The term "NASCAR" pace was introduced to me in early 2002 as I was sitting around with some coaches at the University of Tennessee where I used to help in their summer football camp. It was late at night and we had been discussing pro's and con's of no huddle and talking about different signal and wristband systems.
I loved the concept and found myself fully embracing the idea- GO FAST- wear the defense out.
But we always ran into problems with our CODE RED or NASCAR offense.
One, wristbands are slow. It meant me thinking of what I wanted to call, finding it on my master sheet, signaling the number, having the players find it on the wristband, get lined up and snap.
I credit Gus Malzahn for getting out a systematic approach to implementing, practicing, and improving the PACE offense. And I do think the PRACTICE is the biggest key along with calling plays quickly.
By the way- as we got better at a NASCAR pace, we found that we could push practice reps to WARP speed! I distinctly remember a 10 minute team screen period where we easily ran through 25 screens in that time! I takes a lot of moving parts, ball spotters, etc.... but it was impressive to watch and helped create a sense of urgency.
Are there problems with pace? Sure- just like anything there are pro's and con's. One issue is that you can wear your own defense out in a game. If you are scoring or punting every 2 minutes, you can have your defense on the field for a long time.
Most pace teams do not shift or motion- so the defense gets an easy adjustment, though they have to be fast. More shifts and motion slows the pace down.
And there are times to slow down the pace. You might want to slow down to eat clock right before halftime or toward the end of the game. Some pace teams get bad in those situations. And I think you can get sloppy in technique- if speed is preeminent, you can rely too much on getting the opponent tired and mis-aligned and really not develop sound fundamentals.
But I found THE BIGGEST problem with pace is that you cannot go as fast in the game as practice. The officials are slow- the chain guys are slow- and in high school, the wide receivers have to be inside the numbers when the play clock starts. The change to the college 45 second play clock did help that that a good bit and so far, there is no 'hold up the play so the defense can sub'. But primarily in a game there is always that awkward delay as they get set, check with officials on alignment, and be still a count before the ball can legally be snapped.
In 2011 we adopted a 'modified pace' system where you get the chaos of lining up fast and snapping, but not giving the defense too much of a personnel and formation 'pre-read'.
Here is what it looked like:
Pre-Play Clock ATTACK HUDDLE:
CLOCK MANAGEMENT TEAM RULES:
WE NEED TIME RULES: 2 MINUTE OFFENSE
2) REQUEST MEASUREMENTS WHEN BALL IS CLOSE
3) GET OFF GROUND- GET BALL TO OFFICIAL- GET LINED UP
4) GET BALL OUT OF BOUNDS
5) ‘CLOCK IT’
6) CATCH ROLLING KICKS QUICKLY
7) PUNT OUT OF BOUNDS OR OUT OF ENDZONE
8) NEED 15 SECONDS FOR FAST FG
9) NO PENALTIES
10) NO WIDE REC SWAPS
11) NO SACKS
BLEED TIME RULES: 4 MINUTE OFFENSE
1) SLOW DOWN AND USE CLOCK
2) SNAP NO SOONER THAN 5 SECS ON PLAY CLOCK
3) STAY IN BOUNDS
4) HOLD BALL AS LONG AS POSSIBLE- GET OFF THE GROUND SLOWLY
5) STAY ON THE PILE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
6) NO PENALTIES
7) TAKE EASY THROWS- HIGH %
8) NEVER CALL TIME OUT
9) KICK BALL IN BOUNDS
10) LET THE BALL ROLL
11) LET THE CLOCK RUN
12) RUN PLAYS THAT TAKE TIME WITH FEW EXCHANGES
13) MAY NOT KICK ON 4TH DOWN
14) RUN ON THIRD AND PASS DEEP ON 4TH - (this is an old BCS positive territory tradition)
15) KNOW OPPONENTS TIME OUTS
16) MAKE OPPONENTS USE TIME OUTS
17) PRACTICE SLOW AND FAST SAFETY
Note- in situations, use an intentional off sides play- sometimes the refs will run the game clock by mistake and you get an extra down