Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Overlooked: Tempo!

Posted by admin February - 14 - 2011 - Monday

I was working on some offensive stuff today and got to thinking… tempo and snap count are two little things that I haven’t talked about much. They tie together in the sense that how quick you get set and then how soon after that you snap the ball all work together to keep the opposing defense off balance. What made me think of this? I was watching the Washington National’s “classic” baseball game on tv earlier this evening. They were replaying Strausburg’s first start this past summer against the Pirates. The announcer said as he snapped off an 82 MPH round house curve: “How can a batter even touch that?! He’s expecting high 90’s heat and he drops a curve in there that breaks his knee caps. The batter can’t move!”

WOW!!! I’d love to be able to do that against those 11 hungry young men over there waiting for my guys to snap the ball!!! How do we do it? With tempo!” That’s what Struasburg did with his change-up curve!

I love the Oregon commitment to a “fast break” offense. Get up there and snap the ball! I’ve thought for a long time that huddling is wasting time! Time we could be using to get another play or two (or 5!) off in a game! Of course, that’s true unless you want to “slow the game down” and let the clock be your friend! I’d rather be in the attack mode and make the defense have to play at my speed. Or… should I say “speeds.”

I heard Pat Murphy from Helena MT speak at the National Wing T Coaches Clinic 2 weeks ago. He gave 3 excellent presentations. One of the little things that might have been ignored was how concerned he is once his offense goes to their shotgun package in the Wing T about how quickly they get the ball snapped once they break the huddle. I believe he said that he wants to break the huddle and get the ball snapped in 4 seconds! THAT is tempo! I saw several clips where the defense his team was playing against simply was not lined up and ready to play. He abused them! The psychological impact, in my opinion, is tremendous.

But, you can’t have tempo unless you have a “base line.” That’s why I like to change the tempo… just like Strausburg changes speeds with his different pitches. When we huddle and run our base offense, it is a “standard” pace. I want our kids jogging to the line but we are not really in a hurry. But, when we go to our Spread Shotgun attack, the first difference is: we don’t huddle! That changes things for the defense right there. They don’t know at what pace or tempo we’re going to be moving at untill they get a bead on us. We can go “regular” pace… just don’t huddle or we can go “NASCAR” pace where we are in 2 minute drill mode… even though it’s not an end of half or end of game situation. Get ’em cranked up! Make the defense play chase!

The final point here is your snap count. I think it is critical that you have at least 2 different snap counts and now (thanks to Coach Murphy again!) I’m advocating a third: “No Play.” You’ve seen Spread teams do it. QB calls out the play, lifts his leg or claps his hands, barks out a signal and everybody just freezes. Wellllllllll, except for the defense! They have a tendency to jump! In high school we call it a “cheap 5.” But I disagree. I think it’s a valuable 5 yards… you earned it! By being more disciplined than the defense, you got them to jump. That’s playing the psych game at its best!

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