BY RYAN BLACK | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — When you’ve been coaching football for 30-plus years, you see and hear a lot of things.
But one thing Ellis Johnson had never heard until recently was the argument championed (most notably) by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema: That “hurry-up, no-huddle” offenses were a hazard, causing more injuries to defensive players due to the increased number of snaps. Having never “looked at it from that viewpoint,” Johnson was flummoxed.
As long as both teams get lined up before the ball is snapped, the better team will normally win out, he reasoned.
“If both teams are not lined up, then you’ll find out who got there fastest, I guess,” Auburn’s defensive coordinator said Tuesday. “In some cases, it’s not football. But I think that when the referees are consistent, then the defenses have no disadvantage. I think in the early years with the speed-up offenses, the officials — especially in the SEC, because they didn’t see it very much — they weren’t as good with the consistency of the mechanics. And I think that they’ve gotten better, and probably we’ve gotten a little bit more accustomed to it on defense.”
Johnson sees no problem with an offense trying to run as many plays as it can — in fact, he said he likes it. What he could do without, however, is offenses snapping the ball before the defense has had time to set up.
“I’ve seen it snapped so fast the offense isn’t lined up,” he said. “So I don’t know what you’re trying to prove there. But 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. That’s part of the game.”
Besides, if everything was equal, Johnson said there would be a rule in place regulating the amount of time between each snap.
“I’d want a minimum of five seconds, three seconds, whatever,” he said. “When that ball is put on the ground, you will not snap it for five seconds. If you can’t get lined up by then, then tough.”