Florida and the “Pro Style Offense”

With Urban Meyer’s retirement, the Gators are no longer the high chieftains of the spread.  Will Muschamp has promised to be “pro style on offense and defense,” which is fine and dandy, but what exactly does “pro style” mean?  I’ve never really liked calling offenses by names, especially today considering every offense borrows something from other offenses.  So I was trying to think of a good description that didn’t have me spitting nails when a familiar voice called out to me from beyond the darkness.

via EDSBS…

The one prevailing guideline is Muschamp’s requirement that the coordinator have both NFL and college experience, and run something like pro-style. We assume pro-style here means the grab-bag of multi-formation, non-option based systems that fall outside of the realm of the Five Families of College-Only offenses: Air Raid, Spread Option, I-Form Triple-Option, Run ‘N Shoot, and the Flexbone.

So, that’s our baseline.

But before we get into what Florida’s going to go through, lets think about Florida’s personnel and the transition they’re going to have to deal with.  I did some research on the origins of Urban’s offense, and what I found was actually kind of surprising.  I’ve been a big time hater of Urban’s spread when it comes to preparing kids for the NFL (which, in hindsight, was kind of dumb considering I really don’t care about that), but I did like it’s creativity and emphasis on power (especially this play, which Tressel stole and ran during the Michigan game), and in reading more about it, I really appreciated its roots.

Urban and his crew at Bowling Green went to each of the underrated hotbeds in the early 2000’s when it comes to college football offense.  I had no idea that he had this type of conference with guys like Scott Linehan at Louisville, Joe Tiller, Randy Walker, Kevin Wilson (then at Northwestern, went to Oklahoma as OC and is now the head coach at Indiana), Paul Johnson and Rich Rod when he was at WVU.  That’s a fucking all star lineup of some of the best offensive minds we have in the country, and frankly, that’s fucking awesome.

An aside…here’s a direct quote from Smart Football.  “This is the same spread playbook high school teams are running; indeed, there’s little that Meyer runs now that Northwestern and West Virginia weren’t running back then. Most differences are simply cosmetic.”  So…HAH!  Oh, and fuck Oregon.

But, petty bitching aside, Meyer’s scheme was brutally simple and it’s impossible to argue with the results.  With two safeties back, they had the advantage in numbers in the box (with 4 wide and presumably each covered, two safeties back would leave five defenders in the box with five lineman).  With one safety up in the box (single-high), they could pass because they had a hat on a hat in terms of protection and they could find the single coverage knowing that one of the two targets (on the side the deep safety isn’t cheating towards) was preposterously more talented than the defender covering him.  In zero, they burnt you for big plays.

This is a very simple to learn, almost autopilot offense that is unstoppable when you have a roster like they’ve had recently.  However, they won’t be able to lean on the scheme as heavily without relying on the zone-read and multiple receiver sets.  This should make the OL’s job easier as there will be some consistency with what’s going on behind them (plus, it’s easier to snap with a QB under center) but the passing game will have to work harder as those easy reads for the QB won’t be there and it’ll be a lot less dangerous to play with two safeties deep.

But fortunately for Florida fans, a transition to an offense like the one described above won’t be that hard of a transition because they’re Florida and they have their pick of the litter when it comes to talent.  While it’d be great to sit here and all hoist drinks and congratulate ourselves on Florida going the way of Bill Callahan’s Nebraska teams, a switch to a more sophisticated offensive identity is probably something they’ll be able to pull off rather seemlessly.  First off, they have Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart on the payroll, two of the best defensive gurus in college football, so it’s not like teams will actually score on the Gators.  Plus, if anything, John Brantley is suited for this type of offense, and the backs and WR’s can make an easy enough transition to create at least the semblance of a balanced attack.

If this was any school making this kind of adjustment other than one of the big four of five superprograms, I’d be extremely negative about making such drastic a change.  I don’t think it’s in Michigan’s best interests to go after Jim Harbaugh and create another two years of roster hand-wringing hoping the name’s still big enough to draw recruits to a losing program.  But this is Florida and Florida has recruited at a level seen by very few programs ever in the sport and talent usually wins out.

I wouldn’t be surprised by some growing pains, but this is hardly a controversial move.  Florida has their pick of quality offensive assistants and could probably get Paul Petrino away from Illinois if they wanted so even though I expect a few speedbumps, I couldn’t imagine Florida being an abject disaster on offense like they were this year.

Then again…Texas couldn’t make the transition, so maybe I shouldn’t be so quick with the praise.

  • arkbadger

    Florida has their pick of quality offensive assistants and could probably get Paul Petrino away from Illinois if they wanted

    are they rumored to be trying to do this? dude can coach. I noticed a difference (especially early on) this year in Arkansas offensive strategy and I think a lot of it had to do with Paul being gone from the offense.

  • Johnny

    Nice post Spencer. Loved the little dig at Oregon

  • cycledan

    One friend asked me why some offense work in college and don’t work in the NFL. Basically players are stronger and faster in the NFL so they might be better at certain things such as stringing out the option which may account for some. But bottom line is that teams don’t want to risk their highest paid player getting hurt. In college, the typical QB is a starter only for 2 years and for 12-13 games per season with 3-4 of those games being against lesser opposition for the big time programs.

