Posted: January 1, 2015 in All Things Power Spread

Power Spread is everything we have ever seen in College Football coming together in a unified whole. It’s a work in progress. Today is a big step. Finally…

A Major College Football Playoff!


Lets take a quick look at the difference between the old school PRO offense and what I like to call Power Spread.


The PRO system is an over-systemized, micro-managed, over-complicated concept that uses multiple sets and schemes in an attempt to exploit match-ups based on free agent/ trade acquisitions from year to year. The primary focus is usually on one position – QUARTERBACK. Money confined and limited to this position year after year. It’s what I call the MoneyQB Pathology that rules the NFL. The fear of an injured QB along with insufficient funds to keep the Team together year to year leads to a Fractured League, not based on teamwork, but based on big players by great athletes. This is of course a very generalized view, but I’m making a point as to contrast this ideal with Power Spread ideals.

I will talk about the history of Football in many future posts, but for now I will simply say that many a brilliant mind went into forming this PRO Ideal. Led by Sid Gillman and before him Paul Brown,  the present world of all football changed with the introduction of Spread Sets (Rusty Russell) and the T Formation Sets (Clark Shaughnessy). This is when STAR, which was already happening with the Tailback in the Single Wing Schemes, took over from TEAM. It’s a big reason the NFL got so popular. Understanding a great talent making a great play is far easier for fans than understanding the Team dynamics that are the underlying more powerful element of the game. Behind Brown and Gillman the spread passing took over the NFL in the form of Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense and spread running in the form of Vince Lombardi’s Zone Blocking “Run to Daylight”schemes – also established years earlier with his contact with Gillman while at Army. Joe Gibb’s Oneback Sets in the 80s combined with the Run+Shoot(Glen “Tiger” Ellison) ideas of both Mouse Davis and Jack Neumeier led to the modern NFL we see today.


At the point in the 40s where the T Formation took over and the Pro QB became the #1 player on the team, College Football literally veered off into the realm of powerfully deceptive Option schemes with a dual threat type of Quarterback who could both run and pass. The big difference with Power Spread, though, is not a the mobile Dual-Threat QB as many think, but actually the result of a simpler, more unified mesh of the idea of Core Power mixed with use of all the Space+Time+Team available in the game. The 3 basic tenants are Aggressive Flexible Variety with Flexibility as the bridge that pulls it all together and needs much further exploration at this stage in the game.

Power Concepts have been around since Walter Camp’s brilliant organization of the  game. Spread Concepts began with the legalization of the forward pass, were exploited in the Southwest first by Rusty Russell and further by Glenn Ellison in the Midwest, and finally exploded along the West Coast and back to Texas where it really began. The foresight of 3 main sources – the Urban Meyer Quartet(Midwest 00s), the Gus Malzahn Old School WingT(South 90s), and the Art Briles Triple Option Spread(Southwest 80s) – with help from Rich Rodriguez(East) and Chip Kelly(West) – has created all we see in today’s modern College game. It is slowly leaking into the NFL as well.


Why do I say this? Because I think Alabama and Florida State, the more Pro Style Teams, will actually win? No. Because no matter who wins today it will be because of Power Spread Concepts that are continually spreading across the Football landscape.

Oregon vs Florida State

Let’s take a quick look at the first game. For weeks there have been articles about the talent from all these teams. I don’t need to rehash old news. Simply said, this game is a battle of 2 Heisman QBs. Again, this is not about the QB Pathology that runs the NFL. This is about doing what it takes to win. Jimbo Fisher is a former assistant under Nick Saban and has built his team on PRO ideas – top notch pocket passer with multiple sets based out of the Pro schemes. It’s all about timing and execution. Fisher is a brilliant offensive mind and has kept a complicated system relatively simple and powerful, but it still relies on a great QB. If this QB fails or goes down to injury the whole concept will be ruined.

The same is not true of Oregon. There is a spread concept here that uses the whole field in a very aggressive manner with much variety in both run and pass. Helfrich has Gillman West Coast roots that follow a Boise State trail. He’s another brilliant offensive mind in the passing game. Scott Frost learned under a very underrated Power Spread mind in Tom Osborne with his underrated Pro Spread Veer attack. Helfrich supplies the Spread, Frost the Power. They both learned under PS master Chip Kelly. This offense is the best and very hard to stop. FSU losing their brilliant Defensive Coordinator from last year may be a key factor in a Ducks victory. Or has last year’s student, Charles Kelly, learned enough?

