Coordinators often ask themselves; "What can I do to make the coordinator on the other sideline uncomfortable?"
Trends in football tend to go in cycles. A handful of years ago the hurry-up no huddle was all the rage when Chip Kelly had Oregon rolling, while the no-huddle is here to stay, you simply don't see nearly as many teams pushing the tempo pedal to the floor and keeping it there for an entire game like you used to. Defensive coordinators eventually found a way to adapt.
Right now, offenses across the NFL and college football are more inclined to be using tempo as a weapon to catch teams off guard, switching to the uptempo approach, sometimes snapping the ball super quick after breaking the huddle, to try and catch an advantage on a key down, or when behind the chains.
During a few third downs in their loss against Georgia last weekend, South Carolina offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield decided to play with some tempo in an attempt to catch the Bulldog defense off guard.
Asked about the approach at his presser yesterday, Satterfield explained that it's something that has popped up more and more in the NFL and around college football. Kentucky, South Carolina's opponent this weekend, will employ the strategy, and Satterfield notes that the Rams are known to do it a fair amount as well.
"I think you see that around the league, you see it a lot in the NFL and you're going to see it with Kentucky. Kentucky does a really good job with them. They call them 'huddle breaks.'"
As Satterfield explains, it seems like a really creative and intentional strategy to get out of dreaded second and long situations in the way that Sean McVay utilizes it.
"The Rams do it. They'll come out in random second and long situations and some third down situations and they'll break a huddle, and as soon as they go up, and as soon as they touch the ball, they'll snap it. Or they'll break the huddle, freeze count it, try to get you to jump offsides. They'll do all those different types of things."
The McVay influence in the Kentucky offense is a clear line to draw, as Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen spent the last several seasons working under McVay in LA.
"Anytime that you can snap a ball fast, during random parts of a game and catch people off guard, it's an advantage for you. Those guys aren't ready, they're not set up, they're not hunkered down into the ground, or they don't have the complete play call yet. So that allowed us to catch them off guard a few times. Both times were conversions and explosive plays, so it was good to us the other night."
From a coaching perspective, the key difference in the huddle break approach and the uptempo all the time strategy is the huddle break serves as an in-game surprise where defenses won't know when it's coming. With the all gas no brakes approach, defensive play callers have the week to settle in with a strategy and get comfortable with a tweak in their communication if they know a team is going to constantly push the tempo.
Back to that question that led off the article: "What can I do to make them uneasy on the other side of the ball?" If you're an offensive coordinator, the huddle break approach seems like a great trend to embrace if that's a question you ask yourself weekly.
Hear coach Satt's full answer in the clip. The Gamecocks welcome Kentucky to Columbia for a 7pm EST kickoff on Saturday night.