CBS’ Gary Danielson: Up-tempo ‘gotten way too much credit’, talks Texas A&M-Alabama

CBS college football analyst Gary Danielson is getting set to call another glorious season during CBS’ Game of the Week.

No-huddle, up-tempo offenses have been a big topic of discussion in college football, mainly in the SEC, in the name of player safety. Bret Bielema and Nick Saban have spoken out against them, while Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze and others say that in no way does it increase the risk of player safety.

Danielson joined Tim Brando yesterday to discuss the matter, and he said up-tempo offenses have received too much credit, while noting the Alabama-Texas A&M game – a game he called last November.

“I’m just not all in on this, okay. I have to admit that I’m more old school on this than probably anybody else. Speeding up-tempo has gotten way too much credit for why teams are doing well. I’ve studied this A&M game against Alabama. Tempo had nothing to do with that game. Nothing.”

“There was no hurry-up in the game (A&M vs. Alabama) that really affected the play.”

“I think when you play 100 plays, Alabama is going to win way more often than the underdog. I just don’t see where it’s that much of an advantage.”

Can’t you just hear Danielson speaking while Verne chortles?

Danielson is adamant about the ‘nothing’ part of his explanation. And while Bama slowed down the Aggies’ offense in the second half of the game, the first half up-tempo had a big impact. That attributed to players looking somewhat fatigued in the fourth quarter. Also, remember the fourth-quarter timeout Alabama had to blow because they couldn’t get lined up properly? That was a direct impact of the up-tempo offense.

Related: SEC’s 5 biggest revenge games 2013

So, I wouldn’t conclude the Aggies’ up-tempo had ‘no’ affect on the game.

But Danielson noted why Saban doesn’t like up-tempo offenses, and I agree with him.

“The reason I think Nick Saban doesn’t really love the up-tempo game is because he feels that he has an advantage because he is good with his substituted defenses.”

Danielson also noted the differing style of play calling and schemes between Saban and Kirby Smart and LSU’s John Chavis, who doesn’t substitute different personnel packages.

“Now, go to the other end of the spectrum. John Chavis could care a less. He plays the same 11 guys. When they go fast, he just stands there and says go ahead. He doesn’t change linebackers, he doesn’t change defensive backs. He just plays the same defense every time, and is just as affective against the up-tempo and he is against the huddle.”

That last four games Saban and Alabama have lost have come against dual-threat quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Jordan Jefferson (twice) and Cam Newton.

As I’ve said before, college football is asymmetrical, and that uneven nature is what makes this sport we love so unique. The continued evolution of hurry-up, no-huddle offenses is only the latest response to the long and drawn out struggle between offenses and defenses in a game we like to call football.


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