Pac-12 Football: Oregon Up-Tempo Or Stanford Smash Mouth Harder To Defend?

Steve Dykes

What's the best style of offense for a Pac-12 team to replicate? The speed and tempo of the Oregon Ducks or the blasting power of the Stanford Cardinal?

It seems like half of the teams in the Pac-12 now utilize up-tempo. When run effectively, which do you think is harder to defend, an Oregon style up-tempo, or Stanford's smash mouth running game?

Jack Follman, Pacific Takes: Definitely the up-tempo. It gasses the defense and makes it almost impossible to figure out what play is coming. Also, Stanford's scheme pretty much requires a good defense to be effective, while the up-tempo actually makes your defense better by giving them the confidence to take risks, knowing that you offense is good for about 40 to 45 points a game.

Andy Wooldridge, Building The Dam: Up-tempo is harder because, while difficult, you can defend a Stanford-type smash-mouth attack with players who aren't exceptionally fast. You can't do that against a well-run spread and up-tempo offense, because you can't keep up without lots of speed, regardless of how good all the other fundamentals are.

NorcalNick, California Golden Blogs: Were I a contrarian, I would wonder if the proliferation of up-tempo spread offenses might lead defensive coordinators to focus their recruiting and scheming towards stopping those offenses, which might lead a team like Stanford to have a competitive advantage when compared to their foes. While that seems plausible, I doubt we're there yet.

I personally believe that any scheme can be as equally effective as any other if you have the right athletes and a smart coach pulling the strings. But I will certainly agree that I would pick a great up-tempo offense over a great slow, smash mouth offense, for one big reason: More possessions. Even a great slow offense can make mistakes. If a slow offense turns it over three times, they might not have enough possessions left to come back from those mistakes. Whereas, for an offense like Oregon, three wasted possessions is nothing because they have so many chances. Up-tempo is a way of neutralizing (as much as possible) the random vagaries of modern football.

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