Football 101: Spread ‘Em Out

Posted August 19, 2013 8:48 am | Filed under Football 101, OTS Sports Network Vault, Sports


One thing you won’t see a lot of this high school football season is a QB under center. Sure, if you take the drive down to Goose Creek you’ll see Chuck Reedy’s “Ground Chuck” veer offense, but in the Rock Hill area and throughout the SCHSL, the shotgun “spread-style” offense rules the day. But what does that exactly mean, and why have so many schools adopted this offense?

First, the idea of a “spread” is pretty straight-forward – plays are designed to spread out your defensive opponent, creating space for quick and agile offensive play-makers to take the ball and score. The spread is typically contrasted with what is now called a “pro-style” offense, where a quarterback is traditionally under center and fullback and tailback are lined-up in an I-formation.

If you want to have some fun this football season, notice the multitude of different ways teams run their spread. Northwestern and Rock Hill are good ones to watch. Their “Air Raid” offense is a spread-style offense that racks up big yards on just a handful of passing routes that are executed to perfection. (This is the offense made famous collegiately by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach). Out of their spread, the QB stays in the pocket primarily, using both a horizontal and vertical passing game to advance the ball down the field. One of my favorite plays they run is commonly called a “wheel” route or “rail” route.

A running back is lined up in the backfield, beside the QB who is in a shotgun formation. Upon the snap, the back will “wheel” out of the backfield, running along the sideline. After a pump fake, the RB will get separation with a one-on-one defender – often a mismatch – before being thrown the ball and coasting into the end zone.

Another version of the spread you will see is the “zone-read”, where a QB has the option post-snap to run or throw on any down. Lancaster and South Pointe among others have run the zone-read in the past, and it is a great offense for keeping your defenders honest. Not only must defenses mitigate the mobility of the QB by putting an extra defender in the box, but also monitor the WRs, who often find themselves in single-coverage.

No matter which spread is used, you can be sure the offensive minds in York and Lancaster County will be driving defensive coordinators crazy this season.

Homework assignment: Get out to your favorite high school game this Friday night! Make sure you take along your smartphone to follow along to all the OTS Sports Network games by downloading the WRHI or Interstate 107 in your favorite mobile app store.

Then on Friday night, click on the sidebar and find other stations, then you can choose from the five games this Friday night! Be sure to join me next week for another lecture.

Class dismissed!