Chip Kelly's hurry-up offense doesn't cause more injuries

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Alabama's Nick Saban is wrong. Auburn's Gus Malzahn is right.

Past claims that a higher rate of play could lead to more player injuries were shown to likely be false, according to a report by's Dave Bartoo.

After tracking injuries for the 2012 campaign, the statistics showed that the two conferences with the highest offensive and defensive plays per game actually had the fewest starts lost to injury.

Saban, as well as Arkansas' Bret Bielema, have publicly complained about fast-paced offenses causing injuries. Meanwhile, Malzahn, who utilizes a high-flying spread attack, has defended hurry-up offenses.

Chalk that up as one more win for the Tigers in their in-state rivalry with the Crimson Tide.

Auburn already won their regular-season Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama 34-28 to advance to the SEC Championship Game, and after that, the BCS National Championship.

Now they have proof that their coach is right, at least, on this issue.

A created controversy

There was never any proof that speedy offenses took more of a tangible toll on players. However, that didn't stop opposing coaches from complaining.

Bielema complained earlier in the season that if a player doesn't have time to sub-out, but looks to be tired or injured, the coach doesn't have a way to stop the game unless he uses a timeout.

The hurry-up offenses, which usually sprint to the line of scrimmage in order to get a snap off before the defense can get set, allegedly made it impossible to get injury-risk players out of the game.

Bielema went further though.

He said the quick-pace offenses were tantamount to allowing fatal injuries similar to that of Ted Agu, a California defensive lineman who collapsed and died during a summer practice this year.

A coroner later attributed Agu's death to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest in athletic events.

There was no proven link between Agu's death, which happened during a supervised training run, and strains caused by a heightened pace of play.

Saban's take

Saban supported a rule in February which would allow defenses time to substitute between plays, by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds were left on the 40-second play clock.

In October 2012, days after facing Ole Miss' hurry-up offense, Saban said he believed the heightened pace endangered players' safety.

"I just think there's got to be some sense of fairness," Saban said to, "in terms of asking, 'Is this what we want football to be?"

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