Wednesday, March 31, 2010
What am I talking about? Spring football at your local college or university.
As discussed earlier ( Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics. ) visiting practice of a program, any program, outside of your own can do worlds of good for improving your process. Regardless of scheme or philosophy, taking a step back to see HOW others do what they do, may make more of dramatic impact than hearing about WHAT others are doing. Don't watch plays, watch players and how their coaches interact with them. Watch how practice is structured, observe how communication is handled, how coaches handle good and bad situations.... the devil is in the details. Don't just show up on the field, talk with the coaches and student assistants away from the game, sit in on their meetings, and take the time to build a relationship with the staff.
There, you did it. Thats all there is to the "vertical set".
"Vertical Set" as it relates to Air Raid protection is just that, a replacement to the kick-slide. It is a vertical withdrawal from the line of scrimmage where you do not chase rushing defenders, but wait for them to engage you at your anchor point. This allows offensive linemen to remain square (preventing an easy loss by turning the shoulders and improper leverage in the pocket). When rushing the passer, the first step for a defender is to reach the blockers hips and gain leverage (by getting the blocker to open up a gap through turning, or by the defender getting at the same horizontal plane of the blocker). Because the blocker is moving away from the defender at relatively the same speed, he is prolonging the time it will take for the defender to execute an escape move (get past protection and get to the the quarterback/launch point).
Though, it does require a modicum of athleticism (moreso than a kick-slide), anyone can perform it and be better off for it (because of the increased speed of their retreat versus a kick).
Examples of LTU using the vertical set
Monday, March 29, 2010
For what its worth, what LaTech is doing in this regard is really nothing new. Texas Tech started to treat everything as a some type of Nickel front about two years ago. They also stopped distinguishing between 90 and 60 vertical sets, which are different sets because they rely on different post and anchor legs.
My next post, which I hope to have up later this week, will build on some points that Chris Brown has talked about on his Blog regarding the place of spread offenses in the culture of college and high school football.
On every stop in his coaching tenure, dating to his days at Kentucky with Hal Mumme, Dykes has used a tennis ball delivery machine to chunk balls at his receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was happy to see one show up in Ruston.
"The places I've been we haven't been able to afford one," he said a little tongue in cheek. "Sonny has had them and they do make a difference."
The idea is simple. Shooting the small ball at a high rate of speed toward a student-athlete requires the ultimate in concentration. Look away or get lost in your thoughts and the ball will likely bounce off your nose.
Louisiana Tech is now using an electronic tennis ball machine to teach players how to better concentrate on the football. We asked three current Bulldogs how they would rate the machine's help, based on other assistance they've seen in their career.
They rated it 1-10 with 10 being the most helpful.
Terry Carter: 9; Phillip Livas: 10; Colby Cameron: 9
Sunday, March 28, 2010
That the AirRaid has become even more streamlined in recent years is no surprise. All systems, in particular languages, possess a teleological desire to simplify themselves for their users. The AirRaid is no exception to this rule, especially in regards to protection. Since most AirRaid teams have by now evolved into pure one-back figurations within some type of a detached four hot environment the protections now only deal with defensive reactions elicited by either 2x2 or 3x1 alignments. As Brophy has noted, this exponentially reduces the number of reactions a defense will most likely respond with; moreover, they are all known quantities.
Now, all of this is pretty simple and straightforward. What I would now like to spend the rest of this piece discussing is why LaTech and other programs can afford to be so reductive in their approach to protection and why High School programs that employ this offense should be leary of following their lead. At the college level, it is a given that any team that runs this offense can throw the ball and protect the passer. In other words, defensive coordinators do not doubt their counterparts' basic competency in this area. Consequently, depending on whether they are an odd or even front team, they are going to run some type of a nickel or stack scheme. By nickel here I am not just talking about 5 defensive backs. Texas last year played with three linebackers most of the game against TTech, but they were aligned in various nickel looks. As a result, when an AirRaid team goes into Spring Practice the first front they throw up on the white board is something in the nickel or odd-stack family. They no longer scheme against base 4-3s, 3-4s, 4-4s, 50s, etc because they will NEVER see them. They then can focus all their time on technique and sorting.
