The Tennessee Vols are going to play fast under new head coach Josh Heupel.
In 2020, Heupel’s UCF squad led the nation by averaging around 86 plays per game (3.12 plays per minute).
Tennessee averaged 66 plays per game last season (2.36 plays per minute).
When folks think about a football team that plays fast, they likely think about play calls getting in from the sideline quickly and players hustling to the line of scrimmage.
Those are certainly two key ingredients to playing fast. But there are a few details you might miss during a game that are essential to an up-tempo offense like Heupel’s.
Tennesee quarterbacks analyst Mitch Militello, who previously served as a graduate assistant under Heupel at UCF, gave a breakdown of Heupel’s offense to the All 22 Breakdown Show last April.
Militello went fairly in-depth while discussing Heupel’s offense.
I thought the most interesting thing he talked about was the between the snap details that allow Heupel’s offense to play as fast as possible.
Every player on the field essentially has a job between plays.
The first and most important thing that happens is whoever gets the ball (wide receiver, running back, etc), is supposed to take the ball to the umpire in the middle of the field. It doesn’t matter if they’re near the sideline or in the backfield — they have to get the ball to the umpire. If they give the ball to the side judge, the ball is then spotted at the sideline, and another ball is typically tossed to the middle of the field to spot the ball where it goes. Heupel wants to skip that extra spot, which takes several seconds (there are also no long throws to the official allowed).
The center’s job is to find the line judge and set his feet based on where the line judge is standing. The outside receivers then align off the tackles’ feet, which means they never even have to actually look for the ball. The slot receivers hug the line of scrimmage.
These details might seem simple, but it can be tough when an offense is moving at an extremely fast pace.
Militello said these between play details are a “huge” part of Heupel’s offensive philosophy.
And that means these details will likely be a huge point of emphasis for the Vols during spring practice in the coming weeks.
Featured image via Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports