Sunday, April 10, 2016

I Wanna go Fast
Over the past few weeks we have examined several of the offensive innovations that have occurred over the last 30 years.  But one thing remains constant, the time in the game.  Every football game has the same amount of time in it, and one of a football coach's biggest decisions is how to use that time.  Some coaches choose to use as much time as possible in every single possession with the hopes of keeping the ball out of the other team’s hands.  This has been the tried and true strategy for years.  However, in recent years numerous coaches at the high school and college level have sought to speed the game up.  Many teams look like a fast break basketball team.  Why would a coach want to speed the game up?

Why would a coach want to speed the game up?  Isn’t he just giving the opposing team the chance to have the ball more?  There are two main reasons that I see in speeding the game up:
  1. Keeps the defense on their heels.  James Vint gives a wonderful reason for playing up tempo, “As they get the signal for our Inside Zone Read at Nascar Tempo, they are going to sprint to the line and execute the play. The defense has to decipher the formation, make their strength calls and communicate coverage, and get their hand down and get ready to play. Our goal is to snap the ball with 32 seconds on the play clock. We want to snap the ball as soon as the ref’s hand is out of the way.1”  As this quote points out the defense is having to determine what the offense is going to do in a very short amount of time.  In high school football there is a 40 second play clock.  Coach Vint wants his team to get to the line of scrimmage and run the next play in 8 seconds.  Compare that to a team playing at a normal tempo which snaps the ball with about 5 seconds left on the play clock.  This puts tremendous pressure on the defense to get lined up and in the correct position.  The offensive coach is hoping that by going at a faster speed his team will catch the defensive team out of position and create a big play.  An uptempo style also prevents the defense from substituting easily.
  2. Tires the defense out.  Not being able to substitute players on defense will tire them out because most teams are not able to prepare adequately to play an uptempo team.  Nowhere on the defense is this felt like the defensive line.  Many football teams  rotate their defensive linemen throughout the game to keep them fresh, if a coach is unable to sub his lineman in and out of the game because the offense is playing at such a fast pace they will tire out and their level of play will decline.

The hope of the offensive coach is that by the time the fourth quarter comes around the defense will be so tired and thrown off of their game plan that the offense will be able to move the ball at will.  A great example of an uptempo team is the Oregon Ducks.  They have become one of the best teams in college football using an aggressive, uptempo Zone Read Option offense.

1.Combining Run-Pass Options With Up-Tempo To Create A Dominating Offense. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2016, from Weekly

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