Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday Triple Option

Damn Triple Option again...

Sorry for the delay, I've had to be away from the computer until today.  Here's a delayed Friday Triple Option.

The Give
Early in the week Urban Meyer's contract was released with some interesting provisions about reporting NCAA infractions.  Obviously we can see the sting is still being felt in Columbus.  Looks like "the" Ohio State University is trying to keep the ball in their court.  What's astonishing is the amount of money that dude is going to make after the disaster he left at the University of Florida.  I know, I know, he does a have a very proven track record, however I judge coaches on how they leave things.  To me, Meyer's not much different than Petrino or Tressel in this situation.  Sure, they are all bright minds and have done great things where they've been, the staple is how was the place when they left?  In Tressel and Meyer's case, not so good, and the jury's still out on the whole Petrinogate thing in Arkansas.  Many feel though, Arkansas' run at the SEC West title, crashed on that rural road along with Petrino's hot girlfriend and his "hawg".  Anyhow, when I think of a good coach I think of one that turns things around and when he steps away, the next guy has an easier time.  There is no better example than the ol' ball coach himself, Steve Spurrier.  He came into Gainesville and took a down-in-the-dumps program and put it in the national limelight.  The reason Gator fans are the way they are and things are like they are at Florida now, can be directly traced back to Spurrier.  Sure, he didn't do so well in the NFL, but the Redskins haven't done well since, leading me to believe there's more going on there than Spurrier could have corrected. 

Look at Spurrier's latest gig, at South Carolina.  Holtz did a good job bringing USC from the depths of the abyss and Spurrier picked up the torch and has USC as an SEC contender year in and year out.  I'm sure if he walked away tomorrow things would be much better than when the ol' ball coach threw his first visor on the sidelines in Columbia. 

Anyhow, my point is, the value of a coach should be looked at in it's entirety.   Contracts are finite as are relationships and coaches.  What an A.D. really needs to look at is not only track record while the person they are thinking about hiring was on the job, but how did they leave the place where they left?  In Meyer's case, for the most part he's done a great job, although none of his previous schools have done much since he left.  How you ruin the University of Florida I have no idea, but Urban Meyer found a way to do so, AND managed to have a motley crew getting arrested 32 times under his tenure.  The decision by OSU and the contract laid out to Meyer prove that it's a win-at-all-cost mentality and the future is only the length of a contract, or how quickly can you get us in the National Championship Game.  I think that is being short-sighted in my opinion, but then again, what the hell do I know?!

I'd like to kick Urban Meyer square in the ass!

The Keep
Brophy is back!  Well, he never was gone, only busy.  Anyhow, the last part of his latest post has been something that has been buzzing in my head all week.  The future of the game.  I think Brophy has hit the nail on the head here, and I think he's exactly right.  The spread is here to stay, and will continue to evolve as guys like Urban Meyer, and Chip Kelly stir the pot.  I think the answer on both sides of the ball is evolution of the hybrid player.  Dogs, cats, bats, falcons, or eagles, whatever the hell you call them in your defense are the swing players that are going to make a difference.  Just as the H and F players on the offensive side of the ball are going to do the same.  This point is also illustrated in one of the chapters in the Essential Smart Football (which if you haven't bought this book please insert a hammer into your right hand and repeatedly bash your forehead until you order the damn thing), which talks about the evolution of the New England Patriots offense.  The two tight end spread offense this past season turned NFL defense end-over-end and really is something that should be studied in greater detail. 

Offensively, these hybrid players are of two types.  First they are a freak athlete such as an Aaron Hernandez who not only can block, but puts linebacker-types in jeopardy because of his athleticism, thereby leaving the defense with no immediate personnel answer for this player.  Do you put a defensive back on him?  If you do, you run the risk of Hernandez "bodying up" or going for the jump ball, or worse yet blocking on the edge for a screen or sweep type play and overpowering a much smaller player.  Oh, so I put a LB on him.  Well...not really, the linebacker might help against the run, but players like Hernandez are much too athletic for a typical linebacker to handle.  Oh, all I gotta do is double cover him then.  Ehhh...not so much either.  When you double one player, you leave yourself vulnerable to leaving Welker or Gronk one-on-one and that ain't my cup of tea either. 

