Pac-12 Media Day: Spread Shotgun vs. Traditional Pro Set

July 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez answers media questions during PAC-12 Media Day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

LOS ANGELES - Rich Rodriguez shared candid thoughts during Tuesday's Pacific 12 Conference Media Day on the offense called Pro Style. Put simply, Arizona's head coach sees the quarterback-under-center, three-step drop formation associated with the National Football League as an antiquated mindset.

"When I watch [the NFL] I see Tom the shotgun," he said.

Rodriguez quipped that the three-step drop primarily associated with a professional offense is a technique his 14-year-old son learned playing peewee football.

And Rodriguez is working to change the narrative on what he believes is a misconception.

"Inevitably we point out to recruits...that this is the new 'pro style,'" he said.

The glass ceiling quarterbacks who play in shotgun offenses like Rodriguez's zone-read spread is beginning to crack. Passing was never more prevalent in the NFL than it was during the 2011 season, thanks in part to the integration of more shotgun-based offense.

April's draft saw general managers exhaust selections on quarterbacks groomed in various spread offenses. Among them was Nick Foles.

Foles' successor, Matt Scott, said he does not see the shotgun hurting his chances at becoming just the second Wildcat quarterback taken in the NFL Draft.

"[Rodriguez saying the shotgun is the new pro style] was pretty funny," Scott laughed. "Like [Rodriguez] was talking about, our [skill position players] need to get the ball in and out of their hands.

"That's what our spread is doing, getting the ball out of my hands [on pass plays] quickly," he said.

Scott has the unique perspective of playing in two different spread offenses while at UA. The version Sonny Dykes installed in 2007 was an air raid, predicated on multiple receiver formations.

The Wildcats were pass-heavy teams, particularly in the final two seasons of its use after Dykes left for Louisiana Tech. Scott appeared in seven games and started two in one of those campaigns, 2010. He was also the initial starter in Dykes' final season in Tucson.

"The offense then was a little bit more drop back and throw the ball," Scott said. "It's going to help me a lot [pursuing the NFL], making reads [on passing routes]."

Scott is expected to integrate elements of the passing game with the rushing, making for an offense that looks much different than a stereotypical vision of the option.

"We're not going to just throw bubble screens all day," Scott said.

For Rodriguez, the debate boils down to a key variable: talent.

"You aren't going to invest time and money [scouting a prospect] if you're an NFL owner or GM if the guy can't play. It doesn't matter what system you're in, if you can play, you can play."

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