Nick Saban On The Spread Offense In Football

Nick Saban was asked at the 2009 SEC media day about the spread offense he's seeing so much in college, and you could tell by his answers he was focused the most on the University of Florida style of spread offense, featuring a dual threat quarterback.
 
Here's the 3 points he brought up that to him make the offense so difficult to defend.
 

    1.  The Multiples It Creates

First, lets define multiples: having or involving or consisting of more than one part or entity or individual.
 
Based on the above definition and what Saban was explaining on the podium, the spread offense offers so many options for the offense in both the run game and pass game, that defenses have a very difficult time preparing for it all and defending it all well...especially if the the offense is well balanced and talented (ie: Florida) in both the run and pass. Now, throw in a dual threat QB (as you'll see in a later point about 'out gaping' the defense), and you're in a real pickle defensively.
 
    2.   Scout Team Looks During The Weeks Preparation
 
Coach Saban was quick to point to the lack of 'good looks' a scout team gives the defense during the practice week prior to a spread offense team.  He pointed to the 'no huddle' piece being very difficult to simulate in practice, and how it forces your defense to be aligned correctly, get the call from the sideline, then react to all the pre-snap movements by the offense.
 
I can understand his point based on his situation, because think about the pro style offense recruits at Alabama, now being asked to simulate a Florida or Oregon type offense... could be very tough and not very productive for giving a good look to the defense.
 
    3.    The "11th Gap" - Extra gap to defend or 'out gapping' the defense
 
This is the most intriguing of the 3 points, and I got the feeling the '11th gap' term came from some late night phone calls between Saban and Bill Belichick talking some shop on the spread option offense.
 
Saban was adamant about the stress that a dual threat quarterback places on a defense and how it creates an extra gap to defend for the defense.  I actually wrote about this some weeks back on our blog that the offense gains an 11% blocking advantage with a dual threat quarterback running some basic single wing QB run plays.
 
On draft day when Patrick White was drafted by the Miami Dolphins, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock gave their take on the 'out gapping' it creates and how defenses (in the NFL anyway) started 'automaticing' against the wild-cat offense.  See the video here.
 
I really enjoyed Coach Saban's reply, and it show that some very smart football minds are burning the midnight oil to find answers on the spread option offense in football.
 
 

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