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Bama’s Saban Says Up-Tempo Offenses Can Lead To Injuries On Defense

When you’re the most successful, most powerful coach in college football, your words carry a whole lot of weight.  Need we remind you that Alabama’s Nick Saban was the first coach in the country to really beat the drum about the number of helmets flying off players’ heads the past two seasons?  Then this past offseason the NCAA up and adopted a new rule forcing players to leave the field if their helmets come off during play (with the goal being to make players button up their chinstraps properly).  Bama’s coach has got clout.

Today Saban spoke out about the dangers — yes, the dangers — of football’s latest obsession: up-tempo, no-huddle offenses:

 

“I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety.  The team gets in the same formation group, you can’t substitute defensive players, you go on a 14-, 16-, 18-play drive and they’re snapping the ball as fast as they can go and you look out there and all your players are walking around and can’t even get lined up. That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they’re not ready to play.

I think that’s something that can be looked at. It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we’re averaging 49.5 points a game. With people that do those kinds of things. More and more people are going to do it.

I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?”

 

Saban’s comments will be dismissed by fans of teams that run up-tempo, fast-paced, no-huddle offenses as sour grapes-type remarks from a defense-first coach who just saw his own team struggle a bit against Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze’s speedy attack.

Regardless, you’d better be ready to hear more on this topic.  When Saban speaks, people tend to pay attention.  Again, remember the new helmet rule.

As for the numbers, statistically speaking SEC offenses are running more plays this year than last.  But the number is hardly off the charts and there are actually fewer plays being run in each game now than there were in 2007.

 

SEC Offenses’ Plays Per Game 2007-2012

  Year   2007   2008   2009   2010   2011   2012
  Total Offensive Plays   10,892   9,998   10,307   10,362   10,155   4,420
  Total Games Played   155   154   156   156   155   65
  Avg. Plays/Game   70.27   64.92   66.07   66.42   65.50   68.00

 

We’ll try to keep an eye on this trend as the season moves along.  And here’s guessing this won’t be the last time we hear this topic come up in coversation.

 


16 comments
MrVester
MrVester

So an SEC coach is worried about injuries. That's commendable. Sure, it SOUNDS like hypocrisy, but. . . No but. It just sounds like hypocrisy. Certanly, injuries should be addressed, but when a coach schedules Western Carolina to close the season in mid November. . . well, that coach should change the subject when unbalanced, unprepared, on the field issues pop up. Stick to what you know coach, recruiting big fast players to practice on smaller, slower players coached by out classed programs looking to line their pockets.

But wait! I'm sorry, I missed the point. Injuries. Of course, what better way to avoid injuries than scheduling over matched opponents. Oh sorry, lost my mind for a second. Of course there's a better way to avoid injuries. Just put rival jerseys on tackling dummies, and run up the score to make sure you win the popularity contest at the end of the season. Why play the games, after all they're so dangerous.

mjmend4
mjmend4

This is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while. Maybe they should do a study to see if teams who recruit at a higher lever and have bigger, faster and more athletic people have an unfair advantage. Do these more talented rosters cause more injuries to the less talented ones? Who freaking cares. The game changes and people need to be prepared to change with it. Suggesting what Saban suggested is like saying fast breaks shouldn't be allowed cause it makes the defense tired cause they're trying to get back on defense. Instead of having a clock where you've got 8 or 10 seconds to get past half court, maybe they should say you can't pass half court unless 5 seconds has passed. That way the defense has a chance to get back..Dumbest sh*t I've ever heard.

JustAnotherBamaFan
JustAnotherBamaFan

From a certain perspective Coach Saban's statement makes sense, and because of that the NCAA should probably conduct a study to determine if the idea is sound.

 

If they do find that an up-tempo style play results in a greater number of injuries (cramps withstanding) then they should do something to protect the players. My suggestion would be to guarantee the defense an opportunity to substitute players (should they choose) every 10th offensive play (excluding plays/downs resulting in penalties) of a drive. That way teams can still exploit any defensive player that is out of position when the ball is snapped while limiting the number of consecutive plays a defender is on the field.

kevinathompson
kevinathompson

@gibgibson we will take any of them right now at Arkansas.

wattdore
wattdore

The helmets did not fly off until they put the airbags in them.

Big Orange Mark
Big Orange Mark

Wow,  that Saban guy will say anything to keep himself front and center in the "news". For a guy who has such contempt for the media, he sure talks a lot. This just in.........Saban put on pants this mornin!  Maybe the NCAA will outlaw those......I know a pair of Orange ones they can have from a soon-to-be unemployed coach.......

bpa_kc
bpa_kc

The only "injuries" I see related to fast paced offenses is lots and lots of "cramps".  Funny how those injuries tend to completely disappear after 1 play has passed.  Personally, I think that if play is stopped due to an injury timeout, then that player should be required to sit out for the rest of that offensive/defensive series.  That should help avoid all of these "cramps"... and for the guys who really do get banged up, it gives them more time to rest and make sure they are alright before going back into the game.

buddha22
buddha22

Wow, this has the smell of a little whining? Perhaps he needs to lean up and condition a few of those big'uns so they don't get so winded and confused. Maybe there should be a weight limit on players if you are really concerned about injuries...

titanreb
titanreb

 Sounds like Saban is feeling a little butt hurt over the way OM played a very physical game, no matter what the scoreboard said. I think he underestimated?

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

The single most dangerous piece of euipment in football is the helmet. Causes major league injuries and encourages a tackling style epitimized by increased speed of impact, head and neck alignment that turns the helmet into a battering ram.  All this favors the defense in their assault on offensive players. Bama's forte has been a hard hitting defense, so most likely in college football, Saban coached Alabama defenses have chaulked up more "kills" against opposing offenses than any teams out there.

 

Not calling Saban a hypocrite, but if Saban was really serious about player injuries, he would call for a study on how to fix defense on offense injuries as well as harping on "up tempo offenses."

 

Bottom line, the more plays you run in football, the more chance you have of being injured. You want to reduce the chance of injury, take the clock out of the game and limit the number of plays an offense can run a game to 60, or 50, or 40, or ...... When you get to zero, you have solved the problem.

viciousdawg
viciousdawg

A Defense Coach wants to slow down Offenses........ Big Surprise

alamoaggie08
alamoaggie08

the only "injuries" i've seen coming from no-huddle offenses is cramping defenses, and that's caused either by poor conditioning or hydration.  i can see the point saban is trying to make about defenses not being ready, but the fact is it's not against the rules, and for that matter what rules can be made to stop it? 

 

do we need another clock that states offenses can't snap until a certain amount of time has passed?  if that's the case, does the game clock stop betweem every play during this "recovery" period for defenses?  another thought is the offense can't snap until the defense is set.  well all that does is give the defense advantage to mess up tempo by taking their time. 

 

i can keep going, but the reality is hard-hitting defenses are more dangerous and cause more injuries than fast-moving offenses.  american football is one of the most dangerous sports in the world, and nothing short of making it a no contact sport will change that.

kentatm
kentatm

if Saban was truly concerned about safety he wouldnt be scheduling hopelessly over-matched FCS teams for his 300 pound monster o-line/defenses to beat up on.

40Capt
40Capt

It's really compassionate of Nick to so concerned w/ player safety. I'm sure this comment was made right after he said defensive players shouldn't hit the ball carriers so hard, cause it might, you know, hurt them.

gibgibson
gibgibson

@kevinathompson Briles at Arky and Holgerson at TN would be spectacular. I would love to see those match ups without a month prep.

Tusk
Tusk

 @noinipym

 Where does it say he is trying to remove it?

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