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Few spread offenses are as innovative or productive as Tulsa's. It takes the best of several spread systems and creates a high-energy offense that racks up ridiculous statistics and high-scoring games.
Offensive coordinator Herb Hand has been part of the transformation at Tulsa that has made the Golden Hurricane one of the most-feared offenses in the country. He took some time to talk with me about the type of receiver he looks for in Tulsa's spread system.
What do you look for in a spread-offense receiver?
Herb Hand: The one thing that we always look for is explosive plays. Guys that can make something happen out in space and turn a 5-yard hitch route into a 60-yard touchdown. Or guys that have the ability to run over the top of coverages, who just have flat-out speed.
Do you think the spread gives opportunities to a guy who might be undersized or might get overlooked?
HH: I don't think there's any question about it. You look at a guy like Wes Welker that is from Oklahoma City that got overlooked by everybody and got a shot at Texas Tech. He's a great route runner. He just knows how to work himself into holes in the defense and get himself open and doesn't drop the ball, makes all the hard catches, and he's obviously had a great career. So those guys are out there. Now, could Wes Welker play in every offense in the NFL? I don't know. I know he does a heck of a job with the Patriots and they're what we consider a spread team.
How hard is it for a receiver to learn a spread offense with so many different options going on?
HH: I think it's a lot simpler because what you're trying to do is you're trying to create one-on-ones. And I know that you're trying to do that in about every offense, create one-on-ones. But in the spread, because you have people spread out so much, it's a numbers game ... So, in most spread offenses, the beauty of it is that it creates a lot of one-on-one opportunities for wide receivers. That's all a guy really asks for.
Is that a big selling point for you guys in terms of recruiting?
HH: There's no question. That's one of the best aspects in recruiting. And what's also nice about it is that you can use that same aspect to recruit a running back. You can use that same aspect to recruit an inside, slot, wideout-type guy. There are so many opportunities for one-on-one situations and how we try and create those opportunities through formations, shifts and motions.
All spread offenses are pretty much predicated on the whole, get the ball out in space and let an athlete make a play. There's so many different varieties of spread offenses, but I think that if you looked at the one commonality between all of them it's you're trying to get the ball out in space where an athlete can turn an average gain into a big gain because they're matched up in a one-on-one situation.