Big and Bright- Chapter Four Excerpt: Stamford Bulldogs

cover of B & B…During the 1960s Stamford reached a peak of over 5,000 residents. At that time, the city was a rail hub and agricultural center. When the railroad left some population went with it. Over the years farming has gotten less labor intensive and the population declined further.
West Texas is full of small towns like Stamford. Texas is growing fast, but the small towns in the West are shrinking. During the first decade of the 21st century, Texas added 1,000 new residents a day but West Texas slowly emptied as children of ranchers and farmers joined new Texans moving to the booming cities of the I-35 corridor.
During the school week, the day starts early for Hutchinson and his staff. Stamford Junior High is just across the practice field and the seventh and eighth grade players come over for first period athletics with the high school coaches. The high school athletic period takes place just before lunch. McLemore quickly goes over the 11 page scouting report covering the main points the defense needs to focus on; the same points were on the white board on Sunday.
Stamford runs a 3-3-5 defense. McLemore believes the 3-3 stack is better for stopping the run than the more common 3-4 and 4-3, with three protected linebackers keying the run. Against passing teams one linebacker may drop, giving the Bulldogs more of a two-safety look.
Stamford runs the zone-read spread. They implemented this scheme four years ago after years running the option. Looking at the kids in the pipeline, Hutchinson saw a lot of good skill (backs and receivers) kids and thought the spread would be a good fit.
With a dual-threat quarterback like Hagen Hutchinson, who is dangerous both running and throwing the ball, this offense is very tough to stop. The question was how to implement a completely new offense after years of running something entirely different.
Until recent years Texas had been much more comfortable with smash-mouth running offenses. “Ten years ago, if you put two receivers on the same side, someone was liable to call you a communist.” Hutchinson says, only half joking. Now, most of the state has adopted the spread.
The change really took hold with the hiring of Mike Leach up in Lubbock, at Texas Tech in 2000. When Leach took over, he brought new twists to an old formation. The base package is 10 personnel (one back, no tight end and four split receivers.) The formation has been around many years. It’s the same look run-and-shoot teams used in the ‘80s. What’s different is how this formation is used. Where previously the spread formation relied on a quarterback throwing from the pocket, and a limited running game, Leach’s philosophy was much more dynamic….

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