Part II of Q&A with Eleven Warriors on the Spread and Urban Meyer

You can find it here:

RRF:  In your study of Meyer’s time at Florida, what were the issues when Meyer’s offense failed?  In other words, what are the necessary predicate conditions for his approach to succeed?

CB: … The other issues they had on offense at Florida — and look, he won two National titles there, which isn’t too shabby — largely were focused on a couple of areas. One was, somewhat inexplicably, Florida’s red zone touchdown percentage cratered after Dan Mullen left. In 2008, when Tim Tebow was a junior and Meyer won the BCS championship game, against conference-only opponents Florida scored touchdowns over 70% of the 43 times they were in the red zone. The next year, in 2009, again only against conference opponents, they scored a touchdown only 29% of the 41 times they went into the red zone — and this was still with Tebow as their quarterback! That drop in touchdown percentage explains almost all of Florida’s drop from 43 points per game to 26 points against conference opponents from Tim Tebow’s junior to senior seasons. (I’m excluding non-conference opponents since we all know that a few games versus directional U can really skew the stats. And all stats are via the invaluable

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  • The reason a Saban scheme works better vs. spread to run types is that he has done two things to give him back against numbers based spread running.

    The primary element in his success is the way he narrowed the field by getting corners to play technique difference from seven and a half yards in or more along vertical planes. That means he cut about fifteen yards of field off from your team, so even if you have numbers, he squeezed how much space you have to run those numbers with. His size defenders forbade you inside running from the outset on gap assignments, he is about cutting away the outside from his coverage and how it fits the run front.

    Then he also set in place rules to restrict your runs to the field. You got numbers one way, I got the field every time. It means you must counter the stance and technique, by both formation and technique.  That is where Malzahn mastered him with key breaking items to the boundary force man and his cover responsibilities.

    Option teams, their biggest weakness is that you choose who they run the ball with every time. The other element is that you can tackle the fake on an option and wear them down too. Find a way to make their mind on who runs and how you finish the fake or the play.

    Another part in option football is security. Harder to run those kind of pitches and lateral actions on bad weather fields. You need to run power inside on those conditions to control outcomes. That is where Big10 teams excelled. As trends warm, and your bowl games go to better weather venues, you see the result. Speed teams win more of the games and shape the outcome on a per play basis.

  • NoHuddleAirRaidForTheWin

    Chris, I agree about the lack of an outside receiver presence during Meyer’s tenure at UF being perplexing. I am guessing that the biggest reason was probably accountability in individual and group drills, as well as the practice setup. As you well know, in the various versions of the Air Raid, they hold all the receivers accountable, and expect the outside receivers to be playmakers, with the “Z” receiver in particular. The outside receivers probably did not get enough reps in practice. Do you know if the Gators did Settle Noose, Pat ‘n Go, Routes on Air, etc during Meyer’s tenure there? If not, that would seem to somewhat explain their lack of playmaking. Of course one would also expect the inside receivers to have issues too if they were not doing all those drills, but because of the way Meyer’s offense was ran at UF, they were more likely to get the necessary reps to develop and stay sharp.

  • Murphy was a decent wideout, a fourth rounder, and Harvin(amazing college level talent) and each left a year before Tebow? They still had a lot of flexable options with Hernandez. He could line up slotted or outside from h back/tight end, and even used for backfield carries on occasion, an item the Patriots copied into their offense for his pro team.

  • NoHuddleAirRaidForTheWin

     I completely agree with you on that Murphy. I think the receivers Chris was referring to (and I know I was) were the “X” and “Z” receivers.

  • theyoungballcoach

    I strongly doubt that Urban Meyer, a former WR coach, overlooked running the necessary drills. I would put it more on a reliance and then a payoff in utilyzing the interior run game and balls to the slots. This discouraged Tebow from using the outside guys his Jr year (because he didn’t need to in order to be succesful). By the time he realized he needed them to succeed, it was SEC time. A little late for a limited passer to fix the problem.

  • NoHuddleAirRaidForTheWin

    Just because Meyer is a former WR coach does not mean that he uses the drills that are common to the Air Raid. Different coaches use different methods; Air Raid WR coaches are among the best WR coaches around because the offense they work with specializes in the pass, with emphasis on the development of all 4 wide receiver skill spots (X, H, Y, Z). Also, you mentioned you doubt he would overlook the necessary drills. At the University of South Carolina in 2010, word got out late in the season that the strong safeties had been meeting with the linebackers instead of meeting with the cornerbacks, “Spurs” (SS/LB hybrids), and free safeties. There had been numerous issues with pass coverage throughout the season, so it was not necessarily a surprise, but it was puzzling that such a supposedly good coaching staff (Steve Spurrier, Ellis Johnson, etc) were not aware that this was going on…Of course, Spurrier’s background is offense and not defense, but considering that such an arrangement makes no sense, and that it is an organizational detail that is within his sphere of responsibility, there is no excuse for that arrangement still being in place late in the season, let alone in the first place.

    With that said, I agree with your assessment of reliance on the interior run game and the slot receivers as the likely culprit for the lack of any significant outside receiver presence.