Will Cougs make DVR obsolete this season?

IF IT'S GOING to happen, surely there will be signs of it this spring at Washington State, and possibly as soon as Thursday when the drills kick off out on the Palouse. It's a growing trend in college football these days, but there is one important factor that could render it more effective at WSU than anywhere else in the Pac-12.

What is it? Pace of play. Or more defined, the number of seconds between snaps.

When the DVR came along, it was as if it was designed specifically for college football. The time between snaps matched up perfectly with the 30-second fast forward button.

And those who couldn't watch the game live could later speed through their recording, those who wanted to watch it again could zip through the game using the 30-second fast forward button.

But that 30-second button was genius.

As soon as a play ended, you could click it and it put you at a point just before the next snap. The average time between football plays was usually about 33-35 seconds so you had a second or two to see and weigh both offensive formation and defensive alignment -- and then the ball was hiked.


THINGS STARTED TO change a few years ago, as offenses endeavored to go faster and faster. Suddenly and more and more, that 30-second jump put you into the next play's aftermath.

Oregon was running about 23 seconds between plays in 2010 according to the Wall Street Journal. Against Washington State last year, it was down to around 21 seconds for the Ducks. UCLA's goal last year under new coach Jim Mora was to snap a play every 16 seconds – they didn't get there a lot of times, but they were certainly a much faster offense.

SO WHAT ABOUT the Cougs?

Much of the time in 2012, a 30-second fast forward put you just before the next snap when Wazzu was on offense. Sometimes they were faster, but not a whole lot and not consistently.

When the Cougars did run their plays faster – with less than 30 seconds between snaps – they were more often effective than not.

THE AIR RAID can feature more checks at the line and therefore more time pre-snap. But the offense is made to stress and tire a defense. And in Mike Leach's second year, it would seem primed to only go faster.

The question is how fast.

There is a point of diminishing returns for any offense that aspires to snap it fast. But it's also hard to believe WSU has reached their full operating capacity in regard to seconds between snaps.

ONE PLUS THAT could be realized if the Cougs go faster – opposing d-linemen and blitzers will become more physically and mentally exhausted because of Wazzu's wide splits.

That was supposed to happen last year. The d-ends and blitzers have to come from further away because of the wide splits taken by the o-line. Sustained drives would take their toll and by the end of the third quarter, defenders would be dragging with hands on hips.

But what will trump that, every time, is if the defensive front overpowers the o-line. That's what happened to Washington State last year, in no small part because WSU's o-line was on the smallish side last season.

Instead of being stood up and stoned at the line of scrimmage, defenders ran over and around WSU in 2012. The extra yards defenses had to cover against WSU's wide splits were effectively nullified with defenders consistently facing too little resistance.

But if the Cougs are more solid, more stout up front this season – and they're expected to be – that fatigue factor comes back into play with a vengeance.

How fast is fast, when it comes to the Air Raid?

We'll start to find out Thursday, when spring drills kick off.

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