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August 24, 2012
Before Sam Bradford and Kevin Wilson started Oklahoma down the path of the non-stop, up-tempo, no-huddle offense in 2008, there was a guy running the show named Jason White.
He's that guy who led the charge to rewrite the NCAA offensive record books back in 2003. In that season, the Sooners averaged almost 43 points per game with White under center. White, in a Heisman Trophy winning campaign, completed 278-of-410 passes for 3,846 yards, 40 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
In 2003, Oklahoma ran 1,018 plays on the season. They also finished that season with a 21-14 loss to LSU in the national championship game.
Fast forward to 2008 and the implementation of the no-huddle offense. Bradford picked up a Heisman for his efforts, as he completed 328-of-483 passes for 4,720 yards, 50 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions.
In 2008, Oklahoma ran 1,106 plays. The Sooners would finish that season with a 24-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game.
The biggest difference in OU's best offense pre no-huddle, versus their best offense post no-huddle isn't really demonstrated in the offensive numbers.
The difference lies in the defensive numbers.
In 2003, Oklahoma had just one game (35-7 loss to Kansas State in Big 12 Championship) where they gave up 30 points to another team.
In 2008, The Sooners gave up 45 points to Texas, 31 points to Kansas, 35 points to Kansas State, and 41 points to Oklahoma State.
In 2003, Oklahoma held five teams under double digits scoring totals (North Texas - 3, Iowa State - 7, Oklahoma State - 9, Texas A&M - 0, Baylor - 3).
How many teams did Oklahoma's 2008 team hold in single digits?
Just one. Tennessee-Chattanooga lost to Oklahoma in the home opener 57-2.
Jason White recently appeared on SoonerScoop.com's brand new podcast to talk about the differences in OU's no-huddle approach versus the offensive system in place when he was in Norman.
White loves the system.
"Anytime you can run that many plays in one game, it gives you so many opportunities to make plays, to throws passes, there's just so many advantages to doing the no-huddle than to huddle up every time," said White. "Heck, some games they're doubling what we used to run in one game. That just creates a lot more opportunities, more chances to score touchdowns - there's just a lot of advantages to it if it's run right."
But White did throw in a caveat.
"I also feel like there's some disadvantages too," he said.
So we had to ask. Does Oklahoma need to bring the huddle back to Owen Field?
"I think you do. I really think you should gameplan that," White responded. "Maybe we're going to run huddle 20 percent of the time and run no-huddle the rest. Maybe we're just going to do it game-by-game? Maybe we're going to come out because we feel the defense struggles in this department and we're going to no-huddle them the entire game?"
White isn't saying anything that hasn't been hinted at by Bob Stoops during this preseason. On Aug. 4, Bob Stoops even opened the door to question the no-huddle approach and their relationship to recent struggles defensively.
"We're getting a lot more plays than a lot of other teams if you're just looking at (defensive) statistics like total yards. We contributed to it too by snapping it fast," Stoops said. "In the end, that's something you have to balance. Or maybe there's times where huddling is the right thing to do if you're not getting the stops defensively or if you're not staying on the field offensively."
You can make an argument just based on the Big 12's reputation compared to the SEC. The SEC is not a trendsetter offensively. But teams from all over the country salivate at the thought of having the type of defensive talent found in that conference.
White opined huddling could be a better approach when facing teams with more talent on the defensive side of the ball.
"Maybe you're playing somebody that's a little better, or has better athletes and you huddle the whole game," he offered.
It's all a very Rob Gordon/High Fidelity question. What came first? The music or the misery?
The no-huddle or the defensive collapses?
"For a lot of years we did have a strong defensive reputation and felt like in a a lot of years that's really what we hung our hat on," said Stoops when asked if recent defensive struggles have hurt his pride. "To not be that way in a few game is bothersome."
Bothersome enough to change the Sooners approach offensively?
Heisman Trophy winner Jason White certainly thinks so.