Monday, November 30, 2009

The Future of Collab?

We're in the infancy of testing out GoogleWave and just how reasonable it would serve as a coaching collaboration method.

So far, the biggest drawback is the not being able to utilize its primary appeal (social network) - there are not many people that have GoogleWave. Since you can't get it without an invite, not many people are on it. If you would like to join the test group (by getting an invite), just include your email in the comments sections (once you join, I'll delete your 'published' email). Also, you NEED to have an existing google account, as well (gmail).

The real-time 'threads' (think of a message board of something) allows any type of attachment and you can revisit subjects at will, splinter off discussions into new threads, invite others into the discussion, etc. We're currently having issues with the video attachments, but everything else seems to work fine (make sure you download and enable 'google gears' for active content).

We'll keep ya updated....

On second thought, forget it.

After a rather pleasant run-through on Friday, today I experience a bug that freezes the browser it operates in (due to uploading navigation). It appears this is a known issue with the Google folks as they reference a slew of Chrome incompatibilities and bugs that plague this application.

Opening the wave applet in Firefox fixed the scripting error experienced in IE7. Still having issues accessing video between users.

So long as you are included in the wave, you can access enclosed pictures (doesn't seem to be an issue). You can download images and they open up through a flash browser for a slideshow.

However, I'm rather underwhelmed that this really only becomes a suped-up IM device. You can share video, only if it is already hosted elsewhere (i.e. embedded from youtube, etc). This, so far, is really gaaaaaaaay, and its use or potential I'm just not comprehending. While it may be a tad better for INSTANT collaboration, much of these same functions can be completed within a forum engine or blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Season End

After an exciting playoff push that unified the team, we fell to a powerful Lutcher team Friday night. Lutcher's high-powered offense proved too much for us, breaking our defense at every turn. Quarterback Gavin Webster (#15) proved to be a one-man wrecking crew even with an extremely talented cast of team mates around him. Be sure to check out Lutcher's sophomore running back (#5), Daniel Taylor, and junior receiver (#80), Jarvis Landry, who should be names to remember in the next few season. Hats off to the Bulldogs on their future playoff success.
It has been a rewarding season and it is always a blessing to get to know the many unique and enjoyable players we have on our team.

This was a great group of kids who should be able to take something rewarding, fulfilling, and empowering from the last 16 weeks that can serve them for the rest of their life's journey.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Formation Matching: Bringing the Safety Down

Along with pursuit and tackling (fundamentals) of defense, is the rather academic application of adjusting your defense to the offensive threat you face. In most defenses the player that drastically alters what the defense actually is, the strong safety.

A lot has been discussed in the last 20 years ( in the wake of the evolution of 2-high defenses) about the role, prototype, and alignment of the “strong safety”. You likely hear this ad nauseum if you are forced to listen to any NFL broadcast, about “bringing a safety down”. Great, sure sounds awesome, but what does it mean and why?

This discussion will cover the ceaseless pendulum swing between offensive and defensive attacks and counterattacks that evolves each season. Back during your “daddy’s day” when receivers were in 3-point stances, everyone played with 2 backs and sometimes 3 backs in the backfield. To even the odds against this, defenses began stuffing more and more people in the box (1-high) to stop the run-heavy attacks.

To create more breathing room, offenses found a way to adjust by removing a back, forcing the defenses to expand with them (eliminating a defender from the box).

The more offenses expanded, the more defenses had to adjust and eventually relying on 2-high defenses to remain viable against the vertical passing game. The advent of 1-back looks (made popular by Dennis Erickson in the 80’s with WSU and Miami) became the (then) “spread”, even though Erickson admittedly says the entire point of going 1-back for him, was to RUN the ball. It may sound odd, but when we take a look at WHAT 1-back looks do to a defense, it becomes apparent what the offense is looking to exploit.

The fundamental element in defense is supporting all available run-gaps that an offense presents. If there is one gap not accounted for, then an offense has an immediate path for yardage. 2-high defenses became all the rage in the late 90’s into this current generation because of this 1-back adaptation. First things first, what is the offense presenting the defense? How many backs are in the ball game? How many tight ends?

