Yesterday, we took a look at Oklahoma as a program that could use a little rebuilding from the physical side of things. In taking a step back and surveying the nation, it seems that some of the country's biggest power plays are doubling down on playing powerful football.
While middle-tier schools like North Carolina and Arizona are putting their faith in the spread and belief that offense will sell tickets, schools like Florida State, Alabama and Texas are throwing their chips into the power pile.
Yes, Ohio State is moving to a spread style under Urban Meyer and Tom Herman, but its chief rival, the Michigan Wolverines, are recruiting and transitioning into a more pro-styled scheme once Denard Robinson departs. For Michigan, it means getting players like Shane Morris into the fold and finding big linemen to run behind.
The transition has been easier for some schools than others. Florida and Texas took serious knocks as they recognized that engineering their rosters to play power football was the way to go. Mack Brown revamped his entire staff in an effort to get tougher and more physical, and while people laughed at the 5-7 season, it is the 'Horns who have come out ahead as a team built for success.
The Gators' new head coach decided to pursue the power approach after a 7-6 season, and he's got a team that's committed to running the ball and playing defense.
For the Seminoles, they spent the "lost decade" playing an archaic defensive scheme and floundering on offense. Now, under Jimbo Fisher, the 'Noles are running the ball hard and playing defense that can suffocate opponents. Make no mistake, while E.J. Manuel gets out of the gate at times, the fact is, Jimbo's boys are a downhill running squad who likes to use play action to get on top of defenses.
We're also seeing Notre Dame move to a ground-and-pound style game. It has a front-seven that rivals some of the best in the college football world and an elite running back toting the ball behind a solid offensive line. Folks expected Brian Kelly to step in and create a vicious spread attack, and what it's got is a team of guys looking to play power football and win the battle in the trenches.
For the big power squads, it makes sense; the Georgias, Floridas, Texas', Michigans and, of course, Alabamas and LSUs of the world should move to this style. They can recruit the big offensive linemen, stock their coffers with running backs and find the defensive personnel to make things work. No gimmicks required. No need to have an all-world quarterback when the rest of your roster can win its one-on-one battles all over the field.
Every school can't win at a high level playing the power game, but for those that can, it creates a far more difficult brand of football to stop than schemed success. Lining up to punch the other team in the mouth and run the ball down their throat is a tough brand of football to combat. Especially when people know what's coming and they just don't have the bodies to stop it.