But can high school coaches afford to be so reductive in their approach to protection, at least schematically? My answer is no. Maybe in certain regions of the country, such as in Texas or in the South where Spring ball is permitted, teams that run the AirRaid will have the time to develop the mastery required to elicit such basic looks; however, my experiences suggest that the first thing a HS DC will do in most situations is present you with some type of a base look and pressure the living heck out of you until you prove that you can throw the ball with ease. As a result, HS teams still need to be prepared to protect base fronts, which makes the job of the HS line coach, ironically, more difficult than that of his college counterpart.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
If anybody cares to know a bit more about me, my interest, and my background - please take a look at my profile.
I promise not to swamp Brophy's excellent blog - one of the true jewels for people wishing to know more about football.
I will make my first post later tonight or tomorrow morning. This post will comment on some of things that Brophy has observed from his recent visits to LaTech's first spring practice under Sonny Dykes.
Long time contributor to CoachHuey and Smartfootball.com, Hemlock's diverse background, grounded perspective, and rich knowledge of the game will make for some insightful and educational reading.
Friday, March 26, 2010
- One signaller is designated to provide the personnel groupings, tempo, and formation.
- The next signal coach will be responsible for relaying the play call.
- The last signaller will be relaying a dummy call (that may or may not include actual signals used) to discourage signal-stealling from opponents.
- Huddle / no huddle
- Tempo: Able/Baker/Charlie
- Motion & Formation
- Play Call
With the appropriate players in the game, the formation and motion will be signalled in. Players keep their eyes on the first signal caller (and disregard the others) until the given formation is set.
Once set, the specialists will look to get the play call. Only the specialists know the play signals, the linemen only know the tempo calls (and rely on the audible call of the quarterback for the play call).
Intuitively, these simply note what sound the play will be run on (on 1, on 2, on 3rd count).
Able is ISU's simple, no-huddle, first-sound tempo. No plays will be checked and all plays will be snapped on the first sound in the cadence.
The players will race to the ball spot, see the "Able" tempo in use, get set and receive the play call. The quarterback gives the play call twice "44.....44" (inside zone to the right) and the line will put their hand in the ground ready to play ball. The quarterback initiates the cadence, "Set.....Hit!", the ball is snapped, and the players race to the next ball spot and repeat the (sideline signal) procedure.
Video examples of first sound cadence being run by ISU.
ALPHA CHECK @ Yahoo! Video
Rather simply, everything is the same as "ABLE" speed with the exception that the offense will review with the sideline/Offensive Coordinator before continuing the snap cadence (this is Blake Anderson's "OC" tempo). The coordinator now has the option to change the original play call or 'green light' the first call (and execute the original call).
As an example, the pre-snap to snap audible would sound like;
"Right – right – baker –baker" [ formation + tempo] called by quarterback
"8 man 8 man" [front ID] called by center
"indy girl – indy girl " [play call (iso lead to the right) ] called by quarterback
"set..... hit!" [cadence]
The specialists would then look to the sideline (tight end would stand up out of stance and look to sideline). From here, the play can be checked (based on alignment, pre-snap look presented by the defense) or the original play ("indy girl") can be continued. If the former, the play would be called out and repeated by the quarterback and he would go through the cadence. If the latter, he would declare a "green" call ("green, green") and go through the cadence (running the original play called).
Video examples of "Baker".
BRAVO CHECK @ Yahoo! Video
Obviously, not a call used much (I couldn't find any clips where this was utilized, and McFarland admits he rarely uses it), but the practice is in their repetoire. When Charlie tempo is declared, the first call will always be a dummy play call signal, followed by a "green" call. The key here is to lull the defense into jumping the second count and or getting them to show their hand (with two previous attempts at baiting them) of what their post-snap intentions (coverage/blitz) are.
An example would sound like:
"left – left – charlie –charlie" [ formation + tempo] called by quarterback
"8 man 8 man" [front ID] called by center
"Hawkeye boy – Hawkeye boy " [play call ("hawkeye" is a dummy call, go figure) ] called by quarterback
"set..... hit!" [cadence]
Players stand up and look to sideline and receive a different call.