“21” (2 backs, 1 tight end) typically gives you a 2-back, pro-formation look. With 2 in the backfield, you will likely be threatened by some type of 2x1 look. The extra man in the backfield (fullback / H-back) provides an extra gap for the defense to support (just like a second tight end). With 2-back looks, you are immediately threatened with lead runs (iso, power, sweep) that will put 1+ offensive player at the point of attack.

“11” (1 back, 1 tight end) will give you a single-back look. This immediately eliminates the threat of lead runs (unless you have to contend with the new [Rodriguez-type] spread, where the QB is a rushing threat). With only 1 back, you will end up with a 3x1 or 2x2 set that can stress a defense with 2 inside verticals (passing threat), but be without that extra (run fit) gap.

Although adjusting nicely and bottling up 1-back looks, the defense, through this expansion away from the ball, was opening the middle of the field. This became a void offenses would later exploit by turning shotgun ‘spread’ formations into run-heavy attacks.

The Next Step
Now to the current trend for defenses, how do they get an ‘extra hat’ at the point of attack (and beat the offense to the punch)? As outlined by people like Nick Saban, the MOFC defense allows a defense to put more defenders in the box and allocate the most people to stop the run, inside-out (protecting the middle of the field, first). To achieve both the security of covering the immediate threats of alignment (split) and also get the benefits of shutting of the middle of the field, defenses are finding ways to show 2-high, then bring a safety down late. From here, with pattern-matching principles, the sky is the limit for defenses and the way they attack the ball. With pattern-matching, you can now actually play “man”(to-man) as well as expand to match the passing threats. This arithmetic enables a defense to also bring 5+ man pressure, drop linemen in coverage, and or anything else you can dream up.

In the following clips below, you can see how personnel groupings essentially telegraph what formations you will see on a given play. In each example, the defense is going to play a 1-high MOFC coverage and bring the safety down for run-support/cover-down. The trick is, it typically is showing a 2-high look at the snap to play the traditional coverage-matchup-with-formation game that offenses are looking to exploit.
vs 21 personnel

vs 11 personnel

Then, you can get creative and not only protect the middle of the field, but also bring pressure (1-high fire zones).

This current trend of defenses gleaning the best attributes of schemes into some quasi-natural selection process creates a deadly and effective method for accounting for fundamental principles of good football. Defenses, with the usage of proper coverage support, pattern-matching principles, and multi-talented linemen (ability to drop to cover receiving threats), are able to open a maelstrom of disguised looks. Defenses can present one look at presnap and morph its use to fit any and all offensive threats after the snap. No longer are defenses limited by walking out on displaced receivers (in man) or staying cemented within the box to stop the run. With these principles of adaptation, the chalk can be held by defensive coordinators a while longer.

now for something completely different....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michigan Run Game

Probably the single-most course of study for me this off-season is examining the intricacies of the Rodriguez/Trickett spread run game.

Starting out with the TFS-out-of-the-box run game, we struggled with consistently running the ball early. This largely had to do with our personnel at first, but we later adapted to principles that mimicked UM's spread-the-field attack. I've got a host of materials to examine Rodriguez's approach from Tulane, Clemson, and West Virginia, but haven't had the time to sit down and study all of it in-depth.

As a lagniappe, I've included the 2008 Michigan run game clips for you to peruse as well.

Thanksgiving Day Wish

Can you wish for things on Thanksgiving? I dunno.
But if you can, I am hoping for 4 quarters of effort to battle the juggernaut of the Lutcher Bulldogs. The players have really battled these last few weeks and should be proud of the men they have turned into. Each of them have turned inward and supported one another for strength in a rather trying season.

here we are feverishly drawing up our game plan for Friday
An interesting note, we were greeted by Parish School Board member, Dottie Bell, wishing the players well and supplying them with five dozen hot Southern Maid doughnuts on a brisk November morning (practice). Thanks!

Freaking Check This Blog OUT!!!!

