Note: Art Chansky is gone for a few days, so digital content manager Dakota Moyer will be contributing for the Sports Notebook in his absence.
Is “pro-style” a dying breed of offense in football?
This is Dakota with Friday’s sports notebook.
The spread offense should be a familiar face to North Carolina fans, as Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels have been running it ever since he took over the program in 2011. Fedora has a long history with the spread offense, having learned it from coaches such as Mike Gundy and Ron Zook. Under Fedora’s tenure, the Heels have ran the spread fairly well, highlighted in 2015 when Carolina scored 39.7 points per game en route to an 11-win season.
But recent coaching hires and philosophy changes around the country suggests that the spread is taking over college football.
Take Alabama for instance. Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin in 2014 to be his offensive coordinator and the Tide haven’t strayed from the spread since. Over the past two seasons, Alabama has won 26 games and a national championship with a mobile quarterback under center.
Florida State is an ACC team that is finally making the move to the spread. After Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M, the Seminoles turned around and hired Willie Taggart, a Florida native who saved his job at USF by switching to the spread.
This philosophical shift is not just limited to college either.
NFL teams are quickly adapting to the changing times, or at least the successful ones anyways. The Philadelphia Eagles just won the Super Bowl using the infamous run/pass option as a staple of its offense.
After the Eagles blew out the Denver Broncos 51-23, Broncos’ cornerback Chris Harris had this to say about the Eagles offense, saying “They run this college offense… They got an option to run, an option to pass. They run the read option, the real option… It’s a college offense and [Eagles QB Carson Wentz] is just executing it very well.”
Look no further than the NFL draft to see how professional teams are adapting. Of the quarterbacks picked in the first round since 2014, many have come from predominately spread offenses in college. This includes names like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, UNC’s own Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff and Marcus Mariota.
So what’s next for the “pro-style” offense?
Because the spread taking over football at every level, from high school to the professional ranks, it’s only a matter of time before pro-style a foreign concept. With highly successful collegiate teams like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State committing to the spread, it won’t be long before the rest of college football falls in line.
Luckily, UNC is already ahead of the curve.