Bobby Petrino is widely revered as an offensive genius. He runs a very complex and sophisticated pro-style offense. The results speak for themselves. Petrino is the architect of the power spread offense even though that title was given to his offense by the media. He says it’s not a spread offense. Petrino created this offense when he was the offensive coordinator for Jacksonville Jaguars in the late 1990s under coach Tom Coughlin. Petrino has always had a love for the power running game so he incorporated it in his spread offense thus earning the title of power spread offense. Petrino said, “It was really the one-back system because you’ve got a tight end back there. To me, the tight end has always been a huge thing, and that’s why I don’t call it the spread. To me the spread is four wide receivers. We were a one-back. I guess I’m showing how old I am, calling it the one-back.” Petrino also learned how to run the ball against a zone blitz during his time with the Jaguars from Dom Capers who just happened to be one of the creators of the zone blitz.
Petrino’s offensive system has changed a little bit to adapt to the abilities of some of his skill position players. It’s not everyday you get a Lamar Jackson. Even though his system has been slightly altered there are 3 characteristics that every successful Petrino coached team posses. 1) Speed 2) Depth 3)Balance.
- Speed – When Bobby Petrino recruits a player, he doesn’t care what the so-called experts say about the kid. He doesn’t care about how many stars he has received on various recruiting sites. He doesn’t care where he is from. He only cares about if he is a fit for the program and his system. Bobby can teach a receiver how to run a better route or a technique to help him catch the ball more consistently. He can teach a quarterback better mechanics to deliver a more precise pass but he can not teach speed. Speed is something that is God given. Bobby can help a kid to be a little faster in everything he does on the field but there is no substitute for speed. Bobby loves a kid with speed. Speed is the greatest weapon. Not only does he love his players to posses speed he also loves the speed of the game. The faster they go in and out of the huddle, the more plays they can run per game. At Louisville from ’03-’06 he ran 70.2, 74.4, 70.7 and 66.7 plays per game. The theory is the more plays you run the more chances to score and I absolutely love that theory.
- Depth – It has been said for many years that Louisville can compete with almost anybody in the country if you just use the starters. The difference has always been when you bring in the backups. With the big time programs, there is little if any drop off in talent from the first to the second string. With Louisville, there has always been a noticeable drop off. A Bobby Petrino team has very little difference between the first and second string players. He has the ability to substitute players in and out to keep them fresh without worrying about opposing teams exploiting the substitution. The exceptions are of course when you have All-Americans like Devonte Fields or skill position guys like Lamar Jackson. A perfect example of the talent level and the depth is when Stacy Thomas took over at linebacker for James Burgess Jr. in the Music City Bowl after he was unfairly ejected.
- Balance – The perception of a Bobby Petrino coached team is that he likes to throw the ball all over the place. He in fact likes to throw the ball but he also loves the power running game. He tends to keep a very good balance of pass and rush all the while maintaining the pass happy perception. It’s really amazing. From his previous coaching tenure at Louisville he ran the ball more on average than he passed. The stats may be a little skewed towards the run because Louisville was usually ahead late in the game and ran the ball to keep the clock moving. In 2003, Petrino passed the ball 30.4 times per game on average and ran the ball 39.8 times per game. In 2004, passed 29.9 and rushed 44.5. In 2005, passed 31.3 and rushed 39.3. In 2006, passed 29.5 and rushed 37.2. Bobby 2.0 is no different. In 2014, passed 32.9 and rushed 39.3. In 2015, passed 31.5 and rushed 37.8. So you see, Petrino keeps it balanced.
As always, GO CARDS!