After some SEC coaches said that up-tempo offenses were hurting the game of football, Kliff Kingsbury pointed out that his pass-heavy attack is a perfectly fair tactical response to their bigger, stronger squads.
In October, Nick Saban -- then only coming off one national title win -- complained about fast-paced teams, raising issues of player safety and saying no-huddle attacks are unfair to defenses, eventually asking "is this what we want football to be?" In June, Bret Bielema proposed a rule to slow down offenses, again citing player safety.
Kingsbury, was born as a quarterback in Mike Leach's Air Raid at Texas tech, matured as an offensive coordinator a similar system under Kevin Sumlin at Houston, and finally emerged from the coaching cocoon as Johnny Manziel's QB coach last year. Now the Red Raiders head coach, he has no intentions of slowing down, and scoffed at his colleague's claims of player safety:
"I would have to see some scientific or statistical information showing an increase in injuries, because to me right now it's just talk," Kingsbury said.
He elaborated, blaming the personnel advantage that teams like Saban's defensive juggernauts and Bielema's behemoth Wisconsin lines had for his strategical tweaks:
"You want me to play slower, well, OK, you need to get smaller, less strong defensive linemen. To me, it's asking to do that.
"Stop recruiting these beasts up front and we won't run as many plays.''
Kingsbury's got a bit of a point. As of right now, Alabama's recruiting class has three defensive tackles weighing in at over 300 pounds, and Arkansas' has one weighing in at 334 pounds. Texas Tech's has none. But he does have four wide receivers, two running backs, and a four-star athlete considered likely to play wide receiver at the next level, all speedier types weighing under 200 pounds.
It's a tradeoff: other teams can bog down the middle in ways Texas Tech can't contain, but they can throw the ball around their opponents, as Kingsbury's squads have been doing ever since he was under center instead of on the sidelines. We'll see if he can keep the pigskin flying for a team that finished No. 2 in passing yardage last year, even under a coach considered to be relatively conservative in Tommy Tuberville.
The coaches claiming injury risks probably have a point -- more plays per game means more people running into each other at high speeds -- but as Kingsbury points out, there isn't any concrete evidence on that front yet. It could be that a game based on speed rather than power would lead to less forceful tackles.