The second type is the smaller-than-usual speedster.  The best example is Darren Spoles of the Saints.  Sprolles is as explosive as they come, but in a pint-sized frame.  At 5'6" tall and 190 pounds (in your dreams, he's 180 at best), he doesn't present the match up issues with blocking so much as he does with what defenders are forced to cover him in space.  Match up one of your linebackers with Sproles and you're in trouble.  His speed and quickness in the open field makes him extremely dangerous and a match up nightmare for opposing defenses.

The answer in the NFL is, the hybrid defensive player.  These are players that are safeties in linebacker bodies.  Very difficult to find, but the nice thing about finding hybrids on defense is that the offense must also find these players too.  There is no doubt offenses are in control of the game right now, and the answer for defenses right now are hybrid players and playing with more nickel and dime personnel groups. 

No, not that kind of hybrid!!!!

Other answers for the defense are the art of confusion.  I think blitzes will become more exotic in nature, more one and two man defensive lines and the sort as defensive coordinators nation-wide scramble to stop the vaunted spread attack.  Again, hats off to Brophy, his post got my mind to rolling, and it's certainly good to see him back on the gridiron again!

The Pitch
Pop Warner came with their new rules on contact and it has stirred the youth coaching boards in to a viral frenzy.  The problem is, these rules were needed ten years ago.  I can remember some of the shit I had to do as a Pop Warner player such as Bull in the Ring, two water breaks for a two hour practice, and hours and hours of running plays against your defense full tilt.  No wonder my body hurts so damn bad when I get up in the morning!  If you think those things are archaic, so is scrimmaging a large amount of the time in live situations.  Basically put, it's pointless. 

Enter Dave Cisar and his Winning Youth Football (WYF) program.  Dave, though a tad big arrogant at times, has really revolutionized the world of youth football.  Yes, that was a shot at Dave, but ultimately the guy's a great football mind, and who can argue with his track record?  In Dave's system, practices are fast paced, not very long, and low impact.  Most importantly they are fun.  Youth football is still very pure in nature, despite the fact that they are now broadcasting Pop Warner games on television.  The idea is to make practices fun so the players will want to keep coming back for more.

Cisar's practice system is the new model for Pop Warner organizations across the country.  I highly recommend buying his material, it is well worth the money for the time Cisar has invested in creating it.  One thing you will see common in how Cisar practices is the lack of full, all out contact.  This is hard for some of us ol' fogeys out there to grasp, but much like the spread offense, this trend is here to stay.  Nobody likes to be told for the last twenty years they've been doing it wrong, but for a guy with as many wins under his belt as Dave has, I'm willing to switch.

Practices consist of what Dave calls "form and fit" drills.  In these drills, plays, reads, reactions, and blocks are broken down into their most basic components and installed step-by-step until each phase of the technique is mastered.  The final piece of Dave's puzzle is the live contact, however he does very little live contact and for two main reasons.  First, live contact over the period of a season becomes more and more detrimental for athletes.  The body can only take so much, so the added collisions in practice are one less game rep down the road your player has in his body.  Secondly, players should relish contact.  When players are bored with hitting, or get too much hitting in practice it becomes the norm and they do not "want" to hit as much anymore.  The more you keep them from hitting, the more the players will want to hit.  The reward is the game, where the player can finally tee off, yet do so under control with the valuable skill set he has learned in a step by step, work to perfection manner throughout the week. 

My hat is off to Cisar, I was very skeptical at first (and no this isn't a plug for the man), but I have since bought in and the team I coach this upcoming season will be adopting a larger portion of the Cisar practice model. 

That's Friday Triple Option, hope you enjoyed it.  Have a great weekend!