Four years ago, Erik Korem and Joe Danos, who were FSU assistants at the time, brought the idea to [Jimbo] Fisher after seeing the devices used by an Australian rules football team. The Australian company that makes them, Catapult Sports, had never had an American football client, but Fisher was quickly sold on the possibilities of designing highly specialized training programs for his athletes that promised increased production and fewer injuries. “He knew at some point in time, we were going to be ready to face the best of the best, and we had to be a little bit different,” head strength coach Vic Viloria said. “His little bit different turned out to be really, really impressive.” . . .
The cost is dwarfed by the sheer scope of information the devices provide. Each GPS monitor returns about 1,000 unique data points per second, which for 95 players practicing for a few hours a day amounts to an overwhelming amount of information for coaches to dissect. Florida State now employs two assistants working full-time hours — Jacobs and Kratik Malhotra, a data analyst with a degree in electronics engineering — just to sift through the numbers. . .
Florida State’s run to a national championship last year hinged greatly on an unusually low number of injury casualties, which Fisher hardly chalks up to luck. With information gleaned from the GPS devices, Florida State virtually eliminated soft-tissue injuries — muscle pulls and strains — and Fisher adjusted the team’s practice schedules to reduce midweek workload and ensure his team peaked on Saturdays. The more FSU’s coaches learned about the data delivered by the GPS systems, the more the team’s conditioning and practices could be tailored to the specific needs of each player.
- Defending 3×1 (trips) formations, Part IV:
There are many key items to look at when setting the defense up vs. 3×1, but if your opponent utilizes the bubble as a mainstay, I’d suggest overloading to the trips side of the coverage. Now this may mean rolling a safety down and playing a one-high look in these situations, or playing a version of TCU’s Special coverage, but whatever you do, I’d over play the trips side. First off, when coupled with the run game, the zone read can easily be defended as discussed in a previous post. The LB’s track the RB and the DE gets a two-for-one on the RB and the QB, usually giving the QB a give read. Now, if the QB, or the OC is savvy enough to simply call the bubble, instead of having the QB read it since the OC knows the DE is sitting on the give and the QB keep, he’s now made the DE a three-for-one player, because this gets the DE into pursuit quicker than if the QB were actually reading the play. Likewise the over shift in coverage puts more defenders closer to where the offense is trying to attack. Again, this is a big win for the defense. I recommend rolling into a one-high shell late, or even on the snap to gain a defender with leverage on the bubble.
- NIU’s empty quarterback power and counter combination play:
Northern Illinois has a pretty nifty offense. It seems to be all the rage these days. However, when you watch the film, the vast majority of the offense relies heavily on the old, reliable power blocking scheme. In this case, since they run QB power from an empty formation, they’re kicking out the end with the guard in this specific usage of the power scheme. You may consider this a trap play, but it’s using the power blocking concept (specifically the “counter” play scheme, with the QB’s read acting as the “wrapper” typically filled by the fullback or pulling tackle). They run a lot of QB power, and this article will focus on their combination QB power play with the jailbreak screen.
- The Three “T”‘s:
What are the 3 T’s? The three T’s are quite simply: Technique, Tackling, and Takeaways. Technique involves two things for our players. First, they must know how to line up right. They have to be able to get into a comfortable balanced stance. Second, they have to be able to control and dominate their gap responsibility, or their pass zone. If we can get our guys to line up right, we can be successful on defense. One misalignment, however, can be disastrous To make sure we line up right we keep things simple. We have simple alignment rules for our guys.
There are only five things an offense can do to each side of your defense. They can give you a nub, a single, twins, trips, or quads. We have very simple alignment rules for our second and third level players to ensure we are always lined up right. From there, we use our individual and group periods to develop our ability to control our gap responsibility in the run game, and our pass rush or coverage responsibility in the pass game. We teach our players what to do, how to do it, and why they need to do it the way we teach them.
- Utilizing your singled up/backside receiver:
In many offensive systems, the receiver on the line of scrimmage, away from the formation strength is called the “X” receiver. For many teams, this is their best receiver. He is a player that can force double coverage or bracketing. His role is to win on his routes, especially when he draws single coverage. Many of today’s defenses match this player by putting their best cover corner on him. The advantage created by the X can be realized when a specific plan of action is in place to attack the defense who leaves him singled up. By making him a focus, the ball can end up in his hands for a big play, or he can create a situation where another player is able to get open because of the defense’s reaction or strategy to stop the X.
