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Woody Hayes ran a faster offense than Urban Meyer does.

AngryWoody's picture
March 1, 2014 at 7:03pm
38 Comments

With all the controversy swirling around that "new-fangled" hurry up offense I thought this was interesting. From an SI article written in 1968:

...In the first half of the season the top college teams got off about 40% more offensive plays than the leading pro teams. Notre Dame averaged 93 plays a game; Yale, 89; Ohio State, 87; Georgia, 85. USC, with its ground attack, and Tennessee, with its consciousness about field position, still averaged 78 each. This compared with Los Angeles at 65 plays a game; Dallas, 63; Baltimore, 60 and Green Bay, 57.

"We are now getting plays off every 12 or 13 seconds," says Ohio State's Woody Hayes. "We are moving so fast I frequently can't get a play in from the sidelines. We'll hit 100 plays a game soon." This, coming from one of football's bastions of the conservative, makes it plain that something big has happened.

Quite naturally, all of this is driving the game's coaching giants goofy. Bear Bryant is sitting down there in Tuscaloosa with one of the best defensive teams he has ever had, allowing opponents only 10 points a game, but the Tide has been beaten twice and scared witless almost every week because it just can't score enough....

Woody Hayes ran the hurry up in 1968, and the wildest thing about it was that it was common place in college football at the time. This year Ohio State averaged 72.8 plays per game. 46 years ago In the era of good old fashioned slow football, Woody was running 87 a game. It just blows my mind because you've always been taught that Woody had a "slow, plodding, grind-it-out" (You'll hear that on ESPN at least 40 bazillion times next football season to describe the B1G) style offense, when he ran an up tempo hurry up offense (At least in in his later years). If you read further in the article it talks about how they were running the spread! In 1968! We've been told time and time again that the spread and the hurry up are these crazy new inventions that will fundamentally change the game of football and defense is dead and yadda, yadda, yadda. Turns out it's just more old news.

Deadly Nuts's picture

I wish I was alive to watch one of Woody's teams

LEBRON

+8 HS
lamplighter's picture

Some really great football back them >  the 68/69 and 75 teams were really special

rosycheeks's picture

Good post. This would stump every college football pundit out there.

+3 HS
rosycheeks's picture

After many months on this site, I just realized Deadly Nuts and Killer Nuts are not the same person.

+7 HS
Earle's picture

I believe they are both related to Poison Nuts. They all have the same last name.

Italics are for emphasis.

+11 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

But no relation to "Ah Nuts!"

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Mush's picture

Where's Deez Nuts?

+1 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

Earle, you have a way of finding conversations at exactly the right time. Bravo. 

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Earle must have gotten access to a secret "recent comments" section of the site ..... suspicious

+1 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Poison is our dad, deadly is my little brother

+5 HS
Deadly Nuts's picture

I was born about four months after Killer Nuts.

LEBRON

+3 HS
NW Buckeye's picture

Keep in mind that the clock stopping rules were different then.  Every time the ball went out of bounds the clock stopped until the next snap (today that only happens in the last 2 min. of each half, other wise the clock starts as soon as the ball is set on the field).  Also, there were far fewer official (or media) time outs.  So, the offense needed a spirited pace just to keep up with the clock. 

Saban's comments about continuous action are really funny, because the pace of the game that Woody coached in the 70's was about as near continuous as you can get in college football.  Remember that in those days only 2 games per year could be televised.  So the only clock stoppage giving a team time to recoup during play on a non televised game was the result of a team time out or injury.  Every punt, kick off, or change of possession was followed by a snap within 30 secs of placing the ball.   When the networks took over and added more commercials during broadcasts the NCAA adopted rules that in effect eliminated actual game time so the broadcast game would could be played in the same 3 hour time span as the previous non broadcast games.  The net effect was that we lost a lot of actual playing time within the broadcast format.  A game played under the old rules of stopping the clock whenever it went out of bounds could consume about 3:45+  when televised instead of a network determined 3 hour time slot. 

Thus, the hurry up offenses of today are just attempting to get in the number of plays that used to be the standard for top echelon teams of the 60's and 70's. 

