One of the objectives of an uptempo offense is to force the defense to play vanilla because the speed at which the offense is getting up to the ball does not allow for the defense to make very many checks or get in calls.
Uptempo does not have to exist in only in no-huddle operations. While watching the 2013 SEC Championship on DVR, I noticed that Auburn used a huddle very effectively at different points throughout the game. In fact, following a big gain ripped off after aligning and snapping the ball in 10 seconds from the previous whistle, Auburn changed personnel and huddled. This is of course the team whose head coach is in the process of trying to get a trademark for the phrase “Hurry Up No Huddle.”
I’d suggest that Auburn’s use of the huddle is perfect to use each time personnel is changed and tight ends, h-backs, or fullbacks are coming into the game and will align somewhere in the box. Again, one of the purposes of going fast is to not allow time for defensive communication of their calls or checks. The rule is that if personnel is changed, the defense is also allowed time to change personnel. Most times an official will stand over the ball and not allow the offense to snap the ball while the defense is adjusting their personnel. Unfortunately, unless the offense is shifting (Boise State does this frequently), the defense gets a chance to see the formation and begin making their calls and adjustments without the pressure of the ball being snapped quickly.
For those of you who never have used a huddle, I realize this applies to some of the younger coaches out there, the procedure was the quarterback calls the play once with the snap count, the receivers leave the huddle to get a head start to get to their position, then the quarterback repeats the cadence (some teams would repeat the whole call) and says “ready” and the remaining players say, “Break” while clapping their hands and getting to the line of scrimmage.
There’s a slight twist on Auburn’s huddle which allows them to get in motion and snap the ball within four seconds of breaking the huddle.
In the video below, the quarterback, Marshall calls the play in the huddle and lets his receivers deploy. Notice that the line is only about two yards away from the ball. Marshall strategically waits until his receivers are in position, then breaks the huddle with himself and the remaining seven players aligning quickly. After about two seconds a receiver is put in motion and the ball is snapped at about four seconds after the huddle was broken.
While the previous whistle to snap wasn’t 10 second like the previous play, the defense was still left with very little time to recognize, align and adjust. This is a tool worth considering for all offenses.
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