- Updating your bootleg passing game:
The last five years we have been predominantly a run oriented tight end heavy 1st and 2nd down run heavy offense. Bootlegs and PAP have always been key for us to bring balance and to keep folks honest. We have been boot heavy to the point that D coordinators would squeeze us off hard to the TE side rolling down and leaving the defense with no option but to squeeze the dragger from the backside with the FS. I am sure many of you have encountered this problem especially if you are TE and field heavy offensively and or even balanced spread field heavy.
That, however, is precisely what makes this draft so fascinating: Bortles, Bridgewater, and Manziel are all first-round talents with fifth-round flaws, and which of them a given personnel man or fan likes best says as much about that person as it does about that quarterback. They’re different players, but they’re united by the uncertainty that surrounds them. Each QB is a Rorschach test for the evaluator, which makes examining these three prospects in turn a way to study the larger, gut-wrenching process of evaluating and drafting players who can make or break careers.
Read the whole thing.]]>
- Home Game, also by Michael Lewis, is something altogether different, and I read it last fall when I was home with our new baby. It’s hard to recommend the book as the subject matter — Lewis’s own unique approach to fatherhood, which mostly involves him detailing ways he feels inadequate or at least overmatched by the prospect — is quite narrow, and the book itself feels a bit like an attempt to cash in on his success as it is a collection of disparate thoughts and events, some recalled years later for his older children and others recorded in somewhat real time for his younger ones. Of course, there remain moments of insight, such as when Lewis details a father’s feelings of paralysis and uselessness while his wife suffers through labor and deliver, and the book was an easy read at a time when I am still amazed I had the brainpower to read much of anything. It’s a good book for expecting and recent dads, though Adam Gopnik’s From Paris to the Moon covers somewhat similar territory in similar though more complete and better organized fashion.
- How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough. This surprisingly riveting book is about a shift in thinking about the best way to educate and prepare children for their lives, specifically a shift away from a sole focus on raw IQ — evidenced by making three year-olds do countless math problems or other pure “cognitive development” activities — to methods that, for lack of a better term, try to help them develop supporting skills like character, diligence, curiosity, and, most of all grit and determination. I’m no education expert and reading a book of competing educational studies is not how I’d like to spend my time, but Tough supports his argument with fantastic stories of real people. I was alerted to this book by this fantastic review (which contains several excerpts) of Tough’s book which focuses on Elizabeth Spiegel, an inner-city chess teacher and one of Tough’s heroes. But this isn’t just a Hollywood style narrative; it’s far more complex, and far more rewarding.
Slowing down, examining impulses, and considering alternatives sounds reasonable but it’s “quite rare in contemporary American Schools.”
If you believe that your school’s mission or your job as a teacher is simply to convey information, then it probably doesn’t seem necessary to subject your students to that kind of rigorous self-analysis. But if you’re trying to help them change their character, then conveying information isn’t enough. And while Spiegel didn’t use the word character to describe what she was teaching, there was a remarkable amount of overlap between the strengths David Levin and Dominic Randolph emphasized and the skills that Spiegel tried to inculcate in her students. Every day, in the classroom and at tournaments, I saw Spiegel trying to teach her students grit, curiosity, self-control, and optimism.
- Quick hits: The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries: Something of a phenomenon in start-up circles, I found the idea behind this book OK while the book itself lacked details and was light on practical advice for entrepreneurs and early investors, though maybe the overarching message of “do it, do it now, and do it fast” is motivation that will serve the many “Lean” devotees well enough … Double Your Profits, by Bob Fifer: It doesn’t get any more real world than this book, which consists of around 200 relentless pages of 2-3 page chapters advising how to slash and cut your way to profitability. Despite a few of the recommendations being out there, I actually found this a far more rewarding read than the Lean Startup, but maybe that says more about me than the books themselves. (Supposedly the private equity fund 3G Capital, Warren Buffett’s partners in his acquisition of Heinz, are devotees of this book and make it assigned reading to all of their new hires.) I will add that if the title “Double Your Profits” doesn’t sound like it’d interest you, then trust your gut: this book is not for the faint of heart.]]>
- Is man-to-man the modern defense’s answer to packaged plays?