Even more awesome than this.......

Coach McElvany KickAss Football Blog

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Week 13: On to Quarter Finals

In our playoff rematch with District Champion, Haughton, we had their number.
The game was a testament to the competitiveness of our players and their dedication to improving performance.

Bearing down and committing to stopping the option with district MVP, Dak Prescott, the defense strapped in for a slugfest, forcing the junior quarterback to distribute the ball to his receivers.

Obviously, respecting the passing game we featured throughout the regular season, the Haughton defense remained 2-high all night, forcing a 5-man run box. We were able to take advantage of this with our dive and wildcat packages, unleashing 305 rushing yards on them. The success of our run game (as well as picking up the interior blitzing that plagued us in the last contest against Haughton) was due to the tremendous improvement out of seniors T.Player (#65) and K.Cash (#66) along with junior T.Player (#64).


Now, onto Quarter Finals against New Orleans' area powerhouse, Lutcher.

Friday, November 20, 2009

HFS! I'm in.....

New brew I'll have to check out now..... Flying Dog Brewery out of Maryland.

Not only does the head brewmeister share my namesake, but they share a love of Hunter S. Thompson!

Additional readings;

Mmmm, now I'm thirsty! And this Abita swill is getting rather old....


Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday week, I just wanted to make sure I express a show of gratitude and thanks on behalf of the school and myself for two individuals who have really made this season work.

Coaches Anthony McClain and Mike Bogan have displayed an admirable dedication and patience to improve a program in considerable disarray. Two great guys who have masterfully played the cards they were dealt to perfection. Though it wasn't always easy or pain-free, these two kept the best interests of the program at the forefront and pressed on to improve the product on the field.

They have made coaching this season a joy for me and I have to say it was enjoyable, educational, and entertaining to be around both these guys coaching. If you're in NWLA and you get a chance, be sure to watch for these two guys.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pattern Read: Hi Low

The last example that we'll show is the only other concept not threatening Cover 2 with a vertical concept. The high-low ("China" or "Smash") concept merely looks to create a vertical stretch on an underneath defender, putting him in a 2-on-1 conflict. As noted in the previous posts, watch the linebacker expand to the hook (underneath) with the safety (over the top) . This concept is evidenced with a shallow #1 and a vertical #2 or a vertical #1 and a shallow #2.

Pattern Read: Sail

Continuing on the same theme as Verticals, the "Sail" ("drop out" or "Ohio") concept relies on the same principles, but providing a deep high-low of the outside defender. This can be a difficult throw, but even more difficult to successfully defend. As detailed earlier, be sure to watch the linebacker wall and expand #2 as he vertically stems then drops out to the sideline.

Pattern Read: Verticals

As outlined in previous posts, the (all) verticals concept likely puts a 2-high defense at a disadvantage when 4 receivers go deep. Pay special attention to how the linebackers wall and carry #2 vertically into the seam, as well as how the corner sink and carry #1 vertical. Also, note how 3x1 formations cause a 2-high defense stress with #3 stemming into the deep middle hole.

Pattern Read: Safety Response

The last step in this Cover 2 discussion ends with the ½ field safety. Obviously their job is to put the roof over the defense and allow all other defenders to play underneath. To do this job effectively and consistently, they must know how they relate to the pattern distribution. This will reveal how they will compensate for coverage liabilities and better support the coverage shell.

Their first response is to key and recognize the #1 receiver to their side. The position of the #1 receiver will determine the immediate threat to ‘break’ the defense by an outside and vertical throw. The safety should know who the #2 vertical threat is on any given down based on formation (2x2 or (3x1).

At the snap, the safety will key the EMOL for run/pass key. After a pass key recognition, the safety reads #1 receiver – to quarterback – to #2 receiver.

#1 Vertical - #2 To The Flat

The safety should overplay the vertical threat and keep inside leverage on #1. He is anticipating the curl-flat concept.

#1 Hitch - #2 Vertical
With #2 vertical and #1 remaining shallow, the safety should expect the smash or seam concept. He will peddle back and inside read #2 as he presses into the seam. The safety should be defending the seam-to-post-corner route with inside-out leverage.

