The first theme to understand is “numbers in the box” and making the defense respect all your receivers. How? You need to learn how to throw to the uncovered WR. I was first introduced to a true spread offense by now retired Coach Tom Bailey of Homewood-Flossmoor High School (H.F.). At that time, the slot or inside receiver, was the player that needed to be respected. Now, you will see teams throw to the outside receiver if the DB’s coverage becomes too soft. The magic number is six. More than six in the box, you should be throwing the football. Less than six, you should be running the football. It is not an absolute because of other factors such as down and distance.
The first picture (FIG.1) shows a dramatically uncovered slot receiver. I see this happening a lot when the ball is on the hash and the defense is strength is toward the field.

The second picture (FIG.2) shows the uncovered slot receiver by coverage.

And finally, the third picture shows (FIG.3) how the outside receiver may be considered uncovered. My personal opinion is if you are going to throw to this receiver, he better be a play maker!

QB Technique
Catch, Set and Throw. It’s that simple, but takes time to perfect it. In an ideal world, the QB shouldn’t need to find the laces. Early in the learning process this is not a necessity. The pass can be an upper body throw. I point out to the new QB that that throwing to the inside receiver amounts to about a ten yard pass. The pass needs to “aimed” at the outside shoulder. This helps to lead the receiver. Some teams will not use steps and simply turn and face the QB. This may insure a completion, but it makes it easier on the defense. I don’t like to throw to an uncovered slot that is not moving.
WR Technique
I prefer the WR to recognize being uncovered and make a subtle signal to the QB. He has the better angle than the QB. The signal at H.F. was tugging on your jersey. I begin referring to it as “TUG” So a huddle call could end with”check TUG “.This alerts the QB to peek at slots. Coaching point: make sure the player knows to make the signal on the inside of the body facing the QB! The timing of the slots steps depends upon speed. A good starting point is to coach the slot to WALK (yes, I said walk) two steps up field and outside angle (FIG.4). Steps that are too fast lead to the ball thrown toward defenders. A slight turn of the shoulders can provide a better target for the QB.

For the outside WR, the technique can vary. A good starting point is using the same steps as a quick screen. Two quick steps up, retrace, then back to the starting point (FIG.5). Some teams just open and face the QB.
A great time to work on this is during prepractice. It is an easy warm up for the QBs and WRs.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions!!

VIDEO to follow!


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