Saber Rattling by Saban and Bielema

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Make it two coaches now in the SEC who want rules to slow down the fashionable no-huddle, up-tempo offenses.  Their reasoning, player safety. Their real reason, they don’t know how to stop it.

One of these coaches is Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban who’s teams have won 3 of the last 4 National Championships. The other is Arkansas’ new man Bret Bielema. Both are former Defensive Coordinators which makes their reasoning seem all the more odd.

It’s a slippery slope that Saban and Beilema are standing on. Their trying to play the injury card. However, if they were genuinly concerned about player safety then they would be working with Bill Polian and look at expanding the field. The wider field plays into the wheelhouse of the no-huddle, up-tempo offense so there is no way Saban and Beilema would back that. Hence, their argument for a rule change. ‘

There is another way though. We wrote on this site late last year about how to stop or at least prepare for the no-huddle, up-tempo offenses spring up like weeds around college football (and in the NFL):

First, they have to stop approaching defense with a ‘well it worked in the past’ philosophy. While there are lessons that can be learned and schemes poached, there has to be a fresh approach to the basic practices  The best place to start is with the substituions. Stop them. While several years ago substituting in players for certain defensive packages worked it won’t when you play teams like Oregon or
Arizona who never huddle and snap the ball quickly. If you want rotate players to keep them fresh throughout the game you’re going to need 22 players and not 11.

Defenses can stay fresh by rotating the starting 11 between series. While this may leave some playmakers on the sidelines for a couple of series it will, in the long term, keep those players fresher to make plays throughout the game.

Second, defensive players have to now be the most conditioned athletes on the field. Rotating super giant lineman to clog the line of scrimmage isn’t going to work. Having well conditioned athletes with great technique is. Anticipate having to leave 11 defenders on the field for an entire series.

The bigger question is why do these coaches want to stop these offenses? When you look at both of these coaches styles it is the very old school, traditional, smash mouth football. They both start with defense and their offenses are designed to run the ball. They are very traditional thinkers and their philosophies have won them a lot of games.

What these no-huddle, up-tempo offenses do is threaten their livelihood. If they were to change their defensive schemes and go get fast players with good size as opposed to big, strong and fast players then players would eventually stop coming to these schools.  Why? That’s not what the NFL wants and most of the kids coming looking to play big time college football have dreams of playing the NFL. Playing at Alabama and Arkansas can greatly enhance your chances if your one of these young players.

In the end this may be a hallow threat from Saban and Beilema. But when two successful coaches are both saying the same thing then their threat should be taken seriosuly.

 

Next Generation Defense

There was an article on the Wall Street Journal not too long ago talking about how the no huddle offense is ruining Television. If the WSJ thinks that a pro no huddle offense is ruining TV they must hate College Football.

Oregon is known for their no-huddle, quick-snap offense. They try to snap the ball as quickly as possible. On one scoring play against Washington they scored 9 seconds after the previous play. 9 seconds! You didn’t see the scoring play because ESPN was showing a replay of the previous play. The announcers did ask the question, “Who can stop Oregon?”

TV can’t but the Next Generation Defense can.

Every Saturday you see Defenses getting caught with penalties for too many men on the field or just not lining up correctly before the ball was snapped. They’ll never stop Oregon or another fast paced, high-snap team like Arizona with these tactics. Defenses have to change in two fundamental ways.

First, they have to stop approaching defense with a ‘well it worked in the past’ philosophy. While there are lessons that can be learned and schemes poached, there has to be a fresh approach to the basic practicies. The best place to start is with the substituions. Stop them. While several years ago substituting in players for certain defensive packages worked it won’t when you play teams like Oregon or Arizona who never huddle and snap the ball quickly. If you want rotate players to keep them fresh throughout the game you’re going to need 22 players and not 11.

Defenses can stay fresh by rotating the starting 11 between series. While this may leave some playmakers on the sidelines for a couple of series it will, in the long term, keep those players fresher to make plays throughout the game.

Second, defensive players have to now be the most conditioned athletes on the field. Rotating super giant lineman to clog the line of scrimmage isn’t going to work. Having well conditioned athletes with great technique is. Anticipate having to leave 11 defenders on the field for an entire series.

These changes will help keep pace with a team like Oregon or another fast paced team like Arizona. Arizona keeps getting brought up because in the first 6 games of the season Arizona is averaging more plays per game than Oregon (93 to 85). To put this in perspective, the defending National Champions Alabama are averaging 63 plays per game and the high octane attack of West Virginia averages 76. Oregon runs 20 more plays a game than Alabama and Arizona runs 30.

Neither Oregon or Arizona have won a National Title since they’ve begun their fast-paced offensive attack. They are garnered a lot of headlines but haven’t one the big one. Meanwhile traditional offenses like Alabama and LSU have walked away with the National Title in the last couple of years. While the past still works it may soon be swallowed up by the future with teams like Oregon, Arizona and West Virginia leading the way.