New Grantland: Matt Barkley’s Favorite Play — the West Coast Offense Classic, “Sluggo Seam”

My breakdown of west coast offense staple — and Matt Barkley’s favorite play — is now up over at Grantland:

To understand Barkley’s answer, it’s necessary to understand USC’s offense. When Pete Carroll took the head-coaching job at USC, he hired longtime BYU assistant coach Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator. Carroll wanted the vaunted passing offense the Cougars had used for decades to topple superior foes and develop future NFL quarterbacks like Jim McMahon and Steve Young. To go along with that philosophy, Carroll also wanted to incorporate some of the latest NFL schemes, and his two young offensive assistants — former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian and a young Lane Kiffin — were assigned the job of bringing those ideas to USC.

Kiffin in particular relished this task, spending long hours in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers film room with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was a student of the West Coast offense, the pass-first, timing-based offense designed by former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. Kiffin absorbed everything he could about Gruden’s brand of the West Coast offense, and quickly USC’s coaches began meshing some of the latest NFL concepts with the core of their offense.

Read the whole thing.

Of course, “Sluggo Seam” is not a secret play unique to Southern Cal. It’s got a long history, but maybe the best Sluggo-Seam-stopper of all time might be the guy who orchestrates the USC’s defense.

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Quarterback Helmet Cam with Kentucky’s Maxwell Smith

I’m generally a fan of these. It’s obviously not *really* what it is like being a quarterback, but it’s useful coaching film because you can see if the QB was looking in the right spot on a given play:

It also reminds me of when former Houston Cougars receiver Patrick Edwards, who is currently battling to make the Detroit Lions roster, wore a helmet cam to a Houston practice:

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Smart Links – Texas A&M, Podcasts, No Punts, Cam – 8/16/2012

Bill previews maybe the biggest wildcard in the SEC, Texas A&M, and the Aggies have finally named a starting quarterback. Below are some highlights from A&M’s most recent scrimmage:

- My podcast with CougCenter, part 1 and part 2.

- No touching 28 in Vikings camp.

- Cam Newton on his rookie year, as well as his need to mature.

- Rocky Long is considering forgoing punts after crossing his opponents’ 50 yard lines.

- GQ with a short piece from Joe Posnanski’s Paterno book.

- YouTube re-imagined: Think channels, not videos.

- Le Tableau Vert.

- Daily deals are dead.

Alabama linebacker play

Solid (short) video from ESPN:

Greg Schiano on recovering fumbles: “Squeeze your butt cheeks”

From an old clinic lecture by former Rutgers and current Tampa Bay Bucs head coach, Greg Schiano. I think I prefer “scooping and scoring.”

You’ll thank me later


We also have our players perform the recover drill. In this drill, we stress three aspects: covering the points by surrounding the football; covering the ball in a fetal position so none of the brown part of the football shows; and, when they recover a fumble, we also ask our players to close their eyes, close their mouths, and squeeze their buttock cheeks.

What happens at the bottom of the pile on a fumble? One thing that may occur is that the opponents may stick a finger in the eye of the man with the ball. What do you do when someone sticks a finger in your eye? In all likelihood, you may take one hand off the ball. The second thing the opponents do is fishhook you with a finger in your mouth, and then rip your mouth with that finger. Again, this action may lead you to take one hand off the ball.

Another thing the opponents might do is to grab you in the testicular area. At this point, you may have no hands on the football, which is why we tell our players who recover a fumble to close their eyes and mouths, and to squeeze their butt cheeks.

Nick Saban on Bill Belichick’s Hybrid/Subpackage Defenders: “Star” and “Money”

Good stuff from Saban on the history of Belichick’s hybrid or subpackage defenders, “Star” and “Money”:

If the video doesn’t start there automatically, jump to the 5:30 mark. Hat tip to reader Corey.

Love it

In a day with a lot of mixed football news, stuff like this is what it’s all about. Some great blocks, too.

New Grantland: The Evolution of the Hybrid Defender

It’s now up over at Grantland:

More recent is the rise of the true hybrid safety/linebacker, players seemingly designed to provide answers for players like Gronkowski and Graham. This is the next logical step from Johnson’s method for building Miami and the Cowboys. Instead of taking high school safeties and making them linebackers, coaches are taking athletes who can hit and play pass coverage, and simply letting them make plays. That means everything from blitzing the quarterback or stuffing a running back in the backfield to running step-for-step with a tight end or slot receiver. NFL coaches have begun referring to this as their “big nickel” package, which is a bit misleading because “nickel” is a term invented to describe some smaller part of a team’s overall defensive game plan. The reality is that just as NFL offenses rarely line up with two true running backs, NFL defenses rarely line up with three true linebackers. Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu were the two best safeties of the last decade or so, but their successors — in body type, athleticism, and playmaking ability — may not play safety at all. Regardless of the position at which he’s listed, he’ll likely be a linebacker in a safety’s body.

Read the whole thing.

New Grantland: The Case for an Improved San Francisco 49ers Offense

It’s now up at Grantland:

Still, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the Niners — even their seemingly pedestrian offense. Despite the obvious personnel deficiencies — other than tight end Vernon Davis and running back Frank Gore, the Niners had few players capable of scaring opposing teams last season — Harbaugh and his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, consistently did more with less than any other offensive staff in the NFL. They did it with ingenuity, whether it was adapting the “jet” or “fly sweep” to the NFL, or making maybe the best — and gutsiest — call of last season on Alex Smith’s — Alex Smith’s! — sweep for a touchdown late against New Orleans in last season’s playoffs. And while none of the new additions on offense are sure things, they do provide something that will buttress the staff’s creative options: depth.

Read the whole thing.

Run and Shoot in Action: Mouse Davis Passing Game Cut-Ups

The Run and Shoot remains one of the most powerful offenses ever invented, and is well worth studying:

The above clips show some of the key concepts in the ‘Shoot, versus various coverages.

I have a chapter in The Essential Smart Football on how teams have assimilated run and shoot concepts to today’s game. In addition, I’ve written extensively on the shoot; below are some good links.

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