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The blue streak no-huddle offense. (Football).

COMING OFF SUPERLATIVE 8-1-1 and 10-0 seasons in 1998, we had a very well-established Multiple I team. We threw the ball well and often dominated our opponents with a succession of excellent I backs.

We were where we wanted to be, but we realized we were working against the forces of entropy; that is, the tendency to decay. When it becomes almost impossible to simply maintain, you improve or you will decline.

When that happened to us, we began to search for a way to improve; and that led us to the concept of the no-huddle offense.

We did extensive research on the various no-huddle systems. We talked to coaches all over the country, and were impressed by their willingness to share with us.

We also watched tape, read books, clipped articles, and attended lectures. We compiled all of this information and then began to fashion our own system (the "Blue Streak"), borrowing from the best that we had gathered.

We discovered a rationale behind almost all the no-huddle systems. They had certain premises in common:

Keeps the defense basic. A no-huddle team will not see the number of fronts and stunts that a huddling team will see. The logistics of changing defense becomes problematic.

Limits defensive substitution. Situation substitution becomes harder because of the uncertainty of when the ball will be snapped. Conversely, the offense can continue to substitute at will.

Allows the offense to dictate pace. Defenses love to play at a predictable rhythm. No-huddle teams do not have to be hurry-up teams, but they can be.

Creates difficulties for defensive recognition. Defensive coaches believe that if they can line up correctly against every offensive set, they will be able to stay in the game. Again, the unpredictability of the snap will diminish the time for recognition.

Magnifies conditioning. Running the no-huddle in practice will improve your conditioning. It will also exhaust the opponents who are trying to play at your pace.

Saves wear and tear on your players, particularly linemen. How many hundreds of yards do your big guys trudge from play to huddle to play in the course of a game?

Gives you an advantage in clock situations. When you no-huddle all the time, you don't have to teach something new for clock situations.

Increases practice repetitions. If time is what every team has in common, the more reps you get, the better you should be. Being no-huddle in practice can dramatically increase the number of reps you run.

Builds a feeling of superiority. All no-huddle teams want to believe that they are able to do something that the other teams can't do.

We have found all of these premises to be true, regardless of what kind of offensive system you use -- single wing, wishbone, shotgun spread, or anything else. The no-huddle will give you the advantage.

This is not all philosophical "coach speak." I would like to mention my own experience in installing and running the system. While we included ideas from a variety of systems, we borrowed the framework from Tim Simon's tape on his use of the no-huddle at Clovis High School (CA). If you were just going to look at one source of no-huddle information, this is the one I would recommend.

We developed our system around the concept of different modes. After every play, our team is lined up in a three-receiver set, and the QB will look for a hand-signal from the sideline for the mode that he will pass on to the team via a vocal signal.

In "Look" mode (Diag. 1) the whole team will pivot and look at the live signaler (on the sideline) for a hand-signal and a number (the play), using the signaler's body as a clock.

The players all wear wristbands. They look for the column with the indicated symbol (0, an X, etc.) and number. This is the play that they will run. We can vary the snap count with an audible signal. We are in this "Look" mode most of the time.

Two other modes serve to keep the defense honest. In "Quick" mode (Diag. 2), we will run a set play out of our pre-set (in Pro Right) on the first sound. We do this most often after an explosive play.

In "Dummy" mode (Diag. 3) we will run through the whole process of signaling and calling a play, but then run a different play.

We have evolved this process over several years. The first year we signaled everything in and the QB called everything at the line. But this necessitated renaming everything we ran.

The next year we put a wristband on every player. We use a "Neuman Wrist Coach," but I am sure you could tape your cards to your wristbands and it will do just as well. Be sure to shop around because prices can vary widely (see photo).

The cards should be laminated to prevent the ink from running with sweat. We use an "Avery Label Pro" to print our note cards.

After the first year of using wristbands, we learned to differentiate the columns of plays by different colors. This helped the players differentiate between columns.

From Evangel Christian Academy Coach Denny Duron, we learned to label the offensive line cards with blocking assignments rather than play calls.

Early on we were warned that the no-huddle system might tend to limit the use of shifts and motions because of the logistics of signaling these things in. As we became more comfortable with the system, we were able to put back all the wrinkles that we wanted. One of the surprise benefits of the system is that it makes us stick to the game plan, as that is what we find on the wristband.

The system itself is surprisingly easy to install. The kids can pick up the basics quickly. We sometimes wait until the week of our first scrimmage to put it in.

A word to the wise: Your players will love it, but you may have to sell your coaches on it. I didn't do this very well the first season, and we had some early doubters on the staff. As the system proved its worth, they all came on board. But I should have done a better job of winning the staff over immediately.

Finally, I believe the "Blue Streak" has accomplished just what we thought it would. We have continued to perform at a high level, winning 75% of our games over the past four years.

I believe this system would benefit your offense regardless of what you run. I would be glad to answer questions or discuss no-huddle football any time. You can contact me at mark.malcolm@risd.org. Good luck.

SELECTED RESOURCES: (VIDEO)

* Implementing the Buffalo Bills' "Attack" No Huddle Offense, Nick Nicolau, Buffalo Bills, NFL.

* The No Huddle System for High School, Tim Simons, Clovis (CA) H.S.

* No-Huddle Offense for High School, Jack Guggenmos, Aurora (NE) H.S.

* Coaching the No-Huddle Offense, Mark McElroy, San Clemente H.S., Titusville, FL.

* One Back No-Huddle Offense, Bill Shields, Astronaut (FL) H.S.

* The Hurry-up No-Huddle Offense, Gus Malzahn, Shiloh Christian Academy, Springdale, AR.
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Author:Malcolm, Mark W.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Words:1193
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