Point totals on the rise
College football is going through an offensive explosion in 2007. The average number of points per game per team in the past five years:
Kansas University's football team dropped 76 points on Nebraska earlier this month, gave up 39 and made headlines for winning a game featuring an unheard-of 115 points.
Amazingly, that total was blown away seven days later. North Texas and Navy exploded for 136 points last week in a 74-62 Navy victory in Denton, Texas.
Combined with yet another example, a 73-31 Nebraska win over Kansas State last week, the question begs to be asked: What on earth is going on in college football?
"We complain all the time about it as defensive coaches," KU defensive coordinator Bill Young said. "Every rule change that's made is to improve the game from an offensive standpoint."
Another one was added this past offseason, when the kickoff was moved back to the 30-yard line. That allows for more returns and better field position.
Even before that rule, it was clear that this definitely is an offensive era in college football. The chess game puts the pressure back on coaches like Young to stay on their toes and find answers to new rules, bigger athletes and more innovative approaches to attacking defenses like his.
"I'm not complaining. It's good for our offense, too," Young said. "The thing that's really happened that's changed football the last few years - and our offense has been on the cutting edge of it - they're calling plays from the press box, and they can look down and see if the defense has a weakness, a misalignment or anything.
"You've got to coach this for hours on end."
The spread offense that's, ahem, spreading across college football is making every inch of field vulnerable for attack. The offense of No. 4 Kansas (10-0) is a prime example as it prepares for Saturday's game against Iowa State.
The new-look attacks have made one gift a premium while college coaches comb the nation looking for recruits.
"You have to have tremendous speed on the defensive side of the ball because the game is being played in space quite a bit," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "One of the key things is the teams that are rushing the passer can do it with four guys. It's an advantage for them. If you have to rush more than four, you're putting your defense, your secondary people, in a tough position."
Young has an advantage in that his defense works against an innovative, high-powered offense every day in practice - and one that does sideline audibles that have started to become more common in the game.
Both Young and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner work together, too, picking each other's brains to figure out what causes problems and what can be done to solve them.
Defenses have come up with some answers recently, such as the zone blitz, which allows a defense to rush the passer without using man-to-man coverage.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to the high tides and low tides between the two units. And right now, offenses are flooding the beach.
"Everything cycles in football," Warinner said. "Eventually, there'll be some (defensive) answers."
But not right now. Until the defenses catch up, 100-plus point games might be more common than anyone ever could have imagined.
Warinner, for one, is striking while the iron is hot. Because he knows it won't be forever.
"I don't know when," Warinner said, before cracking a smile. "I hope not soon."