Ironically, many no-huddle coaches have found advantages in the form of using a “sugar” huddle in order to infuse panic at defenses. The huddle itself is a quick gathering of offensive personnel at or around the line of scrimmage with the intention of keeping the defense off guard. Tommy Shoemaker, the head coach at Central Arkansas Christian School (AR), studied the same four concepts Gus Malzahn was using in his sugar huddle system and has implemented them into his own tempo package, which he details in this exclusive clinic report. Read the report here.
By Tommy Shoemaker
Head Football Coach
Central Arkansas Christian School (AR)
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Like many coaches, I am always interested in an innovation or wrinkle that could give my team an edge in preparing for our opponents. As a Hurry-Up No-Huddle (HUNH) offense, that wrinkle for us has ironically been a huddle – the sugar huddle. This concept and many of our sugar huddle plays were “borrowed” from Gus Malzahn and his offenses at Tulsa and Auburn. In this clinic report, I will explain the advantages of the sugar huddle, its implementation, and a few plays that we use out of the sugar huddle look.
Sugar Huddle Advantages
While the core foundation of our offensive philosophy is using a hurry-up no-huddle, we also believe that mixing in a sugar huddle can provide us with some unique advantages. Many of the advantages that we gained from an up tempo attack are evident as well when using a sugar huddle. The two main advantages are preparation and panic. Using a sugar huddle adds additional prep time for our opponent and is not easily simulated. Adding to the difficulty of preparing for a sugar huddle is the fact that we typically change our sugar huddle plays weekly. It is tough to prepare for something you have never seen. Another advantage is the tendency for teams to panic trying to get lined up. Many times the defense will still be adjusting when the ball is snapped. This sense of panic can often cause the defense to lose its aggressiveness.
Practicing the Sugar Huddle
Like any part of your offense, it is important to be intentional about how you organize, install and practice the sugar huddle component. When installing a sugar huddle, we give each play a name, such as “Diamond” or “Pistol.” This one word name indicates the personnel grouping, formation, motion and play. This allows us to be very specific, yet simple when utilizing these plays.
On a typical game week we use Monday as a walk thru for our game plan. We will install any new plays and review the sugar huddle plays to be used that week. We typically go into a game with 4-6 sugar huddle plays. On Tuesday, we will run through all sugar huddle plays for that week at the end of our normal offensive script. We practice them at the end without tempo so that we can emphasize the execution and the details of the plays. Wednesday is the day when the plays are dispersed throughout the script. The emphasis is on changing personnel groups efficiently and scripting the plays based on field position or down and distance situations. Similar to many teams, Thursday is a run thru of our game plan. All of the sugar plays are worked into the script based on where we intend to call them on the field.
What You’re Missing…
Join X&O Labs’ Insiders, an exclusive membership-based website, and you’ll get instant access to the full-length version of this report—including access to everything X&O Labs has ever published. Plus, if you join today, you’ll also receive up to 4 FREE books mailed directly to your home or office. Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find in the full-length version of this report:
- The pre-snap mechanics and alignment of the sugar huddle.
- How Coach Shoemaker devises his sugar huddle into three play concepts: shots, short yardage and momentum plays.
- The “pistol” shot concept that Coach Shoemaker uses in his sugar huddle operation, including play responsibilities and video.
- The “diamond” shot concept that Coach Shoemaker uses in his sugar huddle operation, including play responsibilities and video.
- The “titan” short yardage concept that Coach Shoemaker uses in his sugar huddle operation, including play responsibilities and video.
- The “mustang” short yardage concept that Coach Shoemaker uses in his sugar huddle operation, including play responsibilities and video.
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The sugar huddle has been an invaluable addition to our HUNH offense. Its addition has allowed us to keep our opponents off balance, give our opponents additional material for which they must prepare, and provides us with big play opportunities.
Meet Coach Shoemaker: Tommy Shoemaker just completed his 19th season as a head coach including the last 8 years at Central Arkansas Christian School. In 2015, CAC posted an 11-2 record, which included a conference championship and state quarter-final appearance. His overall record as a head coach is 166-60-1.