Monday, October 29, 2012

Triple Option Volume Six

I know it has been some time since Volume Five was released, but I've been a busy little bee coaching my team towards our first ever league championship in school history.  In fitting fashion we had a bump in the road losing the 2nd of our two game skit with who we were tied for first place in the league last Thursday night.  Today we will be playing one quarter of football to determine who wins the league championship outright.  Should be a pretty good game!  Anyhow, here's some of the random useless thoughts that have been tumbling through my brain over the past few weeks.

The Give
Can anyone have any worse luck than Marcus Lattimore?  I feel for the guy, I really do.  I even feel for Spurrier and Lattimore's Gamecock teammates.  This is two years in a row that Lattimore has succumbed to a season-ending knee injury.  I know both injuries were gruesome, but one has to wonder, is there something physically going on here, or is it really just that bad of luck?  If you are squeamish, don't watch the next two video clips, for fear of puking on your keyboard!  My hat's off to Lattimore, what a setback, but you know I have a feeling we'll see him put on that Gamecock uniform next season.  I would have to wonder what his future is going to look like though, as I thought it took him at least three or four games to get back into the swing of things this season.  Would anyone say the NFL is out?

The Keep
Well, my little defense has really struggled this season basing out of the 46.  We did good last season, and the top reason why was we faced only 1 team that used a TE and they only did that in certain situations.  This season, all of a sudden we see a TE on half of our snaps, and my poor seven technique SS can't handle it.  Now I love the Bear, but that seven technique is a bitch of a position to play.  I don't really have anybody that can do what's required of that position, so I went scrambling, and what I came up with is a pretty sound youth version of the 4-2-5 that helped us out in the last three games (which the opponent used a TE on every snap).  I will post more over at the Football Is Life blog once we are done with the season, but I have to say I think this will be a version of my 4-2 that many youth coaches can come to use as it's not just the traditional 4-2 you read about being run at the high school and college level.  This 4-2 has a bit of TCU, and a bit of Wide Tackle 6 involved in it.  What I love about the game of football is that necessity is the mother of all invention and it never fails as when my back is against the wall, I show my best creativity.  Well, I'm know going to take all my scratch pads and napkin drawings and going to put them into a playbook I can share with other youth coaches.  Hopefully it will help some guys out as I think it's a solid defense and really helped my guys play fast.  Stay tuned to the Football is Life Blog for more information.

The Pitch
If anyone watched the Florida-Georgia game this past weekend you saw EXACTLY what I've been preaching about Will Muschamp's Gators.  They are undisciplined and sloppy, and Muschamp is too quick to praise these guys, even when they don't play well.  I'm trying to like Muschamp, I really am, but when the guy sits on the Will Muschamp show on Sundays and says he's proud of his guys for playing hard, and doesn't point out that they were sloppy and undisciplined, I have to get a case of the red-ass.  At least Spurrier tells it like it is.  The reason the Gators will not be in Atlanta this season is due to being undisciplined.  Too many penalties and too many guys trying to be the hero instead of being the worker bee.  Jordan Reed's got to be pointed out here as making one of the stupidest plays in all of Florida football history when he tries to leap in from beyond the five yard line.  Really?  Florida had Georgia right where they wanted them, they could not stop the run and the Florida offense was moving the ball, and then a selfish act turns into the game ending play that sealed Florida's fate.  Now, the missed tackle on the touchdown before was also pretty pathetic too.  I mean, if this really is a high caliber team like everyone was thinking, then YOU DON'T MISS THOSE TACKLES IN BIG BALL GAMES!!!!!  Yet Muschamp is proud of the way his Gators played.  If he is TRULY proud, then we have the second coming of Ron Zook on our hands, no doubt.  If he's lying about it, just to sound good on T.V., then shame on Barack Muschamp for being a liar.  Either way Gator fans, don't anoint Muschamp just yet, he's got great talent, and an excellent coaching staff, but his leadership is in question, and the lack of it came pouring through the cracks last Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.

I believe my own bullshit!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Triple Option Volume 5

The Give
With Florida's win over LSU this past Saturday is it safe to say that the Gator's are back?  I think not.  I honestly think the LSU fighting Mad Hatters are overrated.  They did not look, nor have they looked like the 4th ranked team in the country all season.  Talent-wise I'm sure they rank up there with the elite, however the rankings are not based on talent and games are not won solely on talent either.  The thing that irks me about the Muschamp era Florida Gators is their lack of discipline, especially on defense.  The Gator's lost both the turnover battle and the penalty battle on Saturday and luckily their stout defensive play overcame those obstacles.  However, against a team on it's "A" game, that won't happen.  I'm not going to give Muschamp any credit until I see UF playing with fewer penalties than their opponents, because I think at the end of the day, when teams are evenly matched the most disciplined team wins.

