They say the best form of flattery is imitation and football coaches are no exception.
The University of Utah Utes rolled the Arizona Wildcats on national television last weekend and some credit can be given to their stellar offensive performance, which to some looked familiar, especially if you follow the NFL.
Scott Mitchell, a color analyst for Utah Football and host of Rivals podcast, talked with Brock Huard, former Washington Huskies and NFL quarterback, current college football analyst with ESPN, about the Utes’ offensive attack during halftime.
Huard told Mitchell that during a conversation with Troy Taylor, the Utes offensive coordinator, he admitted to taking a few pages out of the LA Rams playbook.
The similarities were most apparent in the very tight formations the offense lined up in.
The idea behind this type of formation is bunching everything together in order to give you lots of options when you are going to run the ball, but it also allows for a different look when the quarterback plans to throw.
There are only so many X’s and O’s
Mitchell says taking pages out of other teams’ playbooks is not rare, there are only so many X’s and O’s and so many ways to move them.
When he was a quarterback for the University of Utah during the late 80s, they ran an offense very similar to the Dallas Cowboys.
The best offense Mitchell says he ever played on was during his time with the Miami Dolphins but it was also the most plagiarized.
The plays went all the way back to Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts and were copied to the point of confusion because coaches and players would see plays they liked and want to add them into the offense, but if they didn’t fit the traditional series’ they would make exceptions.
The coaches’ exceptions
By the time he was in Miami, the offense was full of exceptions.
It happens all the time across all levels of football. Lately, he has been seeing plays in the NFL he had only ever seen in college.
For example, a play called the fly sweep and it has the same reaction in the NFL that it has in college, especially when a team isn’t ready for it.
“No one has an original idea, someone has already figured it out,” Mitchell informed listeners on Rivals Podcast. “Football is a game of copycat and taking what works and making it fit your team.”
“Good football plays work, no matter where you are,” Mitchell concluded.
More to the conversation
To hear more about college football and the NFL, download and subscribe to the Rivals podcast.
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