University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban shook up the college football world on Wednesday, again telling the college football world we needed to pump the breaks; this time though, it had nothing to do with too much praise for his team.
During his weekly SEC teleconference, Saban was asked right off the bat about the evolution of spread offenses. He responded that players will play the way they are trained, but began to express concern that the game may be moving too quickly.
“I think the way people are going no huddle right now at some point in time we need to look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety.”
Saban continued the statement as he commented on the challenges of how difficult it is for players to sustain their focus over the course of a 12 to 16 play drive, which led many to believe that he was just crying sour grapes after his team was challenged against the Ole Miss Rebels‘ high speed offense just days earlier.
Call me a Saban apologist, but the point he was trying to make is something worth taking a look at. Sure he was talking about the speed of the game, but more so the effect it has when players can not be substituted.
Is it healthy for lineman to repeatedly bash into each other, then sprint down the field only to rinse and repeat 70-90 times a game? What about the affects moving at such a fast tempo has on knee ligaments? When players are tired, the first thing to go is their fundamentals. If a player is too fatigued and unable to sub out, in theory wouldn’t that player be less likely to tackle correctly leaving he, and his opponent at risk?
I am sure if you thought about it, there are many other things to consider as well. A friend of mine brought up the heart health of the lineman, often in excess of three hundred pounds having to move at such a pace without being able to leave the game. They’re all valid points.
I understand that critics will criticize, saying that Saban is just trying to create an advantage as a defensive coach which is a valid point-he would benefit. However, if we are taking player safety in account, there are questions that need to be answered before dismissing Saban’s statements.