Double slant

With #2 and #1 breaking shallow inside, there isn’t much help a deep half safety can provide. He should be anticipating the slant-and-go (“sluggo”) and remain over the top of #1, leveraging inside-out.

#1 Vertical - #2 inside or hitch

Since #2 remains shallow, he is no threat to the deep half, so the safety should look to overplay the vertical by #1. With #2 shallow, he should keep inside leverage on #1and anticipate a deep, inside breaking route (dig) from #1.

Pattern Read: Linebacker Response

After reviewing corner responses, we'll work our way outside-in, addressing the outside and inside linebacker responses to pattern distribution in Cover 2.

Outside Linebacker (weak)
The weak side linebacker who responds to the displaced #2 receiver should be playing a "vertical hook technique". This simply means he is controlling the vertical stem of #2 into the hook zone and will treat this area as a priority. He should be thinking vertical-in-the-seam by #2 on pass key, and defend this throw first. On pass, he must relate to #2 receiver. He will peek to #1 receiver to identify the route concept he should play. As the front will vary depending on formation, we'll focus on just the pass coverage of Cover 2 for the displaced outside linebacker.

#2 Vertical - #1 Outside Vertical

If #2 presses vertically, the WLB will wall and carry #2 into the seam, peeking to see that #1 is vertical (and outside). With #1 gaining depth outside, the WLB can expect the "all vertical" and / or anticipate a deep drop out / Sail from #2 (and rob from low-shoulder leverage.

#2 Vertical - #1 Inside Vertical

As with the above situation, the WLB walls and carries #2 vertically into the seam, expecting "all verticals". With an inside/vertical stem of #1, the WLB may anticipate a deep, inside breaking route (dig).

#2 Vertical and Outside - #1 Hitch

With a vertical press by #2, and #1 remaining shallow (hitch), the WLB should anticipate the "smash" concept and push to the flat. Knowing his corner should be sinking to take the "corner" route, he should be robbing the hitch from inside-and-underneath leverage.

#2 Flat

Maybe the easiest throw to respond to for the WLB in Cover 2, once the #2 receiver quickly "shoots" to the flat, the WLB should recognize the flat-curl concept. He should expand and wall to the #1 receiver, looking to rob the inside-breaking curl.

Cover 2 Inside Linebackers

In Cover 2, the inside linebackers, both strong and weak, will be keying for run as their primary responsibility. Their gap assignment and key will vary depending on the formation and defensive front they are in. They are reading run-to-pass, and respond accordingly. For the sake of discussion, we will just concentrate on their response after getting a high-hat pass read.

The inside linebackers will match their respective threat based on alignment. This will typically put the SLB or MLB TO or AWAY from the callside based on the strength of formation. An example would be;

2x2 set

The MLB will relate to the back (#3) strong or weak, based on back flow.
The SLB/Buck become relates to #2 strong and becomes the vertical seam player him.

3x1 set

Here the defensive front would be adjusted to accommodate the passing (number) threats. The MLB now relates to #3 receiver and the SLB/Buck will relate to the back.

This is a rather simple accommodation as I hesitate to call it an "adjustment". The inside (run) linebackers are simply going to cover down their immediate passing threat. An example of matching the backs with the linebackers is shown below;

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Season Update

A nice, respectful piece on our team appeared in the local paper today giving well-deserved praise and recognition to our kids and their effort.

Also, as an update, everything-awesome lineman, Carlton Jones (who is rocking a whopping 3.7 GPA this semester) , has received a scholarship offer from Alabama State. Good luck, Carlton!

Pattern Read: Corner Response

One of the advantages of the 7-man front is ability to eliminate the perimeter with a corner as a force run defender (essentially allowing 9 to stop the run). Consequently, the one drastically different response in Cover 2, will be from the corners. The following will outline how corners are to handle and respond to threats in their zone, and whom they should be relating to.

