Friday, January 8, 2016

Assessing the Basics of the Hurry Up, No-Huddle Offense (HUNH)

(updated at 13:18 hr)

"Speed is the essence of war. " - Art of War

Some amateur strategists have believed that "moving efficiently and fast" is a guarantee to a good win.   One could presume that their translation of Sunzi told them this is the way to win.

Running the Hurry Up No-Huddle (HUNH)

The no huddle hurry up process is the hot trend in offensive football. The audience loved to see the thrill of scoring first and fast.

Unlike the scripted starter plays approach, the scoring could be slow. 

It focuses on the down, the distance, the ball position and the focus on exploiting the competitor’s co-efficient deficiency. The choice of plays are limited per drive because the specific plays that are designated to exploit a certain set of targets, are repeated. 

Unlike the premise of the methodical scripted approach, the "ebb, flow and go" approach of the no huddle approach does not always build the consistency of rhythm and momentum within the offensive  team, especially against the elite defenses. 

Waiting for the big play is the tactical approach for the chosen ones who usually exist for the thrill of the moment.  

Creating the big play is the trademark of those successful strategists who can identify and exploit the various deficiencies of the opposing defense. 

The Benefits of the HUNH

Following is an abridged list of the benefits:

  • Unbalancing opposing defense by playing the game of "...can you play faster and can you outlast me?"
  • Increasing the number of scoring opportunities;
  • Fatiguing the sub-par conditioned players of the opponents’ defenses
  • Preventing the defense to properly huddle between plays
  • Preventing the defense from efficiently substituting situational players
  • Preventing the defense from efficiently changing their defensive formations and tactics (i.e., stunts, coverage, etc.),  
  • Dehydrating the opponents’ defense where playing under a hot climate setting;
  • Converting the practices into a conditioning session where no energy is wasted;
  • Preparing your defense in defending other teams’ no-huddle offenses; and 
  • Causing the offense to be more responsive while forcing the "unprepared" opposing defense to be reactive;
Pedal to the Metal 
Regardless whether the offense scores first, fast and repeatedly, the defense returns to the field quickly within a short time. 

Creating chaos and havoc is the name of the game.

In the beginning of the season, the risk reward of the HUNH approach exceeds the risk consequences.  The defense becomes tired at last quarter of the season. The risk consequence becomes the relevant factor esp when the players are fatigued and tired. The fatigue usually increases the probability of injury. 

One cannot win any championships without a sound and solid defense. Playing the game of outscoring the opponent could only last so long.  Offense thrills the fans but defense wins the championships.

Sooner or later, the elite teams with quality defensive talent will balance out speed of the no huddle offense approach.   (Example: For the last two years, University of Alabama has finally caught up with University of Auburn's no huddle offense while running their own version of the No-Huddle.)

Zero Sum Gain

For every positive, there is a negative. 

The challenge with this approach is that the players on both sides of the line of scrimmage, must be conditioned and organized to move efficiently and fast and that the defense must be prepared and ready to return to the field within 60 seconds if the offense is not able to maintain the possession of the ball.

As mentioned before, the defense becomes quite tired and fatigued at the end of the season.

The Reality of No Huddle Offense

The current California Berkeley football team also utilized a no huddle offensive approach (aka. "Bear Raid"), was able to score a great number of points but was only able to defeat teams with "low-quality" defense personnel.  

Once they competed against the elite teams, the entire Cal's team started to fall apart.  

Any football offensive and defensive approach works if the recruitment of quality players is possible. 

One of Cal's greatest challenges was the recruitment of quality players who could meet their academic standard.

Strategy and tactics only work if one has the correct type of players,

Another Weakness of the HUNH Offense

Click here on Steve Smith's (of the Baltimore Ravens) perspective of the "Hurry Up No Huddle" offense.

Side note: The Compass Formula

The quality of personnel (players) establishes the quality of formations (the tactical approach). The quality of formations drives the quality of plays. 

Formations and specific plays do not win games.   Players do.   Organizing the players and coordinating their actions in a synchronized mode are the real challenges for most coaches.

Slowing Down the Pace 
In terms of offensive approach,  some of us preferred the methodical approach of running 15-25 opening plays that is designed to understand the "strategic efficiency" state of the competitor.  This innovative tool was devised by Bill Walsh, the late SF 49ers coach of the 1981, 1984 and 1988 Super Bowl Champions.

The Walsh's Approach

Click here if you are interested in learning the basics of Walsh's opening plays script (aka. the starter script).

The basic premise of the starter script is to identify the various deficiencies of the opponent through the usage of 25 offensive plays that the opposing defense has never seen before. .

Its true objective is to transform the results from the starter plays into intent-driven adjustment plays.

Life is Fleeting for Those who Cannot 

Captain and Control Their Destiny
Coaches and their offensive approaches do not win games if the players are not willing to adjust.

Ask any of the former players of the Philly Eagles if that is true.  ... Chip Kelly became the victim of his own approach. (As of the 20th of January 2016, Mr. Kelly was introduced as the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.)

It works great in colleges because of the near-unlimited number of players that are available where in the professional ranks, most of the players are not willing to sacrifice their bodies for the entire season especially if they do not feel if it is possible to reach the playoffs.

In summary, the offensive play caller who is not tactically creative and is not willing to adjust to the players, will discover that the field team are not wanted to play for him. 

Side Note 

The neophyte fans just wanted to see high scoring games while the hardcore fans preferred to see a defensive struggle type of game where the total score is below 31 points  and the differential of points is 3 points.  

To the hardcore fans, remember that the neophyte fans are the majority of the audience and they do pay the bills.  Accept the reality.  

- More to come -

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