Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spread Offense: Baylor Bears

Over the past two weeks I have covered the changes in the spread offense and how it has affected the game of football. In Spread Offense: Part 1, I discussed the how the spread offense originated and the differences in the spread-to-run and air raid versions of the spread. The main concept behind the spread offense is simple; to create mismatches. In Spread Offense:Part 2 I broke down how teams such as Clemson and Auburn are utilizing plays from the Triple Option offense like the veer, dive and trap. In this weeks blog, I will analyze one of the most explosive offenses in college football history, the Baylor Bears led by head coach Art Briles.
In 2014, the Baylor Bears led the nation in total offense averaging 580 yards a game. When a team averages 215 yards on the ground, 365 yards through the air and 48 points a game, the question changes from “how can we stop this team?” to “how can we try and slow them down?”. Bears head coach Art Briles’ unique version of the spread offense has defensive coordinators across the country scratching their heads in awe. The 2014 season marked the Baylor Bears 4th consecutive season to be ranked as one of the top 5 offensive teams in the country. Where did this offense come from and how do they continuously put up such gaudy numbers?
Art Briles’ version of the spread offense did not develop overnight. It took decades to be perfected and it is still being modified from season to season. The offense began its development at Hamlin High School, then Stephenville High School, then Texas Tech University, then the University of Houston and now at Baylor. While at Stephenville, Briles had a 3,000 yard passer for 10 consecutive seasons, including 1998 when the Yellowjackets broke the national record for more offense in a season with 8,664 yards, a 15-1 record, and a state title. Briles totalled 4 state championships while at Stephenville, turning the program into a state powerhouse. When asked about making the transition from the split-veer offense to the spread back in the early 90’s, Briles stated, “We did things out of a desire of necessity. I had good people there — we were gonna win anyway — but I was trying to win a state championship. At Stephenville, it was out of necessity. It wasn't something I wanted to do; it was something we needed to do.”1
Baylor’s ability to efficiently attack multiple parts of the field and overstress any defense is what makes them great. “Baylor's spread is more intense than most, with even the inside receivers lining up outside of the hash marks. Most every team in college football utilizes some aspect of spread tactics, but everything Baylor does is built around spacing out defenses so that individual matchups can be hammered.”2 Creating space does three things to a defense that helps an offense immensely: Makes disguising the defense extremely difficult, this stresses the defensive perimeter and isolates at least one part of the defense every play.
The Baylor Bears are one of few teams that can spread out the offense and effectively attack other parts of the field. The Bears perimeter screen game, downhill running game and play action/vertical passing game wreak havoc on opposing defenses week in and week out with no signs of slowing down. Mix in the fact that the offense snaps the ball within 15 seconds of the whistle and Coach Briles and the Baylor Bears may have the formula for a National Championship. Only time will tell.

1 Hall, S. (2013, June 5). An interview with Art Briles, who's already two steps ahead of you. Retrieved April 16, 2015.

2 Boyd, I. (2013, November 7). The Art of offense: Has Baylor birthed college football's most unstoppable system? Retrieved April 16, 2015.

1 comment:

  1. I love watching Baylor play on Saturdays. Coach Briles has started a machine that cannot be stopped. There is so much preparation that goes into each game and how they can improve. Do you think they will ever win a national championship?