Pace Yourself

Chris Schisler

The trend in college football and even a bit in the NFL is frantically paced offenses. This accelerated no huddle approach creates problems for the defense’s ability to make substitutions and line up correctly. The tempo tires out the defense. This is the way many coaches try to create an advantage for the offense. Let’s discuss the effect of temp on a football game.

In today’s football the huddle can really be done away with. It wastes valuable time at the line of scrimmage. By lining up without a huddle the offense controls the game. The defense cannot substitute players for starters. This wears the defense out but also allows the offense to create and take advantage of favorable match ups and situations. Secondly the offense forces the defense to line up and can often neutralize pre-snap movement or adjustments from the defense, with the threat of the snap. In today’s game offenses can communicate without a huddle, which leads to a more adjustable and efficient offense.

No huddle offense does not mean that you have to play at a super fast tempo. If you really want to tire out defensive linemen, get to the line (making them get in their stance) and take your time. Have a bunch of dummy calls for your quarterback (mixing in the real one at some point) and use the play clock. Confusion is equally as effective as frantic pace in getting defenders out of position.

In the Oklahoma State game last night, the offense tried to snap the ball before the chains were set and the officials were ready. This only wasted time and slowed the offense down. There is nothing wrong with this style of football; its often very effective. I however think there is no one-size-fits-all-tempo for college or pro football.

Your offense should move at a rhythm that is comfortable with. Tempo should be adjusted per situation. So often I think rushing at the line of scrimmage hurts the offense too. There is such little time for the offensive line to make its calls and adjustments and the same goes for the QB and WR’s. Too often this style is a watered down version of football. Its great to keep it simple-it lets them just play football and not think too much. But taking thinking out of the game completely is not beneficial. Its hard to avoid a bad play when you take no time to see it coming.

This style of offense also puts pressure on your defense and wears down your own offense. Quick drives put the defense on the field with little rest, 3 & outs put them on the field with none. There is too often not enough time for the defense to adjust or work out the kinks on the sideline. Too many teams forget the power of time of possession. Lengthy drives are a powerful way to dictate the game with your offense.

My big takeaway is that the huddle may be pointless but taking your time is not. Just by running a no huddle offense you create advantages for your offense, regardless of your tempo. At the end of the day its a coaching preference.

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