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Urban Legendby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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In 2001, his first year as a head coach, Urban Meyer led Bowling Green to a 8-3 record – a tremendous improvement over their 2-9 season the year before. In quarterback Josh Harris, Meyer had a versatile run/pass signal caller that his new spread option offense could be built around.
In what was perhaps the first time that the spread was utilized to its fullest potential, Harris led the Falcons to a 9-3 season in 2002 while throwing for 2,425 yards and 19 TDs and adding another 20 TDs on 737 rushing yards. Meyer’s career and reputation as an offensive innovator was off and running.
In two years at the helm at Utah, Meyer’s spread continued to gain steam. Under QB Alex Smith, the passing component received more emphasis – Smith passed for 5,199 and 47 touchdowns while rushing for 1,083 yards and 15 TDs during the two years when Meyer coached the Utes to a 22-2 record and a BCS bowl victory in 2004.
When he arrived in Gainesville to assume head coaching responsibilities at Florida for the 2005 season, incumbent quarterback Chris Leak posed a challenge. More of a drop-back passer, Leak wasn’t the ideal candidate to run the spread option. But Meyer was able to tweak his system and Leak led the Gators to a respectable 9-3 record. Further tweaking in 2006, including creating a role for freshman phenom Tim Tebow, produced Meyer’s true breakout season – a 13-1 record and a BCS National Championship.
The Tebow era demonstrated the ultimate potential of the spread option and firmly established it as the dominant offense of our time in college and now high school as well. When a great system is paired with great personnel, great things happen. The numbers speak for themselves – for Tebow, 9,286 passing yards with 88 touchdowns, 2,947 rushing yards with 57 touchdowns, a Heisman Trophy and another BCS National Championship.
Now coming off a 12-0 season at Ohio State, where he successfully worked QB Braxton Miller into the spread option while also working on the system to take advantage of Miller’s unique skills, Meyer enters the 2013 season with a realistic shot at another National Championship.
The last time we featured Urban Meyer on the cover of AFM was June 2006. Our cover story, breaking down his spread option system, is the most widely viewed article of the more than 1,500 features from our back issues available on AmericanFootballMonthly.com. All Meyer and his spread offense have accomplished since that article is a record of 68-12 and two National Championships. We salute his success and we’re pleased that he’s back on our cover.
So, is the secret behind the dominance of Meyer’s offenses his system or his personnel, especially the quarterback? The answer, of course, is both. One doesn’t work without the other. The key, as you’ll see in this issue’s cover story, is making adjustments – tailoring your personnel to your system and vise versa. It’s all about fine tuning and finding the right combinations to make your offense truly click.
As we head into the 2013 season we wish you all the best for a safe and successful year on and off the field.
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