Staying ahead of the curve is one of the most challenging aspects of being a high school coach. Every coach wants to integrate new schemes and strategies, but it’s hard to stay on top of things going on in other areas of the country. Here are some trends that jumped out in 2018.
Mark Colyer runs Spreadoffense.com, a resource for coaches that includes instruction videos and tutorials. His Twitter handle — @SpreadOffense – has more than 28,400 followers, and he was recently quoted in an article on The Ringer discussing trends in high school football.
Colyer recently shared five trends from the 2018 season with FNF Coaches.
Jet motion on offense
“It’s a motion that can be attached to a run play or pass play. It’s useful and widely used. “Take a slot receiver and send him hard through the backfield horizontally with pre-snap motion. Jet motion was really more of a run-based attachment, but now it’s used more in the passing game. It gets the second and third level of the defense moving.
“It becomes a chess match for the defense to account for that movement before the snap. A lot of times, it will move a linebacker. They don’t want to get outflanked on the edge with a jet sweep.”
Getting the ball to skill players in space
“That’s still trending up. The spread offense is nothing new, but finding creative ways to get play makers the ball in space via formation, motion, creativity and play-call is always evolving. The spread’s footprint has been around at the high school level for over a decade.The foundation of that scheme is getting the ball to skill players in space.”
Use of a dual-threat QB
“We see that filtering all the way up to the NFL level with guys like Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and even Jared Goff, who has spread DNA coming from Cal. Patrick Mahomes, obviously, is a dual-threat quarterback. High school coaches can help players choose positions, so they can mold dual-threat quarterbacks from the beginning.”
Running tempo in spots
“I think teams that said, ‘We’re always going to play fast,’ have – at one point or another – gotten burnt. I think what we’re seeing is those same schools are picking spots. It depends on what happened on the previous play. Look at Coach (Gus) Malzahn at Auburn. If it’s a first down, they’re running up to the line and snapping the ball. If it’s third and 7, it’s a different thing. They’ll do a gray call, and the coaches in the box will get a look and make a call based on what they see.”
Aggressiveness on fourth down
“With analytics ingrained in the sport,we’ve seen more head coaches take on that personality. Through studying it, we know that if you do go for it on fourth down and less than 3, you have a 42 percent chance to convert. I’ll sign up for that. We make a conscious effort to practice fake punts so we’re ready when the situation calls for it.”(
The Name of the Game
As the play analyst for the Pope John High (N.J.) football team, Colyer has carved out a niche as the expert on evaluating scheme and play design. His website and Twitter discussions rely on the fact that coaches are dying to learn more about scheme, particularly the spread.
But still, he is the first to admit that X’s and O’s don’t stand a chance to the basic principle of football.
“Winning the line of scrimmage beats any philosophy or trend,” Colyer said. “Who is moving the line of scrimmage? Which way is it moving? That’s where the game is determined.”
Does that realization make Colyer’s job obsolete? Not necessarily. “I’m talking about teams like Alabama and Clemson,” Colyer said. “There’s a direct correlation between the five-star defensive tackles they recruit and the number of games they win. If you’re pushing the pocket into the quarterback’s lap, there’s only so much he can do.”