Smart Links — Strategery Round-Up: GPS tracking, bootleg passes, defending 3×1 — 7/15/2014

GPS tracking to measure exertion, speed and to prevent injuries (see also here):

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.

  • ginge159

    I wouldn’t read too much into the GPS tracking thing just yet. Last year Catapult Sports also added the Giants – – the team that, according to football outsiders’ adjusted games lost metric, had by far the most games lost due to injuries last year. I suspect that this is another case of people jumping to conclusions about causal relationships with nothing more than anecdotal evidence.

    How all the NFL teams mentioned as using this technology in the article I referenced fared in adjusted games lost:

    Giants – 32nd
    Bills – 7th
    Falcons – 27th
    Cowboys – 17th
    Jaguars – 20th
    Eagles – 2nd
    Rams – 8th

    Average rank is 16.14. So pretty much exactly average in terms of injuries.

  • The technology is just emerging. Catapult doesn’t even know how to use all the data they are capturing. This is only the beginning and a very exciting time!

    Professional athletes are focused more on maintaining development. High school and college is where athletic development is exponentially growing. Personalized development is the next frontier. It will also take some rethinking on the parts of the strength and conditioning people too. They need to be shown the data with the results.

    Catapult can only be afforded by the likes of BCS teams now. With wearables from Apple and others, its only a matter of time before personalized athletic development to become main stream.