The other key is Jimbo Fisher’s unusual flexibility and vision to see what needs to be done. Last year FSU actually went to a spread no-huddle in the 2nd half while PS guru Gus Malzahn got surprisingly conservative. It’s going to take this kind of “stepping out of the box” once again by Jimbo to pull off the win here. I believe he will be willing to do what it takes and the talent is there for FSU, but I don’t expect Helfrich and company to get conservative like Malzahn did last year. Another FSU comeback versus a strong PS team will not be as simple as it was against the teams FSU played this regular season, but if they do pull out another improbable comeback, I can guarantee there will be PS concepts used throughout by FIsher to accomplish the task.

Lastly, will Oregon’s Defense even let Fisher implement more aggressive PS tactics? Don Pellum is a Nick Allioti disciple and has managed the schemes and talent brilliantly all year. Aliotti always had to stretch his mind and incorporate Aggressive Variety with various schemes to make up for a lack of talent through the years. It seems that Pellum has taken this a step further incorporating a little more flexibility and downhill aggression from the back 7,8 or 9! FSU may have the better overall talent, but the more experienced DC replacement for Oregon may prove to be the difference.

Ohio State vs Alabama

Well, the game I wanted to see last year is now on deck in the first College Playoff ever. Only it’s not the PS vs PRO match-up it would have been last year thanks to a new OC for Alabama this year.

Like the previous game, at first look this seems to be PS vs PRO, but as with the first game, this is only an illusion. Just as Jimbo Fisher went to PS concepts in the 2nd Half of last year’s Championship game to pull out a comeback victory, his friend Nick Saban has gone the same route with his Offense this year for Alabama. After holding back the offense for half a year, Saban let Lane Kiffen fly with his new version of BYU Pro PS. While not as good as a top flight PS Offense, with Bama’s talent it hasn’t taken much to create a powerful Offense to go along with a top flight D.

And when I say Talent, believe me, no one is even in the same ballpark as Bama. Just take a look at the last 5 recruiting classes and watch a bit of any Bama game you can find in the last 3 years and you will see what I mean. Most of the talent at the top level is pretty even in the modern game because of all the great recruiting and fantastic athletes around the country, but Bama has taken this to another level since Saban has solidified his legend there. His last recruiting class saw 17 of his 27 recruits ranked in the top 20 at their positions according to the greatest football mag out there – Phil Steele. This is a regular class for Saban anymore. It’s beyond real. Compare his classes to the classes of USC, OSU, Florida or Texas in the 2000s. Hardly a comparison.

So if Alabama’s talent and coaching staff is off the charts plus they are now running a hybrid PS Offense, then what chance does OSU have?? Do the names Urban Meyer and Tom Herman ring a bell? Right now, these two have evolved as coaches and are at the top of their game. Urban – one of the original creators of PS – has become more flexible and better able to let his staff help him, while still maintaining the order and vision he has for his team. Herman has had many great influences in his career, from Randleman(Smitty Hill/ Todd Whitten effect) to David Bailiff and all the great influences of Texas Power Spread evolution. While at Texas State with Bailiff, Herman actually studied the Urban Meyer Power Spread.  Ohio State is playing like a true PS Team – not dependent on one position or one coach – even at the almighty QB Position. Some of the PS play calling rhythms that Herman/Meyer have found during the year has been spectacular. This could be enough for the big upset.

For an upset to really happen, though, OSU is going to have to execute close to the degree they did against Wisconsin. With the injuries, new players and new coaches on Defense, there has been a lot of mistakes throughout the year and at times even a lack of energy from the Defensive side. Part of this is due to a continuing lack of depth on D, but some of it may have been an over reliance on the Offense. Since Barrett’s injury, the Defensive Energy has been outstanding. They will need that effort once again.

Even if all of this goes right for the Buckeyes they still might lose due to the massive Alabama Talent and the prowess of Saban on D and Kiffen on O. The last remaining hope will be Saban’s interference if the game starts getting out of control as it did in the Iron Bowl vs Auburn. Nick absolutely cannot tolerate his D giving up points, but with the Up Tempo PS Offense he’s running now, this part of the game has not yet been solved. Points will accumulate. Will Nick start yelling at Lane as he did when Bama went up 14-0 in the Iron Bowl? That set Bama back not once, but twice and almost cost them the game. If Saban had benched Blake Sims for a pocket passer in the 2nd Half, then Alabama is not OSU’s opponent in this playoff.

If OSU makes mistakes then this will be a very tough game to win and may even turn into a blowout. But the Buckeyes need to maintain aggression and make sure to spread the field to open up middle and deep space. If Saban leaves Kiffen alone, then this will also be a tough task for the Bucks because of the overwhelming talent on Bama. But if OSU can stay close and Saban starts to blow a fuse on the sideline and interfere with the Offense then OSU has every chance in the world to find themselves in this years National Championship. Either way, Power Spread wins and continues forging a new future for Football!


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