Monday, December 9, 2013

POWER game film

I have been an all 4 wide coach my entire time at my current school.  A number of factors contributed to us needing to make a change midway through the year.  We became a 21 personnel "pro style" offense.  A major play for us was the standard "Power" play.  Just wanted to share a few clips of us running power that I felt we executed decently.  You will notice the guards skip pulling, it is a technique I understand in clinic talks but I am not 100% sold on it.  They entered the hole square, which is the whole idea behind it. However I feel most kids can get to the hole quicker, and with more speed (and therefore momentum) with a standard pull.  I think I will experiment with both through spring ball and summer next year.

Well, enjoy a handful of POWER clips

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Planning an entire week of offensive practice

I consider myself to my a minimalist.  I want to run a few things but be very good at them.  Even with my minimalist approach when I began planning our Summer practices I couldn't help but feel stressed for time and reps.

We made a major program wide decision to make our lifting/conditioning the primary focus of our summer practices.  In the past we put too much emphasis on running plays.

When we began breaking down practice times for offense and defense after our lifting/conditioning sessions I quickly realized I didn't have that much time to schedule for offensive practice.  I knew I needed to restructure how we were practicing because there was no way to practice all of the techniques and plays we have in one day.

I came up with the following format...

I remembered the 3 day install plan I used a year ago for Spring Ball, and thought to myself, "Hey I can do something similar to structure a focus for each offensive practice.  I also wanted something that would be easy to transition into the season and mirror how a typical week in season looks.

I started, like any teacher does, at the end.  Fridays would act as our final assessment.  In the season the game friday night is the ultimate test, for our summer practices Friday we will run only team offense and throw everything at the kids, we can grade through film and see how well they are understanding the plays and their assignments.

Monday would act as our learning day.  Typically in season this is a day we watch a lot of film, break down the opponent and the game plan.  Monday is also our heaviest lift day and conditioning day.  To save their bodies after their intense lift/running we bring them into the classroom and will show them film, review things on the whiteboard, any new installation, and give them a focus or main thing we are trying to improve on for the week.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are where we really get our work in.
I split our entire offense up into a 3 day plan, each day focusing on specific plays  so that all of our individual, group, and team periods can focus on these plays.

I essentially broke down the offense like this...

We have 3 core run plays: IZ, OZ, Counter
We have 3 core spring outs: Curl/Flat, Flood, what we call Wide
We have 6 core pass concepts: verts, snag, Boot,  stick, smash, spacing,
We have 3 core screens: Solid, Jail, RB

I took these plays and divided things up so that each of those 3 "work days" every drill, and every segment on our practice plan will be focused on

1 run
1 sprint out
2 passes
1 screen

It made planning practices much easier for me because I can keep the rough schedule pretty similar and just change certain parts of drills depending on the plays we will work that day.

Some of our other schemes, Draw, 2 in 1 plays, rocket toss can be sprinkled in because while in the playbook aren't the things that we absolutely have to be perfect at to move the football.  They are necessary side dishes but this summer is all about getting better at the main course.

This practice format has especially helped my OL because I can tailor all of our INDY time to the skills needed for 1 specific play and we rep that play to death.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Improving effort and tempo in the weight room

Improving our participation was the biggest priority of this past off season.  I wrote a prior article about Creating Off Season Competition.  The numbers went up, and this trickled through to our spring ball and now into our summer practices.
We essentially were able to weed out the non committed kids and our attendance is better than it has ever been in my 4 years here.  We finally had kids showing up every single day but then came the next hurdle.

I looked at what our kids were doing in the weight room and I wasn't happy with all of them.  They were there in the weight room but some left not sweating and I saw them milling around far too much.  I knew I needed to make a change to make sure each kid was WORKING during hour lifting sessions.

I then recalled a phone conversation/interview I had with CAL S&C coach Mike Blasquez.  Since CAL has no made the change to no huddle spread, I asked how it has impact his weight room philosophy, especially in regard to their tempo and rest in the weight room.  He said they had to change how they rested and now all of their rest times are sped up.  They try to mirror the frantic pace of a Tony Franklin style practice within their weight room.

I decided with our equipment limitations I wouldn't be able to go quite as fast as what a D-1 college might do in their weight room, but I knew that the days of just writing the workout on a whiteboard and letting the kids free lift were OVER for our program.

I decided that from now on, EVERYTHING is going to be timed.  We use a segment timer in practice every day, why not in the weight room as well.

First I analyzed our weight room, the equipment we had, and the number of players we had at each level.
we typically have in the low 40s per level.  For some reason everything in our weight room comes in 3s... 3 squat racks, 3 bench presses, 3 adjustable benches.

Using that information I came up with the following guidelines for our weight room.

  • We will always workout in groups of 3, no groups of 4 are allowed because it will destroy our tempo
  • We will have 5 lifts/exercises per day
  • Each of the selected lifts has 3 locations (rack, bench, pull up bar, location outside)
  • Each "station" will have 9 minutes, then we rotate
  • This totals out to 45 minutes to complete our workout
We typically do between 3-4 sets of each lift... 9 minutes doesn't give the kids much time to screw around.  To complete their lifts they basically have to do their set, rack it up, change weights, and the next person is lifting right away.  Kids can't hide out like they used to, I know where I started each of them so I know what lift they are supposed to be doing at a given time.

To keep the kids on schedule I use a timer app on my phone.  Since the rotations happen every 9 minutes, I just keep restarting the 9 minute timer after we rotate from each station.

I see our working harder and getting more done than ever before.

Our school is months away from an entire reconstruction, which includes a new weight room.  This process will be even easier when we have a more state of the art weight room that has nothing but racks in it.  

If you have a set up with many racks and free weight your players never have to move... each rotation simply means changing to a new lift.  This way is even better because you can better control the lift order of each student for maximal gains.

