Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Haven't been on for a while

Yes, I haven't posted for a while but I'm ready to get stated again. Truth is, it was a real strange and bad Spring. You ever have one of those years - from the Holy Spirit situation to not getting a job to major shoulder surgery to moving back to my condo in Pa and now to a serious family situation! You couldn't script this year but I'm ready to come back and post. To keep myself involved in the game I love.

Some of the time I took was to refresh and contemplate my future. I can say assuredly I have never missed coaching more. Perhaps it was the way I went out. Not only how it happened to me but also how I handled the last year knowing it was going to happen.

We can never protect the future but one thing I know for sure is I intend to coach again.

So I plan on starting up the articles again - hopefully this weekend. (part two of the combo block) and also finish the book on the triple I've said I was going to finish numerous times ago! (No excuses now!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pet peeves with the game #4

One size fits all

I think the growth of the spread offense is great. I love it and have studied it. I am intrigued by the concepts I have seen over the last couple of years. Why wouldn't I be enamored by it, given its roots in the option game. What I can't stand though is the constant labeling of everybody who runs the "spread" a genius and anybody who doesn't as a dope, antiquated and a bad coach. Last I checked there are still 11 people on each side and any sound scheme, no matter how old or "boring" (by announcer's standards)is still sound. There are some great coaches that run the spread but not everyone who does it is a genius (or even average for that matter) There are also great coaches who still get under center and run the I, flexbone, wing-t and other things. Coaching is not about what you run but how you run it! (By the way, last I saw, Alabama was still under center 70% of the time)

(The same thing happened when Bill Walsh ran his West Coast offense. Everybody who then ran the "west coast" was considered a genius and everybody who didn't was considered behind the times. Only after much hiring and firing did people figure out that the genius was in Bill Walsh not in the playbook. And by the way, the term "west coast" came from Bill Parcels and it wasn't used in a complimentary matter! In fact Walsh said he didn't know what're term meant. Can anybody generically define the term "Spread?")

It's not really the coronation of the spread coaches that gets me. After all, everybody has a opinion. That's basically what this column is! It's the three offshoots I see from it.

First, good coaches are getting fired because they are not in the spread. Perhaps the first was Bobby Sutton in the eighties at West Point. Competitive as he was, the athletic director stepped in, declaring that he was going to take Army football "out of the dark ages!" The results were a disaster. When the light went on, Army football went through it's worst downswing ever.

I've seen this mistake done over and over again. High school, college, pro (see "West coast offense" mentioned above.) So coaches, rather then using their minds to win, use them to keep their jobs. They are scared to be different. Not be the flavor of the month.

Secondly, this has influenced hiring. Particularly on the high school level. (You really have NO chance today on the college level if you're different! You won't get to the interview.) I don't know how many times I've heard administrators who never played the game say "we really need somebody to come in to run the spread and get people excited." Winning is exciting and the object of the game last I read. I and fellow experienced coaches, who I consider friends, talk about this often. We can't count the times a school bypassed a veteran coach (us or others) to hire some young whipper-snapper who proclaimed himself the guru of the spread and would get the place into the twenty first century!

As I said there's nothing wrong with the spread if the guy really knows it buts let 's look deeper into the issue. Most schools are open because they are losing. Most administrators admire the spread because they see teams running it properly against them. In most of the interviews the administrators will tell you they are not as good as the other teams. So you want to do the exact same thing as the other team? That's like me making milk chocolate kisses with inferior chocolate and selling it in Hershey! Why would you want to roll out the same product with inferior parts.

(Two years ago Georgia Southern put up over 500 yards rushing against Alabama and its #1 ranked defense. They were in the game to the end.  What do you think the results would have been if Georgia Southern was forced to run Alabama's offensive?)

I will tell you an interesting scenario that fit this bill. I was offered a interview this past year. I did my research into the school and its football program. Apparently, they had moderate success a couple of years ago running the flexbone. Nothing great 6-4 7-3 5-5. This was about 4-5 straight years. The head coach was fired for not being exciting and up to date. They brought a spread guy in. Result 0-10. He was fired and replaced with assistant (I think) of former coach. He ran flexbone again and was 7-3. He was immediately let go and replaced with a new spread guy who went subpar again. The point is not that the other guy ran the flexbone, it's that the other guy had success.

The third reason this has become a pet peeve of mine is probably the most menacing to coaches that don't run the spread. With all the hoopla out there, players (and parents) feel they can't make it if they don't run a spread offense in high school and college. Brett Farve ran the Wishbone! So did Steve Young! Dan Marino was in the wing-t! As was Joe Thiesman! More recently Demetrius Thomas came out of a flexbone college. But announcers keep preaching it. Result is kids transfer. Parents complain to schools. Alumni complain to schools. (see reason number two above) Coaches, to keep their jobs, change to something they don't know as well.

Truth is - if you're good enough; you're good enough. College coaches also get paid to teach you. They get paid a lot more then me. If you have the ability you should be able to be taught and progress. To make this statement is ludicrous. It's like saying if you've run the 100 meters in high school then you can never learn to run the 200 meters in college. (By the way didn't Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham not even play college football? So it's better not to play then to play in a different offense?)

