Chris Brown, Smart Football's preeminent voice in football strategy blogging, has written extensively about Guz Malzahn's unique offensive system. Brown astutely points out that Malzahn's offense is predicated less on complex schemes and more on speed--not the kind of speed that makes for a good 40-yard dash time, but hustling up to put the ball in play.
Homerism actually wrote about this earlier in the year prior to the national championship game. I calculated a statistic for offensive and defensive tempo for every team in the country based on time of possession and total number of snaps.
Looking back, we found that the SEC actually played at a plodding pace relative to the rest of the country. Three of the bottom 10 teams in the country in terms of offensive tempo in 2008 came from the SEC.
Last year, Malzahn's offense at Tulsa averaged 22.819 seconds per play, good for fifth fastest in the country. That's nearly four seconds faster than the quickest team in the SEC, LSU.
On the defensive side, Arkansas, whose non-conference schedule included Malzahn's TU offense, was forced to play at the fastest defensive tempo of all the SEC schools at 25.717 seconds per play. The Hogs were the only team in the conference whose defense played above the national media of 26.779 seconds per play. In fact, three of the 10 slowest teams in terms of defensive tempo were SEC members.
So it should be interesting to see if the best conference in the country can handle the Malzahn's fast-break O. Florida shut down the high-speed Sooner machine in the national championship game in January. However, that came after preparing for weeks during an extended break. The Tigers should provide a tough match-up problem for their fellow conference mates this year, and I expect they'll win a game or two for that reason alone.