While there have been plenty of coaches coming out against the emerging trend of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses, most notably Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide, proponents of the newer, faster style of play haven’t felt too threatened. Coaches who have found success with the up-tempo offenses seem to be shrugging off the concerns, most of them with jokes about recruiting smaller players or conspiracy theories involving concessionaires. But new Cal Bears head coach Sonny Dykes took a different route and turned the question of player safety back around on the old-school style of offensive play-calling.
Talking with reporters at Pac 12 media day, Dykes offered up a counter-point to the call for “player safety” being jeopardized by no-huddle offenses:
“Tying it to player safety, I don’t know if that makes a whole lot of sense… I’d like someone to do a study… player injuries happen in confined spaces.”
Dykes contends that his style of spread offense might actually be safer than the bunched up, bruising style of Saban or Bret Bielema. By spreading out the field, there is more room for players to maneuver and run and it minimizes the number of times players get caught up in piles getting their limbs and backs wrenched every which way. It also cuts down the number of times a ball carrier lowers his head to barrel into a wall of defenders creating heavy collisions that often take a heavy toll on all parties.
Spread offenses do create more one-on-one, open-field tackling situations which are often less dangerous than the dog-piles of a ground-and-pound offense. Dykes is making an interesting point and taking the debate right back at opponents of his kind of offense, proposing that maybe their form of offense is the dangerous one.
It’s a back-and-forth between conflicting styles and schools of thought that likely won’t have much of an impact on new rules being implemented anytime soon. But it does provide some nice heat while we anxiously wait for football to return.