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Are NFL Players Really Faster Than College Players?

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One regular comment made in the past 5-10 years is that the NFL game is faster than college or that certain kinds of offenses don’t work in the NFL because the defensive players are faster overall than their college counterparts. But wouldn’t pro offensive players also be faster than college offensive players? I find this theory often stated as fact to not hold water. Actually my feeling is that the college game is played at a faster pace than the NFL. Or why do high school games have a better pace than either college or NFL games? There are several factors such as TV timeouts, subsitution rules, regulation time, etc… But what about the notion that NFL defensive players are overall faster than college players? Is the proof in 40 yard times? 40 yard times are vastly overrated and way too much hype surrounds its significance. There is a big difference between running sprints like you do in a track meet and running at angles while wearing about 30 pounds of gear on you. Also overall, college and NFL players tend to get bigger due to improved weight-lifting techniques, nutrition, and they are still growing physically into their 20’s,

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Why are the same style of offenses that seem to work very well at the college level like the various option offenses, spread type of offenses, “Fun ‘n’ Gun“, etc… don’t mesh in the NFL? The biggest reason is the way field is arranged. This can be gleaned from a little known comment that was made by a well-known quarterback almost 25 years ago:

The biggest difference Aikman has noticed between college and the pros is how much easier it is for NFL defensive backs to disguise their intentions. “Because the hash marks are narrower in the pros, the ball’s always closer to the middle of the field,” he says. “So if you’re a defensive back, you can wait a lot longer before committing to a certain part of the field.” As a result, NFL quarterbacks must read defenses as they drop back. “In college I was making a lot of presnap reads,” says Aikman. “It was much easier.” Troy Aikman, August, 21, 1989

In American football and Canadian football, the hash marks are two rows of lines near the middle of the field that are parallel to the side lines. These small lines (about 1 yard long) are used to mark each of the 5-yard lines, which go from sideline to sideline. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. That is, if the ball is downed in between a hash mark and the nearest sideline, it must be reset on the hash mark for the next play. Prior to the adoption of hash marks (which were first utilized at the first NFL playoff game in 1932), all plays began where the ball was declared dead, including extra point attempts.
In most forms of professional football, including the National Football League, Canadian Football League, and most forms of indoor football, the hash marks are in line with the goal posts, both being 18 feet 6 inches (in the NFL and CFL) apart. Both high school football and college football have hash marks significantly wider than the goal posts. The college football standard is 40 feet apart; the high school standard is one-third of the width of the field (53 feet, 4 inches).

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Written by chrisforliberty

August 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Posted in General

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