Tempos are an important part of your offense if you are a No Huddle team. We have been a no huddle for the last five years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future as we believe that dictating the tempo of the game gives us an advantage.
Offense Playbook Series
Why Use Different Tempos?
When we originally installed the no huddle, we basically just ran one tempo. It wasn’t lightning fast, but it was quick. As we learned what worked and what didn’t work, we knew that we needed to add in different speeds to operate our offense at. What we found is that even if you are going lightning fast, teams will be able to adjust to one speed and learn how to play at that speed. It is similar to a pitcher that has a great fastball, but nothing else, eventually teams will catch up to it.
Different tempos allows you to keep the defense off balance. You can go from Hyper-speed to a huddle to a check with me system. If the defensive coordinator is focused on getting his play call in as fast as possible to keep up with your tempo, it allows you to take some extra time on certain plays. It allows the offense to be a little more complex while keeping the defense vanilla.
No huddle teams can also struggle to finish off games with a lead. Running a Four Minute Offense goes against everything that is in the DNA of a fast tempo no huddle team. As a coach, I made the mistake of not working on a slower tempo and it cost us in games where we needed to use up clock to secure a win. Using, and practicing a slow down tempo can help you to win those games. It also allows you to shorten the game if you are playing in a game where you think that is the best way to give your team a chance to win.
What Tempos Do We Use?
The first tempo we use is our fastest tempo that we call Thunder. The goal with this tempo is to get the ball snapped as quickly as possible in between plays. Our goal is within 5 seconds after the ball is spotted by the referees. We use limited shifts and motions because that takes more time than we want to use. We will snap the ball on first sound so our OL gets into position very quickly and we cannot change the play call once it is signaled in.
Our base tempo is called Lightning. We still want to snap the ball as quickly as possible, but we have more flexibility in what we can do with shifts, motions and play calls. A big part of our Lightning tempo is that we can run Check With Me (CWM) offense. The CWM is a very powerful tool that we use for multiple reasons:
- Allows us to check into the best play call based on the defensive look
- Gives the OC more time to decide on play call, but forces the defense to get set and into their defense quickly
- Can slow down the defense, essentially acts as a “On 2” that causes defenses to jump offsides
Our slowest tempo is Turtle. We will still hurry to the LOS, but the OL will get into 2-point stances and the Center will not touch the ball until the QB says “Down.” This is the tempo that we use in order to shorten the game and use up as much clock as possible. Our QB is taught that he does not want to snap the ball until the Referee begins his 5-second count down. We practice this to make sure that the QB understands what we mean.
These three tempos are the basic tempos that we use, but we have also added other special tempos that give us an advantage in certain areas.
Sugar tempo tells our team to get into a short huddle. Our center sets the huddle 2-yards from the ball. We love to use this tempo with unbalanced sets. The QB will send out our receivers from the huddle and as they get close to their spot, the QB will break the huddle with the rest of the team. Everyone must sprint up to the LOS as fast as possible. We want to snap the ball within 5 seconds of breaking the huddle as it does not give the defense time to adjust.
The last two tempos we run are Rodeo and Lasso. The goal of these tempos is to run the same play that was just previously run. Rodeo tells the team to line up in the exact same formation and run the exact same play. Lasso tells the offense to line up in the opposite formation they were in and to flip the previous play. For example, if we ran Trips Right, Zone Right, the new Lasso play would be Trips Left, Zone Left. We like to use this tempo after big running plays. It gives our team an advantage of getting up to the ball and snapping extremely fast against a defense that is reeling from giving up a big play.
When teaching and installing tempos, it is important to teach the fastest tempo that you will run, first. You need to establish what speed is the fastest speed for your team in practice. It is very hard to teach a slow tempo and then transition into a faster one. However, it is much easier to go from going very fast to slowing it down.
An important part of using tempo is knowing that you can use different tempos without telling your team. If you want your players thinking that you will be going fast always, that is good as it keeps them in an attacking mindset. You can slow the game down naturally by calling plays in slower and also using substitutions that does not let your team go as fast.
It is not necessary for you to have as many tempos as we use, but I do think, if you are no huddle, you must at least have a slow, medium and fast. Or as we call it Fast, Faster and Hyper-Speed.