Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

September 13, 2013

Crimson Tide braces again for Texas A&M’s speedy tempo

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nick Saban knows it’s become irrelevant whether frenetic, no-huddle offenses are what he wants college football to be.

In the case of No. 6 Texas A&M, they’re also awfully hard to slow down.

That is the challenge Saturday for the top-ranked Crimson Tide at the Aggies’ Kyle Field. Preparing for this kind of uptempo offense was a focal point for the Tide during the offseason.

Alabama (1-0, 0-0 SEC) was helpless against it in the first quarter of last season’s loss to Texas A&M (2-0, 0-0) before catching on and nearly rallying from a 20-0 deficit. The no-huddle offenses have become a staple of the college game — whether Saban likes it or not.

Southeastern Conference opponents Mississippi, Kentucky and Auburn also run variations.

“There’s obviously some things you can’t do, and you have to realize that you can’t do these things,” Saban said. “I think we’ve all adapted to it more and more because we play against these teams more. When you play against it once or twice a year, I think it’s a tough adaptation for the players. But we played against it eight or nine times last year. We’ll probably play against it at least that much this year, so it’s becoming more the norm rather than the exception.

“I think that players should be able to adapt to it more readily. I know that we’ve tried to prepare our players for it more and more because you always say, `OK, what did we see? How much did we see it? How does our practice reflect that?’”

Saban caused a stir last October when he wondered aloud: “Is this what we want football to be?”

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who runs his own variation of the no-huddle, offered very different takes at SEC media days about whether fast-paced offenses present an injury hazard to defensive players who can’t get relief from subs. Malzahn said he initially thought that theory was a joke and Bielema countered that he’s no comedian.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t about to downshift.

“We’re going to go as fast as we possibly can,” Sumlin said. “I haven’t seen anything to support the player safety argument. Anything that’s within in the rules, that’s the way football is. That’s any sport. Whether it’s baseball and you’re stealing bases or whether it’s basketball and you’re a fast break, full-court press team, that’s within the rules.

“Just because you don’t want to play that style doesn’t mean that that’s not the way the game should be played.”

It’s hard to argue with the results. Sumlin’s offenses have ranked in the top three nationally in total yards four of the past five years at Texas A&M and Houston.

Through two games against weaker competition, the Aggies have amassed 117 points and 1,200 yards.

Alabama allowed just 153 points in 14 games last season.

Texas A&M wide receiver Malcome Kennedy said coaches have stressed tempo even more for this game.

“The offense is going to move very fast,” said Kennedy, who scored what proved to be the decisive touchdown last season. “Coach has already said that we’re focusing on tempo this week. Us being able to run and pass, and we know it got on their nerves last year. So we want to be like that this year and hopefully it will turn out well.”

Texas A&M’s success on third downs kept the offense sprinting along last season, and Alabama’s defense on its heels. The Aggies had three first downs and two touchdowns on its five third-down plays in the first quarter of that 29-24 win. They converted on 11 of 18 tries.

Saban said the Aggies’ offensive prowess isn’t just about speed.

“To me, it’s not the scheme,” he said. “It’s not the going fast, it’s their ability to do those things and execute extremely well in terms of what they do. And their players have a lot of confidence in it and they do a really good job of it.”

1
Text Only
College Sports
Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Stocks