Holgorsen’s offense may be revered for its stars and its successes, but it’s like many others. It uses a lot of combination plays that can be a run or a pass depending on how a defense sets and reacts and how the quarterback reads it. WVU likes to run a stick-draw play where the quarterback can wait and hand the ball to a running back on a draw or wait and sell the draw and throw a simple pass to an inside receiver for easy yardage. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has the authority to hand the ball off on an inside zone or flick a pass to a slot receiver running a slant. Kansas State and TCU both hurt WVU when the quarterback would run outside or sell that action and then throw a pass to a receiver on the move in space created by the threat of a quarterback run.
In all those instances, the offense is at a greater advantage when a defense plays zone. The offenses try to target linebackers, nickelbacks or the hybrid linebacker/defensive back types in the area they’re trying to cover. The offense’s options force that defensive player to make a decision and the offense acts off of that….
“Quite a few teams use the zone read and that pop pass off the zone read,” WVU cornerbacks coach and former ECU defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell said. “You don’t want to put your defender in a run-pass conflict. He bites on the run and they throw a pass right behind him, or they run some kind of bubble screen off of it. When you go man, you take that out of the equation. He’s either a run defender or a pass defender, and you get an extra guy in the box with man coverage.”
- The University of Miami has a site up with video of most of their major drills, called UDrills.TV. Below is an example of their Pat ‘N Go drill (an Air Raid staple):
- Defending 3×1 (trips) formations:
Some teams you may face may attempt to do ALL of these. Your job as a defensive coordinator (DC) is to eliminate the types of plays they run very little and find those top three to five runs that you are going to have to stop to make the offense play “left-handed”. What doing these plays out of 3×1 does, is add one gap to the trips side and removes another from the single receiver side… Defending these gaps requires some sort of adjustment. If you are one who doesn’t like to move his box players, then some sort of secondary rotation is needed (think Saban’s Mable adjustment). If you are like myself, and don’t want the offense dictating the coverage, then you might do more of a Poach, or Solo technique. Even better if you’re a nickel guy, you can utilize a strong side X-out concept such as TCU’s Special coverage. Any of these work, but somehow, someway you HAVE to adjust to get the extra defender over there to make up the extra gap.
- CoachBDud’s clinic notes on UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone.
- Brophy’s 2014 Coaching Resources, including the below tempo drill from Auburn’s 2013 spring practice under Gus Malzahn:
- Coach John Bird’s packaged play encyclopedia.
- Stephen White’s analysis of Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson.
- Oral history of Nirvana.]]>
Not only did Kiffin learn from his father, Monte, he also spent long hours at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ football facility studying and learning from Jon Gruden when his father coached under him in the early 2000s. At Southern Cal, Kiffin coached under Norm Chow, who brought with him a version of the old LaVell Edwards/BYU offense (via NC State), but Kiffin — as well as USC head coach Pete Carroll — wanted to update the attack with NFL concepts, specifically Gruden’s.
I recently stumbled on one of Kiffin’s old playbooks from when he was head coach at Southern Cal (really, a specific gameplan for their game in 2010 against UCLA). By this point Kiffin’s playbook is as much his own as it is what he learned from either Chow or Gruden, but you can still see the imprint in the plays — and in other more interesting ways, as we’ll see. For example, most of the running game and base passing game are all NFL and pro-style offense staples, though Kiffin had begun sprinkling in concepts he faced weekly from other teams in the Pac-12, like inside zone where the quarterback had the option to throw a bubble screen on the backside.
But this is all pretty standard stuff. The plays I really liked in this playbook were his goal line and short yardage passes, an area where I always thought Kiffin’s teams usually had nifty answers based on whatever his opponent liked to do in those scenarios, whether it was man-to-man across the board or some kind of short zones.
In the diagram on the left, you get an adapted version of the West Coast staple “Sprint Right Option,” with a middle receiver rubbing (or picking) for the receiver in the flat while the outside receiver runs to a double move, first breaking to the post before breaking back to the sideline. (You can click on all of the diagrams to make them bigger.)
In the diagram on the right, the offense gets the tailback into the flat with plenty of receivers forming a bit of a wall for him — it’s really hard for an inside linebacker to get out to cover the back if the defense is in any kind of man-to-man. And if it’s zone there’s a good chance the cross coming from the backside will be open.
