Anderson, Part IV: Fast Signals

One of the most obvious new features to the North Carolina offense this fall will be its no-huddle tempo. Think of it as being in something close to a two-minute drill offense for the entire game, with the goal of running 80 offensive plays per game.

As a frame of reference, North Carolina ran 62 plays per game last season.

One common question among North Carolina fans involves the mechanics of playcalling. Without a huddle, how does that happen?

"We signal everything; there are a lot of teams that signal. A lot of huddle teams signal as well," offensive coordinator Blake Anderson said.

As it turns out, there are a variety of ways to send the play call into the offense from the no-huddle in order to expedite a fast tempo and to prevent the defense from picking up the play call.

"There are a lot of different ways to go about it, and we've done it a lot of different ways," Anderson continued. "We've put everything on wristbands; we've circled what wristband number we're using. We've used signals for all the skill guys."

The two primary objectives in getting the play into the offense are to enable the offense to run as quickly as possible and to disguise the play call from the defense. It also appears that the particular means the offense will use can vary over the course of a season, perhaps even a game.

"Everybody does it differently," Anderson said. "There's people that use big signs and boards on the sideline. But, we've always been a signal team and we gradually change, on any given year it seems, how we did it to be able to disguise things for the defense. So, you're going to see versions of all of those.

"You will see things that are wrist-banded. You will see things that are just signaled outright to the skill players, and you will see signs at times or cards from the sidelines as well. We will use all those different variables and different variations of signaling to give us a chance to be as fast as possible but also to disguise things as much as possible too."

What it will be is different from the method of play calling used in past years at North Carolina. In some pro-style offenses, it is not unusual to have a play call that attempts to cover every offensive player. In the no-huddle, with its emphasis on speed, will the terminology be simpler?

"Yes, I would say it is. I think you use less terminology than you would in a pro-style system," Anderson said.

"Although, I've had the luxury of spending time with different NFL groups and they don't all call plays a whole lot differently than we do. They don't all use number trees and lengthy terminology. There are some NFL teams that use what we call ‘concept terminology,' which allows you to eliminate some of the terms to make it a little bit simpler where you're not telling everybody exactly what to do, but you're giving them an overall picture and their rules are related to that picture."

Though the tempo of offense at North Carolina will be different, the terminology is structured to facilitate that tempo.

"In the interest of playing fast, keeping the terms to a minimum, we use more of the ‘concept terminology' -- we give them the concept name, but we don't tell every single player what to do; that speeds up the ability to communicate a lot," Anderson said.

Bottom line? "I do think that just the reduction in terminology will make thing simpler, especially on the quarterbacks, if nobody else," Anderson


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