Life Lessons We Can Learn From College Football's High Octane Offense - Think Deep

Life Lessons We Can Learn From College Football’s High Octane Offense

You can’t win a game playing defense all the time. Sooner or later, you’re going to need to score points. It’s the same thing with our lives. Too many of us are playing “defense”. We need to move forward.

One of the more popular offensive schemes today in college football is the no huddle, up tempo, spread offense and since I’m a big believer in learning from different disciplines and applying the ideas that create success there into to our own lives, let’s take some time to do that here.

The first thing to learn is so obvious but it needs to be said.

Your system depends on the players you currently have.

If you have speedy players, a speedy system is the way to go. If you have beefy players, you’re better off with the traditional, power I, smash mouth, milk the clock, grind it type football like Stanford.

Look at what you have. Don’t try to be something you’re not. You’ll have greater success working with what you have rather than trying to be the latest thing.

Even though the spread offense is all the rage right now, there are still teams out there who are going with the traditional offense because it fits the players they have right now and they have success with it.

There’s no need for you to feel pressure to be or do something that’s not congruent to who you are and what you have.

If the latest hyped up career is computer programming, but you hate computers and being by yourself, then don’t go into that. Find work that involves a lot of contact with other people. Work with what you have. Don’t be tempted to try to fit a system that doesn’t fit you because it never works.

The second thing is simplify to play faster. Traditionally quarterbacks have to make a lot of reads before the snap and that can slow down the game. They have to read the defense, see where the blitzes are coming from, change the plays, if they run out of time, they have to burn a precious time out, and all that can really mess with the flow of the game.

When you simplify the reads for the quarterback, when you make him look for one or two keys, it’s easier for him to play faster because there’s less for him to do.

He can read the defense quick and know what to do.

Look at the processes in your life. Simplify them as much as possible. If it takes too long to go into action, it’s not going to be smooth. You’re not going to get momentum because there’s too much activation energy.

If you look at Mike Leach, all his plays fit on just one piece of those small memo pads. Sometimes, it looks like he just tore off a small scrap of paper and scribbled his plays there.

Other coaches have double sided laminated 30×30 play sheets filled up to the brim.

Leach calls his plays quick. The other coaches have trouble deciding.

Simplification leads to faster action.

The third thing – have a “go play” ready after you make a big play.

When a team throws a long pass or gets a good run, they hurry up to the line and snap a quick play that they’ve already prepared (the “go play”) to keep the momentum rolling and it usually works because the defense is scrambling and on their heels.

So for example, if you’ve finished a big project at work and did a great job on it, have a “go play” ready. You don’t have to implement it the minute after, but soon.

You may have a proposal ready that outlines reasons why you should get a raise and if you implement your “go play” after your big play, your chances of getting what you want are that much better.

In essence, strike while the iron is hot.

4th – Don’t wallow in the middle. Commit to the “edges”.

Staying in the middle is messy. If you’re going to do something, do it all the way. If you’re going to spread, do that – spread the entire field, have receivers line up on literally the edge of the field like Baylor does (their offense is insane this season).

If you’re power football, then really beef it up. Commit to who you are. Stanford has something called an “Ogre” package. They line up all their beefy guys up front and it’s just a handoff from the quarterback to the running back straight up the middle or on an off tackle.

Don’t try to be power sometimes and then sometimes speedy. It doesn’t work. You don’t have a solid identity. You can’t build anything.

When you commit to the “edges”, it makes things easier. It simplifies.

Teams that commit to truly spreading the field force man to man coverage so it makes it easier for the quarterback to read the defense.

Extremes simplify everything.

Look at the 99 Cent Store. Instead of mixed prices, boom, everything 99 cents, it’s easy to understand so people come.

Some restaurants have a ton of menu items, some have very little – again, both extremes.

Some gyms are small and intimate while others are large and corporate-like.

Both succeed.

Extremes simply everything.

There’s too much in the middle. Everybody wants to be in the middle. It’s too crowded in the middle. It’s when you commit to the edges that things get simplified so you stand out and get noticed and get understood and attract the kind of people you want.

Lastly, don’t play at the level of your competition.

You should focus on improving you. Otherwise, you begin to yo-yo and you become inconsistent.

If you get all amped up playing a top team and beat them, it’s easy for you to have a letdown game when playing a lower ranked team the next week because you become overconfident so you don’t practice as much and you don’t play as hard.

That’s what drives coaches and fans nuts.


If you play to the level of your competition, you’ll have just that.

You need to focus on you getting better and better. The other team is irrelevant. They’re going to do all they can to win.

If you take care of your business, if you practice and play your very best, that’s all you can ask.

That’s all you can really do. Everything else is outside your control.

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, rarely scouted the other team. He just focused on how he could get his team better. The results were legendary.

Work with what you have, simplify to move faster, have a “go” play ready after a big play, commit to the edges, and focus on improving you.

Great life lessons we can learn from college football today.

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