The conventional wisdom, since the days of Ur and Sumer, has been that teams should try to dominate time of possession, to wear down the opposing defense and keep one's own defense off the field. Carr, Tressel, and virtually all the other Big 10 coaches on payroll at the moment see it this way.
Revisionists, particularly those impressed by or advocating for the various spread offenses that have emerged in the past decade or so, have pooh-poohed this assumption as an unecessary and often counter-productive sacred cow. The thinking goes, if your offense can score a lot, why slow them down? Why not score quickly and often to confuse and demoralize your opponent? RR, Chip Kelly, Pat Fitzgerald and other spread coaches see it this way.
The thing about both of these positions, is that they view possession--the decision whether to proceed slowly or fast--as a strategy, something you do generally. I'd like to suggest a different way of thinking about time of possession--as a tactic--and argue that this is how Borges and Hoke see it. I'd also like to argue that this is a very, very good thing.
Let me explain: for one thing, I don't like ideological approaches to football. I've never understood the logic of replacing one sacred cow with another, and don't see why a coach should box himself in to doing things one way, regardless of the situation. I like flexibility and I like adjustments.
More importantly, I like tailoring the road to victory to what you have and wht you face. In the first half of yesterday's game, we looked too much like our 2010 iteration: prolific in picking up yards, unable to capitalize on this in terms of points, and on the other side of the ball, unable to stop the opposing offense. That opposing offense was coming at us fast and furious, using a series of simple perimeter passing and running to move up and down the field at will. We tried going uptempo as well, and did move the ball, but our execution wasn't as good as theirs, and so found ourselves down 10 at the half.
At halftime, the coaches took stock and made a decision: we're going to keep them off the field, and change our defensive tactics to counter their perimeter game. Part of this entailed our offense moving slowly and methodically. It worked, to the tune of 28-0 in the second half. The situation suggested this tactic might be useful, and it was. To put it another way: I can't imagine an alternate strategy working any better than it did.
Earlier in the season, against Notre Dame, we did the opposite: we sped things up. That also worked in that situation, resulting in a thrilling, epic victory over one of our biggest rivals.
Personally, I love the fact that our coaches don't seem to care about having a concrete position on time of possession, and instead set the tempo according to what they think the situation requires. This, in many ways, encapsulates why I'm so impressed by our new coaching staff. Yes it's early and only 6 games, but so far they look like they combine Carr's ability to build balanced, competitive teams with the tactical sophoistication that RR brought to the table...but on both sides of the ball. Again, it's too early to know, but the signs are very, very good.