"You have done good, my young Padawan...but you are not a Jedi yet!"

Man, how would you like to coach South Carolina's defense???  They looked like the Justice League playing out there last Saturday night.  My hats off to Steve Spurrier for what he has done at South Carolina.  I also have to say, it's nice, in this day and age of win now or go home attitude, that an administration has let their coach create a "body of work" in what Spurrier has been able to do at USC.  You have to hand it to the university, they have been patient and let Spurrier do his thing, and it has paid off.  I mean he actually went backwards in his third season going only 6-6 that year.  In some circles in the SEC, that's grounds for firing.  However USC stuck with the Head Ball Coach and look at the body of work he has done.  You have to be impressed, as he's not done it in typical Spurrier fashion.  What's quite interesting is the whole thing has been very un-Spurrieresque in terms of how it was done.  First, Spurrier came to USC and didn't really ruffle any feather (pardon the pun), like he did when he was at UF.  I think the NFL humbled the HBC some, and it really led to almost a new focus for him.  Now that he's on top, you hear the HBC at conferences pipe off every now and then, but you've got to admit it's not anything like it used to be when he was at Florida.  Anyhow, my hat's off to the man, he's done a great job, and has a dang good football team!

The Keep
Alabama's Nick Saban came out this past week with some unkind comments on the new fangled no-huddle offenses that are dominating the scene in college football.  There are as many pros as there are con's on Saban's argument about the no-huddle, so much it's almost like the Obama-Romney polls we see issued every week.  I have to say, I agree somewhat with what Saban has said.  I mean, let's be honest, no-huddle teams are not breaking the rules by any means, but a snap every 20 to 25 seconds, is borderline ridiculous.  If I wanted to see 70-62 football games, I'd watch arena football.  Last year's 9-6 victory by LSU over Saban was as good a show to me as any, but that's just me.  I still think Saban has a point and player safety does need to be considered when looking at just how fast an offense can and will snap the football. 

So what are defenses to do?  We talk all the time about constraints and how coaches, players, and schemes have overcome or adapted to these constraints.  How does the defense adapt, and is the no-huddle, up-tempo offense an unfair disadvantage to the defense?  In my opinion yes, and no.  First, there's no way to mimic the up-tempo in practice, especially if your offense is not no-huddle.  Ok, most will say "Then go no-huddle...duh!", but this is not necessarily and answer.  I also know some will say "The triple option is also hard to mimic in practice Duece, do you want to eliminate that as well?", to which I answer "no".  I think the veer can be much more easily simulated in practice than the up-tempo no huddle.  In one situation you are simply teaching or showing your team new plays, in imitating no-huddle you are showing new plays AND trying to emulate fast pace, something that CAN'T happen if you are showing a scout team new plays.  The no part of the answer comes in the old fashion of I know how to slow down the game, and that's to have a player fake an injury.  I can then run my training staff out there all the while I'm substituting fresh players for the gassed ones.  Now, I've altered the game, and in a way that I don't think fans would like to see.  I'm surprised you haven't seen more of this, with the "win-at-all-costs" mentality in today's game.  I know I would do it, because I'm the type of coach that's going to give my players every advantage I can get, and if you are playing fast, I'm going to do my best to play slow.  Is this within the rules, sure, they cannot prove that the young man isn't injured, no official is going to risk doing so.  However, it's not within the "spirit" of the game, and neither is the up-tempo no-huddle.  This is why if the up-tempo is going to stay, rules need to be written about the amount of time between snaps, or else you will see just what I'm talking about when it comes to defensive coordinators trying to slow down the pace of the game.

The Pitch
Dealing with tragedy on any level is tough.  Dealing with tragedy at the youth football level has been quite interesting.  I won't get into details, but my little squad has had a rough patch over the past week, and came through with flying colors over a very tough opponent.  Things won't get any easier for us, but there is a little bit of piece in seeing just how junior high aged kids deal with things.  I don't know whether it's denial, or just the lack of an attention span, but the players really came through last week after dealing with the loss of family member's and a teammate. 

I however, am still struggling to come to grips with this "whirlwind" of a season.  I should be proud and happy as we are undefeated and have won more games in this season than the previous three seasons combined.  Sometimes you simply sit there and wonder "why?".  Anyhow, here's some things I noticed over last week, and you can elaborate or take these with you for your use, if you ever need them (let's hope not).