The next step I am going to make is to create a CD with music that has the 9 minute intervals built in to it.
I got this software for doing so and it is my new weekend project.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Teaching Vertical Set

I get messages at least once a day asking me something football related.  This off season I would say the number 1 thing has been asking how to teach vertical setting.  I have written articles in the past on vertical setting and drills for pass pro but I want to use this article to tie it all together.

This is the order I would go about teaching things.

Find a scheme
Vertical setting can and will work in any type of pass protection scheme.  I have used it and seen it used at the HS and College level in BOB, half slide, and full slide protections.  Pick a scheme (maybe have a 2nd as a change up or adjustment) and beat your rules in to your kids head.  Vertical setting is great, the best thing since sliced bread, but if you flat out don't attempt to block a defender because you're kids don't know who to block, or more importantly, where their eyes need to be, it won't matter if you back hand spring set... you're QB is dead.

Decide your ideal depth
Colleges and vertical set purists have been using a 4 step vertical step approach )inside out inside out) as far as I know since it's invention.  My original Vertical Set post explains this.  Middle of 2 seasons ago I adjusted ours to a 2 step approach.  4 steps was getting us too close to the QB's face and he felt uncomfortable and I felt we could still do our job with 2 steps of depth.  I dubbed this technique Vertical Set 2.0 because it was the new edition and used 2 steps.  You need to decide what is best for your kids.  If I was brand new to it I would work 4 steps initially and see how the OL and QB felt with it and then adjust it to 2 steps from there.

Over exaggerate the set
I believe, in the beginning it is best to have the kids flying backwards.  I like to have them go for more yardage or steps than I would ask in a game when we first teach it.  My thought is similar to track coaches who train their 100m kids by running 200's.  After doing all those 200's, the 100 seems easy.  Same thing with setting, after working back for 5 yards, or 6 steps, doing our 2 step vertical set is faster, and feels more comfortable to them.

Below is a video of my kids setting for depth (6 steps) followed by our wave drill. Sorry the video starts a half second too late.

Wave Drill
The next thing I would get really good at is wave drill.  You can work a ton of kids at once.  You can burn some muscle memory in to them.  You are teaching the kids how to step to cut off an inside rush move or a move to their outside.  I refer to them as Power Step and Slide Step.  The Power step is a hard step, 45 degrees up field and inside with a powerful inside hand punch to cut off a defender.  The Slide Step is a pretty traditional kick slide backwards and out at a 45 degree angle to continue getting depth and widening a defender should rush your edge.
This drill is great for checking kids pass pro posture, hands, body position, stagger, and their footwork.  This clip below shows the kids after a squat day (you will see their signs of leg fatigue).  Here I have them all working one side (same stagger and stance), once we get rolling and kids know what position they will be playing the most and where they will be getting most of their reps we will just line the kids up and they will use the stagger of their position.  I just point to a side and for half of them it would simulate an outside rush more while it is an inside rush to the other half of them.

Next I introduce our mirror drill.  This helps them reinforce keeping good body posture and moving their feet laterally to "mirror" their defender.  Here is a LINK to a post I did a while back on the mirror drill.
We eventually progress to working mirror, and then I yell HIT, on HIT the defender rushes and the OL has to execute a punch.

Partner Sets
The next drill I use is what I call "Partner Sets".  We get a lot of good reps in this drill if the kids will work each other.  We partner up and designate one guy as the OL, one as the defender.  On the OL movement the defender will rush and pick a side working 1 move.  The OL has to Set, incorporate part of wave and mirror drill to stay head up with the defender, punch the defender, and work his feet to cancel this first move.
As the kids improve at this drill I then allow the defender to work a first move followed by a counter.  This can be a great time to work kids on the moves you see most from an opponent, or a specific defender's best move and counter move.

Live 1 on 1s
By this point we are pretty close to letting them go full out and put it all together.  We will work live 1 on 1s next.  I think of this as the test of how well I have taught them.  They will need to use things they've learned doing all of the above drills to be successful.

Blitz Pick Up
As long as you have been chalking, walking through, and teaching your specific pass pro scheme(s) your kids should be able to execute the blocks now.  You can include the RB and QB if you like, or just keep your OL by themselves, whatever works best for you.  Now you will use a full defense to bring pressure (combining the 1 on 1's into a 5 on 5 situation for your OL, or 6 on 6 if you add the back).  You are evaluating where their eyes are and the blocks they are making.
My biggest piece of advice with this drill is to have your fronts/stunts/blitzes pre printed out on cards.  This is something given to you in TFS but it could be made in PPT in an hour or with HUDL in probably even less time.  Make a card for everything you even think you could possibly see.  Make a copy for each of your lower level coaches as well.  Put them in a binder, keep it in the ball bag, your trunk, your briefcase... whatever.  It makes going through and getting the reps so much easier when you can hold it up rather than talk to the defense and see where to go.  If you are fortunate enough to have an assistant helping your OL or an injured kid they can be holding up the card for the defense while you are coaching up/correcting/praising your OL in the drill.

Here are some other drills from a post a did a couple of years ago.
Drill Videos

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

R4 in Spring Ball

Well we are nearly done with Spring Ball.  We have 1 practice left tomorrow and then we are off for Finals.

I talked about R4 installation with my kids in the past.  Now that we have some of our base concepts in and I have had a chance to look back and reflect on things the QB who is distancing himself from the pack is the one who understands R4 the best.

All 3 are struggling with their mechanics at times, but that is too be expected... they just haven't thrown the football that many times.

QB1 has really started to think in terms of R4 non stop.  Our final practice last week he really began to hit some rhythm throws he was missing in the past because he was finally relying on post snap confirmation while looking into his vertical tube.  He hit 2 perfect corner passes in a row on our snag concept (when tried to pre snap cap, and then fly up to jump the flat route, thus uncapping the Corner Route).  You could see the light bulb go on in our QB's head.  When I saw him this morning at school he told me he had been thinking about that play and R4 all weekend and that he really felt like he had it now.

