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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 14, 2007 at 8:16 AM

On UW’s offense

I’ll start off today with our story attempting to explain a little bit the new wrinkles in the UW offense.
Unfortunately, as happens sometimes in this business, I wrote a lot more to the story than was able to get in the paper. I had wanted to explain a lot more about the history of the offense and some of the intracacies of it, but that didn’t make it in.
Among the stuff that didn’t make it in was a quote I had from former WSU coach Jim Walden, who I sometimes turn to help explain football things since he’s so open and quotable. He pointed out that in many ways, the spread option is really just the old veer
Here’s some of that:
“It’s really pretty similar to what we did when I was at Washington State except for the quarterback is in the shotgun,” said former Cougar coach Jim Walden, whose offense often featured a triple-option attack commonly called the “veer” when he was in Pullman from 1978-86.
Walden, though, thinks putting the QB in the shotgun adds an extra dimension that makes it that much harder to defend.
“(The quarterback) reads the defensive end (whether he’s pass rushing or playing the run) and then you pull the ball (or hand it off),” Walden said. “And it’s easy to read because the defensive end has to decide pretty quick or else he doesn’t get up the field to rush the passer because the quarterback is already three yards deep.”
Option football permeated the college football landscape in the ’70s and ’80s when Oklahoma and Nebraska, to name two, rose to power using it. But it began to fall out of favor as passing came to the fore, particularly spread passing attacks.
The option has lately been viewed largely as a tool for schools that have trouble attracting NFL-potential caliber skill players, such as the service academies, though schools with mobile QBs sometimes retooled their offenses for a while to include the option, as the Huskies did during the Marques Tuiasosopo era.
Walden also says he thinks pressure from NFL teams helped dilute the option’s influence. The option has never been a favored offense in the NFL due in large part to the risk of injury to the quarterback.
“The NFL would rather see all these colleges doing what they do so it’s like they have (119) minor league teams,” Walden said. “Teams start doing this stuff with running QBs it makes it harder to evaluate them.”
Rich Rodriguez, now the coach at West Virginia, is often regarded as the father of the spread option offense, first using it as a coach at Glenville (W.V.) State, a Division-II school from 1990-96. Bill Snyder also ran some plays out of similar formations while he was at Kansas State.
Urban Meyer’s success with his version of it helped the offense spread, and the Huskies actually first used it in 2004 when Keith Gilbertson was still coach and Stanback and Bonnell first competing for the starting job.
ALSO, here’s an LA Times story exploring some of the same territory.

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