The philosophy: "Distributing the ball to all the different skill players is our biggest emphasis," says Leach. "We're not a team that hands it to one guy and throws it to two. We want all five skill positions to touch the ball."
The system: The Red Raiders spread the field and throw early and often, usually with short, high-percentage passes but also with a fair share of deep balls. The tailback touches the ball as frequently as in any other offense, but often a traditional run play is replaced by a screen pass out of the backfield. "If I throw to a guy and he gets 5 yards, how is that different than if I hand to a guy and he gets 5?" says Leach. "Balance is if you get contributions out of all your skill players, it's not how many runs or how many passes." Tech's playbook is fairly simple -- it includes about 60 plays per game -- and the constant repetition in practice allows players to execute them to perfection.
The results: Leach's Texas Tech teams have led the nation in passing each of the past three seasons, with the three starting quarterbacks -- Kliff Kingsbury (5,017 yards in 2002), B.J. Symons (5,833 in '03) and Sonny Cumbie (4,742) -- accounting for three of the six highest passing seasons in Division I-A history. Last season the Red Raiders went 9-4, upsetting fourth-ranked Cal 45-31 in the Holiday Bowl.
Influences: Leach, who developed the system in tandem with former boss Hal Mumme during stops at Iowa Wesleyan (1989-91), Valdosta State ('92-'96) and Kentucky ('97-'98), credits the LaVell Edwards/Norm Chow BYU passing attack from the 1980s as his biggest influence. He also draws elements from the Bill Walsh West Coast offense, the Mouse Davis Run and Shoot and, believe it or not, the old-fashioned wishbone.
Why it works: By attacking all areas of the field and spreading the ball among all available skill positions (five different players caught at least 43 passes last season, including tailback Taurean Henderson), Leach's teams keep defenses constantly guessing where the Raiders are going to strike next. The screen pass has proven to be a particularly effective weapon, both in sustaining drives and loosening up the defense for subsequent deep strikes. "For whatever reason, screens tend to gas a defense more than the offense," says Leach. "And if they're going to blitz, it helps keep them honest so you can run your other stuff."
How to stop it: Texas Tech has hardly been invincible under Leach -- it has lost at least four games a season -- and has been less effective against fast, athletic defenses such as Oklahoma's and Ohio State's. In the games where the Red Raiders offense has struggled, the opposing defense has usually been unafraid to blitz relentlessly, often resulting in numerous sacks or interceptions. Doing so is a dangerous proposition, though, because of the constant threat the quarterback will dump off to the tailback, so some foes take the exact opposite approach and drop as many defenders as possible into pass coverage.