My other 2 QBs are still a little bit behind in their mental R4 processing but I have some extra chalk/film sessions lined up with them once we are out of school.

I just wanted to share with all of you who are still curious about R4 or installing it for the first time as well, the power is real.  We are hitting more vertical routes (Corner, Seams, Posts, Go's) than ever before.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Installing R4 for the first time

Football season doesn't end in November/December for me.  I do almost as much work in the off season as I do in season.  Like most coaches I attend clinics, watch videos, research online, and just try to talk to as many coaches as I can.  I am like a sponge and I try to absorb as much information as I can, doesn't matter to me what it is about, I just like to learn about football.

One of the biggest things I researched this off season was the R4 system created by Darin Slack and Dub Maddox.  I feel like I am getting to this party a little late but as they say "it's better late than never".
When reflecting back on last season I was probably most disappointed in our drop back pass game.  We ran the ball well most of the time, we sprinted out well, but we just could not complete passes consistently from the pocket.  We could not stretch the field vertically in any way.  Eventually teams stopped defending vertical passes, loaded the box, and we couldn't do much.  I knew I had to find a way to hurt teams in the air.  I have owned the R4 DVDs for over a year but didn't feel I understood it well enough to install it last year.  I knew that devoting a lot of time and energy yo the R4 system would be the best thing for us.

So I watched my R4 videos over and over until it sunk in.  I bought the iBook "From headset to helmet" to further my understanding of the system.  After reading it twice, and watching the videos three times I felt I had a good enough understanding to teach it, install it, and make it our system.

The first thing I had to do was dissect our playbook.  I had my ideas of what concepts I liked best and wanted to run, but now I had to put everything in to R4 terms.  This meant some concepts had to be adjusted just slightly, I had to change some route DNA to fit into R4.  I had to adjust our teaching from yards for WR routes into steps, to time things up better.

Once I had our concepts properly aligned with R4, I had to begin teaching our players and coaches.

This is what I have started doing and will continue to do until spring ball.

Right now we are all about our lifting program, we are saving anything football related until spring ball.  However in my mind R4 has a lot material that has to be understood before you begin installing plays.  I felt that our QBs would need a head start on everyone else.  Installing R4 requires a lot of work upfront but once the kids understand the concept of what R4 is, it can be applied to the entire playbook.

2 weeks ago I began meeting with the QBs every Monday night after weight lifting/baseball practice.  Each night I have had 2 QBs from each grade level there.  We go at night because 2 of our QBs are on the baseball team and that is the only time they can make it.

The first thing I did was buy each QB a spiral notebook.  I got them for a buck each and I feel that they are more likely to learn the system and retain information if they are the ones writing things down and drawing it up rather than if I printed them off my powerpoints or diagrams.

I began by drawing and explaining all of the necessary terms and information for R4.  We discussed the 5 vertical tubes, hard deck, pre snap cap.  We discusses the ideas of cushion and collision.  We discussed the timing of Rhythm, Read, and Rush routes and how it matches up with their footwork.  We discussed why certain plays fail and what defenses do to stop us.  We discussed how to read coverage.  We discussed their timeline vs man and zone.  We discussed a lot.

I didn't throw all of this at them at once, we went slow, I encouraged them to ask as many questions as they could, and believe me they did.

Now we are at a place where the kids have at least an elementary understanding of how R4 works, how they will use it, and how their decision making is sped up by using it.

Last week we installed our first play on the board...SNAG.  I think by now everyone knows that Snag is my favorite play, so of course it would be the first that I install.  We went through the play over and over again and how the R4 elements apply to it.  Every kid left this past Monday with an understanding of the Snag concept that was light years ahead of how we were reading it last year.  My 2 returning varsity QBs (both were backups but got game snaps last year) left the room saying, 'Coach, we really like this".

Now we will continue to install 1-2 concepts each Monday night until we get to spring ball.  I have my schedule set up so we are installing similar plays to help in the learning process.  I am excited, the kid's are excited and I KNOW we will be a much better passing team than we were last season.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Using an H back to enhance your Inside Zone Package

For most Spread teams Inside Zone is the bread and butter of their run game.  It is one scheme that can be installed and run vs any front.  It is a safe play that you can count on to eat up yardage consistently and then BOOM RB squirts up the gut or cuts back and hits the home run.  It was our best, most consistent run play last season.  
I feel that I have become better at coaching it this off season through research into what others do and reflection in to what worked and didn't work for us with IZ last year.  I have decided that our entire first week of Spring Ball will be devoted to IZ.  I am getting rid of my 3 day install plan I used a year ago, and the only run play we are going to use for the first 4 days is IZ.  I want to emphasize it's importance as well as make sure my kids have at least a basic understanding of the play before adding anything.  Much of our offense relies on our ability to run IZ.

There are various styles of IZ, I won't get in to that now... whatever your style is... if it works for you, keep doing it.  I believe our style works for us so I will keep refining/improving it.

I am writing this article to shed some brief light on some popular concepts and simple tags off of Inside Zone that I think are worth investing in and plan on running this season.  

The core concept here is INSIDE ZONE.... for the sake of the drawings I put up the same front so you could see the differences in each.  This is against a 6 man box and using a true "Read" of the Backside DE as the base way of running IZ.

Each formation I have drawn up has the RB on the left and the H back (he is Y in our offense) on the right side.  I teach an outside the tackle alignment so put the DE in more conflict as now he can be blocked both from the inside and the outside. Some teams prefer directly behind OT, or even more inside for a better position to kick out on power... if that is what you do, wonderful... all of these concepts apply to any position you align your H back.

1. Standard IZ Right

The beauty of IZ is that you can run it from any personnel grouping.  It should be the same for the OL whether you are in a 4 wide environment, or begin adding TEs, H backs, Full backs whatever to the formation.  My goal as an OC, but more importantly as the OL coach is to make life easiest on the 5 Offensive Linemen.  I want to reduce how much they have to think at all times.  To keep their rules the same when we add our Y to the formation, likely he brings another defender into the box with him (likely the defender over him when he is spread out in the slot).  Just like he would spread out in Ace, our Y is responsible for blocking that OLB/Overhang.  He will condense some... could play at true LB depth, could walk up on the LOS, could play somewhere in between, either way our Y is responsible for him. This is just our base IZ RT call and if we are having success there is no need to deviate.  

