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Fast 60 — Tenn Tech changing its philosophy
When Watson Brown says that the Tennessee Tech football team will be the “Fastest 60 Minutes in Football,” it’s not a goal, it’s a promise.
After seeing what the Golden Eagles were capable of against then-Football Championship Subdivision No.6 Jacksonville State in the team’s 2010 finale, Brown knew it was possible. After all, Tech rallied back to score 28 unanswered points against the Gamecocks to end their bid for the Ohio Valley Conference championship. Tech trailed by 10 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter and won by 11, topping JSU 35-24.
If they could do it once, they could do it again.
“In layman’s terms, we want to speed up the game,” Brown said. “We think our plusses for this team are depth and experience. I don’t think anybody in the conference is deeper than us, there may be some better players at spots than us maybe, but they’re not deeper. We’re going to try to make the game longer by just going like you saw in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville State, just a real fast pace. We’re going to do that offensively, then we felt like we had to speed up on defense.
“Watching us play, we didn’t play fast enough to me. We didn’t react quick enough. We didn’t chase the ball as fast as we needed to. It’s just a lot of little things like that. The combination of that is where ‘the Fastest 60 Minutes of Football’ comes from.”
Tech isn’t the first team to try to change its philosophy in that way as Brown cited Oregon, Texas Tech and several other schools who have adopted this method.
“We’re going to play the Oregon style,” Brown said. “That’s what you’ll see, especially in conference play. This isn’t unique to us and college football has changed in a lot of ways. Basically, people are using two philosophies – shorten the game and try to win it in the fourth quarter, or lengthen the game. We’re just changing the philosophy we’ve been playing with. The first few years, when we were really young, we tried to shorten the game – try to keep the ball for long periods of time and try to get to the fourth quarter with a chance to win. But now, we’re going at it at a completely different way.
“Texas Tech started this a few years back and were really the first, I thought, that really did this. Murray State has done this in some ways. It’s not something unique to us, but it fits us and it may fit us for the rest of the time. If we do a good job recruiting, we’re always going to be able to do this by having a lot of good players and a lot of depth. Play to what your strengths are. Every school has got to be different. Tech’s different than everybody else in our league and we have to play to our strengths.”
And going to a faster method of play against the Gamecocks did seem to catch them off guard.
“I think it had a lot to do with it,” Brown said. “They took that long, long drive at the start of the third quarter and scored. We knew that then – I guess we started it late in the third quarter – this the only way I knew we could catch up, and when we went to it, we played well with it. It let our strengths show. I thought JSU got tired. By the middle of the fourth quarter, we had the advantage. That’s why I think it’s important to start that way and stick with it and make it a long game. We may not be dominating in the first half, but you’d like to think that by the middle of the third quarter, it will start wearing on people.”
Tech’s depth is a huge plus as the personnel is there to adopt the smash-mouth style.
“We’re deep,” Brown said. “We’re as deep as we’ve ever been on the offensive line. We can play eight guys who have played a lot and can go all the way to 10. The front seven on defense is three-deep. Our linebackers and defensive line are three-deep with experience. We have to play to our advantages. Let’s go man-to-man across the board – we might not have the best team in the league, but when you put the full team together, we’ll be as good as anybody. We felt like we were just as good a year ago and we’re going to be good enough again to win it this year.”
Of course, the goal is to finally bring an OVC championship back to Cookeville for the first time since 1975.
“We’ve got to get that monkey off of our backs,” Brown said. “We’ve got to to get that championship after 30-something years. This is the 50th anniversary of that 1961 team that won four straight (from 1958 through 1961). It would be a good time for us to honor that a little bit and get another championship to Tech.”
The speed change won’t be easy, but it should be an exciting change.
“It’s going to be fun to watch,” Brown said. “It’s a fan-friendly philosophy. It’s very fast-paced and it’s going to be exciting good or bad. You’re going to have to move the ball to do it, so we’re going to have to do well on offense and execute. The key is don’t lose your patience and just keep hammering away. Things may not be rolling in the first quarter, but, you’d like to think by the fourth quarter, it’s starting to wear on people.”
by Thomas Corhern, The Herald-Citizen