"Oakland boy – Oakland boy " [play call (option left) ] called by quarterback
"set..... hit!" [cadence]
Players freeze, look up again to the sideline and receive the confirmation (of the previous play called) or a check (in this example, a check).
"Indy girl – Indy girl" [play call (iso lead right) ] called by quarterback
"set..... hit!" [cadence]
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"Trips Right - Power Q Right - G"
The backfield action looks exactly like stretch (flame read), but the F sticks it on the second step and attacks the PSDE for a kick out. The key to power is patience, especially because the initial lateral movement that mimics stretch (anticipated because the back is aligned opposite). You will be able to see Power Q - G in the clips of inside drill in the previous posts.
What I liked about this play the most was that it was a such a strong play into trips with the Y banging hard on the inside-box defender (Will). Again, this stem would look exactly like Y Cross ("a hard run towards home plate" aimed at the hole linebacker), with the exception of the Y engaging and moving the linebacker out. Even without prototypical 'mobile' quarterbacks, this play always could garner yards because of the displacement of run defenders from the box (by alignment to trips).
Heading out early on Friday morning, I figured why not stop off in Grambling to visit the new Eddie Robinson Museum that just opened 4 weeks ago. The signs/advertisments are all over the state and he was a helluva coach.....I should check this out....
Well, uh, it ain't done yet.......... :(
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This may help provide some perspective of the included videos (vis versa).
Here are install/drill examples we used when we installed it last spring:
If any of the Louisiana Tech / Air Raid / Tony Franklin method interests you, I would strongly recommend checking out "the system", at:
Monday, March 22, 2010
Prepractice with Receivers and Quarterbacks (notice settle and noose)
1 on 1s, great review for both offense and defense. Offense works one concept throughout.
In pass skelly, working the same concepts over and over:
Inside Run Game
Individuals, coaching up QB and Receiver fade drop out in the red zone (working for space) in man press.
A neat little DB backpedal ladder exercise I spied.....
** If I have time later in the week, I will review some of the more interesting and effective concepts (both run and pass) that were implemented last week.
On a personal level, I think it is just what I needed to see to reignite the passion for the game. I am not a guy that believes in pigeon-holing yourself to 'systems' or there being one way to do things in football, but Air Raid, to me (and what it represents) is what I love about the game. It isn't the passing (though I do appreciate it), it is the aggressiveness and organization that I enjoy so much. There aren't any taboo areas to explore - moving the ball and breaking defenses is the only thing that matters.
To best articulate what I'm going to be explaining, the best analogy I could preface this with is the witnessing the difference between the invading force of Normandy and the hard-driving Iraqi Freedom force. Everything is pared down to the smallest, most essential, common-denominator and it is executed at a 100-mph. There is no relenting and there is no settling in a comfort zone, it is always advancing.
I'll start this first post by outliing the simplicity of protection as utilized OL coach Pete Perot and GA Zach Yenser. The protection on ALL passes is 90s. No differentiating between 5-step and 3-step, it is all vertical set for 4-5 steps. There are no adjustments (except for the obvious lasso/rodeo). Because the linemen are retreating up to a 5-step pocket (5 yards), the QB is expected on 3 step to catch the ball and immediately fire it out to the short receiver.
The quarterback does not call the cadence, it is controlled entirely by the center.
What is also simplified is protection. Rather than making a "nickel" declaration, it has been truncated to just (one-syllable) "nic" making it simpler and faster to deliver the same information. Because everything is either 2x2 or 3x1, so there is no need to get overly complicated, as discussed previously, you really limit just what a defense can do to you.
They treat everything with a zero technique (or simply any front with 3 down linemen) as a "5-0". With any stacked LB look out of a 3-man front, the back will be responsible for the mike and the stacked outside backers are handled by the linemen.
If the 3-man front is in a base front, with both inside linebackers over the guards and overhang players on the edge (ala a 3-4 look), the back is responsible for both and the line will be responsible for the 3 linemen and 2 outside rushers. The general rule is that the OL is responsible for all outside rushers.
That's IT! Nothing else that the line really needs to be aware of.