+7 HS
AngryWoody's picture

These are some great points that I didn't know. The points you made, coupled with the points made in the article show that tempo and the spread is nothing new. And if there has been a spike in injuries (which I have never seen a real scientific study showing that to be the case) that tempo is likely not the root cause of it. I have been a believer for a long time that if there has been an increase in big time injuries it's because of poor tackling coaching and not an increase in the number of plays. The old "wrap em' up and bring em' down" way of tackling has been replaced with some sort of weird human battering ram style that I think is less safe and less effective at stopping other players. How many times have you seen a guy put his head down and charge straight at another player as hard as he can only to have the other player bounce off and just keep running?

I think that being trained to be safe in football is just like being trained to be safe in your job. I used to work in a kitchen and they taught me how to use a knife. Once I learned how to use a knife safely it didn't matter how much I used my knife I was safer than when before I knew the safest technique. I think the same goes for tackling and until we return sanity to how players collide with each other we wont see a meaningful reduction in player injuries.

Our Honor Defend!

+4 HS
Jeeves's picture

The Golden Age of college football for me. The continuous flow of a quick relentless ground game was a thing of beauty to see without all of the intrusion of television timeouts.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Boy that is so hard to believe but stats don't lie. The run game really burned the clock as well

+1 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

I guess it didn't burn much clock if you were basically in a simplified offense.  Seems like an early version of what Auburn does. 

Phillips.449's picture

Thanks for pointing this out!  Good read! 

hit_the_couch's picture

I hear a lot of talk about this fast O that Meyer is supposed to run; I hope one day I actually see it.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Good stuff, very interesting.  Must read for Nick Saban.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Buckeye Bruce's picture

On the DVD of the 1969 Rose Bowl, the OSU offense is described as a power spread option. Sound familiar?

+3 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

Sounds exactly the OSU offense of last 2 seasons under Meyer.

+3 HS
brandonbauer87's picture

This find is almost a Buckeye revelation. History repeating itself to the point of being almost exact. Right down to the Alabama coach complaining. 

+3 HS
I_Run_The_Dave's picture

If Tom Herman goes to a MAC school for a few years and then replaces Brady Hoke at scUM I am going to personally blame you for the ensuing 10 year war.

+1 HS
countrybuckeye's picture

From what I have read here today, I believe the time is ripe for a book comparing Urban to Woody as it relates to styles.

BoFuquel's picture

Let's at least wait until UM wins a B1G Championship, before there is an apotheosis, if he ever dose. I'm still waiting. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

TUNBUCK89's picture

As soon as we have competent defense, UFM will bring the goods to Columbus. And if Ash can mold our defense into a great one AKA the Silver Bullets, the Buckeyes wil be a force of nature.

BuckeyeinToledo's picture

This is an excellent find. Chip Kelly just watch a bunch of Woody film? 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

bull1214's picture

today's "new" offenses like urban, chip and malzahn run are basically offenses that were ran when football was in its early stages. the passing game took over for a long time and now these run based offenses are seen as new. the triple option of ga. tech is an old school offense but its extremely similar to what malzahn runs. the only difference is that he stole it from a book called I believe the Delaware wing-T and still gets credit for being an offensive guru.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

It's the old saying, everything that's old is new again. Or conversely, that there really is nothing new under the sun, Or to quote Barenaked Ladies, it's all been done before.

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Yep, that's the verse I was thinking of - I just didn't have the citation off the top of my head. Thanks for the assist!

(Also, I was going to use the phrase "Biblically-speaking," but without spellcheck on the threads, I was paranoid I would misspell Biblically. I'm still not sure I got it right...)

I_Run_The_Dave's picture

I ended up reading the whole book of Ecclesiastes after I posted that (I'm pretty sure I had never read the whole thing).  I am now somewhat depressed :(  Everything is meaningless under the sun.  We could win the national championship, or we could lose 12 straight, the same fate (of the offseason and the fire Fickell threads) awaits us both.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Perhaps this is why the God-fearing Senator from Youngstown was so successful during his tenure: he knew that win or lose, one need not sweat the small stuff. And in an Ecclesiastical sense, it's all small stuff, right?

+1 HS
Whoa Nellie's picture

Or as Yogi Berra said: "It's deja vu all over again."

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”

+1 HS
Earle's picture

Not very often that you see the wisdom Solomon and Yogi quoted in the same thread.

Italics are for emphasis.

+1 HS
Whoa Nellie's picture

"Fred Haise, Renaissance Man."

“Don’t fear criticism. The stands are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down on the field are the doers, they make mistakes because they attempt many things.”