Just a few short years ago, Ellis Johnson was adamant that the no huddle approach was starting to deterioate the college football landscape, saying that the faster approach was turning the game into "soccer or lacrosse".
“Frankly, I don’t know what that proves except someone has a better verbiage package," Johnson explained while working under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina as his defensive coordinator. "It’s not about blocking, tackling, running, route running, throwing, and so forth. It’s something the college football world needs to look at.”
Now the tables have turned, as Johnson now serves as the defensive coordinator at Auburn under Gus Malzahn, who's publicly said that he wants to have the fastest paced offense in the country. Johnson's view on the no huddle is now very different. Working under Malzahn has helped Jonson see the benefits of of going up tempo, especially from a defensive perspective.
"I'm starting to realize now why his style is not detrimental to building a defense because, No. 1, he has a physical element in his running game and, No. 2, the way we practice." Johnson said in an AL.com article.
Johnson went on to explain that the no huddle provides an opportunity to condition his defensive players and make sure that they're on top of their game when it comes to mental toughness.
"Their intent is to go fast to get more plays and to challenge the other team in conditioning and mental toughness. I like all that. The pace to me is part of the game, and I think it is good when you challenge somebody else from a conditioning and toughness standpoint."