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The faster they go, the more tired they get, too.

Unless their offense happens to run no-huddle, most defensive players don’t experience the full force of playing nearly nonstop until the game starts, when it’s too late.

And because the opposing team is playing so quickly, often snapping the ball as soon as the official places it on the field, there often isn’t time to get substitutions in, leaving the players on the field gasping for air.

Oregon has been the master of going faster, its revved-up offense leaving opposing players so tired they’ve faked injuries to get a breather.

“When you wear them down, they get tired and they start messing up checks, they start messing up what they’re doing _ bigger plays you kind of fall into it,” said Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, whose no-huddle offense ran 182 combined plays and had 1,051 total yards against Northwestern and Southern California to open the season. “That’s kind of where it evolved to.”

The progression of the no-huddle within a program starts with getting players into better shape.

When Rodriguez first took over in the desert, he had a hard time implementing his attack because he had what he called “the worst-conditioned team in the country.”

He kept pushing the pace in practice until the Wildcats got into shape and they’ve been full throttle since the season started, setting a school record with 182 total plays _when both teams’ snaps are combined _ in each of their wins over Toledo and Oklahoma State to move into the rankings for the first time in nearly two years.

Arizona State coach Todd Graham faced a similar challenge trying to turn a program that had lacked discipline into a smooth-operating, fast-paced machine. He and the rest of the coaching staff spent the spring and fall practices screaming at the Sun Devils to sprint everywhere, and it’s paid off with two resounding victories to open the season.

All in, all the time is the only way to go for teams that run no-huddle offenses.

“The way we practice is how we get in shape,” Nebraska tight end Kyler Reed said. “We practice fast. We practice like it’s a game. Jogging on and off the field, jogging up to the line, getting set. When you practice like that, you kind of get in shape for it.”

It’s more than just the lungs and legs, though. It takes a shift in mindset, too.

Most players are used to being told what to do by coaches on every play, every scenario. When they’re running no-huddle, they have to think quicker, react to what’s happening in front of them instead of mapping out what they’re going to do while in the huddle.

Staying sharp all the time is often the only way to make thinking on the fly second nature.

“We are up-tempo with everything we do, from the way that we walk from meeting to meeting to drill to drill,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “Everything we do around here is of that mindset and attitude. I think it starts there with that kind of advantage.”

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