One is a story about a man named Jed.
The other is a story by a man named Jed.
Both stories were published on the Quad blog of the New York Times back in 2007. Very interesting reading.
This Jed that is being referred to is Mr. Jed Drenning, Rich Rodriguez's first quarterback for Glenville State College back in 1991.
Drenning is remembered as the quarterback who first ran the shotgun zone read run play - from a broken play where he ran for his life from a crashing defensive end. Rich Rodriguez would later turn that botched pass try into a staple play of his spread option playbook. In the years to come, dozens of other college football programs would follow suit.
Here is the first story: The Evolution of the Broken Play by Pete Thamel. An excerpt:
Rodriguez calls Drenning one of the smartest players he has coached, which is how a bit of ingenuity by necessity was able to give birth to the basic shotgun zone-read run play that West Virginia uses so effectively. In a game early in 1991, Drenning missed or bobbled a handoff and then kept the ball, running for a moderate gain.
“Why did you do that?” Rodriguez asked Drenning.
“The end squeezed in, so I kept it,” Drenning said.
“Oh, right,” Rodriguez said, pretending not to be surprised. “Oh, we’re putting that in next week.”
Years later, Rodriguez laughed when he recalled that moment of discovery.“It was one of those deals where we kind of fell into that,” Rodriguez said. “We weren’t running it because he wasn’t a runner. But the thought process came in our mind.”
The next story was written by Jed Drenning himself entitled Coach Rod's First Quarterback.
Either way, Coach Rodriguez adheres to that philosophy and to this day it still serves him –- and his team -– very well. Whether it’s West Virginia’s unique no-huddle, power-spread running game, or the Mountaineers’ odd-stack defense that only a handful of teams across the country employ, or a fake punt in the final minutes of West Virginia’s 2006 Sugar Bowl victory over heavily favored Georgia, Coach Rod is acutely aware of a simple detail that appears lost on many coaches. Kids react favorably to someone who demonstrates the courage to take a chance, and they embrace the notion of circling the wagon and being a part of something that few others have the guts to try.I really liked these articles. I respect football coaches that have shown the courage to try new things and change the way the game is played, even if they are but small, tectonic-like shifts in philosophy. There's something very special about coaches like Dave Nelson (Wing T), Emory Bellard (wishbone offense), Bill Walsh (West Coast passing offense), Bill Yeoman (veer option), Rich Rodriguez (shotgun spread read option offense), and Chris Ault (Pistol Offense). They all showed some guts to try new things or to enhance what others had tried before them.
This makes me wonder what other tactical discoveries lie around the corner for the game of college football that might significantly change a team's competitive advantage.
For example, can any new discoveries be gleaned from what is already happening with A-11 formations?