Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Spread Gets Shunned

Anyone who has watched college football for the past five years knows the en vogue offense is the spread attack. Whether it's a run based spread used by Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, or the pass happy spread used by Mike Leach at Texas Tech, the spread has...well, every part of the college football landscape.

But if you're a quarterback with pro ambitions, at least one NFL legend says you should use your assiduous studying time on a different playbook.

Joe Montana recently said at a speaking engagement that quarterbacks who run spread offenses in college will have difficulty in the NFL. "You can see the evidence with the guy in San Francisco (that would be Alex Smith, apparently Montana doesn't keep up with the 49ers anymore) and with a guy as talented as Vince Young." Montana continued that Texas Tech quarterback legend Graham Harrell "threw for nine million yards, but no one would take a chance on him. Why's he in Canada?"

Montana is right. Most top college spread quarterbacks have trouble adjusting to the NFL game. This means either the NFL will need to adopt more spread formations to ease the transitions for top college quarterbacks, or these blue chip high school quarterbacks will need to pick colleges like USC and Notre Dame that run pro-style offenses. Even Montana made sure his youngest son picked wisely. Nick Montana is going to University of Washington next year to run the pro-style offense there.

The spread offense isn't going away in the college game. The crazy style allows quarterbacks who may not fit the pro mold (too short, too small, noodle arm, etc) to succeed for a program. But the quarterbacks who run the spread don't have immediate success at the next level even if they do have NFL size and strength. This does not bode well for the top college quarterbacks in college this year. Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow all run a version of the spread.

There is speculation that the Detroit Lions would have picked Bradford over Matthew Stafford if both quarterbacks were in the draft last year. Maybe the Lions got lucky that they didn't have to choose (especially since they tend to choose unwisely every time.) Stafford played in a pro-style offense at Georgia.

If you're a fan of a terrible NFL team in desperate need of a quarterback (St. Louis Rams anyone?) You might start paying close attention to Jevan Snead of Ole Miss. He plays in a pro-style offense. Therefore he might be your rookie quarterback next year.

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