Tempo-Tempo-Tempo: Will We See it at Oregon in 2021?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

A question I see often in the comments concerns whether Oregon will be running fast tempo this season. I am curious as to whether you think we will, or if we even need to run fast tempo and how often. We all know the story of how a former coach pulled that tactic out of the distant past and made hay with it in college football, and now most teams have adjusted. But does that mean Oregon should discard it?

In an interview on August 21st, Coach Mario Cristobal was referring to the offense and stated within the discussion that “we’re not a super-high tempo operation.” Is that true, or a head fake to other teams doing their research on the Ducks?

Coach Ken Woody would explain to me how fast tempo is part of an overall strategy to get an advantage on an opposing defense. It is not just running the plays quickly, but finishing on the other side of the field from the opposing team so that defensive substitutions can’t be made effectively. Coach Smith among FishDuck members (smith72) has mentioned how fast tempo can prevent substitutions when the offense has a play sequence planned without their own substitutions.

Scott Kelley

Juwan Johnson secures the winning first down in the Rose Bowl on a quick pass in the flat.

Both of those tactics can add to the success of fast tempo, but there is another overall aspect that Coach Woody brought up recently in one of our Duck Discussions. He explained how prior Oregon coaches would attack a defense horizontally, and not line up in tight formations to jam plays inside a phone booth. He felt that by truly going side to side with Outside Zones, Sweeps, Bubble Screens, etc. in addition to fast tempo, that the defense gets gassed that much sooner and mistakes begin to happen.

That is when you would see play-action passes go for touchdowns as the defense was tired and was trying to get lined up correctly and defend their gap. When you put all the elements together of what you see above (and others that coaches could tell us) the benefits of fast tempo seem to be considerable. Yet only if it is part of an overall plan as prior Oregon coaches utilized it. If few of the aforementioned tactics are part of the overall fast tempo strategy, then should I assume it would have limited effect?

Why WOULDN’T you Run Fast Tempo?

One answer could be if your offense is not geared to all the components listed above and you wish to run a ball-control strategy to limit the number of times that both teams have the ball in the game, and you are confident you can score, and your defense can make more plays to win it. With the Playoff-3 scoring 45 points a game, I do not believe that is a winning strategy in college football any longer.

Pac-12 Video

Joe Moorhead has a thick playbook–a limiting factor?

A second answer could be that Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead has not completed the full install of his offense and wants the team to feel comfortable first with the major set of plays used, and their sequential derivatives. Perhaps all of what he plans to use in 2021 should be running crisply in practice before he adds the additional layer of fast tempo and the complications associated with it?

Another reason is one that is rarely spoken of–could it be the conditioning of the players? I do not hear anything about that component when, at this time of the year with prior coaches, it was a major talking point. It is no secret that Oregon has massive offensive linemen and tight ends that cannot be substituted as easily and still retain the cohesiveness needed. Thus they remain in the game longer, so might they wear out sooner if fast tempo is employed?

I believe fast tempo should be used, and the defenses should be attacked with the tactics covered earlier, but I am not in the offensive meetings and do not know their overall objectives. Knowing our schedule and the conference, do you think Oregon should be running fast tempo? Is it needed? Will it interfere with other objectives? This Duck fan wants your thoughts because…

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo by Tom Corno

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