Here is a little something extra.....prepractice for Oline:
The next part I'll touch on is the tempo they operate at.
The most characteristic element to TFS is the balls-to-the-wall nature of it and what that demands from the coaches. They can get so much accomplished because of the tempo they keep and the momentum that it creates.
Here is an example of a inside drill. Notice everything is being signalled in and the pace at which everything is run. There are no 'breaks' between plays; they just line up, signal and go.
Another 'new' characteristic is that there are no wristbands. Everything is communicated through signals. These signals are created by the players and they eventually come up with multiple signals to convey the same message (3 different ways to signal '90' protection). From Day 1, all concepts are signalled in, whether it is team, group, skelly, pup, inside-drill, or individuals. Each group (receivers, line, quarterback) have their own coach/GA to look to, so there will be multiple signal callers giving a variety of gestures at once. They begin signalling once the play has ended and DO NOT STOP (signalling) until the ball is snapped.
Think about how something as meticulous as PUP can be (to get everything set up right) and what would happen after a bad throw, how long it would be to set up the next play. Now watch this, and see them setting up as quickly as possible, signalling in the next one, and flying through it.
Everything is stripped down to essentials. The terminology may have more to do with Dykes, but their terms are extremely simple, and they don't use but 2 formations (3x1 and 2x2). So, you end up with "trips left" / "trips right" or "ace" ('dart'). They have special sets, but everything is based off these two formation groupings. During these practices they would hammer home a concept from the start of practice until the end. So you would have quarterbacks and receivers doing prepractice based on "trips left - mesh" and they would condition their warmups with that concept in mind. Moving on to individuals and skelly, they would continue that same theme, "trips left - mesh", and couple it with a tag, "trips left - mesh left - X hook". This was extremely effective, as they would go 3 to 4 groupings deep working the same concept and focusing in on the very critical details of reads and stems of the concept. They were able to get a lot done in very little time because of the pace and amount of coaching/competition involved.
Some additional content can be found here, and I'll see if I can't review some of the effective concepts installed.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
It was as any TFS/AR first practice goes - like a Chinese firedrill. With the emphasis on tempo and execution, the periods flew by with lots of expected drops (on missle and fast screens) and it may take a few more practices until the receivers understand the "finish" aspect of Air Raid (unceasing admonishment to get into the end zone on every throw). Completely systematic, Franklin was on fire before he even stepped on the field, it was something to watch.
What was as exciting as anything was the amount of intensity throughout the 3 hours of practice from every coach. You couldn't miss a moment where there was some coach encouraging and instructing a player. The defense matched the offense in intensity and though I hate to make comparisons, defensive coordinator, Tommy Spangler, sure reminds you an awful lot of Bo Pelini (mannerisms, phrases, and passion).
I plan on heading over Friday and spending the first part of practice with DBs and then the rest of the time with offensive specialists on Saturday.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
here are some quick video snipets of practice/drills:
Friday, March 12, 2010
Randolph, 29, was an assistant coach at another D.C. high school, H.D. Woodson, in 2006-08.
She also played in the National Women's Football Association.
In a story about Randolph's hiring Thursday, The Washington Post reported that another Washington teacher, Wanda Oates, was named head football coach at a different D.C. high school in 1985. But she was removed a day later after coaches who didn't want to coach against her pressured the school district, the Post reported.
Football isn't that difficult a game. It doesn't require that you have to have played it. It doesn't require you to have to have extensive knowledge of strategy (especially if you're the head coach). The main elements of coaching are being able to establish relationships to communicate - this can be epitomized by the traits of leadership. If you can lead, you can coach. I don't see why a woman cannot be as an effective leader as a man.
Spring is out (70s), our numbers for 6th period 'football' are growing, and I'll be heading to Ruston next week.....
I'm a big fan of podcasts and audio books (when I don't get a chance to read) as filling dead air/time with more commercials just doesn't seem like a choice I am willing to make.
Here are some great links that feature a collection of great lectures from a myriad of speakers / innovators to broaden your perspective of the life you're living:
Friday, March 5, 2010
Possibly unrelated (as the book has little to do with teacher critique), I often ask my son at the end of a school day, not "what did you learn (today)?", but "did your teachers try to get you to THINK or BELIEVE today?". A stark difference between the two.
