Football Has Changed (#3 in Series on Change)

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

Football has really witnessed a lot of changes in the last 25 years.  Rich Rodriguez was the coach at Salem College in 1988.   He was looking at the two-minute drill.  He was one of the better recognized defensive coaches, but the two-minute drill gave him a lot of difficulty.  He decided he ought to look at using the two-minute drill on offense – all the time.

About the same time Mike Leach was looking at an offense that combined a passing game, with its emphasis on attacking space, and the wishbone, which was a run-first scheme, and its strength was spreading the football around to its skilled players.  He and Rodriguez, along with some other coaches, came up with what is known as the spread offense.

This change has drastically affected high school and college football.  This change in offensive strategy and schemes has led to the highest scoring in college football history!

Spread offense is not the same today as it was ten years ago.  It is constantly being tweaked.  Spread offense is basically one back with four receivers and the quarterback in the shotgun.  It is now sometimes using two running backs and making greater use of the tight end.

The passing game has a much greater emphasis today.  A few years ago a famous coach said he didn’t like to pass the ball much because, when you throw a pass, three things can happen, and two of them aren’t good!  The old philosophy was that the running game set up the passing game, but today many teams use the passing game to set up the running game!

Not all the coaches like the change to the hurry-up spread offense.  A big critic is Bret Bielema, the Arkansas coach.  He isn’t quiet about his dislike of the change.  In the summer of 2015 he was speaking at a high school coaches’ conference in Texas.  About 70% of Texas high schools run some form of the spread offense.  Coach Bielema told the coaches that his preferred style was better than the spread.  It will be interesting to see who is ultimately right!

Even the traditionally “run between the tackles” offenses are utilizing at least parts of the spread offense today.  Two examples are Alabama and Stanford.  Alabama is embracing some new changes, and sometimes runs 100+ plays in a game, and is setting new records for the offense.  In 2014 Stanford embraced an up-tempo version of the spread during its final month of the year.  They ended the 2014 season on a three-game winning streak!

Dana Holgorsen, from West Virginia, has been one of the early shapers of the spread offense.  He describes it with the word “evolving.”  That means it’s not one set way, but constantly being improved.  It is always changing.  What kind of offenses will we see 10 years from now?

The NFL has taken a huge step with change the 2015 season.  The NFL will equip every player of the league with a coin-size microchip that contains a radio frequency identification chip to track speed, distance, and direction traveled on the field.  It is embedded in the shoulder pads.  Its intent is to get additional statistics so that coaches can better analyze what a player is doing and how that player might improve.  It will certainly offer a lot of advanced statistics.  It is a change.

Football is constantly changing in offense, defense, special teams, nutrition, conditioning, recruiting, faculties, etc. but these changes are for the purpose of what never changes – the team with the most points at the end of the game still wins!

Can the church and business learn something from football?  Read I Samuel 17:38-50.

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