NCAA FB

No-huddle a real challenge for officials

Mike Pereira wonders if the no-huddle offense is the future of football.
Mike Pereira wonders if the no-huddle offense is the future of football.
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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.

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Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel ran for two touchdowns, threw for two more and rushed for an FBS Bowl all-time record 229 yards as Texas A&M crushed Oklahoma, 41-13, Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.

That doesn't begin to tell the story.

And while Manziel started a trend becoming the first freshman in history to win the Heisman, he may be leading the charge on another one — the end of the huddle as we know it.

I got tired just watching him.

He passes, he scrambles and he runs — oh, does he run. To say he's fast doesn't do him justice. He makes a microwave look slow.

Never mind about the Oklahoma defense keeping up with him. Think for a second what the poor officials on the field — and the replay official in the booth — were going through.

To make matters worse, Oklahoma also runs the no-huddle.

Referee Tom Zimorski and crew really had to be on their toes. Along with having to keep track of the substitutions, they had to be aware that the ball could get snapped at any time. That meant they had to hustle more to get to their positions and prepare for the snap.

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And for the most part, I thought they did a really good job.

Keep in mind, true hurry-up, no-huddle offenses can get the ball snapped within about eight seconds of the ball's being declared dead. And Manziel ran the Texas A&M offense so true Friday that more teams may follow the Aggies' lead.

The poor replay official has to make a decision whether to stop a game, in many cases, before a replay is shown. In a no-huddle offense, television, too, finds itself at a disadvantage because it often don't have time to show a replay.

That means the replay official may have to rely on the recorded live shot to make his determination.

Everything speeds up when teams go no-huddle.

No-huddle. No-brainer.

Opposing defenses also suffer — and in this case, the Sooners suffered a lot more than Aggies.

There's no pressure on the offense; it's all on the defense. If the offense does not substitute, the defense can, but at its own risk. If the offense snaps the ball while the defense is substituting, it's a foul on the defense for having too many men on the field.

That means defensive players have to really hustle to get on and off the field to avoid a penalty. Players, especially defensive lineman, have a tendency to wear down.

On the other hand, if the offense substitutes into a no-huddle offense, the referee will hold up play and allow the defense to match up to the offensive substitutions. Still no risk to the offense, other than having to wait a little longer to snap the ball.

So Manziel and the Aggies may have given football a blueprint for the offenses of the future. Now all they need is a Johnny Football to run it.

Tagged: Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Johnny Manziel

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