The idea of running a no-huddle, spread attack offense started two seasons ago under former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Going into that spring, there were many mixed feelings about installing the system.
Two seasons and a lot of touchdowns later, the Oklahoma Sooners have proven that they are more than capable of handling what Wilson envisioned.
Here is what the offense has been capable of, including 2007, the year before the spread attack was put into effect (of course, 2011 is a work in progress):
|Year||Rush Attempts||Rush Yards||Pass Attempts||Pass Yards||YPG Average|
This chart is quite telling on a few accounts. For example, the run to pass ratio drastically changed in 2008, the year the new offense was installed. The Sooners' yards per game went up by almost 100 yards after the change.
There was a noticeable decline in 2009, but it has to be noted that QB Sam Bradford and star TE Jermaine Gresham were out of the lineup due to injuries. Once current QB Landry Jones got the hang of the system, the yards and the attempts went back up.
Should the Sooners continue running the spread attack?
This season, it has been obvious the Sooners are more interested in the pass rather than the run. Behind Jones' arm, the Sooners are the second-best pass offense in the nation.
Being focused on the pass has given the Sooners a high-scoring offense that ranks fifth in the country at 46 points scored per game.
With such compelling stats, the spread attack offense is sure to stay awhile, and the way the Sooners are recruiting, it might just keep getting better.
Three of the Sooners' top recruits for the 2012 season are wide receivers, which should help alleviate the pain of All-American Ryan Broyles' departure.
The gripes of the spread-attack, no huddle offense have been highlighted time and time again, but let me refresh your memory:
For starters, the faster the offense moves down the field, the faster the defense is back on the field. This usually makes the defense more susceptible to their opponents, especially if they are facing a run-first, grind it out type of offense.
Why would a school like Oklahoma, who was known for their great defenses before the spread attack was installed, want to put their defense in jeopardy? The easiest way to counteract this argument is by having lots of talent, which is something the Sooners can be thankful for every year.
This season, even with their high-octane and fast-scoring offense, the Sooners' defense is No. 20 in the country, allowing 19.1 points scored per game.
Playing in the Big 12, that number is actually quite remarkable. The Big 12 has become known for its spread attack offenses, which include Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and even Baylor this season.
Aside from their loss to Texas Tech a few weeks ago, the Sooners have shown that they are more than able to defend the spread attack, likely because they see it every week in practice. However, it's the balanced teams with good defenses that really give the Sooners fits. If you add in a dual-threat quarterback, that's even worse.
Not counting the Texas Tech game or the entire 2009 season (as the Sooners were in desperate rebuilding mode), their last four losses have been against: Texas A&M and Missouri (2010), Florida and Texas (2008).
All of these teams were more balanced than Oklahoma. They were able to pound the ball on offense and out-rush the Sooners easily.
Is this directly due to the Sooners' spread attack offense? Maybe yes, maybe no, but it definitely had something to do with it.
Since the BCS National Championship game was brought into play in 1998, there hasn't been a champion that ran a true spread attack, no huddle offense. Most have been great defensive teams that relied more on the run than the arm of their quarterback, so that has me posing the question:
Is the offense headed in the right direction for the Sooners? Will the spread attack ever come out on top against great defensive teams, such as No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama this season?
We can only wait and see, because the spread attack is here to stay.