Defending the Air Raid (Apple Cup 2019)

MQ takes a look at how the Huskies defend a pure Air Raid system in Wazzu.

Though Mike Leach has never won a major championship as a head coach (he’s won two divisional titles in ‘08 and ‘18), his legacy as an offensive innovator is unquestioned. The Air Raid which, along with Hal Mumme, Leach helped create used to be a fringe system that wasn’t taken seriously by “real” football coaches. Fast forward to today and the system is everywhere from youth football to the pros.

The blending of West Coast, Air Coryell, and a simplified playbook has made the Air Raid the choice base offense for many coaches across the country. Numbers within the system and the plethora of successful offshoots have established the system as the present and future of football. What started at little Iowa Wesleyan has risen to be a dominant form of offense in the country. The Spread movement is over and it has won, no thanks in part to the athlete and kid-friendly system Leach helped create.

This isn’t a story about the Air Raid or even Leach, rather the focus is on a dominant defense that has had tremendous success yet is not talked about outside of PAC 12 country. Chris Petersen made a name for himself as a giant killer at Boise St. When he took the job at Washington nearly everyone felt it was a perfect fit. It took Petersen two years, but Washington was back to winning 10+ games from ‘16-’18. Throughout that time, the Huskies dominated their in-state rival Washington St. In fact, the average score since ‘13 for the Apple Cup has been 35-14. Really, no contest.

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Go deeper than just X’s and O’s. Have a philosophy.

MQ’s other books are available on Amazon and Kindle:

Cautious Aggression: Defending Modern Football

Hybrids: The Making of a Modern Defense

Match Quarters: A Modern Guidebook to Split-Field Coverages

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