11 Comments

  1. Nick

    Great read. It will be interesting to see.

    Do you think you could do an article on smashmouth power running teams, use space and get their best players in space?

      • Nick

        I enjoyed the Auburn article but I still have a question. Its really about space in football in general.

        So, the spread offense creates space for the offense by horizontally spreading 3-4 receivers out wide. This decreases the players in the box and in the middle of the field. So my understanding is the space opened up in the middle of the field.

        The tighter 1-2 wr formations add players to the box and bring players to the middle of the field thus creating more space on the outside.

        If this is correct, and both offenses use of the qb in the run game is the same(whether they run or not), how is there any advantage in spreading multiple receivers to put players “in space” vs getting into tight formations?

        Isn’t the space the same but just moved to a different area of the field(from inside to outside)?

        The questiin is about about run and pass but, I’m mainly speaking about the run game in particular. Shouldn’t tight formations get their players in space just as easily as a spread formation?

        Thanks

        • ianaboyd

          Good question.

          When you pack in TEs or FBs and bring more of the action inside to the middle of the field you have a few profound impacts on the style of play. One big difference is that it now becomes more about beating blocks in the run game then getting leverage on the ball in space. The RB has more creases to choose from, there are more double teams, and the style is much more mano y mano.

          There’s lots of space outside for the receivers, yes, but the windows are hard to hit because they’re so far outside. You need a strong QB to get the ball out there. You watch a team like Texas Tech for instance, their slot receivers are often lined up as far outside as a pro-style team’s outside receivers and they are the focal point of the passing game. The run game when you have big personnel on the field isn’t about space unless you can use your big blockers outside to seal the edge and bounce your RB outside, like Reggie Bush at USC in 2005. If you do that he might find a ton of space to work in but that’s the only scenario where he won’t be surrounded by opponents.

          If you start with everyone packed in, there’s a lot of challenges to getting the ball back outside, because the defense doesn’t want the ball to get out there. If you start with everyone spread out, then navigating space necessarily becomes something the defense has to do. Even when they play blocks they have to navigate space to do so.

          Any of that helpful?

          • Nick

            Yea it helps.

            I still am confused about this:
            “One big difference is that it now becomes more about beating blocks in the run game then getting leverage on the ball in space.”

            I dont understand why this is the case though. If the defense is +1 in the box, what does it matter whether they are are spread or compressed?

            If your spread and they have more defenders then you can block you still will have an unblocked defender in your face with no open gaps. Same as with compressed.

            And if you have a hat for a hat spread or compressed you now have open gaps and leverage to run. Either eay you need to beat blocks. If Im correct.

            I always thought the real reason why spread offenses got players into space and thus created more explosives was personnel.

            In compressed 1-2 wide formation you have tight end having to block De’d, and backers. In spread formation generally olineman block lineman, and backers. So now the back has a chance for better blocks to get him more space to attack unblocked defender. And the spread puts more explosive players on the field.

            But in the end the space is the same just moved.

            The reason I asked was because I found a link to a blog from your site, and found this article: https://breakdownsports.blogspot.com/2015/03/inside-playbook-harbaugh-michigan-power-O-pass-spread-option.html (I don’t think he posts much anymore)

            It got me thinking that spread vs compressed sets were neutral as fare as getting playmakers in space. Its just that the spread puts more explosive players on the field (trading TE’s and Fb’s for faster wrs) so there just more explosive threats for a defense to have to deal with.

            Thanks for replying. I hope it doesn’t come off as being argumentative Im just a big football theory fan and like understanding the why’s to answers.

          • ianaboyd

            “If your spread and they have more defenders then you can block you still will have an unblocked defender in your face with no open gaps. Same as with compressed.”
            Only if the extra man is sitting in the tackle box. Otherwise there’s a decent chance that his tackle has to be made in some amount of space. Also there are the quick passes and outside runs that have more space for the bball carrier to use.

            “And if you have a hat for a hat spread or compressed you now have open gaps and leverage to run. Either eay you need to beat blocks. If Im correct.”

            But remember in the spread that some of the players, like the corners and often 2 out of 3 of the nickel and safeties are playing with more depth and width. They don’t arrive as quickly and with as solid leverage as against a pro-set where they may be within 10 yards or less of the action and closing quickly off the easy reads provided by the TEs.

            The advances of quarters coverage are key here because they really frustrate bigger sets. Against the spread those guys are keying slot receivers out on the hash rather than tight ends in the box and they can’t trigger downhill as quickly.

            Don’t worry about being argumentative, keep the questions coming!

  2. Nick

    edit – and how they use space*

    Also just read the Clemson vs. Bama last plays breakdown, really great work.

  3. Nick

    I see what your saying and that makes sense.

    This is kind of an related question. So would the air raid production and explosiveness over the west coast offense (which if Im correct where it came from) be do mainly to how much the Air Raid spread its reciever and how many receivers are on the field?

    And im talking Texas Tech style air raid vs pass first west coast offenses.

    • ianaboyd

      Yeah, Air Raid teams throw more than old west coast teams and they throw it to guys who are in more space, so a missed tackle or bad angle is punished harder.

      • Nick

        Sorry to keep bringing this up.

        Do you ever think compressed or prostyle sets are preferable to spreads sets depending on your personnel, and not just in short yardage?

        I asked because i recently saw a video of Holgerson talk about him putting in the diamond package largely because he had Dez bryant and Jason Blackman on the outside and he wanted to give them more room.

        Do you think if you have big time wrs on the outside it would be better to get them space outside by compressing the rest of the offense and leaving them wide? Or spreading is still better in this situation?

        I’m pretty sure ok state was mostly spread but i didn’t follow them that much.

        Thx

        • ianaboyd

          What Holgs was building around was that the most lethal thing they could do was get play-action going to isolate Blackmon on some hapless corner without safety help.

          If you are trying to set up a deep receiver from a spread set you need receivers that are dangerous enough underneath to draw in coverage like play-action would. They didn’t necessarily have that but they did have a run game, so they used the diamond and lead runs to suck in safeties.

          But now we’re talking about creating space for receivers in the passing game, which is different than creating space for runners.

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