All of that is good football. Of course, it wouldn’t be Lane Kiffin if it was only about Xs and Os. The first couple of pages of the gameplan include the usual scouting reports and notes coaches provide their players: brutally blunt assessments of opposing players meant to both give their own players keys to being successful as well as confidence going into the week. Terms like “runs around blocks,” “soft, plays high,” “limited,” or the dreaded “takes plays off — don’t keep him in the game” are par for the course. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see it in print.
But labeling the scouting report for the secondary “fUCLA”? That’s pure Lane Kiffin.
For more information, check out the Ohio Option Coaches Clinic here.]]>
Even though the actual plays in Manning’s current Denver playbook are largely the same ones he used in Indianapolis, the emphasis has shifted this season. With the Colts, a large percentage of Manning’s throws went to “vertical stem” routes, where receivers ran straight down the field before breaking inside, outside, to the post, to the corner, or curling up. Those throws are still heavily present in Denver — and no one has thrown a prettier fade pass this season than Manning; the above record-breaker to Julius Thomas is just one example — but a big chunk of Manning’s completions this season came on routes designed to be thrown short. The goal on such plays is to throw short and let Denver’s receivers run long, particularly with the “Drag” or shallow cross series.
Read the whole thing.]]>
Coaching is a hard profession. It certainly has its rewards, as skyrocketing salaries for NFL and college head coaches illustrate, but failure is the norm. Being a coach means eventually getting fired, and making a career out of coaching at all is an accomplishment. Carroll, however, has done something especially rare, pushing through wrenching public failure to succeed beyond all expectations. A coach can’t do that without learning from past mistakes, and Carroll has certainly changed for the better.
Much of the credit goes to Carroll’s defense, which has been the foundation of his success and remains closely tied to the first lessons he learned as a very young coach. “To be successful on defense, you need to develop a philosophy,” Carroll said at a coaching clinic while still at USC. “If you don’t have a clear view of your philosophy, you will be floundering all over the place. If you win, it will be pure luck.”
Carroll’s Seahawks, who face the San Francisco 49ers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, don’t win with luck. They win by physically dominating opponents and playing championship-level defense. They also win thanks to Carroll’s new spin on an old scheme.
Read the whole thing.
The primary advantage of a playoff is certainty, and after years of endless BCS debate — which followed decades of debate under the earlier bowl systems — certainty has real allure. But in most sports that have playoffs, like the NFL or the NBA, the criteria for getting to the playoffs is basically objective. Most playoff spots are decided based on win/loss records, with certain mechanical tiebreakers in place and known in advance. It’s not that the playoff crowns the best or most deserving team — just ask the 10-6 New York Giants that knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. It’s that the loser has nothing to complain about: Everyone knows the rules.
Yet the new College Football Playoff lacks the very thing that makes playoffs in other sports so palatable, namely a semblance of objective certainty. While the defective BCS formula should have been interred long ago, it has been replaced by a Council of Platonic Guardians. The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet confidentially, then announce the identities of the playoff participants by edict. That’s not exactly what I’d call “settling it on the field.”
Read the whole thing.]]>
This season, Auburn has been anything but balanced — not that it has mattered. The 2013 Tigers are the first SEC team to average more than 300 yards rushing per game in almost 30 years. (The last team to do that? The 1985 Auburn team led by Bo Jackson.) But while Newton and current Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall both ran for more than 1,000 yards in Malzahn’s offense, they did so while using very different approaches. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Newton was essentially Auburn’s power back, and Malzahn featured him on a variety of inside runs. Marshall, by contrast, is shorter and lankier than Newton but boasts great quickness and acceleration. As a result, Auburn’s 2013 offense has focused less on the core wing-T run plays and more on zone reads to get Marshall on the edges while allowing Mason to use his excellent vision and patience to find running lanes.
The backbone of Auburn’s current rushing attack has been an amped-up version of the zone-read, which gives Marshall as many as four options: (1) throw a receiver screen, (2) hand it to Mason, (3) keep the ball, or (4) keep the ball and then toss it to a receiver who can sit in an open area of the defense if the man covering him comes up for the run — a form of the quadruple-option.
Although Marshall running the shotgun zone-read is far afield from the old-school wing-T, these subtle adjustments are pure Raymond: They’re sequenced plays, in which the base play sets up the counter and the counter sets up the counter to the counter, all dressed up with misdirection.
Read the whole thing.]]>