By Chuck Markiewicz
Arundel High School (MD)
Here at Arundel, we believe very strongly in General George S. Patton’s famed saying that "an imperfect plan implemented immediately and violently will always succeed better than a perfect plan." No part of our program better exemplifies that concept than the no huddle principles that we use to run our offense. This article will cover in detail the way that we practice and employ different tempos and the communication system that we use to make it all happen. As the quote above implies, these plans are by no means "perfect" as they are always a work in process. The entire system has been derived over time from a wide variety of sources. The key is that we worked to find out what worked best for us.
Our No Huddle Evolution
Our no huddle experiment all started with our team goals. When I was a defensive coordinator in the 80’s, I was paranoid about all of the options that were open to the offense when we sat in one defensive look. Later, when I became an Offensive Coordinator, I decided to put what I had learned on the other side of the ball to use and limit the looks that a defense was able to give us. That is where the no huddle came in. We combined the no huddle concepts with our Run and Shoot offense (from John Yaccino, Penn Trafford HS (PA). From there our OC, Dave Doy, spearheaded the development of the system that we currently employ here at Arundel HS. We have found that a major key is to keep an open mind to ideas that fit our philosophy of coaching and playing the game.
The Importance of Possessions
Over the years our off season evaluation told us that we averaged a touchdown for every 3 possessions averaging 36 points per game. This was roughly our average until 2005 when we made a conscious decision to find some ways add 3 more possessions per game to try and up our average to 42 points per game. The project became trying to add things that would enable us to find those 3 more possessions.
We didn’t try to do this all in one year. Our goal was to try to add something every year, test out our theory to see if it held up and add more the next year. We feel like our ideas have some merit because since we started to implement the changes in 2005 we have averaged over 42 points per game. We are still actively engaged in trying to find are still ways to add more possessions.
Here are some of the things that we have used to create additional possession:
- Added new tempo (Fastball) (2006)-Snap the ball as soon as it was ready for play. Our goal has become to snap the ball 100 times per game. Our highest total to date was in the 2005 State Championship game.
- Stressed Turnovers on Defense (2007)- A turnover circuit was implemented and practiced daily as a part of our pre game routine. Our ability to create and recover fumbles improved dramatically once we implemented this routine.
- We became a Punt Block Team exclusively (2008)-Stopped trying to return punts and became exclusively a punt block team. What we found was, other teams became so obsessed with protecting their punter that we were able to increase the yardage gained on punt return with an increased number of returns for a TD.
- Increase our 4th Down Conversion Rate (2009)-We made a conscious to decision to go for it on 4th down. Our OC knows prior to the drive whether he has 4 downs to use. We no longer make a snap decision to use all four downs. Our OC knows that he has four downs at the beginning of the drive. We feel that it takes some pressure off of his playcalling and drops the average per play from 3.3 yards per play to 2.2.
- Onside kick as a weapon (2012) - We have devised a system that enables us to kick the ball to certain parts of the field and on side kick without taking an inordinate amount of practice time to accomplish our goals. It is still a work in progress. We have had a lot of fun coming up with a system that looks the same and attacks many different areas of the field. The onside kick has become a HUGE part of our special team s repertoire. Our offensive goals are as follows:
Creating Offensive Goals that Fit Our System
In addition to the possessions goal in place for the team, we created a set of goals and priorities for the offense that were aligned with the team philosophy. Here is what our offense is trying to do: