Managing Editor of Publications
The high-tempo, spread offense has been tearing up the collegiate football landscape in recent years, and it has finally made its way to the football program at Bethel College.
The game of football in the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been drastically changed in recent years because of this up-tempo spread offense. Its high pace allows for final scores that are twice what they used to be.
Ten years ago, there were only 28 NCAA football teams that ended with a points per game average above 30. This number can be compared to last season, where there were 52 teams averaging over 30 points per game.
The up-tempo spread offenses have even spread to the professional game in the National Football League. In terms of yards per game, four of the top five NFL teams run spread offenses, and two of them are leading the league in points per game as well.
This game changing offense has finally arrived at Bethel College in the form of new Offensive Coordinator Reilly Murphy. Murphy joined the coaching staff in the summer of this year after formerly coaching quarterbacks and calling plays at Notre Dame College. The system that Murphy brought with him is intricate, complex, and most importantly, explosive.
“Basically, the up-tempo, no huddle offense puts teams in binds,” said Murphy. “The one thing I especially like is that if you have the right personnel, including a quarterback that makes good decisions, it’s almost impossible to stop.”
The current offensive system is a combination of spread offenses Murphy learned as a coach, what he has seen on television, and even a few pro style plays are incorporated from his playing days as a quarterback at Grossmont College.
Despite the fact the offense may seem complicated, it is actually quite simple. It starts on the sideline with multiple people using hand signals and gestures to call the play into the skill position players. The call is then relayed by the quarterback to the offensive linemen, and the play is then run.
With over 50 different signals in the system, the signal calling is a very key aspect of the offense.
“It starts with someone like DJ Bronson signaling,” said Murphy. “When it comes to signaling you need someone you can trust to put thoughts into motion so the players get the right call.”
However, the Thresher offense has decided to attack the opposing defenses, whether it is run or pass, they have enjoyed success.
In terms of points per game, Bethel’s 34.8 points is ranked third in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Threshers’ 418 total yards per game is ranked second in the conference. They are also ranked second in the conference in passing yards per game with 260 yards per game.
“We have a great group of players. I believe they are the ideal set of players to excel in our system and make us successful,” said Murphy.
The system has also produced a lot of individual success for the skill players on offense. Running back Stephen Scott, freshmen from Baltimore, is leading the KCAC in rushing yards per game with a 142 yard average and in yards per carry with 6.3.
Wide receiver Tommy Alexander, junior from Calexico, Calif., is second in the conference with 453 receiving yards and ranked in the top five in receptions per game, receiving touchdowns, and yards per reception.
Overall, Murphy’s up-tempo, no huddle offense system has produced success on offense that Bethel College football hasn’t seen since their back-to-back conference championships in 2006 and 2007. Yet, he and his players still aren’t satisfied with the big numbers they have produced so far.
“I’d say we have done a good job so far, but we could still score faster and protect the ball better,” said Murphy. “We have scored a lot, but we need to score more consistently. We expect touchdowns. We are relieved when we score and mad when we don’t.”