Now if we need to throw something else at the opponent we can begin to use tags to slightly alter the blocking scheme and/or give us a numerical advantage.

2. Slice
I love the idea of the slice tag.  We block IZ RT and rather than read the BSDE we kick him out with the Y. Just like Darin Slack talks about defeating the man advantage in the pass game using routes that cross the center line, I think there is a tremendous advantage in the run game in borrowing blockers from across the center line.  By bringing the Y at the snap on a sharp angle to kick out the DE we set up the potential for a huge cutback lane by the back.  The back must stick with his "chase the center's butt" read and press the heels of the OL, but he knows when this is called that the cutback has big play potential.  The defense gets almost lulled to sleep by pounding IZ strong over and over, and this cutback catches them off guard. Our best IZ runs last year were on cutbacks and that was without a true kick out on the DE, we only influenced him wide and up field with the QB pull threat.

There are 2 ways to teach this kick out block...

  • A. Aim for kick out on DE every time (log as last resort when beat) 
  • B. Have Y Aim for Kick out and read the DE... if the DE flies up field for QB no need to kick him out, instead turn up and be an extra lead blocker for the RB (49ers began killing teams with his when Kap took over)

Some call the Kick vs the bluff kick and lead backside as 2 separate plays, I like reading it instead to "always be right".

I am leaning toward the latter for our install purposes simply because the way it should time up... if that Y runs a hard angle for kick out, and the DE goes up field far enough where the Y can not touch him... I do not think that DE can come back and get into the play... no need to waste a potential blocker.  Y should be taught a path to kick out... if he has no opportunity to collision the DE, get square and up the field.

3. IZ Iso Strong

If the LB who condenses with the Y is still playing soft or you feel he is not a threat in the run game (you can bang it up inside or cut back before he can make a play) then I feel that a strong side ISO is an excellent tag.  In this example the RT base blocks the DE out like on IZ.  The Y is responsible for the Play side LB or "first LB in the box"  (we number our LBs when talking run scheme... starting from play side box, working back).

Y would fold under the tackle (potentially would fold through A gap vs a 3 tech and RG would base the 3 out)

Since Y has the Right ILB... it allows the OL to work their combos not rotating play side to front side backer, but rotating to backside backer... which should allow a longer double IMO. The key to making this strategy work is making sure the OL understands that 1 LB has been taken away so they are working up to LB differently.  The BST can be taught to either use his base zone steps and work with BSG to cut off 3 tech and any backside LB pursuing from outside the box or if you prefer to take the read aspect away from it he can hinge on the DE.

4. IZ Iso Weak
Once the concept of Y being responsible for a backer, and how that effects the OL sinks in, you know have the ability to run Iso week off of zone principles.  You provide a cutback same side play for the Rb (an important key breaker for gun teams who don't have great run threats at Qb) and again pulling the Y gives the offense an advantage as they can now borrow a blocker from across the center line.

OL blocks IZ Left but leaves the Left Inside LB for Y.  Same rules would apply as strong side ISO for the OL, we are just pulling Y to lead block weak rather than fold him strong.  Again he would be pulling and leading (SQUARE!) up through the A or B gap bubble depending on the front.

5. Bootleg

The last play I want to explore in this series is a Bootleg off of the IZ look.  I can not take credit for the details of this concept as I got it directly from Coach Grabowski's iBook (if you haven't bought this yet you are hurting yourself, go buy it now).If I had our H WR on the left side I would just run him on a deep out, I just drew it this way to show how the drag should be run, under OLB and over the MLB.

The OL and RB are selling IZ Right.  OL will take their zone steps and if they have color in their gap will base block it but not go more than 2 yards down field, if they do not see color/feel pressure they will get their eyes up and look for work/help.

The OL HAS to block it the exact same as the run play to fool the defense.  Play side SE (X) attacks inside then gets to the corner.  H runs either the deep cross route or deep out depending on if it is too his side or away.  Y in this case would attack the DE (just like in Slice) and chip off into the Flat.

These are just some examples of what I feel are core plays in a spread offense that bases around Inside Zone.  Each of these concepts could very easily be run from Pistol.  Again the alignment of your H back position could be moved to whatever best suits your needs.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Game Planning

Recently I was asked by multiple Twitter Followers to talk about game planning and setting up game/call sheets for opponents.

Here is my process... I am by no means some game planning expert... I have had almost no mentorship to grow from in this aspect of coaching but I have applied the few "good ideas" I was taught and I have reflected, learned, and evolved over the last 7 years coaching football, especially the last 3 in which I have had a specific hand in calling the plays (JV OC, then Assistant to the Varsity OC, and finally this year Varsity OC).  These "good ideas" that were passed down to me I will refer to as "KEYS", as in KEY things to being successful.

Some might dislike what/how I do, some might like it.

This is how I think I look:

This is how I probably look:

Game Planning:
Our Game Planning process starts Saturday afternoon in a typical week.  We played the night before, watch review, meet with our kids all on Saturday morning.  Late morning/Early afternoon we will trade film with our opponent for the following week.  Almost everyone has HUDL so it goes pretty quick.  I can usually be back home by 1:00 and ready to watch opponent film.  This is where the process begins.

I watch a lot of film.  I would guess on average I watch each opponent's game film at least 10x during the week.  When I first get it I will make sure it is properly ODK'd and just give it a run through.  I will watch the whole thing one time through.  Since I only coach Offense , after that I focus on the opponent's defense.  I will filter only their defensive snaps and watch them a few times through, noting the fronts and coverages on notepaper (I should be doing this on HUDL and it is my goal to use HUDL better this year).  Along with their base looks I will make any player notes that I observe... A superior player, a weak player, a kid with bad technique, or one who is "cheating" to make plays.  

