By Sam Nichols
Editor's Note: Last year when we published our No Huddle Special Report, we had the opportunity to interview many coaches. One of those interviews that sticks out was with former Chip Kelly Assistant at New Hampshire Jason Thomas. Coach Thomas just finished his fifth season as head football coach at Burr and Burton Academy. He has built a start-up program into a consistent playoff contender. In his five years at BBA the football program has been to the state semi-finals twice and was the runner-up in 2011. His offense has average 35.5 and 41 points over the past two seasons and his Quarterback won the Gatorade Player of the year in 2011. Jason played collegiate football at UMass. His coaching career began at Randolph-Macon College, then made stops at the University of New Hampshire (where he worked under Chip Kelly), The University at Buffalo and Middlebury College. X&O Labs
SN: OK coach. Thanks for taking the time to interview with us. Tell us what brought you to install the no huddle? What were you hoping to accomplish by adding this to your offense?
JT: I first learned about the no-huddle at the University of New Hampshire with then coach Chip Kelly. I really loved the speed of the offense, the amount of reps we were able to get during a single practice and I saw how it affected the defenses we played.
Really there are so many benefits of the no-huddle. Here is a list of the ones I hoped to bring to my program:
- Adaptability for any offense
- Dictate the tempo of the game
- 2 minute concept built in
- Have time and capability to call the right play versus the right defense
- Mentally & Physically wear down your opponent
- Forces QB to be a leader
- Lengthen the game, more plays = more scoring opportunities
- It is fun for players and fans
- You’ll get more kids out to play
- More reps during practice
- Keeps players attention (they have to pay attention to keep pace)
- Great conditioning tool
- It is fun for the players
- Dictates the pace, which forces the defense out of their comfort zone
- Forces the defense to play base, or allows you to see their adjustments
- May force the defense into a bad situation (out of position, bad match-up, burn a timeout) if they can’t adjust to the set pace
- Prevents defenses from regrouping after a big offensive play
- Limits defensive substitutions
- Defensive coaches may have to find a way to communicate to their defense
- Other teams cannot simulate our tempo in practice
SN: Did switching to the no huddle have the effect on your team that you had expected? Any surprises either positively or negatively?
JT: Yes I think it was instrumental in our success. My school was 3-6 the year before I arrived and we went 8-2 my first year largely because we were the only team running the no-huddle. The offense improved by more than 15 points per game and we wore down our opponents as the game went on.
SN: That is quite a drastic change coach. Since you have been running the no huddle for a few years now, I am curious to hear about how much your system has changed over time.
JT: The system itself changed very little from year to year. If you have a sound system adjustments can be easily built in. However, I will say we are constantly looking for ways to play faster and disguise our signals better. We have progressed from one person signaling to now having two signalers and a person holding a play board. I also spend a great deal of time trying to refine how we practice our no-huddle to maximize our reps.