PAC-12: Los Angeles rivals Lane Kiffin and Jim Mora took different sides in the debate about up-tempo offenses in college football.
Kiffin, the Southern California coach, is concerned about the possible safety ramifications of a style of play that crams an extra 20 plays in a 60-minute game.
”I think there is a conversation there,” Kiffin said as the Pac-12 held a mini-media day in Hartford, Conn., to go along with its coaches appearing on ESPN. ”We’re not going to hit as much in practice in season. We might change things in the spring, but at the same time we’re increasing the number of plays.”
UCLA’s Mora, meanwhile, embraced fast-break football in his first season as a college head coach.
”If an offense substitutes then the official stands over the ball and the defense is allowed to substitute. So I think the rule is fine,” said Mora, who was a defensive assistant and coordinator in the NFL before becoming a head coach with Atlanta and Seattle.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema have been the most high-profile coaches to suggest the up-tempo craze might not be in the best interest of the players, and that maybe something needs to be done to slow down the game.
Saban talked at Southeastern Conference media days about whether football was meant to be played as a continuous action game.
Mora said that after being around the game for 30 years, ”I don’t think there is a safety issue.”
UCLA was 13th in the nation, and third in the Pac-12, in plays per game at 81.7. Arizona was tops in the conference at 83.2 and Oregon was second at 82.8. Arizona State gave the Pac-12 four teams in the national top-15 at 81.5.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is one of the Godfather’s of spread, up-tempo offenses.
Just being asked the question about the potential safety issues of the no-huddle and possible rule changes prompted a chuckle from Rodriguez.
”It’s silly. I think maybe they should look at blitzing more guys than you can block and see if there’s a safety issue in that, too,” he said. ”How many quarterbacks have gotten hit when a guy came unblocked? Maybe you shouldn’t be able to bring seven when I only have six to block.
”Do the rules favor offense? Sure. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it wasn’t a safety issue before. Who goes to a game to watch a huddle? Maybe the concessionaires like it so they can sell more hot dogs.”