I have been fortunate to meet many great coaches. So who I consider geniuses I their own right. Truth is, in today's culture some would have never had the chance.

Again, just my opinion. I am sure there are many who will disagree.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Comboing the three tech with the tackle or shade with the guard. Part I: the basics

When we run the triple to a three technique our base way of blocking is to combo off the three with the guard and the tackle. If we run it to a shade we will combo the guard and center. (Fig 1 and fig 2)

There are a couple of points to make here as I explain each block in detail.

  1. We do not make line calls. On the contrary we tell the guard he has the three by himself and the center he has the shade. We want the to attempt to block the player themselves. When you get into line calls, you are basically creating a crutch in the base blockers mind. You are telling him he is going to get help! 
  2. The base blocker is exactly that. He must square up on the defender and get a good base. Although he will get help, he has the defender wherever he goes. So he must get a base.
  3. The player who will bump is running a train track through the gap. He is not blocking a man but moving an area. If you tell him by men on defense he will always block the three or shade even if not needed.
  4. The most important aspect of the block is vertical movement. It is ok to not block the linebacker if you get a push into his lap. (A lil tougher in today's word with a 3-4 lber so deep.
  5. It is the base blockers initial responsibility to stop penetration and the combo blockers responsibility to get vertical movement or allow the base blocker to take over the block.
  6. Both players should keep their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage throughout the block. A big mistake is for the combo player to turn (point his toe at 45 degrees) at the defensive player. Once you turn your body, it will appear as if the defensive player is always in the gap. If you remain square and look through the gap, the defensive player will only appear if he has worked play side. This gives the combo blocker a better chance to adjust his technique to the defensive movement. (we take a lateral step first to stay square.) It also allows him a chance to come off to the backer.
  7. Blockers must understand that the ball is right off their tail. They must secure the first level (defensive linemen) If they never get to the linebacker we still have 4 yards at least. If the back learns to soft shoulder the scrape backer we have more. (When I first learned the triple at Army they didn't even combo. They Doubled the three and did a great job of teaching the fullback to cut. They were very successful doing this)
  8. Linemen, especially the combo blocker must be taught who they are blocking for. In this case it's the fullback. Therefore the combo blocker can stay on longer vs. a running linebacker.
  9. The combo blocker should not come off until he reaches the linebacker level of the linebacker fills hard. Once at the linebacker level he will base the linebacker taking him anywhere he wants to go as the fullback is right behind him and can cut off his block. (only if he stays square is this possible.
  10. The combo blocker should know where the backside linebacker / safety is. If the play side linebacker runs out - he can come off at a wide angle to capture these, keeping numbers on his side.
PART II Will deal with the specific technique including footwork and hand placement
PART III Will deal with coaching the block to get maximum reps fast
PART IV Will deal with common mistakes in the combo block

Monday, June 8, 2015

Top Ten Peeves with the game #5

5. The continual use of the term: "Players Coach" It's not the term itself. It's the perception of the term. Bill Parcel once said that if he was called that he would take it as an insult. He hated it. Yet, all the players said they loved him. He was tough demanding - his players cursed him but loved him. The term has taken on a life of itself insinuating a coach who allows his player a lot of leeway or coach who runs a "loose" ship in order to keep the players happy! (I really don't think that was what it was meant to be but it has morphed into that.) It has also taken on a reverse meaning also for those who believe that if you are not labeled as a "player's coach" you must be some mean SOB who just doesn't care about the players. (Sometimes the one who tells the player his problems man to man, who demands the player grow up to be a man, the one who is the hardest is the one who cares the most.) This is furthest from the truth. Style doesn't mean if you care. Caring and meeting needs mean if you care.

I think when the term first came out it wasn't meant as it is taken now. I first heard the term used with Bo Schembechler based on the fact his players played their ass off for him. I am sure it was used before that, however, I never had heard it. Yet "Bo" was one of the most demanding ornery (at times) hard-ass coaches there ever was. But over the years the term has been skewed.

The problem comes when people classify with such a broad stroke and when media perpetuates an image. I was recently asked in an interview if I was a player's coach? It was a question that was impossible to answer for it depended on the authors meaning. The term in itself has become ambiguous.

The point here is one size doesn't fit all. There are the loosey - goosey types who win, There are demanding types who win. The key is to be yourself. The players will see if you are sincere. They don't care if you are a hard-ass or a softee. They just want to know you care. In an educational setting (High school or college) if he coach succeeds in getting the young man to grow as a person, student, player. If the coach gets his player to reach his goals of championships and college entrance and being a productive member of society - he should be classified as a players coach. For what else can a player ask for!

My real pet peeve with this is because it has become so familiar in society and so present in everyday sports media, many coaches think they should coach to this style. Schools think they need to hire to this style. Without defining what it means thats a dangerous precedent. (If you went around an interview panel they would all define it differently.) Players want you to be you. They want you to be knowledgeable - an expert. They want you to sincerely care not just put on an image of caring. They want you to be able to get them where they want to go. Coaching to a style no matter how demanded by media and administrations is dangerous and usually a losing proposition.

Nothing wrong with a term - just define it then I can decide if I fit in it.