Louisiana Tech and up-tempo offense: Change football can believe in

No-huddle spread attacks are gaining traction thanks to success of schools like Oregon and Louisiana Tech. If it's not a full-blown revolution, it's definitely a trend.

RUSTON, La. — The triggerman for the highest-scoring college offense this side of Oregon can't be found anywhere in this week's NCAA passing statistics.

Stephen Warner is built like a cinder block at 6 feet and nearly 300 pounds, and not one day in his life has he been confused for a Manning.

Warner will never be a Davey O'Brien or Johnny Unitas award candidate. His throwing motion might even put him on some "don't watch" lists.

Warner is the starting center for Louisiana Tech, which would be leading the nation in scoring if not for Oregon's hanging 62 points on USC.

The Bulldogs (8-1) are the Ducks without the reflector-mirror helmets and Phil Knight's money. Oregon and Louisiana Tech are the only two teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision averaging more than 50 points per game this season.

What Louisiana Tech does differently from Oregon, or anyone else, is run its blender-on-puree offense through its center.

Oregon may utilize crazy sideline signboards no one understands, but the play-caller in Eugene never has to look at the field upside down.

"It's something special, something different than what most people do," Warner said.

The idea was baked around 2003 in something called the National Indoor Football League. Tony Franklin, Louisiana Tech's offensive coordinator, was then coaching the Lexington Horsemen against the Ohio Valley Greyhounds in a bandbox road arena so loud even the horses needed earplugs.

Franklin decided to save his quarterback's vocal cords by rerouting the plays. Instead of the quarterback screaming out the protection pickups — picture Peyton Manning's pre-snap histrionics — the responsibility was moved to a centralized location.

The logic was simple: The center is closer to his offensive linemen than a quarterback in shotgun formation.

"The quarterback in our offense doesn't have to speak," Franklin explained. "To us, crowd noise is nothing. We laugh about it."

At fast-moving Louisiana Tech, plays are signaled in between snaps as the Bulldogs hurry into formation. Warner handles all the protection schemes up front, then relays them via hand signals to quarterback Colby Cameron.

"It makes it really easy on the quarterback," Cameron said. "I don't have to worry about the protection."

Cameron, a senior finance major, happily defers to Warner's brain and vocal power. "He's civil engineering," Cameron said of his center's major.

Warner is a former walk-on who literally walked over from Ruston High, right across the street.

Warner alters the snap count by using seven or eight code words during a game, and the system is working. Louisiana Tech has scored 50 or more points seven times.

Cameron, the younger brother of former USC receiver Jordan Cameron, has thrown 24 touchdown passes this season without an interception. But it's tough keeping up with Oregon.

Louisiana Tech scored 51 against Texas San Antonio on Saturday and lost ground in the national scoring race. Oregon averages 54.33 points to Louisiana Tech's 52.44.

The common denominator is tempo. "It's a game changer," third-year Louisiana Tech Coach Sonny Dykes said.