How Auburn University's 'Sugar Huddle' befuddles defenses, and why it's easy to install in your game plan

By Brady Grayvold | Posted 1/18/2018

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Up-tempo offenses are as popular as ever, and a major name that continues to come up when studying these offenses is Auburn University coach Gus Malzahn. A staple in Malzahn’s up-tempo offense is the Sugar Huddle.

Even in a hurry-up, no-huddle offense such as Auburn’s, every team needs a change-of-pace concept to get defenses on their heels and to keep them guessing. This also creates another wrinkle for defenses. If they don’t account for it, the change of tempo could cause immediate panic for opponents, because the sugar huddle allows the offense to hide its formation until it’s ready to line up and quick-snap.

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What is the Sugar Huddle?

The Sugar Huddle is a variation of the regular huddle formation that Auburn has utilized throughout the course of Malzahn's tenure at Auburn and is often used when attempting to get into an offensive formation he doesn’t want to expose to the defense.

The offensive line turns its back to the line of scrimmage with its heels at about two yards. The quarterback gives the break signal and the line flips around and gets to the line of scrimmage. The offensive line and quarterback are so close to the line because Malzahn wants to go as fast as possible and not allow the defense to adjust and line up.

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Here is an example of Auburn going into their Sugar Huddle and then running a Malzahn staple called, “Hide the Tight End,” which ends up as a tackle splitting out wide and the Tight end lining up as an eligible tackle toward the boundary.




Auburn has utilized this type of huddle inside and outside of the red zone. In its offense, all of the plays are signaled from the sidelines with whoever is the “hot signaler.” You could assign either a single word or signal in your offense to signify the offense to get into the sugar huddle and align how you want them.

This could be done in your week of preparation leading up to your game. Seeing how Auburn utilizes the Sugar Huddle, this is definitely a scheme that you can utilize in your everyday offense from youth leagues on up.

But what are the benefits?

First, it doesn’t allow a defense to adjust to a surprise formation. Oftentimes when people are attempting to call in a trick play, the opposing team has time to see that something is up and it’s able to call a timeout or check into its base coverage. Another positive of installing the Sugar Huddle into your offense is that it doesn’t take a lot of your time to install.

You don’t have to have a ton of plays to incorporate a change up into your game plan. Having studied Malzahn, there are specific plays in certain sets that he prefers to Sugar Huddle with, and you could set that up however you’d like depending on your playbook.

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Lastly, and maybe the biggest advantage, is that it forces any defense that has to prepare for your team to add another thing to its list of items it must cover to be ready for game day. Without changing your whole offensive philosophy, you can add something as the Sugar Huddle into your game plan so that when you are looking to potentially make a big play, it can provide that deception to cover up what you are doing.

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