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Alex Golesh details play-calling preparations ahead of gamedays

Tennessee goes fast — that takes a lot of planning.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Heupel and Alex Golesh go fast, quite literally as fast as they possibly can. It’s an effort to keep the defense off balance, keeping them from swapping personnel or lining up in the perfect play-call.

We’ve seen glimpses of the offense operating at full song, but nothing consistent to this point. If you go back to the UCF days, you can really get a feel of what the finished product will look like.

You’ve probably considered the effect this has on defenses. You’ve also likely thought about how it changes the game for the players operating inside of the offense. With everything running a warp-speed, you better be engaged and ready for the next set of instructions.

But what about the guys calling the plays? That’s an interesting angle, and Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh explained the week-long process on Wednesday night during Vol Calls.

“We go through it, really, starting tonight,” Golesh said. “If I wasn’t here, I’d be going through mock games and situations as they come up going into Thursday. Thursday night, really sitting down, going through it again in situations as they arise and having the next one ready to go, understanding as the ball falls where it falls, and situationally you’re ready for the next one, whether it’s the next down and distance, the next situation in terms of red zone, tight zone, third down.

“There’s times I’ll go to bed at whatever time it is, and I’m going through a scenario or I’ll get a text from Coach Heup about a scenario, or this or that could happen.”

So much focus is put on the players, particularly the quarterback in this system. But planning is a major key for the coaching staff with so little time in between plays. Game scripts and scenario planning are musts, and it’s something that I’ve never really considered. Heupel isn’t digging through a two foot long play-sheet, he doesn’t have time. Instead, he likely has his handful of plays for each down and distance ready to roll, and he’s tasked with a split-second decision on which one to run in real time.

“You’re doing (scenarios) all the way up, honestly, until about 7:30 that morning and locked and loaded, ready to go.”

Most teams script an opening drive of the game or two, but there’s likely more scripting, or at least play-call planning, happening at Tennessee than anywhere else. For reference, the Volunteers were the fastest team in the FBS during week one against Bowling Green, running 3.37 plays per minute.

Tempo is one thing — what this staff does is on a completely different level. It should be fun to watch everyone grow as the season marches on.