Friday, October 30, 2009


Expounding on earlier posts about the STICK CONCEPT, more examples of Y Stick being utilized (mainly just posting video examples). If I get more time in the next few weeks, I'll provide more detail to my favorite 3-step concept.


This 3-step quick game consists of an immediate read of "Stick - to - Arrow" (then check down), with the Y working off the inside number of the hole defender (typically the MLB or SLB). The conflict created by the inside stem of the Y and the back expanding to the perimeter becomes too much to account for with underneath defenders.

The Y challenges the hole player with an inside-vertical stem, then sticks at 6 yards to pinball off of the response of this defender. He will work away from wherever this defender has leveraged himself.

The quarterback delivers the ball AWAY from the leveraged defender (to the opposite shoulder of where the 'danger player' is at), to allow the Y to work away from the hole defender and TOWARDs open grass. This is the epitome of the settle & noose drill.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great Ways To Destroy Your Players

While no one wants to destroy or hinder their own players (counter productive to coaching), often times we do. What are some of the things you've witnessed, done, or have heard about that directly diminish a player's drive to succeed?

Sometimes the best things to learn are the things NOT to do.....
We mean well, but there may be times when we unknowingly sap production from our team via the words we say, the way we treat people, or how we 'coach'

A few off the top of my head are;

Talking about how much a player sucks: not challenging or pressuring a kid to get better, but just berating his abilities in off-hand comments, that his team mates buy into (the real issue). The player will find himself alienating himself from the staff and his team mates (see the third example) in a vicious-cycle of defeatest attitude.
Best player excuse :here directly avoiding challenging a player to develop past himself or accepting flaws simply because he's just better than everyone else (therefore, even with mistakes, the kid is better than whats behind him). This emotional coddling inhibits self-pressure and growth.
Deliver all emotion, and no substance : hyping up a drill or responsibility through emotional transference (yelling and screaming), but not providing a clear direction in which to do accomplish what you want. "Throw Harder" / "Block somebody" come to mind.....telling the kid to improve his performance but not explaining HOW he can go about doing it, causing him to further doubt himself and begin sharing your frustration with him (only causing more errors for the player).
Demanding immediate production with no investment: prodding a kid into loading up the bar with plates, but does not have the motor skills developed to perform a squat. Sure, its pussified to have anything less than 225lbs on the rack, but if we haven't taught how to breathe, stand, sit, and explode (contract)....we end up cultivating an unsurmountable fear and trepidation to a major building block of success. You have to crawl before you can walk, and many times we will put kids in positions to have to be masters of 4-5 different skill sets, without affording them the time to gain mastery in one.

More feedback here;

Monday, October 26, 2009

Breaking Opera-Mini (v5)

Having fun trying out the new Opera mini browser (v5.0) still in beta testing.

Some great tips are found here

Non-touch users, don't forget Opera Mini's one and two-key shortcuts;
1 – Context Menu
2 – Scroll Up
4 – Scroll Left
5 – Zoom
6 – Scroll Right
8 – Scroll Down
# then 1 Enter URL
# then 2 - Search the Web
# then 3 - Find in Page
# then 4 - Start Page
# then 5 - Bookmarks
# then 6 - History
# then 8 - Settings
# then 9 - Saved Pages
# then # - Forward
* then 1-9 - Launch Speed Dial URLs 1-9
* then 0 - Reload Page
* then # - Toggle Landscape
* then * - Toggle Full Screen
* then Up - Open a new tab
* then Down - Close current tab
* then Right - Next tab
* then Left - Previous tab

Week 8: Slipping Past Northwood

After slidding around the field on Friday, we pulled out a win on the 2 yard line in the final 4 seconds of the game, finally being able to stop their flexbone offense.

Much respect to Northwood's Jamarcus Johnson (#6) and Mike Williams (#30) who dominated the night with competitive play and leadership.

Defense 10/23 @ Yahoo! Video

Geaux Hawkeyes: Outside Zone

Congratulations to the Iowa Hawkeyes and their battle against Michigan State this weekend. As they climb the BCS rankings this season, take note of former Oline coach, Kirk Ferentz's bread-and-butter running play, Stretch (Outside Zone).

Ferentz and Oline coaches, Reese Morgan and John McLaughlin ( no, not THAT guy ), stress key fundamentals for gaining leverage on defenders. The system they have used since Ferentz’s arrival in Iowa City has consistently featured a dominant run game (regardless of talent).

Their teaching progression for gaining leverage is as follows;

  • Get underneath and inside
  • Eyes on Target
  • Flat Back
  • Pad under chin
  • Elbows in
  • Hands Under
  • Knees under chest

They stress the Olinemen to attack low-to-high, deliver an initial punch and then get the defender on his toes.

