October 25, 2014

The Hurry-Up, No-Huddle: An Offensive Philosophy (Part 2)

Last week we took a look at the history, goals and advantages of the Hurry-Up, No-Huddle Offense designed by Gus Malzahn.  In this post, we’ll look at the details and nuances of the offense, tips for running the offense successfully and provide some insight into what Clemson fans should look for to determine if the offense is working as intended.

Chad Morris

An important note is that the ideas expressed here are broad, general concepts derived from the Malzahn version of the offense and may differ from the Morris iteration that Clemson will implement.

Attention to detail and repetition are the key building blocks to make the offense successful.  The following tips are important factors in achieving success and reaching goals in the offense:

  1. Limit the number of plays and formations that are implemented initially.  We saw this in the spring as Morris talked in general terms of implementing a fraction of his offense with an eye towards building on this foundation in fall camp.  This is important for several reasons:  You don’t want to overwhelm your team and you want them to experience success early and breed confidence.
  2. Limit the number of players that participate.  Remember, this is about speed and snapping the ball within seconds of being marked ready for play.  Mass substitutions typically take time and can become an issue as the quarterback should be calling the next play as the team returns to the line of scrimmage.
  3. Changes in the snap count should be limited.  The idea is that your team should be given as little as possible to think about and this fosters your offensive team getting into a rhythm of moving quickly and efficiently.  While it is not important that the defense may quickly discern your snap count it is advisable to change your snap count periodically to keep the defense honest (and perhaps get a offside penalty).
  4. The chain gang is very important.  At your home stadium they need to understand the speed at which your offense will move.  It’s important they keep up.  On the road you face a much more difficult task and should address this prior to the game with the referees (see #5 below) prior to the game.  A slow chain crew can be devastating to the hurry-up, no-huddle offense.
  5. There should be a discussion with the officials prior to each game about what they can expect from your offense and get a clear understanding of how and when the ball will be readied for play.  I can picture one of Ron Cherry’s minions standing over the ball now, slowing the play to a crawl.  When you begin to experience success the opposing coach is going to object to the pace.  The game should not be speeded up, but it also should not be slowed down because of your success.
  6. Players should be trained to hand the ball to the referee, or preferably, the umpire (who spots the ball).  Retrieving dropped balls takes time and slows down the offense.  In addition, receivers should not retrieve incomplete passes, they should head back to the line of scrimmage and get the next play.
  7. Motion should be limited where possible in order to foster snapping the ball within the goal of being snapped within 5 seconds from when marked ready for play.
  8. Practice should actually occur at a faster pace than the games so that the games seem “slow” to players and allows the players to perform at a high level.

The first 7 items are things that Clemson fans should be able to judge on game day and should directly tie to the successful implementation of the “Smash Mouth Spread”.  Though not many of us have the ability to compare practice and game speed (#8), it’s a sure bet that if the offense is reaching its goals this is also being accomplished.

 

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