Discover how No Huddle veteran Chuck Markiewicz has tweaked his system to keep his team among the elite offenses in the Maryland High school ranks. This year his no huddle concept has led to a perfect 7-0 record and over 46 points per game. Find out how he keeps his team moving fast here.
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.
In the end, we went to the no huddle for one reason. It gave us advantages that we thought would win us games. Here is a short list of some of the ways that we feel the up tempo no huddle gives us an edge:
Creates a sense of anxiety - We would like the defense to think about when they are going to get a rest as opposed to trying to execute their game plan.
Can put the defense in an unfamiliar situation - Keeping our opponent off balance and feeling like they don’t have control of what happens to them is our main goal. Unless their philosophy is the same as ours, this is not something that we feel they can recreate in practice.
Forces the defense to simplify - We can classify what we have seen over the years into basically 5 different fronts and 4 different coverages. That is what we teach and practice against every single day. Over the years we have rarely played against something we haven’t practiced against or can’t figure out quickly.
Easier to anticipate the Blitz - Our formations spacing and alignment enable us to see where the pressure is coming from and how to get us in to the best play possible. Blitz pick up is a must to practice and one of our most spirited periods of the week.
Allows us to establish and control tempo – At one point in time we used to use different speeds to try and keep our opponents off balance. In recent years we have made a conscious decision to go as fast as we can all of the time.
We practice our "stuff" – After all of these years we feel like we can anticipate what our opponents might try and do to us on Friday night, however, our philosophy is to do what we do and adjust as necessary. We love the challenge of trying to figure out what our opponent is trying to do to us.
Simplifies Gameplanning – We train our players to do certain things against certain fronts and coverages.
Stealth conditioning: We begin conditioning the minute we step on the field. Everything we do is at the same tempo we employ during the game. Our whole program, from the way we condition in the off season, to the way we practice is done at a high rate of speed. That in itself is a whole other topic. Our players often remark that, because of the way we practice, that the game slows down for them on Friday nights.
All that said, there certainly are trade-offs that comes with running our brand of no huddle. These include the time of possession, need for more kids (we two platoon), and less preparation since we don’t always know what we will face until we are on the field. Irregardless, we think that the pros vastly outweigh the cons at this point and I don’t see us changing anytime soon.
How We Do Tempo
We feel that we want to set a tempo that makes our opponents play at a speed which makes them anxious and uncomfortable therefore, we have recently decreased from 5 tempos to 3. We originally had a tempo that was about normal game speed, but we did it without the "benefit" of a huddle. For that we used the term "Diesel’. We have since dropped that tempo and currently employ 3 but we have added Copy/Opposite call to be a different wrinkle. Copy and opposite have added a great dimension to how fast we would like to play. Here is a more detailed look at each of those tempos. Here is a more in depth look at each of those concepts.
- It is our most favored and fastest Tempo. We want to snap the ball as Referee blows whistle to signal ready for play or ASAP after. The snap is dictated by the center, he calls the snap count.
- Play must be in to QB as players move into position
- Used with opposite and copy calls.
- Umpire and line judges often out of position.
- Pairs well with Fastball
- Players align as quickly as possible
- The QB will calls dummy cadence while OC is checking defensive alignment
- The coach on the sideline will then relay in the new play
- The QB will call the play based on the deployment of the defense
- We use cadence as a weapon and vary our snap count in these situations. Sometimes quickly and sometimes reverting to our normal cadence. This keeps our opponent guessing and has been big for us on 3rd and 5 or less.
- Our 4 minute offense. Our kids are not fond of this tempo!
What You're Missing:
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- How the no huddle concept has impacted their entire team as Coach Markiewicz explains his teams philosophy regarding possessions and pace.
- The three 1 word play concepts that Arundel uses to speed up the pace during a drive.
- How he sets up his practice to focus on drilling tempo.
- Plus Coach Markiewicz's keys to smooth and effective communication.
Throughout the years we have been very fortunate to have a number of highly qualified coaches who have had the opportunity to move on to Head Coaching positions, but have stayed in our program at two different schools. We have also had a number of great players who have bought in and sold out for the greater good of our program. We continue to experiment and grow in our up tempo philosophy and relish the challenge of finding ways to go faster. We readily admit that we do not have all the answers so we are constantly on the lookout for ways to become more efficient in the execution of our offense.