By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
In 2006, Kurt Bryan and his offensive coordinator, Steve Humphries, created the A-11 offense, based on the concept that any of the 11 players on the field could be eligible receivers.
The A-11 offense was born in 2006 out of Bryan and Humphries’ desire to play to the strengths of a Piedmont (Calif.) team that lacked in size and natural running backs. The team had two quarterbacks and several undersized receivers, and the two coaches were determined to design a scheme that played to their team’s strength.
“We researched the rule book and found that in a certain formation, all players could be eligible receivers,” Bryan said. “The formation would dictate eligibility rather than jersey number.”
The A-11 offense was short-lived because the National Federation banned the formation in 2009, two years after Bryan and offensive coordinator Steve Humphries created it.
Still, Bryan’s offense exploded in popularity – not only at the high school level. College and NFL coaches also reached out to Bryan in an effort to learn the offense.
“We made a decision as a staff to share everything with everybody,” Bryan said. “We could have either shared nothing or shared everything, and we decided to give back. We’d learned so much from other coaches over the years.”
In 2008, Scientific American magazine calculated that the A-11 offense allowed for 16,632 possibilities in terms of which player might receive the snap and which player might end up with the ball on any given play, compared to 36 in a conventional offense.
“Once you coach the A-11 offense with all of the players interchangeable, it opens the brain to amazing possibilities,” Bryan said.
A Safer Scheme
Kurt Bryan is now coaching at Arroyo High (Calif.), where he teaches a variation of the A-11 offense – now called the Super Spread.
However, he believes state and national athletic associations will soon alter the rules to allow the original A-11 scheme.
“When we implemented this scheme 10 years ago, we banned the three-point stance on our offensive line because everyone had to be in a flexible, athletic position,” Bryan said. “When they’re in a two-point stance, it takes the head out of the game.”
Bryan’s Piedmont team did not suffer a major injury over two seasons (2007-08) of running the A-11 offense.
“That was a wonderful benefit that kind of unfolded,” Bryan said. “If you look at the way the game is going and where it will be 25 to 30 years from now, there is no way it will look like what it is now. It will be so far advanced. You’ll see a shift to putting smaller, dynamic athletes on the field. It has to change.”
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