Coach Mark Rodriguez's method for efficient movement in the secondary...(the following is from Coach Mark)
No, this isn't a tech post on transfering files.... its actually a jump-off point for exploring a new secondary technique to replace the backpedal and shuffle methods.
View on YouTube
THE 4D TRANSITION
Transitioning is safely moving from one full speed direction to another with confidence, smooth agility, rhythm and balance. “4D” is the 4 quick movements that comprise the transition. The idea guiding the 4D Transition is to program the body to continue its running motion through the transition by using the “opposite leg” concept. Simply put, to move left you bring the right leg and visa versa.
Drift Drop Dig Drive
Drift step – The initial move into the new direction when a conscious decision or automatic reaction is executed to alter your body direction.
Drop – Knee bend and forward lean while turning the head midway through the Drift step compacting the arms close to the body to not swing out of balance. By turning the head the shoulders will turn, when the shoulders turn it will allow your DIG step to drop ahead of you and not behind.
Dig – The next “step” after the drift step, this is a quick step because it’s a pivot step. Leaving the dig step too long will slow your momentum. Come out of the pivot quickly with driving quickness not force. You are swinging your speed not creating more force.
Drive knee – Come out of the swing with a quick knee lift driving it toward the direction you want to go with good body lean not to over or under stride and lose balance.
SCOPE OF THE FTP SYSTEM
Take a look at the combine video at 1:06.
The player number 34 does a great transition that is more like the 4D and less like the T-STOP but he stops his drill and does it over the way everybody else is doing it (hard T stop). Not sure why but take a close look.
Also in the REINVENTING THE DB video at 5:11 the DB #4 is in the position I teach.
Together the system is quite effective.
I dont teach press man I only teach loose but not 7yrds loose only 3-5 yards loose.
The purpose of press man is to take away the timing route. My method of taking away the timing route is to see the ball first before the receiver does. Basically baiting the QB. When the DB can get a break on the ball by seeing it first it totally eliminates any timing whatsoever.
In a nutshell this is my positioning method.
Some like it & some dont but I've never seen it fail since I started teaching the basics in 2003.
- -- (FTP) back to the sideline head facing the QB anticipating a quick pass
- -- 3-5 yards depth from the WR, inside shoulder of WR forcing the DB to get out quickly. In red zone situations the DB moves closer. The closer to the goal line the less speed that is required at the snap.
- -- on the snap I teach a technique called "speed react", a full speed take off to not get burned keeping the receiver under the DB, and in a faster plus better position than backpedal to react to the ball, the same positioning that last DB (#4) on the INTRO video is in and similar in the "NEW" video all the NFL DB' s shown in the first 30 sec. Their eyes were on the QB but every 3 steps scan the WR then back to the QB.(I have a few drills that build the instinct/sense called PROPRIOCEPTION in association with the coverage)
- -- As the DB sees or feels the receiver change/adjust his direction just DRIFT or lean (back or forward like zig-zag) in that direction unless you SEE BALL.... then and only then the DB willreact to the pass. This will keep the DB from committing to a fake.
Here is a recent example from 1/4/09
This is the only technique I use and it replaces press and looseman and for zone.
This does several things.
- -- WR is taught to read the hips of the DB.. once the DB commits then the WR breaks opposite and the ball is already in the air unseen by the DB. Now the DB is in a 'catch up' position instead of a position to have a fair shot at the ball. This FTP position eliminates DB manipulation, DB hard committing and hip reading.
- -- Gets the DB in a position to see the ball before the WR and makes the DB more opportunistic for a poor pass. By looking at the hips of the WR you cant see anything but hips. I dont think thats a position for this day and age. We need to advance our methods and they've never changed. Developing our natural sensory ability PROPRIOCEPTION and using or DB athleticism to 4D transition we will advance.
- -- This technique allows coaches to use team depth more frequently because its solid and dependable and safe.
- -- Bigger DB's can be use in this method especially in goal line situations and not rely on foot quickness and use their height and size more dominantly for fade routes and run support.
