If you're one of those people who loves it when Brian and I break down football plays, this podcast is for you. We were lucky enough to score an interview with Chris Brown, author of both Smart Football (the website) and The Essential Smart Football (the book).
If you're unfamiliar with Chris' work, he does a better job on the podcast explaining what he does better than I can here, but he basically takes football strategy and presents it in a way the layperson can understand. Which, of course, pretty much all of the authors here love.
The big bonus for us is that he's enamored with Mike Leach and the Air Raid -- so much so that he wrote a fantastic 10,000-word opus on the evolution of the offense, complete with video cut-ups. It'll be some of the best 30 minutes you'll spend all week.
We originally had planned to just talk to him for about 30 or 45 minutes, but the conversation was so good, we ended up going much longer than that. Consequently, we're breaking the interview into two parts. Part 1 today focuses on what his site is all about, how he watches a game and how more serious fans can apply that, and why it is that he's so fascinated by the Air Raid.
We also asked him about Mike Price -- or, as Brian likes to call him, the "OG Of The Spread." An excerpt of Brown's response:
I think the one-back is huge. And actually, I mean ... Mike Leach has talked about that if he didn't sort of go down the BYU path, he would have gone down the one-back, Dennis Erickson, three-step passing game framework, which is the Mike Price offense - it's the same one. You can't really understate how influential that was, and even as interesting as it is as sort of, as we talked about, once you understand the schemes to follow the etymology of how it all developed. [snip*]
There's an extreme amount of overlap with these guys. If you just take the Price version, the fact that they were able to go one-back, they were extremely simple with the approach. Almost like, if you think of the Wing T or some of the old school offenses, or even the triple option offense - it has your base play, like a dive play, then if they stop that, you go to an outside run, and if they stop that, you run a bootleg. It was really series football, but from the spread - if they played deep, they'd throw the short hitch to the outside, they came up, they would throw the option route to the slot, or if they came even further up, they'd throw four verticals over the top. And if they backed out or jammed the receivers, they'd run inside.
Michael Black, I remember played on the team, along with Ryan Leaf and those guys, had over 1,000 yards. Just an extremely simple offense that was really devastating for defenses. ... In the 90s, the big thing on defense was these 8-man fronts. Virginia Tech was doing it, you had the Arizona Desert Swarm, which was actually, literally it's almost mathematically impossible to run the ball from a two-back set against that old Arizona Desert Swarm defense. The problems would come if you start spreading them out and Price was one of the guys to really do that consistently. He got the players to do it, and having the freedom with those option routes was a beautiful thing.
I guess he's not real popular now, but Bobby Petrino's offense at even Arkansas, is really, in a lot of ways, it just was Mike Price's same old one-back offense - it's just he also had some pro-style influence in there. But if you just look at the plays, Arkansas was running the same playbook that Washington State was running in the late ‘90s.
*In the snip, he goes into the history of the one-back. It's interesting, but I was trying to keep this relatively short!
So, without further ado, click on the jump to find the embedded player for listening. You also can subscribe to our podcast channel on iTunes, or just subscribe to the feed manually (http://cougcenterpodcast.wordpress.com/feed/) through whatever podcast player you use. BeyondPod is a good one for Android -- the free version is serviceable.
As a bonus, if you subscribe to the channel, both parts one and two have been uploaded and are ready for your listening. How's that for incentive?