KEY #1: Find out a defense's rules

It seems simple but I think it is overlooked.  The most important thing I am looking for when watching film is trying to become fluent in the opponent's defensive rules.  Every GOOD defense (bad defense's are usually just kids doing their own thing entirely) has a set of rules.  Players are taught alignment and assignment and with a game or two of film you should be able to figure out their base rules.

Where do they line up?
How do they call strength?
What coverage is their base? Change ups?
How do they cover trips?
How do they handle motion/shifts?

Once you get an understanding of what their rules are, they become more predictable and then YOU can begin to control THEM.  For example we live in trips.  The ball is on a hash so often it just makes sense.  One team we played last year ALWAYS brought their LB over from the weak side against trips to create a 3 on 3 match up to trips side.  I was able to quickly see that this must be his "rule".  I knew I could get rid of that LB simply by going trips.  We went trips to the short side and would run sweep to the wide side and there was no force player.  We were able to control their alignment because we knew their rules.  That same team ALWAYS played in a stack against 2x2, but would bump over and walk someone down vs trips.  Gave us the front we wanted to run our counter play.  They allowed us to dictate what front they were in simply by formation.  This is just an example of using a defense's rules against them.  
*It is important to note that deciphering a defense's rules doesn't stop before kick off, this is going on throughout the game.  They might have something special saved for the game or make a change to THEIR game plan.  It is important to get a verification of, or find the change in their defensive rules in the first series.  I once heard a coach explain it like this, "I am willing to essentially give up my first possession of the game, if it allows me to figure out the defense's rules that I can use against them for the rest of the game."  That same coach always told me within his first series he wanted to show the defense something balanced, trips, motion, and empty all in their first 3 plays in some way.  From there he would base his play calling off of what was either confirmed/verified or what new information was learned as to the defense's rules.

Key #2:
Draw up every single play.  I got this from a late great DC I used to work with.  He did this from a defensive perspective but I have copied it for offense.  He would get 3x5 cards and draw up every single play the offense ran in every piece of film he had.  He would go through this cards over and over again, drawing his defensive looks up against them and looking at their strengths/weaknesses. 

For our offense I draw up every blitz/stunt I see on film.  I draw up every coverage I see on film.
My OL is going to have multiple days of Blitz PU against every blitz you have ever shown.  My QB will have thrown against every coverage you have shown.  We practice against a number of looks throughout the year so the kids pick up things fairly quickly but as an OL coach I have more confidence in my guys when I know they know how to pick up everything the defense can throw at them.  

I do most of this work Saturday night.  We meet as a staff at one of our coach's house on Sunday morning.  Each coach is responsible for watching film on their own and coming with notes prepared.  We watch the game as a staff one time through, bringing up any points we want to make about a specific play or player.  We share the ideas of what we each saw on film.  Coordinators will bring up what they want to focus on for the week and seek input from position coaches if there was anything they saw on film that the coordinator did not address.  Sometimes we are all on the same page, sometimes they bring something up, an idea I might have missed, sometimes they bring something up, I disagree and then shut them down.  Sometimes our Sundays are calm, sometimes we get heated up and things get a little more intense but I think the important thing is after Sunday's meeting, it is over.. we have a plan, let's implement it.

Our general practice plan is fairly consistent but we will make changes or focus on certain areas if it is a focus for us.  If I know a team likes to play man, our WRs will do more press get off technique that week.  If my OL will see slanting, we will work more against that.  

I do not script our team practice time.  I call plays.  I give our DC the fronts, coverages, and blitzes that I would like to see and tell him to have at it.  I don't want to see my perfect play call against the perfect defensive look because how often do you get that in the game.  I want to run a bunch of plays, fast, against the various predicted looks so I can get a sense of what is working and what we aren't running well.  

I don't think of myself as an OC that is going to call the perfect play at the perfect time and fool the whole world.  I am trying to become the OC that gets so good at teaching his offense and packaging it together that even when I am an absolutely terrible, stupid, idiotic play call... the kids do their assignments and we pick up 4 yards and the first down.

Setting up Game Day sheet:

I look at Call Sheets different than most.  I HATE the situational call sheets most coaches use.  I just can't see myself knowing ahead of time what the perfect call will be on 3rd&short, or 3rd&medium or any other situation coaches list on their laminated call sheets attached to their hip.

I feel like whatever call you make in a given situation has so many variables effecting it you can't make the decision until that moment.  How much time is left?  Score? What has or hasn't been working for you? Injuries? Momentum? I know most coaches prefer this method but it just isn't for me.  I know it is designed to speed up the play calling process but I have seen coaches just stare into their call sheets like they're waiting for it to speak to them or send some divine message of the right play call.  In my opinion "the right play" is constantly evolving, changing throughout the game.  There is no way to know what the best few options on 2nd &5 are until you actually get there.

I know what play I want to run in a given moment, I just need to be able to find it quickly to send it in.  This is a call sheet I used 2 years ago.  

I have everything grouped by concept.  I memorized the layout so I could find the play I wanted right away.  Dropbacks in one location, screens in another, runs in another.  It is laid out in a way that works best for ME.  Our OC that year had a completely different game day call sheet that he had grouped by situations.  I think you have to know yourself and go with whatever way your brain is wired.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Coolest Book I've Ever Read (MUST BUY)

I hate reading.  It isn't that I can't read, read slow, or have poor comprehension.  I am actually an excellent reader, however it is probably the most boring activity in the world in my eyes.

The more text, the greater my chances of falling asleep mid paragraph.

With that said, if you ever see my recommend a book, just know you will probably enjoy it very much.

I HAVE to tell you all to drop what ever you are doing right now and go get Coach Grab's iBook.

101 pro style pistol offense plays

You can read more about it here and here.

Now that you know where to get it let me explain why it is so awesome.