    Miami started the trend that if you don’t want your starting QB to get hurt then bring in a sub to run a college style offense. The changeup was successful at first but I think defenses have it figured out now.

  • Trey

    Yeah the Jets really had that Wildcat figured out (6 yards per play)

  • Trey

    great post Spence. I am a power run kinda guy, who believes in using the pass to stretch the field. I think Florida will keep some of the principles of the spread, but use a lot less of the read-option

  • younglefty

    Urban and his crew at Bowling Green went to each of the underrated hotbeds in the early 2000′s when it comes to college football offense. I had no idea that he had this type of conference with guys like Scott Linehan at Louisville, Joe Tiller, Randy Walker, Kevin Wilson (then at Northwestern, went to Oklahoma as OC and is now the head coach at Indiana), Paul Johnson and Rich Rod when he was at WVU. That’s a fucking all star lineup of some of the best offensive minds we have in the country, and frankly, that’s fucking awesome.

    I’d pay lots and lots of American dollars to sit in on a roundtable conversation featuring all those guys. Lots. And lots. Of American dollars.

  • spencer096

    One friend asked me why some offense work in college and don’t work in the NFL. Basically players are stronger and faster in the NFL so they might be better at certain things such as stringing out the option which may account for some.

    two reasons why it doesn’t work in the NFL…

    1. the hashmarks are closer together in the NFL, negating the HUGE swaths of open field in college opposite to the hashmark that team is on. i think this is the chief reason…college and NFL defenders are both incredibly fast, but it’s nigh impossible to cover any D-1A athlete with that much space.
    2. NFL defenders stay at home and don’t get fooled by the option. it’s not that they’re bigger, faster and stronger, it’s that they’re so much smarter and better coached.

    But bottom line is that teams don’t want to risk their highest paid player getting hurt. In college, the typical QB is a starter only for 2 years and for 12-13 games per season with 3-4 of those games being against lesser opposition for the big time programs.

    this. cam newton and his backup cost the same*…one scholly. peyton takes up 10+% of indy’s salary cap.

    *allegedly

  • Glass Yard Dog

    I don’t think it’s in Michigan’s best interests to go after Jim Harbaugh and create another two years of roster hand-wringing hoping the name’s still big enough to draw recruits to a losing program.

    Of course you don’t spence, because you know The Jackhammer would have a bullseye on The Vest’s back in the first thirty seconds on the job.

  • Tim J

    How many college OC’s run a “pro-style” offense anymore?

  • spencer096

    Of course you don’t spence, because you know The Jackhammer would have a bullseye on The Vest’s back in the first thirty seconds on the job.

    a bullseye’s great and everything, but will he bringing a defense with him? like, an entire defense full of big ten caliber defenders? because that’s the real question…

  • blazers34

    Great Post Spencer. Also, great points on NFL speed Vs. college speed. Top end guys will be fast wherever they are, but really its all relative.

  • spencer096

    How many college OC’s run a “pro-style” offense anymore?

    wisconsin, stanford, arkansas and i consider oklahoma’s to be pro style.

    that’s just the BCS teams.

  • blazers34

    Michigan might not have the recruits he needs, but wasnt Stanford 1-11 the year before he took over? I hope he goes to the NFL and lets Michigan fall further into mediocrity

  • younglefty

    wisconsin, stanford, arkansas and i consider oklahoma’s to be pro style.

    that’s just the BCS teams.

    Georgia, Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami. Granted, most of those offenses don’t resemble each other much, but they’re not one of the five Spencer Hall mentions above, and if Oklahoma’s a pro style offense, then these five qualify.

  • younglefty

    I left off Alabama too. Definitely pro style.

  • cabbage

    One friend asked me why some offense work in college and don’t work in the NFL. Basically players are stronger and faster in the NFL so they might be better at certain things such as stringing out the option which may account for some. But bottom line is that teams don’t want to risk their highest paid player getting hurt. In college, the typical QB is a starter only for 2 years and for 12-13 games per season with 3-4 of those games being against lesser opposition for the big time programs.

    It’s the speed of the defense on the pro level more than anything else. They don’t get fooled, they cover more ground, and they can tackle.

    It’s how the SEC gained it’s rep. The SEC has always been more about defense than offense, moreso than any other conference.

    As for a pro-style offense, I think if you are going to recruit elite athletes, you have to show them you have an O that will prepare them for the pros. Teams are not always going to be fortunate enough to have a horse named Tebow or Cam to ride.

  • cabbage

    Kudos on the post spencer.

  • http://jeanshortstorture.wordpress.com Jean Shorts Torture

    Great post and I agree with pretty much everything. I do think the transition will be more than a matter of X’s and O’s for the uber-talented roster in Gainesville, though. It may prove to be more of a challenge to get these kids to buy in, but that probably has a lot to do with who they bring in as OC.

    Oh, and this.

    I’ve been a big time hater of Urban’s spread when it comes to preparing kids for the NFL

    Yep, not many Florida Gators making an impact on NFL rosters these days. Not many at all.

  • http://jeanshortstorture.wordpress.com Jean Shorts Torture

    And great point about the hashmarks. I had never thought about that before.