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Crimson Tide coach says Aggie offense more than an up-tempo gimmick - Aggie Sports: Football

Crimson Tide coach says Aggie offense more than an up-tempo gimmick

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 10:25 pm, Wed Jan 8, 2014.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Part of preparing for Texas A&M's high-octane offense is bracing for the Aggies' frenetic pace.

It's tough enough to know you're facing quarterback Johnny Manziel and A&M's versatile spread offense. Add in the hurry-up, no-huddle component and any defense sees red flags popping up all week as it tries to match all of it.

But Alabama head coach Nick Saban says the hardest part of dealing with A&M's offense is not the extras: The Aggies are just plain good.

"To me, it's not the scheme," Saban said. "It's not the going fast. It's their ability to do those things and execute extremely well. Their players have a lot of confidence in it, and they do a really good job of it."

The Aggies' numbers are cartoonish. They made a school-record 38 first downs and gained 714 yards last week in a 65-28 victory over Sam Houston State. A&M scored 35 points in the third quarter on 21 offensive plays.

And while it's tempting to discount that performance since it came against the FCS Bearkats, Kevin Sumlin's offense has topped 600 yards seven times in 15 games at A&M.

"This is a fantastic offensive football team," Saban said. "You get 600 yards a game ... you average 58 points a game ... it's a great concept. They have the right kind of players to execute the concept, and they do a very, very good job of executing their plays.

"You can say that they spread you out and run the screen. Well, they go fast, but they execute well. They run screens, but they execute well."

The tempo element is nearly as worrisome. As the up-tempo pace has caught on and more offenses are using it, Alabama has adjusted.

"When you play against it once or twice a year, I think it's a tough adaptation for the players," Saban said. "But we played against it eight or nine times last year. We'll probably play against it at least that much this year, so it's becoming more the norm rather than the exception. Players should be able to adapt to it more readily."

Substitution patterns can be disrupted against the up-tempo offense. When the offense subs, the defense must be allowed to sub as well.

Saban said a big concern when facing an up-tempo attack isn't just getting the right players on the field but also about getting the wrong players off it.

"Can you ever get the guys out if they don't substitute again?" Saban said. "So you really can't play any specialty defense."

With a perennially top-ranked recruiting class and his penchant for using multiple schemes on defense, specialty packages are among Alabama's strengths on defense. The Crimson Tide uses specific blitz formations and personnel groupings for certain down-and-distance situations as well or better than any defense in the country.

Against the hurry-up, however, specialists often get caught watching from the sideline.

"You have to kind of play with the guys that you have to play with," Saban said. "They have to be able to play against everything.

"So you can't play substitution defense at all, which, you know, creates a little bit of a competitive disadvantage, but it is what it is. It's what the rules are, and that's how you have to play."

Alabama defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said A&M creates angst with its fast pace.

"I guess the biggest confusion was really knowing where to be, because they go so fast with their offense," Pagan said. "It's such a high tempo. I guess the only confusion is trying to know where to be and know your assignment from that position."

Conditioning takes on a more crucial role, too.

"It can be exhausting, but Coach Saban has done a good job of getting us in shape this week," Crimson Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri said. "We've done a lot of stuff with the high tempo."

Not just this week. Free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix said Alabama has worked against fast-paced, no-huddle offenses since the summer.

"It's very difficult," Clinton-Dix said. "It's a mindset thing that we preach about all the time: If it's in your mind, you'll be fine. You just have to stay locked in and do your job and stay accountable."

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  • jim '78 posted at 10:45 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    jim '78 Posts: 1414

    Is it Saturday yet??? I'm ready!!! btho bama

  • Florida Mike posted at 10:39 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    Florida Mike Posts: 191

    Saban is the master at flattering his opponents before executing them...believe me, he will have his team ready. I believe it will be close, tight game, ball control a premium with special team being a factor. Go aggies, BTHOAL!


  • mart80 posted at 10:19 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    mart80 Posts: 1885

    Yea,I think the injury thing fake or real or flopping should be dealt with ,like the loss of helmet rule.Instead of one play,make it three or four.

  • mart80 posted at 9:58 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    mart80 Posts: 1885

    @greg: I felt the same way,but I also felt he was just trying to put a somber tone on things and as Saban seems at times.I also think the most ridiculous statement came from a Bama player who said Kyle Field is overrated and has never stepped foot on the field.Too bad the south zone is not enclosed yet.[wink]

  • just passing by posted at 9:57 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    just passing by Posts: 299

    Saban & Smart have been working on how to slow down the Aggie offense for the past two weeks. Praciticing faking injuries without hurting yourself.

  • gregwh posted at 9:03 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    gregwh Posts: 635

    Kliff Kingsbury said very succinctly that the hurry up is a response to the bulk up on the defensive side of the line. If they want to beat it, they're going to have to step out of the traditional theory of controlling the box and they'll have to put more speed on the field.

    It's another example of football playing like basketball: matchups matter. If they can't match your 7'3" 325 lb center, then they're likely to go to four guards and a small forward and cede the paint. You then have to determine whether to go small or extend your center. Then they get to respond to what you chose to do.

    Saban's complaint is that his strength becomes his weakness and the thing that mostly works against everyone else prevents him from winning with A&M. I appreciate his effort to praise our offense and the players. But I've always been taught to beware crocodile tears and crocodile smiles. ;)

  • Sabio posted at 8:48 am on Thu, Sep 12, 2013.

    Sabio Posts: 67

    "So you can't play substitution defense at all, which, you know, creates a little bit of a competitive disadvantage, but it is what it is. It's what the rules are, and that's how you have to play."

    What a whiner. What he means is that substitution defense gives HIM an advantage, and now he doesn't have that. The rest of the world calls this a level playing field. My best 11 against your best 11.


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