Sonny Dykes talks evolution of the spread

Sometimes an answer to a question is so good, there’s no need to write around it and it can stand on its own.

On the Pac-12 teleconference Tuesday, California coach Sonny Dykes was asked about the evolution of the spread offense and how it has impacted the running game. For those of who you like the schematic details of the game, the Pac-12 blog thought you’d really enjoy Dykes’ answer. This fifth of the blog certainly did.

The question was posed by Ralph Russo of the AP. Here is Dykes' uninterrupted answer:

I think when the spread first started coming in, there were two completely different philosophies on the spread offense. When you came up in the Air Raid tree, when it was spread-to-pass, part of probably the foundation of that was wide splits in our offensive line to create a wider edge from a pass protection stand point. What happens when you do that is it limits the schemes that you can run from a run-game perspective.

I think as a result a lot of guys that came up in the Hal Mumme tree, myself, Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen, Art Briles to a lesser extent, guys like that that were together at different places, I think we all felt like we wanted to have a little more run game and as a result the splits of the offensive line started changing a little bit. Instead of being really wide, they got closer together.

What that did was it allowed pulling [linemen] and that type of thing. It’s different now. A lot of guys that were spread, throw-the-ball-guys, have come to the conclusion that we’re going to be a lot better if we can run the football. And as a result the line splits have gotten smaller which has allowed more blocking schemes to evolve.

Then the opposite of the spectrum was the spread-the-field-to-run-the-ball guys, which was Rich Rodriguez and that tree. They had a different approach. They were a very complicated run game, or a diverse run game, and a pretty simple pass game, where we were just the opposite.

I think what’s happened is everybody has kind of merged a little bit more. Like the Oregon thing. Oregon was the same way: spread the field to run the ball. Oregon’s passing game has gotten more diverse. Our run game has gotten more diverse. As a result, some people have started to come more toward the middle and maybe not be as extreme as they have been in the past.

I think a lot of the teams that have been traditional passing teams or coaches that have been traditional passing coaches have come to the conclusion that it’s really important to run the ball.

For the record, Cal running back Daniel Lasco is sixth in the conference with 985 yards (5.4 per carry) and he has 12 touchdowns, tied for second in the league. As a unit, Cal is 10th in the conference in rushing offense, averaging 147 yards per game. However, its 21 rushing touchdowns is third behind Oregon (31) and UCLA (22).