HE GENIUS of Urban Meyer's offense is how it mixes spread formations that open up the field with option runs that enable the quarterback to exploit the resulting gaps in the defense. This composite photo depicts a typical play out of Meyer's book--a variation of the shovel pass that proved so effective for Utah against Pitt in January's Fiesta Bowl. Like all plays in the spread option, the shovel pass calls for a split-second read by the quarterback and clockwork precision from his teammates. When executed properly, as Pitt discovered, such a play is extremely difficult to defend.
Out of the shotgun, quarterback Chris Leak takes the snap and rolls right, with the options of keeping the ball, pitching it to the motioning wideout or shoveling it to the running back.
Lining up to the left of Leak, running back Markus Manson heads for the gap between the right guard and tackle.
Receiver Chad Jackson goes in motion from the right, then curls into the backfield as a pitch option for Leak.
Reading the pursuit of the left defensive end, Leak shovels the ball forward to Manson and admires the result.