The philosophy: "I chuck it down there, just to let people know we'll throw deep," says the Ol' Ball Coach. "If you don't throw it deep, they'll never back up."
The system: Known primarily as a passing guru, Spurrier's prolific offenses at Florida were more balanced than most people remember. In fact, it's the threat of the run that helps open up his preferred passing game, which involves "pitching" the ball all over the field. "It's a style of offense that uses a lot of draw plays and play-action off that," says Spurrier. "We try to audible more than some people. A lot of times our quarterbacks are reading coverages and searching for the best play." Unlike the setup in many of the spread offenses in vogue today, Spurrier prefers having his QB line up under center rather than in the shotgun, though his scheme often employs four or five receivers.
The results: Spurrier compiled a staggering 122-27-1 (.817) record during 12 seasons at Florida (1990-2001), winning six SEC championships and one national title. In 15 seasons with the Gators and at Duke (1987-89), his teams finished in the top 10 nationally in passing offense 12 times and the top 10 in total offense nine times.
Influences: Spurrier's uninhibited mindset dates back to his days as a Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida in the mid-'60s under head coach Ray Graves. Then Georgia Tech head coach Pepper Rodgers gave Spurrier the first real chance to put his ideas in motion when he hired him as an assistant in 1979. Spurrier further honed his creation as offensive coordinator at Duke (1980-82) and as head coach of the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits (1983-85).
Why it works: Spurrier's innovative playbook puts his receivers in position to get open, and his expert quarterback tutelage has turned lightly regarded prospects such as Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerrfel and Rex Grossman into adept passers who can instinctively locate and hit the right man. His offense stretches the field and keeps defenses from creeping up, while the presence of a solid running game prevents them from focusing exclusively on pass coverage. "The first key is pass protection -- giving the quarterback enough time," says Spurrier. "After that, it's getting guys open. The QB has to know where the receivers are going, how the defenses cover them. You need a smart guy who will make smart decisions 95 percent of the time."
How to stop it: Spurrier was blessed with superior skill athletes (tailbacks and receivers) at Florida who would be tough to defend in any system. When his offense did stall, it was usually because the opposing defensive front was able to stuff the run and frustrate the Gators' quarterback -- and, in turn, Spurrier, who can become impatient in his play-calling. Faced with a more level playing field in the NFL, Spurrier's offenses struggled during his two seasons with the Redskins (12-20), and it remains to be seen whether he can attract the necessary talent level at South Carolina to make his system work.