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Need for speed: The Clemson offense

Need for speed year 3

Chad Morris is looking to dial the tempo up faster this season.

I wrote a lot of this back August of 2010 after reading Gus Malzahn's book about the "Hurry Up No Huddle" to explain to fans what exactly this offense is. Now going in to year three of this offense at Clemson I thought we'd take a look back at just what this offense is and how it's played out so far.

What is the "HUNH?" Hurry Up No Huddle

Auburn's Gus Malzahn is a pioneer in the HUNH and in the second year at Auburn he produced a national championship. The knee jerk reaction of most fans and college football junkies is "looks like Clemson is going to run the spread." It's not the spread. The spread is what Rich Rodriguez ran at Clemson, WVU and Michigan. The spread is what Urban Meyer ran at Florida. Mike Leach ran a version of the spread at Texas Tech with his Air Raid offense. More often than not the spread offenses are more pass than run.

Clemson's new OC Chad Morris started visiting Gus Malzahn's games when he was in Arkansas coaching HS football and Malzahn thought he was spying on him and his offense. Malzahn learns Morris is just curious and wants to implement his system in high school just like he did. Two state titles and a year under his belt at Tulsa and Morris has his first big opportunity- revive Clemson's anemic offense back to life. Clemson is now on the heels of a 10-3 and 11-2 seasons with this offense but the best is yet to come for the Tigers in 2013.

The HUNH is a 2-back running game with play-action and misdirection from the shotgun. It's smash mouth football that attacks the defense horizontally and vertically. It's very simple and uses basic plays relying on better physical conditioning and misdirection to wear opponents down. It's turning a four quarter game in to five quarters with the amount of plays run. A normal football game is 65 or so plays. Morris wants to run 80+a game. Twice in 2012 Clemson ran 100+ plays. The LSU game was one of them.

Goals to run the HUNH from Malzahn's book

1- Physical training is of utmost importance to run this offense. It's not training in the gym either it's running the same offense you run on Saturday on the practice field every single day conditioning your players to perform at a feverish pace.
2- Run first and balance are the keys. Despite being in the gun running the ball is the staple to make this work. If you watch the offensive line and not the motioning and extra WR's you will see the old school counter trey, iso, power and sweeps run all game from different looks. Looks that are designed to get the defense out of position and take advantage of matchups
3- After the running game has been established it's important to take regular shots down the field to stretch the field vertically.
4- Never let the defense get comfortable- reverses, wildcat, jet, sweeps, fakes, fire alarms and misdirection need to be part of the game plan.
5- Be productive and score points. If Clemson can get to 28-30 points a game not many teams will beat the Tigers

2011 Goals for the Clemson offense

Tajh Boyd will lead Clemson in to season with high expectations.

These are goals I outlined in 2010-2011 in year one of this offense.

1- Be in great shape. Practice at this pace everyday. The offense will get to run a third more plays in practice doing this and it simulates game speed with pads. Traditional gym training doesn't prepare the team like practicing the offense everyday. Auburn's 2010-2011 fourth quarter comebacks weren't a lucky streak, by that point in the game opposing teams were gassed and mentally fatigued.

2- Opposing teams can't prepare or simulate this pace in the 6 days they get to prepare. Video coordinators often cut the film at the start and end of the snaps so pace is hard to scout.

3- Speed up the game. Turn four quarters in to five. Hand the ball the umpire, sprint in your personnel changes on and off the field. The pace can never be too fast.

4- Play more snaps. For Clemson this means going from averaging around 63 in 2010 snaps a game to 80 snaps a game.

5- Get at least one first down a series. Score quickly and often. End each possession with an extra point, field goal or punt.

Principles of the "HUNH"

1- "Landmark calls" are very important in this offense meaning having certain plays to run between the 40 yard lines etc, red zone etc. Being at a landmark like say the 43 yard line triggers one of the deep balls down field rather than calling it off the cuff. This allows the OC and QB to know whats coming by landmarks on the field further speeding up the game.

Don't try to figure out what these mean, they change from game to game.

2- The QB's job is to call the OL scheme for example- "color play or color number" there are two colors for each direction and two code words per play. For example so far at Clemson practice I have heard BLACK BROWN GO 4, who knows what that means?

3- The mysterious color and number board on the sidelines? The color on the board tell the players whether to use the number on the board as the play call or look to the signals being sent. It happens so fast if opposing defenses spend too much time on it they get burnt.

4- Signal words are used to designate play calls to the sideline or boundary like "go here go there"

5- The QB on many plays has three options- keep the ball, hand off or pass. This makes your QB's decision making and footwork paramount to his success.

6- The speed of play means lots of players touch the ball this means the defense can't focus on one player as the playmaker. The QB drives the pace. The TE known as the 3back in this offense often will burn defenses as he can easily slither out untouched. Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford have benefited from this.

Morris has a chart he keeps for fumbled, ints, dropped balls etc. This is used to teach fundamentals. One would think with all this information it would be tough for the players to grasp this offense but they love it.

Watching this offense at practice you can tell they are in year three. Now it's "how can we get faster?"

Things to ponder for Clemson's 2013 season

Now with 10 more pounds of muscle Sammy Watkins looks to have a big 2013 campaign.

In 2011 Clemson ran 77 plays a game and won 10 games, in 2012 82 a game and won 11 games. What happens if Clemson ran 1160 plays and averaged 89 a game like Tulsa did last year? If that happened you could very well see the Clemson Tigers shock the college football world and wind up in Pasadena in January.

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