North Carolina

Fedora addresses Saban's up-tempo concerns

Posted July 23, 2013

— Alabama head coach Nick Saban has consistently raised questions about up-tempo offensive schemes and how they impact player safety over the past 10 months. UNC head coach Larry Fedora provided some answers on Monday.

Saban’s initial complaint came several days after facing Mississippi’s no-huddle spread offense last September. During a SEC teleconference call, the Tide’s head coach suggested that players “have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they're not ready to play” due to not having adequate time to get lined up and not being able to substitute.
Those comments have drawn more media attention this offseason, culminating at last week’s SEC Media Days.

“Should we allow football to be a continuous game?” Saban told reporters at the SEC media event. “Is that the way the game is designed to be played? Is there a safety issue with that? They play 64 plays in the NFL; we play over 80 in college, and up-tempo teams play more than that. I don’t know the answer to that.”

Fedora’s up-tempo offense at Southern Miss totaled 1,042 snaps in 2011, fifth-most nationally. North Carolina averaged 74.8 plays per game in 2012, which is below the desired 75-80 threshold that Fedora and offensive coordinator Blake Anderson expect.

Fedora responded to Saban’s comments at the 2013 ACC Kickoff at Grandover Resort on Monday afternoon.

“First of all, I’d have to see some data that tells me that’s true,” Fedora said. “I do think if players are tired, there’s more chance for them to get injured, no doubt about it. I think common sense tells you if you’re playing more plays, there’s more opportunities for an injury.”

Saban admitted last week that he didn’t have any scientific evidence to back up his concerns.

“I don’t necessarily think that what we do in a spread or an up-tempo creates more injuries,” Fedora said. “I think Nick’s probably talking about what’s going to benefit his program, which he should be, and I’m going to talk about what I think should benefit my program.”

Saban supported college football’s move to a four-team playoff, which potentially adds an extra game – and 65-80 more snaps for players – to a team’s schedule.

Fedora acknowledged that differing philosophies exist on how the game should be played. While the spread is designed to create 1-on-1 matchups in space, pro-style offenses take more of a battering ram approach in between the tackles.

“I think that if you line up in the I-[formation] and you run the Iso,” Fedora said, “and you have a fullback running at that linebacker 25 times and they are colliding 25 times in the A-gap, I’m putting them at a greater risk of injury.”

Fedora expects his UNC offense to play at an even faster clip this fall. While the Tar Heels aimed for 12 reps during certain 10-minute periods in spring 2012, that goal was 18-22 reps during those same 10-minute periods this past spring.

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  • davidecu Jul 23, 8:42 p.m.

    UNC and Alabama Game #1...or game 11 does not matter. The five wide is a short-term fix for "super" talent, it works in our league currently (C-USA) for my team ECU . Against LSU, FL, AL a toy. Yes, we all earn some nice stats but never a win (W).Teams try to stop AL. ND could not, nor their so called All American
    LB who got humbled . Coach Saban is a genus. At ECU we throw it 45 plus times a game impressive in C-USA, but the rubber meets the road when we play winning % teams in a bowl contest. I love Saban, he is what he is, he just wins and his style .

  • Tide4ever Jul 23, 8:12 p.m.

    I would think everyone would want to play "Alabama style football" it sure looks like it works to me. Roll Tide!

  • Mustang Jul 23, 6:35 p.m.

    We've had a few teams use the "Fake Leg Cramp" defense against our spread. It will stop the clock everytime! We have also seen the "winded ref". Takes a little more time to spot the ball so he can catch his breath.

  • Got Peart Jul 23, 5:47 p.m.

    I don't think anyone is arguing that playing at an uptempo pace makes you tired - both on offense and defense. Fatigue certainly doesn't help when it comes to injuries.

    But, it's the Defense job to stop the offense. Offense should not ease off the gas pedal just becasue the other team is winded. If anything, they should nail it to the floor and push tempo.

    Saban has fared pretty well against these up tempo teams recently - so he has no leg to stand on.

    I'm no fan of unc, but I agree (for once) wholeheartedly with what the Hat has to say. And uptempo doesn't necessarily mean more plays - getting up to the line quicker, then doing a cadence, then shifting into a differnt set/play with a different cadence - all part of the game. Keeps the D guessing and in that stance longer.

    I'm all for uptempo offenses! I'd also like to have a RB that is a former QB and use that RB option pass all the time!

  • hokies94vt@gmail.com Jul 23, 4:53 p.m.

    Saban is talking about this for his team's benefit. It does cause teams to change their preparation on defense. It surely causes a secondary and the DL to make more substitutions than normal. It disrupts defensive schemes when they aren't ready. Players do get hurt when they get tired too. Saban is ruling at Bama, and he wants to get his way. He may win a 3rd this year. Fedora is doing what it takes to win games too.

  • heelsforever Jul 23, 4:39 p.m.

    So Nick isn't happy with winning 3 out of the last 4 National Titles...

  • K 309 > Dean 254 Jul 23, 4:25 p.m.

    Saban wants everyone to play "alabama" style football.

  • Cragsdale Jul 23, 3:37 p.m.

    UNC-CHeat doesn't care who gets hurt on or off the field. It's all about winning - or, in their... View More

    — Posted by Mr. French

    WhatAnId!0TT.

    — Posted by tBeast

    When you've got nothing, just call names. The Carolina Way. UNC-CHeats - and we all know it.

    — Posted by Mr. French

    I'm pretty sure UNC had success in the winning category, unlike State or probably whatever coastal community college you hail from. You should open a news paper, or browse the statistics sites once in awhile before posting opinionated idiotic statements.

  • weakened back Jul 23, 3:28 p.m.

    Saban is a winer!! Wining gets you no where!!

    — Posted by baldchip

    there's 2 n's in winner.

  • baldchip Jul 23, 3:27 p.m.

    Saban is a winer!! Wining gets you no where!!

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