Once locked on to the target, if the defender tries to get away, they should accelerate their knees (and run over him). When the defender attempts to run away, that’s when guys get flattened because the inertia and combo blocking is too much to overcome.

The first step of the Olineman is a tight reach to the defenders' playside number. It doesn’t really matter if it is 3” or 6”, it all is relative to the athlete’s ability. The second step should be placed to put the lineman’s knee in the crotch (center of balance) and get vertical by driving his feet. From there, leverage is something they fight for with every step, looking to overtake the defender with movement.

HAWK RUN GAME from ragin caucasian on Vimeo.

Here we see their stretch run game utilized heavily throughout the game from various formations (both strong and weak). The following clips coming from their last drive in the game and the exciting last minute play (just basic 3-step slant-shoot concept) in the final 2 seconds is worth seeing again....

HAWK STRETCH from ragin caucasian on Vimeo.

Having coached one, and also against five Hawkeye starters, I don't feel so bad about my situation now.

Helmet to Helmet

Watching the Hawks battle the Spartans this weekend, there were quite a few vicious hits taking place. Two of which took out two phenomenal players (whom I've had the displeasure of trying to defend in the MAC), Brett Greenwood (#30) and Colin Sandeman (#22).

sandeman @ Yahoo! Video

In the clip below, Sandeman gets blindsided with what would appear to be an other wise innocuous hit, but the neurological impact can be clearly seen. In light of the recent research of brain trauma and the long-term degenerative impact, this may amp up how these injuries are dealt with by training staffs.

But more importantly (for coaches), as Head Coach Mark Dantonio protests, defensive back, Jeremy Ware, was flagged for a 15 yard penalty of unnecessary roughness. From how we coach form tackling, Ware was in textbook position and presented his chest as the tackling surface.

shoots @ Yahoo! Video

eye opener @ Yahoo! Video
It just so happened that his helmet made contact with Sandeman's helmet. From a technique standpoint, I am unsure what Ware could have done to consciously prevent the injury (as his head naturally dips in anticipation of the hit as the chest makes contact).

See Malcolm Gladwell on Brain Injuries in Football , Brain Injuries and the NFL , Concussions Management in Sports

Further commentary here;

Monday, October 19, 2009

Motivation: Louisiana style

Rivalry Week

No, not a real rivalry....just ribbing a New York Giant fan in Louisiana.

All last week, I had the pleasure of torturously antagonizing a co worker as the NFC battle of unbeatens approached this Sunday.

Below are pics of that ritualistic abuse;

Transforming Giants Stadium into the Superdome;

Friday, October 16, 2009

Texas spanks OU!

Get Back to Fundamentals: Escape!

Getting OFF of blocks is not exactly intuitive, especially at lower levels.
The get-off, separation, and escape have to be conditioned into defenders as the rhythm in which they operate....if they are STILL ENGAGED with blockers after the 5th step, you have problems. Those offensive linemen / blockers don't have the ball!
There shouldn't be any thinking involved in this equation at all though. The WAY they are supposed to be playing the position should require very little mental processing, because it should be the same every snap;
  • Align
  • Stance
  • Get-off
  • Punch / separation
  • Leverage
  • Escape
Anything more than that, and its a waste and inefficient (Olinemen don't carry the ball). The Oline's job is to tie up, get in the way, block the defenders.....why are we wanting the Dline to block the Oline, who are blocking the Dline?
Escape requires no more thinking than a hand strike block in Karate.....that's all this is....muscle-memory response

Also, we should be conditioning them to accomplish each movement in coordinated footsteps. This isn't unmetered "free time", it is a choreographed dance they need to be working with. They should be making contact on the first step, seperating/leveraging on the 2nd step, etc....just teaching get-offs on air has really no game time application. Getting them from the coiled hips (stance), to contact, to extension (seperation) is what is going to determine the line's success on game day

Just be sure the DL is gaining separation from the Oline at the snap. Getting off and into Olinemen is not what you want. Once they have uncoiled their hips (after get off) they are already beat (there is no way to work an escape if the hips are not coiled). If they do this, then it just becomes a wresting match of fatties (common at lower levels). Dline should keep their hips away from the oline at all times, and only close that distance when they are working an escape (and then push their hips tight past the Olineman's hips).

