August 24, 2010
Brian Kelly already talks fast. The process that brought him to Notre Dame last December was fast. His six-year rise from an obscure gig in Division II to one of the most high-profile coaching jobs in the country was almost too fast for some Irish fans. His practices are fast, only averaging a little over two hours. Of course, he's aiming to engineer a fast turnaround. And he intends to run a hurry-up, no-huddle offense that gets to the line fast, scores fast and gets off the field fast – maybe, he suggested Tuesday in a press conference with Irish media, even a little too fast for standard commercial breaks during home games:
Compared to "how it was played in the past," Kelly's emphasis on tempo won't mean more plays: Notre Dame ran more plays last year under Charlie Weis than Kelly's offense got off at Cincinnati despite playing in one fewer game, packing in about 70.7 offensive snaps per game to the Bearcats' 64.1 snaps. But where Notre Dame got off those plays in about 32 minutes per game, well above the national average, Cincy held the ball for just 25:46, the lowest time of possession in the country.
In that short time, though, the Bearcats were also fourth nationally in scoring and 11th in total yards. In efficiency terms, that's 1.5 points per minute with the ball, second in the "Best Use of Time" category only to Houston (1.57 points per minute), and significantly better than Notre Dame's 0.94 ppm. In raw terms, that worked out to about a touchdown more per game for Kelly's offense than Weis'. The tradeoff to that kind of urgency on offense is that the defense spends more time on the field with less rest between possessions, one of the reasons the Bearcats also gave up more yards than any other defense in the Big East. They faced about eight more plays (roughly a full offensive possession) per game than the conference average.
Maybe NBC can help with that. But if he actually convinces a major network to compromise for less ad time before he's even won a game, either a) That further helps explain why NBC is in last place, or b) Kelly's succeeded in tucking the faithful away in his pocket even faster than we thought.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.