Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin has traveled the country teaching his version of the spread offense. From coast to coast, from the frozen North to the humid South, Franklin has had an impact on high school programs.
Last December, he put in enough of his hyper-speed scheme in nine practices for Auburn to beat Clemson 26-23 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. And now he is less than two months away from his first full Auburn season.
The question was put to him: “Just what is the spread?” The answer might be somewhat surprising. The spread, Franklin said, is not an offense. It’s a formation. And that formation can produce very different things for different people.
“To me, the spread just means a formation,” Franklin said. “It means you have a formation with four wides or possibly five wides. What you do out of it is a different animal. I think the best example is West Virginia and Texas Tech. They are totally different animals. One team runs the triple option out of the shotgun and the other team couldn’t tell you what the triple option is. One is going to throw it 90 percent of the time and one is going to run it 90 percent of the time.
“It’s just a formation where you spread people. What you do from there defines what type of personality your team has.”
But whatever plays are called, Franklin says the spread formation can be a great equalizer. He has to look no further than Division I-AA Appalachian State’s victory at Michigan to open last season.