Week 7: Falling to Haughton

Probably the most crucial game of the year for us last night ended in a 35-28 last minute loss to Haughton. There were some good moments and some moments of questionable competitiveness as we continue to mature towards a better team.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bo Pelini: Defensive Philosophy

As the Red Raiders prepare to invade Lincoln this weekend, the defensive fingerprint of Bo Pelini is becoming apparent (averaging 8 ppg and only 273.4 yards total per game) and setting up an exciting matchup between the prolific Texas Tech offense and this new generation of Blackshirts.

As the Huskers press on to an inspiring turn around season, one can appreciate the hustle and determination Pelini instills in his players. Today's offering is Pelini speaking of his approach to building and coordinating defensive units (showcased here at the peak of his tenure at LSU).
Bo Pelini Defensive Philosophy Clinic (pgs 15 -18)
( located at )

Audio of the lecture
( located at )

Player Spotlight: #31 K.Pitre

One of the joys I've had the pleasure to experience this year, was making the acquaintance of one of the hardest working players on our team, Kevin Pitre. Pitre is an extremely well disciplined competitor and despite his size, he is the strongest player on the team.

After dedicating himself to practice and weight sessions, Kevin finished the summer with a 235 lbs power clean, 355 lbs squat, and a 265 lbs bench. Those numbers are staggering.....then you have to keep reminding yourself he is only 16 years old!

Now into his Junior year, Kevin has become a dominant force on the defense, and is a violent, offensive eraser on the perimeter.

Looking to study broadcasting after high school, he is improving his now cumulative 2.5 GPA to set himself up for continued success and achievement.

Motivation: Tommy Tubberville

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nick Saban: Program Maintenance

Although a ridiculously absurd article and assertion, in today's Yahoo Sports piece, "Saban still influencing the pro game " some interesting tidbits regarding organizational structure within the program.

You have the peer review committee on the team,” Wilson said, referring to a group of players who help determine punishments for players who break team or school rules. “A big key in it is that he has guys from every class, seniors all the way down to freshmen, on the committee, so it’s really a situation where everybody is connected and it’s not just the older guys against the younger guys. It really is a situation where you have to answer to your peers, regardless of what class you’re in.”

The other useful part about the committee is that Saban gets a constant feed of information about what players are doing away from the field, Wilson said.

“It’s not a tattle-tale thing. It’s more of him keeping up with what everybody is doing. … Everybody. He knows everything that’s going on with every player on the team. He’s completely on top of it.”

I've done the player leadership committees (that essentially determine all team decisions) before and can attest to their effectiveness and necessity. However, the ability to keep a pulse on individual player happenings is a process still up for refinement. Outside of maintaining a mutual relationship with players, I would be interested to know what types of networking structure, he and his staff utilize to proactively tap into their 'family' of players.

Here's to November 7th versus the Tigers and the eventual SEC title matchup with Florida.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Motivation: from the desk of Coach Saban.........

Player Spotlight: #63 C.Jones

A guy who doesn't get nearly enough credit or attention for his hard work, leadership, and hustle is our senior lineman Carlton Jones (#63 - left defensive end/ left offensive tackle). If you couldn't tell by viewing any of the highlight clips of the season, thus far, #63 is dominating the line of scrimmage and constantly competing. Always in a positive attitude, his maturity and exemplary attendance in all off-season events (even 7-on-7) is a model all underclassmen can aspire to.

Coming into the season, Carlton was boasting a 3.7 GPA (18 ACT his junior year), 255 lbs Power Clean, 330 lbs squat, and a 275 lbs bench. This 6'2", 230lbs athlete and outstanding young man is destined for future success due to a supportive family and relentless work ethic.

Carlton at practice and after placing in the Louisiana State Power lifting Championship

Carlton's mid-season highlight reel to follow

Week 6: Downed Woodlawn

Another fantastic showing by do-everything senior and all around nice guy, Jacoby Mosley. Mosely filled in at running back and quarterback, amassing 162 yards (3 TDs) rushing and 6 yards passing (1 TD). Senior receiver/running back, J. Fobbs pilled up 121 all-purpose yards (1 TD) as well.

In an exciting contest (that probably should have been more lopsided), we had the opportunity to be presented with beating press man coverage for the first time. Using fundamental solutions, we executed a game plan to start the second half, dictating coverage and fronts to set up what we'd prefer to call (optioning, lead-runs, and freeze tempo to control their 0-coverage pressure and force them back into cover 3 looks).

10/02/09 O @ Yahoo! Video

10/02/09 D @ Yahoo! Video
The two district leaders also fell off their perch, both losing, sending the 4A District 1 conference playoff hunt into a race towards November.

This week we face, a near mirror-image of ourselves in Haughton.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nick Saban: Middle of the Field Safety Coverage Principles (part III - Cover 1)

Cover 1

The simplest and best defense in football is man-free coverage.
It covers everything, it stuffs the run, and it defends the middle of the field.
It’s the #1 coverage in pro ball ....basically because you can’t get away with playing Cover 3.

