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Thinking Texas Football Preview Excerpt: Why Go Uptempo?

We offer the argument for HUNH (Hurry Up No Huddle).

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Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Excerpted from the 2013 Longhorn Football Prospectus: Thinking Texas Football


Why go uptempo?

Dictate the pace of the game

When the offense has the ability to play no-huddle offense, they dictate tempo. Since they are lined up quickly, it also gives them the ability to adjust at the line against a look they don’t like.

Simplify the playbook

In order to play at a frenetic pace, the gameplan must be very slim. This forces coordinators to be clear about the essential concepts and personnel strengths that define offensive identity. The entire offense benefits when coaches must continuously evolve and reiterate their ideas.

Build greater fluency and skill

Skinny playbooks mean that the offense gets more repetition and builds mental and physical fluency at a faster rate. This effect is exaggerated by practice sessions that are run at an over-clocked pace. In a league dominated by similar offenses, this effect is mirrored for the defense since they are getting relevant practice against first team talent.

Feature your competency

Faster pace favors the players who are the most comfortable with their responsibilities. Do only a handful of things, do them well, and be able to execute them against anything.

Make the defense simple

Offenses that are multiple are troubled by defenses that are multiple. This results from the inability to prepare all of the offensive plays in their gameplan for all the different defensive looks they will face; forcing the offense to wait for the right situation against a specific defensive look to utilize portions of their playbook. A very simple no-huddle offense, on the other hand, easily punishes overly complex defenses by denying situational substitutions and forcing each defensive grouping to be ready for a large portion of the offensive playbook. The result is that defenses are forced to simplify and offenses get fairly consistent defensive looks from week to week.

Exploiting Mismatches

Imagine a world where MJ McFarland has elevated his in-line blocking to ‘reasonable’, Joe Bergeron has embraced a Trey Millard-style role and Jonathan Gray can can run a couple of 5+ yard routes with a bit of polish. If those three step on the field along with Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, an opposing DC who trusts his corners might elect to clamp down on the run with a single high safety, man-free coverage and a run-stuffing safety in the box. This package could counter with a credible four-wide look, getting attractive matchups against said box safety and a linebacker in coverage while still offering a between-the-tackles hammer in Bergeron. By the same token, a split-safety or nickel look could be exploited with a more traditional alignment with McFarland and Bergeron offering seven potential gaps for Gray to exploit as a tailback.

Greater macro-offensive consistency

With a greater number of total plays, the particular impact of any given play in a game is lessened.

Culture of accountability and opportunity

The simplification and emphasis on recognition and execution puts greater onus on the players and less on any particular play call. It also means that any one fumble, dropped pass, or interception shouldn’t define the game. This tends to encourage players to focus on the opportunities to come rather than dwelling on those that have been squandered.

Take Advantage of Your Advantage

We strive to bring you sophisticated analysis, but sometimes the answers are simple. You see significantly fewer upsets in the NBA Playoffs than in the NCAA Tournament because the better team has that many more chances to exert its superiority. If you have a talent advantage, you should want as many chances (read: plays) as possible to turn that advantage into points. Of course, this idea presupposes that going up-tempo doesn’t COST you any advantages from an efficiency or execution standpoint (which may not be a given early in the season). But once the kinks are ironed out, a team that believes in its talent should crave the chance to deploy that talent on as many plays as possible.


  • Do you like the HUNH (Hurry Up No Huddle) transition for Texas
  • What are the downsides?
  • Is the player safety argument (advanced by coaches as disparate as Nick Saban, Bret Bielema, and Lane Kiffin) legitimate?
  • Is it a better adaptation for non-traditional powers with limited access to elite OL talent or are its benefits equally reaped by all?
  • Let's hear it...


2013 Longhorn Football Prospectus: Thinking Texas it at AmazonSmashwords, & Barnes & Noble now.