Alabama Football: Tampa will be ‘Fastball City’ Saturday afternoon

Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports /

Saturday afternoon’s Alabama football game will be fast in one way but not in another. New clock rules were intended to reduce the length of games while fewer plays could be run. The new rules have actually worked as intended. According to Ross Dellenger, so far in the 2023 season, games are 6-7 total plays shorter. Dellenger also states the average duration of games is less by five minutes. TV watchers are skeptical that the time saved has not been surpassed by even more commercials than before the new rules.

The ‘actual’ fast on Saturday will be what the South Florida offense will try to do. USF Head Coach, Alex Golesh is a fastball offense guy who used it successfully at UCF and Tennessee with Josh Heupel. Golesh needs his Bulls to go even faster than Tennessee as compensation for talent deficiencies.

Among teams that have played just two games, USF is No. 1 in the FBS in their total number of offensive plays. The Bulls have run 176 plays, compared to 126 for the Crimson Tide. On Wednesday, Nick Saban said the Bulls will go fast, fast and fast, and doing so could cause the Alabama Crimson Tide defense problems.

Alabama Football Situational Packages

Situational substitutions are a mainstay of Nick Saban’s defenses. The fastball teams Alabama plays make the defensive subbing difficult. Going into third-down plays, if the offense has not subbed, the Alabama secondary will not be able to adjust with personnel changes and thereby not utilize all its secondary packages.

Since all of the Tide’s top defensive backs have been able to practice this week, Alabama should be better able to deal with a frenetic pace. One benefit for the Tide in Saturday’s game is it will be good practice for defending Tennessee later in the season.

Going fast can mean quicker three-and-outs for less proficient offenses. South Florida is No. 49 in the FBS at 441 yards per game. But the games were against Western Kentucky and FCS, Florida A&M. Western Kentucky is No. 121 among FBS teams in Total Defense.

Even worse for Golesh and the Bulls, South Florida is averaging giving up 5.5 sacks per game, placing it at No. 128 in the FBS.

Teams have to do what they do, but South Florida will likely be hurt more than helped by going fast against the Crimson Tide.

Next. No, Nick Saban is not retiring. dark

What the South Florida game affords Alabama Football more than anything is a chance to get its mind reconnected to playing efficient football. Beating the Bulls is not a championship-level test, but it will be a test of how quickly and how well Alabama can re-focus after losing to Texas.