The Columbia Tribune has a fascinating article about how Missouri is changing its approach on offense and defense to reflect the change in styles it faces going from the Big 12 to the SEC. If you’re like me in thinking how TAMU and Missouri affect the SEC style of play and vice versa is the most interesting thing to come out of conference expansion, you’ll want to read the whole thing, but as a Georgia fan, you might want to zero in on one specific part:
A few obvious trends emerged from the film study. SEC offenses generally work at a slower tempo than teams in the Big 12, where no-huddle systems are more common. That means SEC games feature fewer plays.
SEC offenses averaged 65.5 snaps last year; Big 12 teams averaged 76.2. Over the course of a season, those extra snaps mean Big 12 defenses played the equivalent of two additional games. Last season, Missouri’s offense averaged 74.8 plays; the defense averaged 73.1.
Alabama, which led the country in every major defensive category, had its defense on the field for a national-low 720 plays, only 55.4 per game. Having the No. 1 third-down defense played a big part in limiting Alabama’s defensive snaps, but the SEC’s grind-it-out pace helped, too.
The average Big 12 league game last year averaged 154.5 plays from scrimmage, compared to 129.5 in the SEC.
Steckel believes the SEC’s methodical pace could allow for more liberal use of specialized sub packages on defense, a luxury Missouri couldn’t always afford in the Big 12.
“The Big 12 is so fast-paced, you don’t have time to substitute people,” he said. “You have to have your base, nickel and dimes conditioned and trained to do all those different things.”
Interestingly, though, in total plays per game, Georgia averaged just under 135, which is considerably less than last year’s Big 12 average. That would seem to suggest that Grantham’s bunch was pretty good at limiting plays. Anyway, the question is, will this be an advantage for the Dawgs on September 8th? Will Missouri’s preparation for a slower-paced SEC hurt the Tigers’ ability to defend Georgia’s no-huddle, or will it simply be something they’re used to?