Brad Smith considers himself an unconventional coach, unencumbered by the traditional way of doing things. As proof, consider the past two Loganville Red Devils football games.
In a win over Forsyth Central and a loss to Parkview, the second-year head coach used four and five different quarterbacks in each game, respectively.
I’ve seen a lot of football over the years. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever seen a coach, barring injury, put four or five different players under center in a single game — or nowadays, a few yards behind center.
Former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier, well-known tormentor of quarterbacks and Bulldogs, rotated quarterbacks on consecutive plays one season. But even the Evil Genius never went with a quartet.
In Smith’s case, you could argue it wasn’t necessarily by choice. You might even say his hand was forced.
Heading into the season, he’d planned on doing things the old-fashioned way. Pick a starter, line him up alone behind the center, and attack the offense with the run or pass.
Given that his quarterback was a highly successful star in the making, there was no need to shake things up or get creative. But everything changed when that quarterback decided to transfer a few days after the season opener. In response, Smith changed everything.
I’d only heard about it the first week, but last Friday I saw it for myself at the Big Orange Jungle in Lilburn, where the Red Devils faced perennial state powerhouse Parkview.
First play on offense, two guys line up a few yards behind the center. One was No. 11, a common QB number, so you assume that’s where the snap is going. Instead, it went to No. 3, who took the ball, looked for a hole, and took off running.
And so it was for most of the game. Though the jersey numbers were interchangeable, the play was mostly the same, with the exception of the 10 passes designed to keep the defense honest.
Crazy thing was, it worked. The score, a 26-3 loss, might have indicated otherwise. But considering the competition (the Red Devils lost to the Panthers 42-0 a year earlier) and the penalties (95 yards’ worth), the outcome really wasn’t a rout.
So the obvious question: Is this sustainable, or is it just an in-game quarterback tryout?
For now, it looks like Smith is committed for the long haul, meaning at least the rest of the season.
In football, the goal is to get the ball into the hands of your best playmakers as much as possible. How you do that is up for grabs.
Smith likes a quote he heard from an unknown source: “Plays are expensive, formations are cheap.”
The Red Devils have an impressive number of good running backs. On any given play, most of them are on the field at the same time.
It matters not where they stand before the snap, only what they do when the ball is in their hands. For opposing defenses, figuring out who’s getting the ball and where they’re going makes for a unique challenge.
But in his approach to the game, Smith is nothing if not unique.