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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

There's always an equalizer.

Slow basketball players get the three-point shot.

Freakish guys seeking attractive women use alcohol.

Now, small, underdog football teams have the spread offense.

As more and more college teams begin using spread offenses, the gap between big, powerhouse teams and smaller, no-name squads has narrowed.

Teams that lack the size and strength traditionally needed to win are finding ways to get their smaller, overlooked playmakers in space with the spread offense, and the formula is working.

Perhaps that can explain this wild college football season.

The spread allows teams to stretch the field and use every inch, where they can rely less on dominating the line of scrimmage.

The quarterback can get rid of the ball quickly and let his wide receivers make plays in the open field, where speed is speed, no matter how many stars a player was rated in high school.

This has also redefined the wide receiver position. More and more 'slash? players are showing up and changing the way receivers are valued.

Take a look at UF?s recent recruiting classes.

Wide receiver Deonte Thompson was a hotly contested recruit from Belle Glade Central High despite below-average route-running skills and hands.

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Odds are he will become a dynamic playmaker for the Gators in the next few years by running end-arounds, short slants and screens, where his blazing speed can be utilized.

Other Gators, such as Jarred Fayson and Chris Rainey, fit this mold and can be plugged into the spread with ease.

The rise of the spread offense has also evolved the defenses, which must counter with speedy defensive backs.

Take Gators corner Wondy Pierre-Louis. A relative unknown out of high school, Wondy was offered a scholarship by UF and is now a starter.

Was it because of his footwork, judgment and hands? No, it was for the blinding speed he gained while chasing goats as a child.

Obviously Pierre-Louis has improved since his arrival in all aspects of his game, but his most important asset is his speed and ability to keep up with quick wideouts.

To see what happens to a team that doesn?t recruit defensive backs who fit that mold, take a look at Michigan, which suffered back-to-back embarrassing losses to Appalachian State and Oregon to open its season.

Both teams ran spread offenses against the Wolverines and had no trouble moving the ball en route to wins.

Troy has given its big-name opponents fits in the past with the spread offense as well.

For UF coach Urban Meyer, a longtime fan of the spread, seeing the influx of teams to the offense is fun.

BIt?s amazing to see how much of it is all out there,C he said. BIn the 1980s, it was all very basic. Then all of sudden, you saw teams having some success. You can see Appalachian State and Oregon are hard to defend. I enjoy watching those two. I?m surprised it hasn?t leaked to the NFL a little bit.C

Some pro teams have begun to utilize spread-like attacks, and Gators fans can only hope Meyer won?t leak into the NFL along with his offense.

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