I think calling it a "book" is a disservice.  It is an interactive offense in a box.  It is a clinic that you can fit in to your backpack or briefcase.  It is everything you need to know to be able to run a successful offense at any level.  The way the text is broken up with the diagrams and videos (embedded straight in to the "book") makes it very easy to read.  You are not weighed down by text.  There is never a problem visualizing what he is talking about because there is video (which is intercut with sideline and EZ view) as well as diagrams (that advance like a slideshow every time you tap the screen).  The book moves seamlessly from page to page and when you enlarge the video player or diagrams.  I never had an issue with it lagging or loading ... just a flick or tap of the finger/thumb and the videos/diagrams make the text come alive.

I have never seen a resource that is so complete and that appeals to any type of learner.

All of the benefits I have listed are just about how cool the product itself is and the way it is packaged together... any offense would be easy to digest when presented to elegantly and functionally.

Now getting in to the football side of things.  The information presented by coach grab and the way the offense is structured is excellent.

We don't even run pistol, I don't want to run pistol.  However there are so many things within this iBook that I found to be worthwhile I am adapting many of schemes to our offset gun offense.  I think no matter what offense you run you will find things you can take way from this offense.  I now have to edit my playbook because of the changes this iBook has compelled me to make to our Play Action/Boot Leg game.

The best part is that the iBook is only $20.  Seriously most people waste that on Starbucks during the week.  Any coaching DVD you buy online is going to set you back more and I do not think it will be able to compare to what Coach Grab has created.

This is a valuable resource for anyone using a pistol, gun, pro style offense, or anyone that just wants to have a better understanding of a well structured, complete, multiple offense.

I am in now way a paid endorser of this product, and I have nothing to gain for writing this piece so please just trust my advice.  If you have an iPad (the iBook is only available for iPad) then do yourself a favor.  Go buy this iBook right now.  I promise you will not regret it, I give it the official Coach B Dud seal of approval!!!

I planned to read a chapter a day but simply could not put it down.  I finished the whole thing in 24 hours.  Now I will continue to revisit it as I finalize my playbook and install schedule for Spring Ball.

Again, people, what are you waiting for?? Go buy it now and enjoy the awesome reading/viewing experience.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Spread Concepts in a Pro Style Offense

I got the idea for today's post from Internet celebrity @Lochness

I do not know if a combination of routes and reads can necessarily be defined as "for spread teams" or "for pro style teams"... to me they are just moving players and manipulating the defense.  But I decided to take some plays that are widely viewed as "spread" plays and break them down from an under center 21 personnel offense.  I drew up split backs because the RBs are balanced and I have some experience in a pro style splitback offense.  However these concepts could just as easily be used from any other 2 back formation... I do think it is easier for a FB to release if he is offset those extra couple yards than compared to being straight behind the QB.

Each of these plays is a part of most spread passing arsenals... they are the most popular plays I see being talked about by spread people.

I think each of them would work just as well in a 21 set and could be done off of straight drop or play action.

I am by no means an R4 expert but I will do my best to put the concepts into it's terms.

1. Snag
Seriously, did you guys think I would write about anything else before bringing up Snag?  If you have followed my activity recently you have probably seen how enamored I am with the 3 man snag concepts and variable tags on the backside.  I just think it is a money concept.  In my mind it is just as potent in a pro set.
TE has the Corner route, this is our Rhythm.  The snag by Z is the Read.  The playside RB has a swing (or shoot) route to provide the Rush horizontal stretch on the #2 defender.  X route on the backside can be a quick slant or snag route as a base.  I have it drawn with a Dig tag to exploit middle LBs who want to cheat to the 3 man side.  The backside RB can be left in for protection or run a swing to the backside for a 2 man snag combination.

2.  A similar 3 man triangle concept... Stick!
This concept is essentially the same as Snag as it has the same reads for the QB, and attacks the same grass, it merely inverses who the deep route and the settle routes are and is a great way of getting the ball to the TE (or slot depending on formation) the ball quickly. Z has an outside release GO and is our Rhythm.  Y has the Stick and is our Read.  The Rb is again the Rush route on a flat/shoot/swing whichever you prefer for a horizontal stretch.  I have X drawn up on a slant for  the possibility of working that 1 on 1 matchup should you desire.

3. Spacing is a very popular quick game concept with many coaches.  There is no vertical stretch but we are able to put a lot of pressure on the defense to cover horizontally.  Y is our Rhythm and has the Spot/mini curl, Z is the Read with the Snag route (carry over teaching from Snag Concept) and again our RB provides the Rush with his flat/shoot/swing.  I drew it with the same X slant as above to work 1 on 1.

4.  Now on to a vertical stretch.  I love the horizontal stretches given by the plays above but a vertical stretch play is a necessity in my opinion.  The simple flood concept is easy out of a Pro Set.  This was our best concept when I was at my first coaching stop.  Z has a skinny post, I used to run this as a GO but I like the idea of running a Skinny post instead to occupy a safety lined up on the hash... keep him out of the picture of that out route. That skinny post is our Rhythm.  Y has a 12 yard out and is our Read.  RB is the Rush with another flat route.  Works great off of a play action half roll action with that RB setting up faking a lead block then leaking out.  Key is to work the timing in practice and keeping proper spacing between Y and the RB.  There needs to be vertical spacing (Y at 12, RB on an angle to 3 yards at the sideline) and Horizontal distance between them to increase the chances of hitting one of them.  Backside can run a post or dig route that we can capitalize on later in the game when we see an over reaction.