Just like it sounds, man-free coverage is man-to-man defense with a free safety in the deep hole (and a linebacker in the shallow hole). Players simply line up and play the respective man across from them.
  1. Corners always take the first receiver outside (and use the MOF divider just like in C3)
  2. The Strong Safety displaces to the second receiver
  3. The Mike and Sam play the backs respectively (Sam has first back out strong / Mike has third back)
  4. The Will takes the first back out weak or the second receiver weak.
As can be found on page 167 of the LSU playbook, where it explains Cover 1 assignments and adjustments to each formation. The position-maintenance covered in the first section of this series plays a major part in funnelling receivers into the free safety / rat-in-the-hole help and eliminates duplication of effort. With man coverage, there becomes fewer opportunities for interceptions, but it increases the chances of an incompletion.
The main nuance of this coverage has to do with a challenging/conflicting assignments for the backers. Because the main thrust of the defense is to stop the run from the inside out and keeping the defenders playing fast, the premise is to keep the linebackers focused on the backs and TE. Saban uses an alert code (RAT) to prevent a potentially ‘coverage breaking’ route.
“RAT” is used to alert inside backers of the strong safety passing off his responsibility (tight end) to the inside linebackers. When the second receiver (tight end) stems inside (shallow), if the strong safety ran with him, he would be immediately vacating the perimeter (where the run game would likely be attacking) as well as running into the path of the (run game) pursuing linebackers (potential rub/pick). To quickly circumvent this hazard, when the tight end stems inside, the strong safety will declare/yell “RAT!”. “Rat” means a guy is coming into the funnel (is being funneled) and the remaining defender in the hole should cut/reroute and jump this receiver as he approaches.
This call accomplishes two things. First, it alerts the next backer over (Sam) that the strong safety will take his assigned man (first back out), and he should now adjust to the second back out strong. Secondly, it tells the Mike, who is the “rat in the hole” that he is going to have company soon (crossing tight end) and can jump this route as it comes.
This leaves the defense with +1 in the box, putting 3 linebackers on 2 (remaining) backs (see diagram below).
Because the 'rat' rules can be influenced by the first crosser, how does all this shake out in a real-time scenario? How is it all able to remain consistent and adjust to multi-level passing attacks? In the example below, the "shallow" or "NCAA" post/dig concept is utilized to attack the defensive coverage at 3 levels.
The corners obviously eliminate the outside receivers. Because the Y aligns inside the divider and is being funnelled into middle-of-the-field coverage, the strong safety aligns outside and his vertical positioning on him will be low-shoulder (see first post on position maintenance). This puts the strong safety in perfect position to deny the vertical-to-inside breaking dig route (with additional free safety sitting over the top in the deep hole to deny the dig and the post). Because the second receiver immediately takes an inside route (shallow), he is passed off to the rat-in-the-hole (S) who is looking to cut this receiver as he comes across the formation. The flow-side backer (M) to the side the back (F) releases takes his man into the flat/flare. Because the back is accounted for by the absolute 'funnel' rules (2 on 1), the W, who has released his shallow to the rat, is free to ROBOT (Roll and Run to find the seam/TE). Since he is not threatened by #1, #2, or #3 weak, the W, in this concept immediately bails to find the TE and rob the intermediate hole (ROBOT). This provides a 3-level-man-defense against this concept.
Obviously, walking out a linebacker on a weak receiver is not ideal, so what happens if a back motions out of the backfield or you are confronted with a true 1-back set? Do you displace a linebacker and leave yourself vulnerable to inside run? This isn't a good option, therefore a second alternative is offered ("1 Alert").
Because we just want linebackers matched up with backs and tight end, when confronted with a second receiver weak, “1 Alert” is used to precipitate an adjustment by the safeties. The defense will spin the safeties to the second receiver weak.
1 Alert means the tight end and remaining backs are taken by linebackers. All breaks are taken by safeties. To accommodate or adjust to this, the safeties will spin the coverage (typically away from the TE). Rather than walking out backers, the safeties adjust and the S takes the TE, leaving the M & W on the remaining back (2 on 1, as pictured below).
This essentially slides the backers away from the spin, leaving a 2 on 1 advantage with the linebackers on the remaining back. The linebacker to the side the back releases takes the back, the remaining linebacker becomes the rat in the hole. In summary;
  • “Funnel” when LBs have 3 on 2 versus the backs
  • “Alert” when LBs have 2 on 1 versus the backs.