- -- Pulls the DB immediately out of a position to cause pass interference because he is playing the ball
- -- It can be used for man or zone coverage with the offense not automatically knowing the cover.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Along with Desman, we're really looking forward to the development and maturation with 2011 prospect, Kevin Pitre. Though small in stature, Kevin is an amazing athlete and passionate about competing.
In his junior year, Kevin was clearly the most stable on-field performer and most explosive leader in the weight room (last month, he put up 240lbs bench / 350lbs squat / 235lbs power clean). He started every game at corner and will likely see more time at strong safety (and possibly offense) this year.
#31 Kevin Pitre (CB/SS) 2011 @ Yahoo! Video
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
09Tenn @ Yahoo! Video
@1:32 of this clip is probably the best example of "the 'Rat in the Hole' cutting the Y shallow"
Be sure to check out (and print out) all his works here and if you're so inclined, he's even better on Twitter.
Available for podcasts, publications, website advertising, and psychic-healings, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, March 1, 2010
It has been nearly four years since Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Now television's most famous movie critic is rarely seen and never heard, but his words have never stopped.
The doctors told him they were going to give him back his ability to eat, drink, and talk. But the doctors were wrong, weren't they? On some morning or afternoon or evening, sometime in 2006, Ebert took his last bite and sip, and he spoke his last word.
Ebert's lasts almost certainly took place in a hospital. That much he can guess. His last food was probably nothing special, except that it was: hot soup in a brown plastic bowl; maybe some oatmeal; perhaps a saltine or some canned peaches. His last drink? Water, most likely, but maybe juice, again slurped out of plastic with the tinfoil lid peeled back. The last thing he said? Ebert thinks about it for a few moments, and then his eyes go wide behind his glasses, and he looks out into space in case the answer is floating in the air somewhere. It isn't. He looks surprised that he can't remember. He knows the last words Studs Terkel's wife, Ida, muttered when she was wheeled into the operating room ("Louis, what have you gotten me into now?"), but Ebert doesn't know what his own last words were. He thinks he probably said goodbye to Chaz before one of his own trips into the operating room, perhaps when he had parts of his salivary glands taken out — but that can't be right. He was back on TV after that operation. Whenever it was, the moment wasn't cinematic. His last words weren't recorded. There was just his voice, and then there wasn't.
Now his hands do the talking. They are delicate, long-fingered, wrapped in skin as thin and translucent as silk. He wears his wedding ring on the middle finger of his left hand; he's lost so much weight since he and Chaz were married in 1992 that it won't stay where it belongs, especially now that his hands are so busy. There is almost always a pen in one and a spiral notebook or a pad of Post-it notes in the other — unless he's at home, in which case his fingers are feverishly banging the keys of his MacBook Pro.
He's also developed a kind of rudimentary sign language. If he passes a written note to someone and then opens and closes his fingers like a bird's beak, that means he would like them to read the note aloud for the other people in the room. If he touches his hand to his blue cardigan over his heart, that means he's either talking about something of great importance to him or he wants to make it clear that he's telling the truth. If he needs to get someone's attention and they're looking away from him or sitting with him in the dark, he'll clack on a hard surface with his nails, like he's tapping out Morse code. Sometimes — when he's outside wearing gloves, for instance — he'll be forced to draw letters with his finger on his palm. That's his last resort.
When discussing Tech's outlook in 2010, I'm getting the rote responses of "oh, I don't know about that 'Run n Gun' style of offense", and the more Dixiecrat, "Well, first they gonna needs to do is find them a new quarterback. That white-boy ain't gonna be able to run around....".
Not exactly sure what folks expect from what they've seen at Texas Tech, Middle Tennessee, or Troy, but I don't anticipate a lot of Rich Rod action in North Central Louisiana this fall.
Here's some general cliff notes (zone, shallow, mesh, solid) of what to expect;
az2 @ Yahoo! Video
az @ Yahoo! Video
I hope folks are quickly reminded of the Rattay and Edwards success with Gary Crowton (though you shant mention that last name too loudly in these parts) and temper their perceptions accordingly.
I am anxious to see how they will take advantage of utilizing the explosive Phillip Livas.