Tennessee Volunteers head coach Josh Heupel has hit back at Kirby Smart’s claim that uptempo offenses take the pressure off quarterbacks. Heupel, who runs one of the fastest offenses in college football, said no one in America puts more pressure on their quarterbacks than his program. Heupel’s team had the highest-scoring offense in the country, averaging 46.1 points per game, with Hendon Hooker, who passed for 6,080 yards, 58 touchdowns, and just five interceptions in 24 games, leading the way.
Smart, the Georgia Bulldogs head coach, had said that in his system, quarterbacks had to be able to process information quickly: Get the signal, get people lined up, see what the defense is in, and correct the situation if necessary. In Tennessee, however, Heupel’s quarterback must make multiple decisions on every play, including running run checks, pass checks, reading boxes, and making alerts and kills.
Hooker, who is climbing NFL Draft boards and could be a first-round pick later this month, controlled the entire game on every single play, Heupel said after Tennessee’s Pro Day on March 30.
Heupel’s offense was a juggernaut last year, with the Vols finishing fifth in passing offense, averaging 326.1 yards per game with 38 touchdowns. They also ranked 26th in rushing, averaging 199.46 yards per game and scoring 40 times on the ground. Smart, on the other hand, runs a more methodical offense in which the quarterback is the primary decision-maker.
The coaches’ points of view raise the question: Which system is better? The answer may be that it depends on the players in the program. Smart’s system has been successful at Georgia, and he has a championship ring. However, Heupel’s Tennessee team last year was explosive, and Hooker is projected as a first-round pick despite concerns over his ACL tear last November.
Given this context, it is clear that whatever system works is fine if the players can execute it. Heupel’s players excel at his uptempo offense, and Hooker was able to manage it expertly. It will be interesting to see how well Hooker performs in the NFL and what the outcome of QB comparison tests will be.
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