This offseason, Nick Saban and Bret Bielema have made comments about how they don’t care for the fast-paced, no-huddle offenses that are becoming more and more common in college football. They cited “safety” concerns for their defensive players and urged the NCAA to look into creating rules to slow down offenses. Kliff Kingsbury, new head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders and former offensive coordinator of the high-octane Texas A&M Aggies who beat Saban last season, has replied, “No, thanks!”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Kingsbury says he doesn’t buy the theory that faster offenses are creating more injuries. He would need to see some scientific or statistical information backing that claim up before he ever thought about slowing down his offense. He did offer up a counter-offer to Saban and Bielema, however, saying that if they wanted him to play slower, they had to “get smaller, less strong defensive linemen.”
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Saban to agree to that and expect Kingsbury to keep his foot on the accelerator in 2013. He won’t be alone, either. Last season, 18 programs averaged more than 80 plays per game, led by the Marshall Thundering Herd and their jaw dropping 92.8 plays per game average. Kingsbury’s A&M squad ranked No. 8 averaging 83.5 plays per game and half of the teams in the Big 12 averaged 76 plays or more per game last season.
Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide, meanwhile, ranked No. 114 in college football with a 66.3 plays per game average and Bielema’s Wisconsin Badgers averaged just 68.2 plays per game, good for No. 99. While they say their concern is “safety,” what they are actually concerned about is a new style of play that could challenge their success on the gridiron. Saban and Bielema coach to their strengths, which is recruiting big, beefy football players to manhandle the opposition. The best way to beat a big lumbering beast? Be too fast for him to catch you, of course.
Football is more often than not a chess match where coaches try and use the pieces they have available to them to overcome the pieces they don’t. Kingsbury is going to push the limits when it comes to tempo on offense because that pace gives his team an advantage and that isn’t an advantage he’s going to be giving up anytime soon.