In Cover 2, corners relate to the #1 receiver and keying the end man on the line of scrimmage for a pass/run key. On run action TO him, the corner should maintain (outside) leverage on #1 and squeeze the running lane to shut off the perimeter from the ball carrier. On run action away from him, he should sink and expand in relation to #1 (again, maintaining leverage as run force).

On pass read from the EMOL, the corner should immediately scan the stem of the #2 receiver, to determine how he responds to the route.

#2 Inside - #1 Vertical

If #2 takes an immediate inside release, he can rest assured that #2 will not be threatening the flats (no longer a threat) and can focus his attention on the #1 receiver (who will likely be running an inside breaking route). When #2 does not present a threat to the corner, he will reroute and carry #1.

#2 Outside - #1 Vertical Inside

If #2 releases outside (again being the key the corner looks to on pass read) AND #1 stems vertically and inside, he should expect a high-low pattern and sink and carry #1 (the deeper of the two routes). Much like the 'smash' route below, if the corner does not sink on the deeper throw it will create an unwinable situation for the defense, as the corner will be too shallow and the safety to contracted to defend this deep, outside throw.

#2 Flat - #1 Vertical Outside

With #2 shooting to the flat (immediate threat) and #2 stemming outside and vertical (fade), the corner should look to expand #1 for width to the sideline and spy the QB's vision/shoulders on which throw to pursue. By expanding and delaying #1 vertically, he is buying time for the playside safety to cover ground on a downfield throw outside the numbers. The corner should expect the flat throw (as he is eliminating the deep throw confirmation read from the QB)

#2 Vertical - #1 Shallow

One of the most susceptible throws against Cover 2 is the shallow by #1 and the expect Smash , open hips play the '7' (corner) route. As mentioned above, this is a situation where if the corner bites on the shallow hitch, he opens the width to the deep sideline to a point where the half field safety is helpless to defend.

#2 Vertical - #1 Vertical

With #2 vertical and #1 vertical, the corner should expect "all go" (no other threat to the flat) and should collision #1 and carry his route vertically. With nothing left to defend, he can help the safety out (hopefully collisioning #1 enough to prevent both receivers getting vertically at the same level).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pattern Read: Receiver Distribution

As our season winds down, I plan on going over a rather detailed breakdown of pattern-matching concepts with a zone defense. The concept can appear rather convoluted or intimidating to some folks, but is actually quite simple and it compartmentalizes the passing game into digestible portions.

The next few posts will be foundational tenets needed to build successful recognition of and playing (response) threats to a defender's zone.

Since there are 5 eligible receivers (not counting the quarterback), determining how a defense is being threatened is important in distinguishing just what, in particular, a defense will be stressed by. To do this, a common vocabulary is required to quickly identify how to play receiver allocation. This will also help in defining each player's role based on the offense's response in all 3 types of actions.

I've drawn these examples up in 2-back and 1-back looks, but the formations are essentially irrelevant. This is intended to just give you a basic run-down of how this would look. The routes being run are also not important now. We're are simply categorizing how an offense spreads the 5 receiving threats at a defense.


Flow is a 4x1 disbursement sending 4 receivers to the strength of the formation and 1 receiver weak. This is a rather common action with rollout/sprint out drops.
Flood is a 2x3 disbursement of receivers, sending 2 receivers strong and 3 receivers weak. This flood of receivers typically indicates boot action.
Split is a 3x2 disbursement, sending 3 receivers strong and 2 receivers weak. This is the most common way of threatening the defense and equally distributing the receiving threats. Air Raid and WCO are primarily split-flow offenses.

Since we have already gone over route reading from a 1-high (Cover 3) look, we'll explore pattern matching out of a 2-high (Cover 2) zone defense.

As a helpful guide, you can bookmark or follow along, by using the "Pattern Reading" tag that will pull up all posts detailing this technique (or keep it more specific to the Cover 2 posts that will follow).

Cover 2

Corner Play

Linebacker Play

Safety Play

Cover 2 vs Verticals

Cover 2 vs Sail

Cover 2 vs Hi-Low