In a Hurry
“I’m in a hurry to get things done; I rush and rush until life’s no fun”
I’m in a Hurry – Alabama 1992
Nick Saban coaches Alabama – the Crimson Tide not the old country music boys from Fort Payne – but you know he probably hums that tune on his way to the practice field.
A whole bunch of college football teams are hurrying to get things done on offense, and the no-huddle, up-tempo, NASCAR-fast attack is making life no fun for defensive wizards like Saban. While casual fans might envision hurry up offenses as throwing the ball all over the field, the most successful such teams do like the song says. They rush and rush (run the football!) until life is no fun for the defense.
The Ducks and the Tigers are poster teams for hurry up offenses. After each play, they hustle to the line, read the defense, and snap. Part of the strategy of the up-tempo attack is certainly to snap the ball quickly and often. Doing so limits to an extent the amount of substitutions a defense can make (Saban, for instance, loves to substitute by situation), and it tires them out because it is difficult to simulate such pace in practice.
However, at its core the hurry up is based on perhaps the most old-fashioned principle in football – run the ball up the gut. It is simply a numbers game. The offense spreads the field by sending backs and receivers wide, forcing the defense to commit a certain number of players to “the box” (area near the line of scrimmage) and to the secondary. If the number of defenders in the box is equal to or less than the number of offensive linemen (guards, tackles, and tight ends), expect a dive option up the middle. If the box defenders flow toward the running back, the quarterback simply pulls the ball and runs wide. Using that simple strategy last year, Auburn RB Tre Mason gashed opponents for more than 1800 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, while his QB Nick Marshall sprinted for over 1000 yards and ran for 12 TDs.
By the way, the Tigers beat the team coached by a fellow named Saban.
This week’s top game (see Game of the Week column) features a terrific matchup of hurry-up flash (Oregon) hosting slow-down smash (Michigan State). Regardless of who wins that game, a lot of college football teams are in a hurry to get things done, and they are making life no fun for defenses.
Around the Nation
Friday night features a Big East … oh, wait a minute … an ACC pairing of Pitt at BC.
In Big Ten country, the Ohio State Buckeyes welcome Beamer’s Boys from Virginia Tech to the Horseshoe along the banks of the Olentangy.
That is worth a look, as is the last Michigan-Notre Dame game for a while. The Wolverines travel to the Irish.
Out West, Saturday offers up PAC-12 contenders battling in Palo Alto when USC takes on Stanford in the first big test for new Trojan head coach Steve Sarkisian.
The premier tilt in the Southwest features BYU traveling to the Lone Star state to tangle with Texas.
Around the SEC
Conference pickings are mighty slim this week, but how about the debut of Kenny Hill for Texas A&M! The Aggies shredded highly regarded South Carolina to open the season in the biggest conference game of Week 1. The only other SEC school to lose on opening weekend was Vanderbilt, and the Commodores looked terrible against Temple in a 37-7 loss.
SEC GAMES FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
Florida Atlantic (0-1) at Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: UA leads, 1-0
11 a.m. CT • SEC Network
Tuscaloosa, Ala. • Bryant-Denny Stadium (101,821) Sirius: 93 • XM: 190
Arkansas State (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: UT leads, 1-0
Noon ET • SEC Network (Alternate Channel)
Knoxville, Tenn. • Neyland Stadium (102,455) Sirius: 112 • XM: 192
Missouri (1-0, 0-0 SEC) at Toledo (1-0)
Series: MIZ leads, 1-0
11 a.m. CT • ESPN
Toledo, Ohio • Glass Bowl (26,248) Sirius: 138 • XM: 191
UAB (1-0) at Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: MSU leads, 1-0
1 p.m. CT • FSN
Starkville, Miss. • Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337) Sirius: 146 • XM: 200
Ohio (1-0) at Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: UK leads, 3-2
3:30 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Lexington, Ky. • Commonwealth Stadium (62,093) Sirius: 138 • XM: 191
Eastern Michigan (1-0) at Florida (0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: UF leads, 1-0
4 p.m. ET • SEC Network
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548) Sirius: 93 • XM: 190
Nicholls (0-1) at Arkansas (0-1, 0-1 SEC)
Series: First Meeting
3 p.m. CT • SEC Network (Alternate Channel)
Fayetteville, Ark. • Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000) Sirius: 137 • XM: 192
Ole Miss (1-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-0 SEC)
Series: UM leads, 48-38-2
3:30 p.m. CT • ESPN Last Meeting: UM, 39-35 (2013 at Nashville)
Nashville, Tenn. • LP Field (69,143) Sirius: 134 • XM: 201
San Jose State (1-0) at Auburn
(1-0, 1-0 SEC) Series: First Meeting
6 p.m. CT • ESPN2
Auburn, Ala. • Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) Sirius: 138 • XM: 191
East Carolina (1-0) at South Carolina (0-1, 0-1 SEC)
Series: SC leads, 12-5
7 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Columbia, S.C. • Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) Sirius: 119 • XM: 203
Sam Houston State (1-0) at LSU (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Series: First Meeting
6:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (102,321) Sirius: 93 • XM: 190
Lamar (1-0) at Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 SEC)
Series: First Meeting
6:30 p.m. CT • SEC Network (Alternate Channel)
College Station, Texas • Kyle Field (106,000) Sirius: 137 • XM: 192
OPEN: Georgia (1-0, 0-0 SEC
See the full conference release at … http://a.espncdn.com/photo/2014/0902/Week%202%20Release%20(2014).pdf
NOTE: Portions of this column were first published in The Blitz (Volume 4 Issue 2; September 4-6 2014), a subscriber college football publication for which I will be writing a weekly feature this season. If you are interested in The Blitz please contact firstname.lastname@example.org