Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Aug 2010

Can The West Coast Offense Be Taught Anywhere Besides The NFL?

Very interesting stuff from Smart Football's Chris Brown. Bullet number four, "Keep it limited," is where things usually fall apart for the WCO at the college level.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 10 Aug 2010

16 comments, Last at 13 Aug 2010, 4:16pm by zlionsfan


by Yuri (not verified) :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 2:36pm

I am confused by the length of that article attempting to answer a simple question. "Yes, if you have fewer plays, fewer formations and practice a lot" seems to sum it up. This was not a question on the description of WCO.

A more interesting discussion to have is that why WCO is not run often on lower levels. A few ideas:
1) The coach has so good/so bad players that his scheme does not change the result
2) The coach wants to be a genius and runs his own offense rather than Bill Walsh's
3) The incredible timing requires years to get right and by that point your players graduate
3a) Pass-first offenses must have good QBs; there are only so many NFL teams but tons more at lower levels--in run-heavy leagues the quarterback development is lagging

by JonC :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 11:46am

Brown's point was to suggest that when hs/college coaches (but esp. hs) attempt to install the WCO they focus on the elements of the offense that *won't* work (i.e. huge play trees, protection packages, etc.). It doesn't work, they abandon it; or worse, don't try it because they (in Brown's view) misread how the WCO does what it does well and as a result can't figure out how to teach it effectively.

It's an interesting take on the recent discussion re: Emmitt Smith; Brown suggested that coaches assume they have to have Young Joe Montana to install the offense, and Brown's point is that Montana became an HOF QB because he learned/was taught to execute the WCO flawlessly.

by Sophandros :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 12:22pm

Stanford under Walsh, Green, and Willingham and UVA under Groh are just a couple examples of where it worked on the collegiate level.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 2:41pm

Gpiong to tead this tonight. Gonna get some sierra nevads and maybe madden . Without reading article fist thought is west coat offense hard to coach high school level. For.college probably not worth it. Better systems for college game are. also simpler to teahc. Option offense, spread option, triple option, run n gun, mike leach air attack all that kind of stuf esier to teahc younger fellows. Even the old bone good.

by Alex51 :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:58pm

Even the old bone good.

David Huxley agrees.

by zlionsfan :: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 4:16pm

That seemed to sum up some of the comments on the original post: there's probably a reason why there are more than a few I-A schools running different offensive schemes that share a philosophy with the West Coast Offense. (Certainly there are all kinds of offenses below I-A, but even at I-AA you end up with anecdotal information - how many games are televised other than those against I-A opponents and playoff games? - and below that comments are 1 in 1000 or worse.)

For example, the spread offense that Tiller and Hope have run at Purdue focuses mostly on ball-control-type passes, and completion percentage is definitely important. Brees completed "only" 60% of his passes his final year at Purdue, but that was still good for 18th in the country (among QBs with 175 passes or more; not sure if that is CFR's requirement or the NCAA's) ... and maybe the fact that Purdue QBs still can't seem to get much past 60% even as NCAA leaders climb past 70% is an indication that their version of the offense relied more on defenses' unfamiliarity with its concepts rather than execution.

Or maybe it's more that when Tiller had a very capable QB, the offense might have done well no matter what scheme he used; when he and Hope had weaker QBs (Hance, Orton, Painter, Elliott), the offense struggled, perhaps regardless of the scheme.

by speedegg :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 2:56pm

Hmmm, for WCO schools BYU and USC come to mind. Their QBs are accurate; the WR need to run precise routes, take a big hit by a LB/SS/CB, and be agile/fast enough to get YAC; and both QB and WR need to be smart. I've heard it takes 3 years for a WR to get comfortable in a WCO system. The time and recruiting need to implement the WCO might be too long for most coaches.

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 3:52am

Wasn't Notre Dame running a WCO with Weis?

by Nathan :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 6:58pm

thought weiss runs the "erhardt-perkins" offense.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:13pm

Only 3 comments? isnt; anybody else readying this? drinking over here and will read artticle later. hope others do too and post thoughts

by HostileGospel :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 10:24pm

Read it. Also drinking. Thoughts: Sierra Nevada Torpedo is better than their Pale Ale. Discuss.

They must of thought I was the old Osama Bin Laden they made me strip down somethn crucial at the airport sheeeeesh... not djacc I'm str8

-Djacc, via Twitter

by JonC :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 11:47am

Torpedo by a mile! But it tastes different here in Illinois than in Cali. :(

by Dean :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 8:52am

Read it. Enjoyed it. Didn't have anything substantial to contribute. Having never coached, I can't offer any relevant perspective. So, for a rare change, I shut up. Almost.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 11:50pm

Tirpedo veryy good. also think like the torpedo more than pale ale. Porter greta too. Vrety good stuff

by TimK :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 2:14am

Cans? Bottles surely! Not had Torpedo but their Porter is indeed very nice.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 7:00am

yes bootles . had to shoprten subject line to post becauuse thing said was too many chaeracters . deleted eveything afyter re;can but somhoe S got in there at end