5.  Finally I want to touch on 4 verts.  So far everything I have drawn has involved the RB releasing on some sort of flat route from the backfield.  Verts is a great play that not many 2 back teams run, or can only run from one of their 1 back sets and somewhat give it away.  I think it is reasonable to be able to run it from a 2 back set with the right field spacing.  X and Z own the numbers.  Y has the right hash.. and ideally we run this play from the left hash or close to it so the RB can start his flat route and turn it up the hash... this route is very difficult to cover from a defense's perspective.  It should fit in with our timing because the Y is our rhythm and always our first read... We want to zip that ball in to him as soon as he clears the OLB every time... then if we see that taken away by collision or FS jumping it we move to our Read... the left hash vertical (Rb from backfield). The Rush is the backside RB checking down.  Coaches can use tags to work reading an outside vert first if that is the match up you prefer.

My final note is that on any of these concepts with the Rb getting out... We can always tag "Wheel" to convert his route into a flat then up the sideline... this is a nice constraint off of his usual flat route and can hurt the defense that wants to jump his flat route.  Make sure any other deep route to that side is converted to a Post or Dig on this play so we don't have 2 men running their routes into one another.  For example if we worked that 3 man snag with a "wheel" tag... Y would run a Dig... because a corner would put him and the RB (wheel) into each other's way deep down the sideline.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Some Cool Things to think about for Spring Ball

Here are some more recent thoughts of mine.  They might look familiar.

4 man stick
#1 has an outside release go
#2 has the stick route
#3 has a spot route over the ball (they ran this route like a slant)
RB has 3 yard shoot/flat route

 WR screen to the backside of trips.  We have run "solid" screens for a while with OL zoning away but the new thing is pulling the guard to sell the power look.  So now the defense sees Guard Pull and RB flow that way.  The tackle has the key block because he starts his hinge block stepping to b gap and hinging, then has to get flat down LOS and kick out the Corner.  The Center works laterally like a down block for pulling guard, then slides down LOS looking to pick up LB chasing it from inside out.  Tackles have to understand the difference between a multiple WR side screen and a single WR side screen so they know to go flat and pick up Corner. When we release all of our OL we use the "out up in" method and this is essentially what they are doing... The Tackle has out, the Guard is pulling so he isn't there but you don't need the Up lead block because there probably isn't an OLB to that single WR side.  The center still has his in block because he is picking up the PSLB who has sucked in some from his run read.

Practice Segments:
I like the idea of incorporating all "team" portions of practice mixed between individual drills.  Pre practice, then tempo.  Indys then some inside run.  Back to Indys or group and then into team... I think it helps break up practice well.

Injured Players:
I like the idea of not giving injured players a day off.  Keep them moving and make them work.  A simple circuit can be set up on the side of a field or behind the end zone for these guys to get reps in.  If you have coaches who only coach one way, they can handle your Injured Reserve and make them work,

Rb screen:
OL quick set, Tackle stayed locked on DE, while GCG released, just like my out, up, in I have described here in the past.  The RB is taught to buzz his feet, then run his swing.  I like running the screen this way because it is more believable to the defense.  We free release RBs all the time, then on screen we ask them to step up to block, and sneak out through the hole... no one is fooled and last year our RBs sucked at getting out this way.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Creating Off Season Competition

Our Off Seasons flat out SUCK.

Since I have been at my current school (3 years) our off season's have never been what I have wanted them to be.  Every year I feel I get more organized and improve my knowledge in S&C yet none of it matters if I can't get the kids to buy in to it.

Every game we lost this past season I 100% contribute to our lack of dedication to the weight room.

I tried to get the kids here, tried to beg them here, but so many were content with just starting that it didn't matter.  Couldn't really hold a kid out for not showing up because his back up didn't show up either.  Through January we were having the same terrible results for our off season workouts... 10-12 kids a day after school is not getting it cut when you have a school of 2,000 and you know you will end up with at least 30 kids on both varsity and JV when the season starts.  What the heck are those other 50-60 kids doing who aren't showing up??!!!

I got tired of it, I was fed up, frustrated, and ready to just give up.

I finally did something I should have done long ago.  I held a meeting, advertised it to the kids for over a week, told them it was mandatory and the most important meeting in school history.

I laid out a point/reward system for them and told them what was required to play football for me in 2013.

First I laid out the fact that attendance was taken daily and I would post it at the end of each week.  To play football, at any level in 2013 a player would have to attend 75% of workouts between now and spring ball.
Each player would be given 1 point a day for showing up to our workouts.  Any one involved in a spring sport would get 1 point per day as long as they were in that sport.  I stay in the weight room until 6:00 every night.  So if a baseball or volleyball player gets out at 5:30, they can run down to the weight room and get at least their core lifts in with me.  If they do this they get 2 points for the day.

I also declared that every football player who wasn't doing a spring sport was now on the track team.  No negotiations, no excuses if you want to play football you are on the track team.

I sat down with the track coach to coordinate our practice structure but basically every OL/DL was now a thrower, every skill player now a runner.

Runners would do track then lift after with me.  Throwers would life with me first then go throw or run.  He handles all the speed work, I handle all the lifting.  You can do all the SAQ work you want, I have never seen kids improve their raw speed and conditioning more than after a full season of running track.

Now that we had a point system, and a minimum percentage of points needed we just needed to really add a level of competition to it.

Our current Junior (going to be senior) class is in my mind selfish and lazy.  There has been a lack of leadership in their grade level.  To help I picked 6 of these future seniors to be "Captains" of mini teams, and I divided every kid interested in football in to one of these 6 teams.  I'm hoping that be forcing these kids into a leadership role they will start to become the leaders we need them to be for the 2013 season.  Each of them started a year ago, and talent wise should be our best guys in 2013 they just need the right discipline.

Intrinsic motivation or doing the right thing are not good enough motivators for today's kids, and the kids on my football team.  I needed a carrot to dangle to spark their interest in this new football program I am trying to establish so along with the points and small teams I came up with an award system

For the team with the most combined points:  Captain gets their home jersey, any cleats they can dream up, spirit pack.  The entire team will get a special t shirt that no other person can buy or win.

The captains have a lot of incentive to push their team members to be at practice so they can win their prizes.

I also want the other players to have something to shoot for (other than hitting 75% so they can make the team) so I am buying cleats for the top 2 point scorers in our program.

