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The fly, as Canada uses it, was revealed to football lovers everywhere in front of a nationally televised primetime audience last week in a loss at top-ranked Alabama.At one point, the Tigers ran three jet sweeps in a five-play span. For the whole season, LSU has run 56 jet sweeps for 381 yards, a 6.8-yard average.They also helped the Tigers hog the ball (34 minutes) at Alabama, running 10 sweeps for 35 yards.An offensive scheme predicated and built around the fly is, for the most part, thriving in the bullish Southeastern Conference, holding its own with some doubters still in tow. An old wound in this program reopened last week: the connection between the quarterback and his receivers.The motion man is a threat as a rusher or receiver. CBS color analyst Gary Danielson, during the broadcast of LSU’s loss to Alabama, described Canada’s fly offense as an “inverted” triple option.“In the option, you have the assignment inside-out, with the fullback, (quarterback), and pitch is the last phase,” Danielson said.“In this offense, the jet sweep is the first phase. Everything flows off of that.”The next phases are decoys if the sweep is carried out: the running back dive, a tight end shovel pass, a quarterback keeper and speed option.
Gene Beck’s creation — the fly offense — lives here still, preserved in plastic storage bins inside Ortega’s classroom at Cesar Chavez High School in Delano, California.
“I was the second guy to run it.”Within two years of running the fly, Coachella was riding a 25-game winning streak and eventually claimed three straight league titles.“It was like anything,” Maas said.
“People hadn’t seen it.”So what was so great about it and what was (and still is) so hard to defend?
In fact, LSU is averaging 7.8 yards on its 35 jet sweeps in five SEC games — a full yard more than its season sweep average. Beck passed away at his home in Delano in 2002, nearly a decade before Canada stumbled upon the system and around the time Hawkins made a national splash with it at Boise State.
That’s where the fly really got its wings, though the offensive scheme took a few more stops before landing in Boise, Idaho, in the late 1990s. That was Phil Maas, a 72-year-old who has coached linebackers at College of the Siskiyous for the past 36 years.