“We won’t go to it if it’s not a good deal.”

That’s Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson talking about the no-huddle offense. (h/t AOL FanHouse)

The Sooners are weighing the idea of incorporating the no-huddle into their offensive game plan because they believe it leads to more plays.

The top eight college football offenses in 2008 ran versions of a no-huddle. Four of those — Missouri, Houston, Texas Tech and Tulsa — ran more than 1,000 plays (OU ran 975). Tulsa (1,126) and Missouri (1,112) led the nation in total plays.

The coaches see a good side to it…

Wilson said quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel took the analogy of average teams using the no-huddle and spread offenses to level the playing field against more talented clubs one step further.

“What if you’re a pretty good team?” Wilson said. “Maybe you can get farther ahead.”

Said Heupel, “It gives you more opportunities. It’s like fast-break basketball. Up and down. You know, Billy Ball. Get as many shots as you can.”

… and a down side to it.

One concern Heupel had, though, was that Bradford might be tempted to speed things up too much.

“Because you’re playing at a quicker tempo at times,” he said, (a quarterback needs) to make sure you still play within your comfort level and you don’t get into hyper speed and all of a sudden things get outside of your comfort level and you’re not seeing things on the back end and you’re making poor decisions and you start pushing things a little bit.”

And a warning from Wilson: “A lot of no-huddle teams a lot of times don’t play good defense,” he said. “It’s not that you get in a game and go three-and-out. I think it’s the way you practice. It’s hard to practice. So we’re trying to find a balance in a way that we can have defensive improvement.”

Last year, there were thirteen D-1 teams that ran more than 1,000 plays on the season. In order of total offense, they were:

  • Tulsa (1)*
  • Texas Tech (2)
  • Houston (4)
  • Missouri (5)*
  • Oregon (10)
  • Central Michigan (21)*
  • Memphis (23)
  • Kentucky (24)
  • LSU (26)*
  • Purdue (27)
  • Boston College (33)*
  • Central Florida (45)*
  • TCU (64)

*played 14 games

As you can see, for the most part, all of these teams were successful moving the ball. As for their defensive prowess, they were all over the map. Only three schools were in the top 20 nationally in total defense, while three were in the bottom 20. Most of the schools had defensive rankings that would best be called serviceable, clustering around 50-70 in the national rankings.

Also, two of the teams on the list (Central Michigan and Central Florida) allowed more plays on defense than they had on offense. And for all but two of the schools, the differential between the number of plays they ran versus the number of plays they defended was less than six per game. A cursory inspection of the link to the NCAA total offense stats shows the average gain per play is around six yards, so for most of these schools, you’re talking about a difference of less than 50 yards per game.

In other words, it’s hard to say these stats shed much light on how much difference the no-huddle made last year.

But here’s the thing: every one of the thirteen schools on that list finished with a winning record.

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