By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Unless it can be shown that up-tempo offenses lead to more injuries, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury sees no reason to slow down the game with rule changes.
Kingsbury is heading into his first season with the Red Raiders after being Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator last season. He has been a part of some of college football’s most prolific offenses as a quarterback at Texas Tech under coach Mike Leach from 1998-2002 and as a coach with the Aggies and Houston.
Last year, Kingsbury helped A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy and set numerous Southeastern Conference records.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema are among those who have suggested the NCAA consider tweaking the rules to limit how quickly offenses can run plays and allow defenses more time to substitute players.
“I would have to see some scientific or statistical information showing an increase in injuries, because to me right now it’s just talk,” Kingsbury told The Associated Press in an interview at a Manhattan hotel. “You want me to play slower, well, OK, you need to get smaller, less strong defensive linemen. To me, it’s asking to do that.
“Stop recruiting these beasts up front and we won’t run as many plays.”
From Oregon to Texas A&M to West Virginia, fast-paced spread offense that run upward of 75 plays per game are all the rage in college football. Scoring reached record levels last season, even in the SEC, which has prided itself on its stingy defenses during a run of seven straight national championships.
“I think if you have the right personnel that offense will work anywhere,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve always believed that. I think last year proved if you have the right guys you can run it in any league.”
Eighteen of 124 FBS teams averaged at least 80 plays per game in 2012. Marshall led with 92.8. Texas A&M ranked eighth with 83.5.
Alabama, which uses a more traditional pro-style offense and only picks up the pace when it has to at the end of a game or half, ranked 114th at 66.3 plays per game. Bielema’s Wisconsin team averaged 68.2 plays per game (99th in the nation) in 2012.
Kingsbury said the style of play, especially in the Big 12, where half the teams averaged at least 76 plays per game, has changed what it means to play good defense.
“There are some really good players in the Big 12 on defenses, but yards per game is through the roof. That’s just the nature of the game,” he said. “If Alabama or LSU or those guys faced these offenses all the time, each and every week, it would be different. That’s just a fact.
“We’re big on being great in the red zone, holding people to field goals and creating turnovers. I think the yards are going to be up there. It’s just the way the game is set up these days.”