Missouri hurry-up a familiar challenge

Missouri's no-huddle offense is going to make it important for Alabama coaches and players on the sideline to relay plays and personnel into the game quickly. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Playing against no-huddle offenses has become almost the norm in college football, much to the chagrin of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who wondered aloud last week whether the NCAA should consider legislation to slow down the pace of the game.

The inability to substitute, he said, caused issues for the defense and could lead to injuries.

"It's obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we're averaging 49.5 points per game with people who do those kinds of things, so more and more people are going to do it," he said. "I just think there has to be some sense of fairness, in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?"

The comments came on the heels of a 33-14 win over Ole Miss. It was the first game since the season opener where the Alabama defense gave up two touchdowns, both on drives where the Rebels pushed the tempo and got the Tide out of position in key moments.

This week, Alabama gets more of the same. Missouri comes calling on Saturday with its no-huddle spread attack.

"You know we play against no-huddle all the time, and I think it’s just a part of the world that we live in now," Saban said. "I think the more you play against it the more your players sort of develop a conscious awareness of how they need to focus and what they need to do to play that pace in the game."

Said UA defensive end Damion Square: "Once again, you've just got to adapt. You've got to come out there and set the tone. No matter what they're trying to do as a defense, your objective is to come and set the tone. And if you can do that, then you control the outcome of the game, no matter what the offense is trying to put out on the field."

Square said getting subs in can be difficult, especially given the sideline rule that keeps players off the field and subsequently, out of reach of the coaches at times. With so much havoc, getting the play call in can be difficult.

"Sometimes you've got to stay in the situation and just play what you've got," Square explained. "So you're trying to get defensive calls in and sometimes the communication is off so some guys get caught standing around, and sometimes you don't get the signal out to the other guy and he doesn't play the right gap and you get out-leveraged as a defense sometimes."

Starting cornerback Dee Milliner said facing hurry-up teams like Ole Miss, Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky should help the defense against Missouri.

"Very much," Milliner said when asked about the potential advantage of experience. "Ole Miss is a team that has a fast-paced offense. I think they match up great with Missouri. They do sort of the same things with the hurry-up offense."

While the tempo may be familiar to the Tide, the way Missouri executes isn't.

"With them spread out like that, they do it mostly the whole game," Milliner said. "It's just different like that. Then they do the hurry-up offense, so that can be a change-up for us. They do most of the same things other teams do except besides the hurry-up and the spread every down."

Despite starting quarterback James Franklin being out of action with a strained MCL, the Tide are expecting the same type of attack from backup Corbin Berkstresser.

"Both of those guys are exceptional athletes and they run their offense well," Square said. "They do what they do fast and they want to get a lot of plays out on the field real fast, get the defense on their toes and try to control the tempo in the game. But us as a defense we want to come out and show different blitzes and different things like that to try to control the tempo of the game."


"We've had some time to refocus on our goals and what we really want to achieve this season and get back to doing some things we maybe weren't in the first few weeks. We've kind of had a bad habit of playing to the level of our opponents a little bit maybe, and not maybe brining our best every time we get on the field. That's something we've been talking about a lot -- it doesn't matter who is on the field, it's about us and about Alabama and we want to show the best product we can anytime we walk onto the field. So in order to do that we've really been refocusing on the little things." -- said center Barrett Jones on coming back from the bye week.