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Up-tempo offense not spreading thin in college football

By Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman Modified: October 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm •  Published: October 5, 2012

Holgorsen notices that nearly everyone in the college game is adopting some form of the spread, up-tempo offensive philosophy. Same for the NFL.

“If you look at the NFL, their snaps per game and the times they're in the gun have gone up,” Holgorsen said.

So how many of the 120 FBS teams incorporate facets of the spread? “I'd say a minimum of 75 percent,” he said. “And I think it's going up.” To combat these prolific offenses, teams load up on defensive backs, play six to seven at a time, and design gamelans heavy on clock-milking runs. Maryland ran the ball, held West Virginia to 68 plays — 20 fewer than the ‘Neers snapped against Baylor — and lost by only 10 points, 31-21.

“They huddled, sat over the ball and watched the entire play-clock (run down),” Holgorsen said.

Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said defenses just have to try to match the offense's speed.

“It's ‘My guy is faster than your guy.' That's where the defensive adjustments come,” Harsin said. “It's all about one-on-one matchups.” Holgorsen couldn't help but notice Georgia whipped Tennessee by the unheard-of score of 51-44 in Saban's own SEC backyard, an affront to serious football fans everywhere. Eventually, the pendulum will swing back because defenses will catch up and, of course, Saban will press for change and fairness so the Alabamas of the world will have a prayer.

Holgorsen assumes it will happen, too, because sports, fashion and hairstyles are cyclical. The run game will return. But we hope bell-bottoms and jheri curls do not.

“Spread is the wrong term for these offenses because they're more balanced than ever before,” Texas' Mack Brown said.

“I think they'll have to change some rules to back people off,” Holgorsen said.

In the meantime, Saban will just have to bide his time.

His Crimson Tide will play West Virginia in the 2014 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta. Hopefully, Saban won't have to single-platoon.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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