Breaking The Tempo Myth

Come Back to College Please
Today I would like to talk about the myth that Up Tempo offenses hurt their own defense's  productivity.  Many times when you watch a college game you hear announcers say that a teams tempo on offense is the reason they don't or can't play good defense.  The Chip Kelly Oregon teams or the Art Briles Baylor teams for example.  Announcers think that the tempo of the offense puts the defense on the field too much.  I am here to say I respectfully disagree.  It is 3 and Outs and the inability to get first downs that truly wear out your defense.  Look at the National Championship game this year.  Clemson ran 99 plays against a ball control offense that generally snaps the ball with 2-5 seconds left on the play clock!!! Not 99 snaps against the fastest operating team in college football playing at warp speed.  99 against ALABAMA!!!!  Why did that occur?  A multitude of Alabama 3 and Outs that put their defense back on the field and Clemson's ability to make plays and extend drives.  It had nothing to do with Tempo or Turnovers.  Let's take a look at a hypothetical scenario of 3 and Outs by Tempo and Non Tempo teams.

I'm Calling It The 30 Second Difference
In this hypothetical scenario i am going to explain to you what I call the 30 second difference.  We are going to look at a standard 4 play sequence ending in a punt for the offense.  We will not talk about the game clock, or actual real time but merely the operating time for 2 different offense's and how it equates to the defense.  For this experiment we are going to say that the average time for each play is 5 seconds including punts.  A general play lasts for 4-6 seconds so 5 is the median.  We are going to say that the tempo offense snaps the ball 8 seconds after the ready for play whistle while the traditional offense snaps the ball 23 seconds after the ready for play whistle.  Both teams in this experiment will snap the punt play 20 seconds after the ready for play whistle.  So let us look at the numbers.
Tempo Team                                                                   
1st Down-5 Second Play 8 Seconds to next play      
2nd Down-5 Second Play 8 Seconds to next play
3rd Down-5 Second Play 20 Seconds until Punt Play
4th Down-5 Second Punt Play
Total-56 Seconds
Traditional Team
1st Down-5 Second Play 23 Seconds to next Play
2nd Down-5 Second Play 23 Seconds to next Play
3rd Down-5 Second Play 20 Seconds until Punt Play
4th Down-5 Second Punt Play
Total-86 Seconds

If both teams are operating with those hypothetical numbers you can see that the operating difference is only 30 Seconds. 30 SECONDS!!!! Again we are removing real time with TV timeouts and injuries and penalties and only focusing on the operating time.  Is 30 SECONDS really that big of a deal?  Is that a significant amount of rest for the defense?  Many would say that over the course of the game it means a lot and I agree.  But if you are 3 and Out that many times you have far bigger problems.  And that is the real issue at hand here. It is 3 and Outs and the inability to get first downs that truly wear out your defense, not the tempo you are playing at.

I can't stand when I watch Up Tempo teams play and the score is 28-28 after 18 minutes of football and the announcers talk about using up clock to keep your defense off the field!! The defense was fresh at kickoff and gave up a TD. They were fresh the second drive and gave up a TD. They were fresh on the third drive and gave up a TD. At some point you have to realize that bad defense is just that, bad.  What you have to realize as a Tempo Offense is how to change your goals as a Defensive Unit.  The mindset and outlook must change to points per possession.  Let's say in the old days you gave up TDS on 25% of the other teams possessions.  If they only got 8 possessions due to the game being played slower you would give up 14 points.  If the other team today gets 16 possessions because of an Up Tempo style then they will score 28 points.  Statically speaking that is the same Defensive Efficiency.  Just because you gave up more points does not mean you played worse defense.  The key here is the Up Tempo offense has to be able to generate points if they are going to give the other team more opportunities.  So we need to the offense to score TDS on 50% of their drives so in 16 possessions we have 64 points.  The point of my argument is 3 and Outs are the real killer and burden to your own defense.  All these numbers are hypothetical in theory but the point remains the same.  If you want to help your defense then move the chains.  If you want to win games then score points.  The problem with numbers is they create a skewed sense of reality. Defensive minded coaches don't want to look at a stat sheet that says they give up 28 points a game.  But if your Offensive style allows you to score 42 a game does it really matter?  At the end of the day 1 more point than the other team always wins.


New Mexico's Offense in High School

LOBO'S Option Offense

Today we are going to take a brief look at New Mexico's version of the triple option as it is leading the NCAA in rushing in 2016.  The cool part about this is that it is done from the Shotgun which leads me to believe it can be incorporated into an Up Tempo Spread offense.  It isn't rare to see a triple option team leading the country in rushing, Navy and Georgia Tech are always high up the ranks.  What is unique is that it is being done from the true shotgun depth of 5 yards.  Combine that with the ability to use simple zone schemes and spread the field and i think you create a monster.

Nice Eye Candy
The offense itself is generically 3 back in nature which is similar to The Flexbone approach to triple option.  They will use some wrinkles like the Maryland Stack I, and some motion adjustments.  Its all really about changing the presentation not the play.  Typical to triple option schemes they will have a dive player(zone), the QB keep option, and a pitch phase.  So while this is hardly revolutionary its their approach from the shotgun that makes it unique.  By being in the shotgun every snap I think it makes this offense more spread scheme friendly.  You will help your High School QB or Middle School QB a ton in the passing game by being in the shotgun, especially when they are not all 6'5!!! You also add in the element of Run Pass Options which is also option football in it's most basic form.  Let's face it, in High School football the talent level between two teams can make it extremely difficult for most teams to compete.  I'm not sure about your area but where I am the playoff teams are usually the same about 75% of the time.  There are really only 4-6 teams that have a chance to win the state title each year.  So how do we level the playing field?  By reading more players which means blocking less players.

How Much is Too Much
The real question at hand here is how much can you actually do and be successful.  Most option teams can never really throw the football.  They spend so much time perfecting all the phases of the triple option and the blocking wrinkles that there is not enough time to teach a successful passing game.  There is also a certain skill set that comes with being a triple option QB, and that skill set usually sacrifices the ability to be an effective passer.  Also let us not forget the protection part of the passing game.  Throwing more may effect the types of Offensive Lineman option teams recruit.   Enter the era of the modern day "Dual Threat" QB.  More and more colleges are playing Dual Threat QB'S.  They are asking these QB'S to be runners and throwers while also being guys that can read defenders in the option game.  It is making the game more 11 on 11 now than 11 on 10 in the run game.  So can you take the best elements of the Spread game(RPO,Zone Read,Jet Power Read, Screens, Air Raid Theories) and mix it with the New Mexico triple option offense to create the ultimate "FACEMELTING" offense?  Only time will tell but I am willing to bet there will be some people trying including MYSELF!!!!!  It's a copycat game so take from everybody.