Last Friday against North Carolina State, Tennessee unleashed a new, faster-tempo offense that helped the Vols roll up 22 first-quarter points, more than 500 yards of offense in the game, and a 35-21 opening day victory. Not too shabby. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney spoke about UT’s new attack yesterday, describing how it can potentially impact an opposing defense:
“The argument is that you can simplify the defense’s calls. You can’t do a multiplicity of calls. I would consider that if I’m on their side I can’t do a bunch of shifting and motioning.
The game of football still gets down to when it says, ‘Set, hut!’ can we block them, can they tackle us, can we throw and can we catch? What happens when you’re going fast-paced is it distorts some of those values of the game a little bit. You see that once in a while: They get a little fatigued, and they miss a tackle where they routinely might make that play.”
In building a halftime lead last week, Tennessee went almost exclusively with one- or no-back sets during the first stanza. In the second half — with the lead — the Vols slowed things down considerably, using more two-back and two-tight end formations.
The idea of speeding up on offense to limit a defense’s calls and to wear said unit down is not new, obviously. Many teams have been using the hurry-up for years. But this year’s tempo in Knoxville is new. Mainly because after years of instability and turnover, the Volunteers now have second- and third-year players who have learned one playbook taught by one offensive coordinator. And that makes a difference in what a team can do and in how fast they can do it.