The Great Spread Offense Hoax

zonereadoptionYou have all been tricked. Correction, WE have all been tricked. The Spread Offense is not what it claims to be.

Once upon a time, it was. In some cases, the Spread Offense philosophy really still is what we were told. But more and more, I see the Spread Offense philosophy to be a complete hoax.

We are being blinded by false tales of spreading the field. Get the ball to athletes in space, right? That is what the Spread Offense is all about! Right!?

In today’s game, it seems like we are seeing Spread formations every week. Even if teams teams are running 21, 22 or even 32 personnel in their base package. Sometime back in the mid-2000’s, there must have been a rule put into effect that everyone has to at least be able to impersonate a Spread Offense.

What is the Truth?

Many teams… I dare to say, the majority of teams… do not think like a Spread Offense. They have lost sight of the philosophy. All that remains are the formations.

A lot of the teams we see today in 10 Personnel (1 RB and 4 WR) or 11 Personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) are not trying to use all 53 feet, 4 inches. They are not really even interested in the space outside of the hashes.

What are they doing all spread out then? There is a really simple answer.

They just want to see how much of that 53 feet, 4 inches that you will defend. How many of your guys will go outside of the hashes? The more the merrier for the Offense.

The truth is, the true Spread Philosophy has limited application in High School. It took us some time to figure it out. Eventually we realized that out of those 4 tall skinny cats you put out there, only 1 or 2 of them can actually catch.

Double Edge Blitz vs Empty

The Offensive guys knew that. They know that 6’4″ Greek God standing out at the slot is actually Featherstone’s son (took me 325 posts to reference Necessary Roughness… open the flood gates).

Today, we are getting spread out by so many teams so that they can run the football. OC’s feel like they don’t have enough big boys anymore (which is ridiculous, in my opinion). Rather than try to block your 8 or 9 with their 8 or 9, they’re going to take their chances with their 5 or 6 on your 5 or 6.

How Can We Tell the Real Deal from the Pretenders?

How do you know when that Spread formation is trying to pull the wool over your eyes? Clearly, you need to study your tendency reports.

What are the opponent’s base run plays? If it is the Zone Read, 1-Back Power, and Quarterback Counters, then you are being hoodwinked.

True Spread Philosophy is going to give you some of that. But you will also see plenty of quick passing game, screen passes, and QB Draws. If the ball rarely goes outside of the hash marks… you, my friend, are a potential victim of the Great Spread Hoax.

Translate your knowledge of this conspiracy to your game plans this year. Test them. The next time you see a Spread Offense pretender, pack the box. Keep 7 defenders in the box and play man coverage on the outside.

Make your opponent prove they are a real Spread Offense. If they can do, then we are back to playing games. But if they can’t, you’ve got them where you want ’em.


  • Robert Humburg

    When we do spread look we have are x and z outside the numbers and our H and Y receivers lined up on the numbers and use words like cods which mean x runs combo route, H runs out route, Y runs a dig and and Z runs a slant route. so are playcall on spread is are arms wide open and the whiteboard goes up 1CODS 1 is our Oline Signal for the protection scheme they are doing there is no huddle its all done at the LOS and we used to get plays off under 10 sec sometimes less.

  • Robert Humburg

    Here are couple of plays that we run. out of this formation and looks we run about 15 plays a game with different looks

  • Joe Daniel

    Formations are cheap, if I’m scouting a team I’m concerned with the plays you run – and then any tendencies we get from your formations.

  • Robert Humburg

    I have my own offense that i have developed that I can go from the ace formation to any offensive formation you can name including wings, wishbone and to the extreme with spread and keeping the same personnel in at all times.

  • Matthew J. Fischer

    What I think is a hoax about the Spread (and in particular w/ high school hashes) are the outside recievers lining up on the numbers. Why should any defense worry about recievers on the wide side lining up on the numbers?
    You can’t throw a 5 yard stop or out, no 10 yard out because those are all picks. Then if they don’t get picked off you have to have an extremely accurate pass so to me it makes it a semi hoax if you will. I think you will want to keep those outside guys close (like 12 yards on the opposite hash) so they can threaten the defense inside or out.
    Some coaches think the spread is lining up guys in Siberia from the rest of your team’s formation. But to me it’s just splitting your inside guys out and that is where you can prevent being called a hoax with reasonable outside WR splits.

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