Nice piece in the NY Times about the University of Oregon’s innovative football offense, which turns the game into something that’s paced a bit more like soccer or basketball.
In the city of the distance-running legend Steve Prefontaine — Eugene is known as Tracktown, U.S.A., and is also where the sporting-goods company Nike was started — Kelly has transformed football into an aerobic sport. This style is particularly of the moment because it is apparent that football, at least in the short term, will become less violent. Kelly’s teams have found a new way to intimidate, one that does not involve high-speed collisions and head injuries. “Some people call it a no-huddle offense, but I call it a no-breathing offense,” Mark Asper, an Oregon offensive lineman, told me. “It’s still football. We hit people. But after a while, the guys on the other side of the line are so gassed that you don’t have to hit them very hard to make them fall over.”
In Kelly’s offense, the point of a play sometimes seems to be just to get it over with, line up and run another. The play that preceded the last touchdown was a one-yard loss — a setback in traditional offensive schemes in which down and distance are paramount. But “third and long” is not as difficult a proposition for the offense when the opposing defense can barely stand up. “Obviously, all of our plays are designed to gain yards,” Gary Campbell, Oregon’s running-backs coach, explained. “But our guys understand the cumulative effect of running them really fast.”