Our attendance has blossomed, we now have over 60 kids a day at track and workouts, as well as another 5-10 per day who come lift after baseball or volleyball.  We are 2 full weeks in to the program right now and the kids have really bought in.  The captains are on their teammates for missing (because they want to win) and players really want to show up and earn their points.  I have kids asking me 3x a day if they made sure I checked them off for lifting that day because they want to get every point.

Each week I have posted the individual and team point results in our weight room and on my classroom door and they have really gotten in to the competition aspect of it.

I have made it a big point to not only not record excuses of any kind, I do not even listen to them.  A few players have given me this excuse or that excuse and I say you gotta do what you gotta do, if you don't hit 75% you are not playing football.  Our biggest Rival is Pittsburg HS.  So when a kid gives any excuse  for something whether at school or at practice I pull my cell phone out, pretend to dial up Pittsburg HS... and repeat the excuse... so I might say something like...
"Hey pitt, Johnny wants to see his GF after school today... can you take it easy on him in November? Please? oh wait... you don't care??? You're still gonna tee off on him? Ok I'll let him know"  The no excuses attitude is a major point of emphasis I am trying to push across.

The only thing I am not sure on is when I am going to have the "cut off date" or deadline for when players have to reach a certain point total.

I wasn't sure how this was going to work, and trust me I never really bought in to a point system.  I thought it was something for the rich schools and that our kids would go on the same as before but I can't express how big our turn around has been and I feel good about our future as long as we can keep this up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Blocking Progression

Often times we coaches (myself included) get so caught up in schemes, wrinkles, adding new things, the defense we are facing, but we fail to address the most important thing of all ... fundamentals.
I know I am guilty, as I am sure many are across the world, as the season goes on you start having more team time, and less individual time.  The quality of your indy work diminishes and I know throughout this season I kept feeling like we just weren't getting better week to week, or over the course of the season.

I had the pleasure of hearing a number of great speakers this weekend at the San Francisco (really Concord my home town) Glazier Clinic.  The best of which was former YV and Clovis East Coach, and current Clayton Valley HC Tim Murphy.

He is a widely known DW guru.  This year he switched to a shotgun DW and had even more success.  Blew everyone away, won our section for Division II and came up 1 play short of winning the right to represent NorCal in the state playoffs.  Oh by the way he didn't even get hired until the middle of spring ball.

Anyway he is an awesome coach and I got to check out a bunch of his presentations over the weekend.  His team came to my camp last summer and I knew they would be good.  They're coming again this year and it will be awesome to have them.

Anyway back to the point, he gave a great talk on his blocking progression.
What I was most happy about was the fact that what I taught this past year was really almost identical to the way he taught it.  I have seen some of his earlier videos so I was close to doing things his way.

This technique for an on block is the foundation for everything they do, and a great phrase he said was "a block is a block"
this was in reference to a coach asking about different techniques for different blocks... this progression is the basis, the difference between blocks just comes from stepping at different angles, and working your head to a certain side.

I am going to go through the entire blocking progression below:

I started my blocking progression like most do, stance, first step, second step.  However Murphy actually teaches his progression from the fit position and works backwards.

1. They start teaching everything from the "fit" position.  Good pad level, back at a 45 degree angle.  Hands locked on shoulder pads, thumbs up, elbows in.  Good bend angles in hips, knees and ankles.  One important point is that he has the scout defender hold the blockers elbows in.  This is to help reinforce the elbows in for the blocker.  Keeping elbows in is a more powerful position than you are in when the elbows are flared up/out.

2.  The next step is to start from the "load" position.  The blocker will have a flat back with their arms loaded or cocked back.  Their hands are somewhere between their mid thigh and hip. On command the player will step and deliver a blow with the knife or base of the hand and get into that fit position... the hit and back have to be at a 45 degree angle... can't go straight up.  45 degrees is the most powerful angle and we want to make contact on that 45 degree angle with great pad level.

3.  The 3rd part of the progression is to begin from the stance.  The stance should be with a flat back.  On command they will take their first step and load the hands.  Important points... he teaches keeping the off hand in a 3 pt stance to be down near the down hand.  "fist by the wrist"  This is to keep the load even on both sides.  They must keep a flat back when they freeze after their load step.  He will sometimes have a kid stand over the with their hand 2 inches above their back in their stance.  On the load step if their back touches the hand the kid knows he has risen too high.
> then comes the 2nd step and delivering the punch on the 45 degree angle
> this gets us into our fit
from there we will start the final step: Drive

4. they start in a perfect fit and on command they drive the scout defender pounding the entire foot into the ground, weight on inside of foot.
command is "fit" > player gets into perfect fit
"show me" > player twists defender to show coach his grip on shoulder pads, thumbs up elbows in
"drive" > player begins pounding feet driving down the field
"lockout" > player violently bench presses to finish the block... back goes flat again, finishing him to the ground (only get this perfect block a few times a game but practice it anyway)

They will work this step by step progression and from there go to 50% speed putting all the steps together
from 50% they go to 90%
Finally 100% all out on the drive block

They also practice drills they call "Stick Like Glue Series"

Sidewinder drill - drive block (can adjust % of effort) scout guy begins snaking side to side as he is driven back.  Blocker has to work his feet to stay on the block and not get out of control.

Spin Drill - drive block, scout defender chooses a direction to spin, blocker has to redirect and stay on the block

Pop up Drill - drive block, defender throws blocker down onto ground, pop up and continue to block, repeat

He teaches a solid progression and maximizes what his players can do.  His OL was SMALL, but they ran the heck out of the ball.

They work this progression relentlessly.  At our Summer camp, when the other teams were repping team stuff in their independent practice time, his guys were working progression over and over.

He said he works the progression every week, all year long, even 5 weeks deep into the playoffs.

This progression is not solely for the OL.  He makes every player on the team do this, including his QBs.  Every player has to learn how to block and to be a great blocker in his offense.