  • It's ok to be "business as usual".  I think in some ways the players like this, however, I also think it's good in the beginning to give the players some time off.  We took one day off last week, and then went right back to work, however we didn't do anything overly taxing mentally. 
  • Open your door, and your ears.  If there are kids that are struggling with what's going on, don't just send them home hoping they will open up to mom and dad.  Kids are more apt to open up to their coaches than their parents and in this case you can be a great asset for your players if they know they can come to you for help.
  • Don't get caught up in the moment, or add the tragedy to speeches or any part of the upcoming game.  Simply do as you would normally do, again, following the "business as usual" mantra.
  • Let kids grieve if they need to, but don't expect it.  I was quite shocked when we didn't have anyone in tears after our win.  Now, the parents and folks in the stands were balling, but remember, these are kids, and their focus was on the here and now, which was WE WON!  Let them be kids...
I'm no psychiatrist, but after last week, that's the map I followed and we came out pretty good in the end.  We really shouldn't have been on the field, but the other team would not let us reschedule, so we had to play it.  They were clearly better than us, and we found a way to win.  I don't think God cares much about football, but I know he cares about us (humans) and I think maybe, just maybe, for one brief moment, he allowed that pointed football to bounce our way a few times.  Anyhow, I'd like to think that...


Monday, October 1, 2012

Triple Option Volume 4

Wow, has college football heated up once again or what???  Well, we are 4-0 and have the roughest part of our schedule ahead of us.  Illness and injuries are creeping in, so we will see just how deep we are in the next few weeks.  Thought I'd put some thoughts down on paper and share these with you, hope all is well!

The Give
This week could be one of the most pivotal in college football, especially in the SEC.  LSU travels to take on Florida, and I gotta say this one could be a barn burner, or a total flop.  We will see if UF is for real or not.  I think LSU wins this, but in some kind of crazy fashion.  I'm thinking a wild game with tons of turnovers coming down to a 16-10 final in overtime. 

Could this be the scene in Gainesville Saturday?

The other game that's very interesting in the SEC East is Georgia traveling to South Carolina.  I gotta go with Spurrier on this one.  I think Lattimore is peaking right now, and Georgia's vaunted defense is not playing up to their potential.  I think it's the Gamecock's by a one in a 35-34 victory!

Surprise team, to me, has been Notre Dame.  I knew they were going to be good, but not this good.  Now, I'm not Lou Holtz and picking them to win the BCS National Championship or anything, but I think we'll see them in a post-New Year's Day bowl game.  They are doing this even with doubts at the quarterback position.  I also have to say their defensive front has been unreal in these first few games.  We'll get to see if they have any quality depth as we come into the month of October, but to me, they have really impressed.

The most lackluster team I've seen has to Arkansas.  I'm not sure where you hang the blame there, even though Petrino wrecked things, I think you are seeing a lack of quality leadership from both the coaches and players.  I didn't think they would do as bad as they have this season, and man they are reeling.  So who do you think deserves the blame other than Petrino (the obvious choice)?  Send me an email at to discuss further.

What the hell?

The Keep
The 8-2-1 kickoff return scheme is here to stay!  Having studied this return setup from a local juggernaut that rarely has better talent than their opponent's, I installed it 2 weeks ago, and our return game has blossomed.  I won't go into grave detail on it here, but what sold me was I took a look at last year's film of our double wedge return system and took the total percentage of players who made a block and the percentage was a dismal 24%.  Looking at film of the local high school that runs this scheme I saw where they had an amazing 88% rate of making their blocks. After the past two games, we are at 70% of our blocks being made.  Now this is not anywhere close to where we need to be, but in the first two games we had a percentage of 22%.  Thank goodness we've only had to have our kick return unit on the field for a few plays this season!  I'm going to write more about this scheme once the season ends and I can get some quality film on the technique.  Stay tuned.

The Pitch
The last part in the Triple Option series is to remember you never know what life will deal you.  I NEVER envisioned coaching middle school ball, better yet, being a head coach ever again. Well, two weeks before the season, my boss, the head man, has a mild heart attack and low and behold, I'm next in line!  It has been a whirlwind of events over the past two months, and luckily the kids have taken to things being the way they are and are 4-0, which is as many games as they've won here in the past two seasons combined.  The moral of the story is like we preach to our players, be ready for anything.  Thank goodness my boss is doing much better and has even been to a few practices here lately.  I also like what he's doing as well, he's supposed to be cleared to return to work/practice for our last game, but has chosen not to, as he doesn't want to upset anything.  I think that is the ultimate stand in professionalism, even though it wouldn't matter to me, chemistry is everything when it comes to winning football games.  In the future, be prepared for anything, and those guys who think they'll never get their shot, hang in there, it may happen sooner rather than later!