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Inside the Clemson Offense: Reasons to go No-Huddle

Over the spring and August camp, all we heard was that the offense was running mostly no-huddle, yet we have seen fairly little of it so far this year. This is because of execution problems: you dont want to go no-huddle and go 3&out, and put your defense back out there without a rest. The best drives of the year thus far still have been up-tempo drives, so I thought it instructive to look into the reasons why teams go no-huddle.

First, it should be said that teams that go no-huddle are not always doing it because it puts pressure on the defense by showing coverages and not being able to adjust to formations. Offensive players get positive effects from it as well, but there are a few important reasons to go no-huddle. Since the huddle has nothing to do with winning the game, coaches spend more time teaching fundamentals and the actual plays.

1. How it affects your QB. By always being at the line, he has extra time to watch the defense set themselves, and gives him the time to make proper checks.

2. How it affects practice time. This is the one most overlooked. By not using a huddle, you can run about 30% more plays in practice. You might run 20 plays in 15 minutes, and in no-huddle you can run about 30. More reps generally means better execution.

3. How it affects linemen. If a lineman jogs 7 yards from the ball back to the huddle, and back again before a play, they jog 14 yards. There are roughly 60-70 plays in a game, so they may run up to 900 yards just from huddling. Therefore they should be fresher in the 4th Quarter.

4. Game tempo. The only two things that hte offense knows are "when" and "where". By lining up on the LOS, you push the defense into a tempo they are not accustomed to. An offense has 3 gears: normal, a no-huddle, and a hurry-up. The normal pace is what almost everyone uses. In a no-huddle the offense goes to the LOS and the play is called there, with the WRs getting signals from the sideline. As long as the offensive personnel doesnt change, the defense has to line up immediately. The last gear is hurry-up, and as long as you run no-huddle you can go into this tempo at any time. You can speed up or slow down the game as needed, keeping the defense off-balance.

5. How it pressures the defense. If you can make a defense prepare differently for an offense by spending an extra 10 minutes of practice each day developing better communication, it translates to 40 a week they arent preparing for your plays. Since defense is played with emotion, the inability to huddle up means they arent able to pump each other up before plays, taking away their time to regroup.

6. The offense sees things better. In a huddle the coach directs players on what to do on a play. In no-huddle, the coach can correct things visually by having the team line up and the players see exactly what the coaches want them to do, the D is right there in front of them.

7. Conditioning for your offense and defense. If your offense runs up-tempo in practice, then your defense does as well, and you can cut back on sprints as the season continues. Concentration can also improve when the team gets tired if they are used to the tempo. Your whole team will be stronger in the 4th quarter.

8. Execution and communication improves in two-minute situations. If plays are always called from the sideline and LOS, theres nothing to adjust to in two-minute drill. Linemen become used to hearing the QB make calls and start paying attention to every word.

But what if the defense can pick up your signals? Well this is unlikely, particularly for high school and college ball. First, you would hope they devote precious practice time to trying to decipher the calls a QB makes at the line, because it means they aren't practicing your plays.

The last and one of the most important tricks is the snap count. How do you communicate the count to the linemen without the other team knowing? Well one trick is to have all plays to the right be on 2, left on 1, and pass on 3. Another is to go by the play number: I Right 32 Iso could go on 3 or 2, 36 Power on 3 or 6, etc. Yet another would be to go off the down marker. Its unlikely that the defense will figure it out.