Friday, February 21, 2014

You don't get style points in football

Anybody who knows me understands that i am a voracious reader especially of anything football. They also know that I try to be as strategically sound and systematic in my play calling. These two things lead to this article.

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy."
Colin Powell

The problem that I've run into lately with my reading is the blurring of objectives. The burring ofthe strategical   overview with tactical decisions made during a game. The last time I checked the rule book - the only objective of the game is to win by outscoring the opponent. I've searched through the entire book and in no place do you get any style points. My problem is that in many coaches eyes I feel (according to their articles) they would rather be able to write a strategic article then win their games. 

The best principal I ever had gave me a great book years ago about goal setting and priorities. (I forget the name now although much of the content has stayed the course.) Basically it said is that you only could have one #1 priority and that ALL decisions eventually fell before this priority. Example if your #1 objective as a person was to move up - all your decisions would be first based on that. If your #1 priority was to be a moral person - those same decisions would be first based on the moral fabric and then if that fit based on moving up.

That asme is true in football. If your #1 goal is to prove a theory then in a game you might make the best decisions for your theory and not winning a game. A the reverse is true. In the majority of cases these too priorities often have the same best first choice but there are situations where what happens once the game starts makes decisions based on these two different priorities mutually exclusive.

Let me explain this with the following scenarios that are directly related to the flexbone. (I am sure that there is a crossover into other systems if one looked)

Scenario #1
The only reason for running the rocket is to answer stunts and blitzes on the first two phases of the triple,

The past two years I have had some very good talent - especially at halfback. One of our halfbacks won the 200 meters in the Eastern Finals. The other is almost as fast. We have run an inordinate #'s of rockets. In one game with our quarterback out and the defense basically saying - "you will give to the fullback or run the quarterback," we basically became a rocket team. We had 55 at the half  without an option quarterback. 

Now I'm not saying we were unsound - we were not outnumbered or out leveraged. It was just our best play given the time, opponent, and our personnel. If you went by the above statement - we should have ran triple and grinded it down the field, thus keeping the opponent in the game.

Scenario #2
The follow play is the best short yardage play in the offense. I've seen people say thats its the only short yardage play you need.

A college team was on espn - two years ago. In breaking down the game the option team had 4 3rd and shorts and 3 4th and shorts. Everyone they ran the follow but the last. Everyone the defense read and stuffed the follow play by outnumbering it after the snap. (any play can be stopped) Apparently the defense knew this play was "unstoppable" in theory also.  Might have lost the game on these 5 plays.

Scenario #3
I heard an option coach at a clinic say their #1 goal was to control the ball 60% of the clock. (Winning was #5 on the list.) This is a lil backward. The coach said they fought for this. They strived every game for this.  What happens if you break every play and the other team struggles but moves the ball. You might score 50 but never win the time of possession. Its easy to see that having this as your #1 goal is a false sense of priorities. Are your ball carriers suppose to fall down so you can run another play?

Scenario #4
There is an internet article I've seen on multiple sights stating that if you don't make the quarterback read out of stunts in a game you are "enabling him." (This article was sent to me so I have no idea how it originated nor am I trying to condemn the person who wrote it. As I've said many times, there are many ways to skin a cat!)

Just like any other triple team we start off with a base of reading our way out of stunts. However, if our quarterback cant do this in a given game (speed, angles, etc.) I am not going to lose the game to prove he can. Anyone who's heard me knows we have tags that can take this problem away. (loaded schemes, blocking half the stunt, etc.) I am not gonna lose the game to get to speak at a clinic.

Take this idea further. If you have a theory that all your players could swim naturally and threw them into a pool in order to prove it. If one of those players started drowning, would you let him drown to prove your theory. NO! you'd throw him a life vest. THROW YOUR QB a life vest. ENABLE your team to win.

There are many more scenarios that prove this theory. The point is, you have to have a great system based on sound theory, but once the game starts that theory is put on the back burner in the place of winning. If this was figure skating and you got style points I would agree with these pundits. However, it doesn't matter how it looks - I'll fix that later in practice - the one with the most points wins. (I'll work on reading back to back again next week!) So until that changes - I'll live by the same theory I often tell the kids "FIND A WAY TO WIN!" Although I love the flex, I'm not married to any theory or concept. If the only way I could win was with the "side saddle T" I'd run it. (Now there's a historical reference for you guys to look up - it really was an offense.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

defying the myth of extra practice time and defending the flexbone

I came upon this older article on the effect of extra practice time on the flexbone. It really does a good statical job of debunking the myth and is a must read for all that run the offense. i've heard announcers falsely claiming this for years. now the facts are in

Dispelling the myth of extra practice time vs. the flexbone

A couple of quick thoughts came to my mind as to this "myth," its truth, and its effect on those that run the flexbone. this isn't earth shattering but it does show the feebleness of this argument.
  1. What defensive coordinator wouldn't want extra practice time against ANY offense. Defensive football is pattern (scheme) recognition and the more reps you have against ANY defense the better you are at defending it. It's not the offense - it's the essence of defense itself that causes any truth to this statement!
  2. The two biggest loses sighted by most announcers who bring this "myth" up are Paul Johnson against Iowa and LSU. Both those teams were stacked up front with future "pro" players. If you study the film, and I have, it was not the scheme but the ability of the defensive line to control the dive aspect of the triple and free up extra defenders to outnumber the defense on the perimeter. Did the extra time cause this mismatch - no. those players were better regardless of how many days they practiced.
  3. Along with the above statement comes the inability to of these specific offensive team to throw the ball in some of these loses. One thing the extra time does allow a defensive staff to do is to analyze better. More study means a more specific scheme based on what the offense can do rather then the one week they normally have to defend the entire "system." But this is true with any offense.
  4. The announcers who started this myth are products of ignorance. Due to a lack of knowledge in option football, they grope for answers for why these teams struggle at times. So they blame it on the time factor. What they fail to mention are the blowouts in favor of the option teams. Did the extra time have no affect. You can pick and chose events thats that support your basis while excluding the exact same circumstances (extra practice time in this case) affect a situation in directly opposing results. (That is unless you are an ESPN announcer!) What about Navy running up and down the field this year? What happened to the extra time? Or a game I remember in the 80's where Air Force totally dominated on offense against a superior Ohio State team only to lose in the last minute.The proponents of this myth casually exclude these types of games.
  5. Another factor that is not taken into account is that, theoretically, bowl games are a reward for being good - so instead of the time being a factor you might want to blame it on the other team just be better competition then one is use to playing!
Just some random thoughts off from the usual X's and O's
Finally, some coaches are just plan bad in bowl games, regaardless of the offense. Bo Schemblecher's bowl record was awlful at one point. can one deduce that the I-formation is poor with a defense having extra practice time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Speaking this week

Just a reminder I will be speaking this week at the Nike Clinic in AC. Looking forward to meeting everybody