How is the spread HUNH offense of today different from the Wishbone of the 1970's?

Both offenses are all over the college and high school football landscape, being the dominant offensive system of the day. The specialized skill set for the spread HUNH does not automatically succeed in the pros. Many successful spread HUNH quarterbacks have not been successful in the pros. The same was true of wishbone QB’s before. One difference is that you do see some principles of the spread HUNH now being used in the pros such as the hurry up offense, the run/pass option, and more running by the QB’s. Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, and Russell Wilson succeed using some spread HUNH plays so that is more than any wishbone QB’s ever did. Very successful spread HUNH QB’s like Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow, etc. have flopped bigtime in the pros, but so have very successful pro-style college QB’s like Jamarcus Russell, David Carr, Tim Couch, and Ryan Leaf. The wishbone triple option may still survive as part of the run/pass option in the spread HUNH, just using the pass along with the tailback and quarterback runs as the three options.

One similarity is that as the spread HUNH becomes more common, the defenses get tuned and trained to compete against it. All defenses now send their signals in without huddling. All defenses are now disciplined to rotate players in EVERYTIME the offense subs, so that the HUNH loses some of its power having to wait on the defense to get its subs in and set before they are allowed to snap. So, the defenses are catching up with the spread HUNH offenses just like they did with the wishbone.

One interesting detail is the run/pass option works much better in the college game than it does in the pros. The college rules allow offensive linemen to be 3 yards downfield blocking when the pass option is chosen. In the pros, it is one yard. This is well discussed in this article: <LINK_TEXT text=“ … 98614.html”></LINK_TEXT>

So, if the college rule is changed to match the pros, the defenses will catch up faster. If not, the spread HUNH may be here to stay.

We have been playing against the Spread for many years. The only difference between then and now is the NUNH. The Spread seemed to really take off recently when Malzahn came on the scene, and was especially being used by the smaller schools. Defenses will catch up and have already begun.

I didn’t like the Spread at first but after watching some of the major teams like Oklahoma and Auburn being successful, I have been convinced.

You are right… Some college rules favor the offense and particularly the HUHN. I agree unless the rules are changed the HUHN offense is here to stay.

Gus isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done for 60 years, maybe longer. What he introduced to the old offenses was getting the ball in space wide quickly. And, he has strategically taken advantage of what is happening in HS football. Maybe what was most exciting to Hog fans over a decade ago - Gus coached with a burr under his saddle for efficiency in how you do things. No dilly dallying about, no wasted time (game or practice). Gus seemed to employ much of the simplicity (“play fast”) that HDN employed but was much more efficient. Filters over to defensive and special teams coaching - details matter! (Witness the Kick Six a few years ago)

The wishbone created deception at the point of attack, putting a DE or DT in the role of having to read (quickly) whether the FB has the ball or the QB has pulled it from his belly. The new wrinkle is that belly play may be with a WR running parallel to the LOS (jet sweep option).

The early versions of the wishbone were almost exclusively a single WR offense. Later versions, including Hatfield’s, would put 2 men wide (3-4 if you count the HBs who line up as a slot off of the OT or TE).

The reason I like(d) Petrino’s offense so much is he found the space downfield, not along the LOS. The first miss was an immediately 10+ yards to the 10+ already picked up on the reception. He found holes in the defense at the layer of the LB or CB for intermediate routes, and at the level of the safety by running multiple “go” or other long routes. Gus’ offense is very much about finding that space along LOS and utilizing single routes into the CB or S territory where you are hoping they bite on short fakes.

Pace of game and the proliferation of 7-on-7 at the HS level has taken a lot of athleticism away from defenses and put them on offense. Rule changes have almost unilaterally favored offenses since the 1980s.

Was just thinking the same thing. The wishbone was the thing. It is still a good offense in updated versions as we see a few teams still using it. The thing that made it so good was the players running it. Funny how that works. Same with the spread. Give it a good QB, line and receivers and it goes, but remember what we saw last night. Two good ones, esp. OK, were stopped (2nd half) by defenses that have SEC defenders. That is how you stop it. Get those type defenders. GA did about as good a job as you could expect against a very good one. How? Real SEC defense.

Giving up 600 yards and 50 points is stopping it?

a major benefit for the spread offense is the way the game is refereed today. Defensive players are at a major disadvantage in coverage situations, the wide receiver is much more likely to get away with a shove off to create space for the catch. DBs are not permitted to hit the receivers with any force without fear of ejection. Allowing offensive lineman to go past the line of scrimmage on the run/pass option puts the defense in a no win situation.

I am old fashioned, loved the defensive war that went on between the lines in the Clemson-Bama game. HUNH offense seems to be glorified 7 on 7 football or Arena football. I find myself watching less and less as the games get into track meets. Only bowls I turned on this year were the semi-finals. Nothing else mattered.

Just one old man’s opinion
Jeff H.

Notice I said 2nd half. GA defense basically won the game for them then. They were not ready the 1st and their coach said so. Results was they were nearly blown out, but then they got right back in it and for the most part shut OU down.