Thursday, December 29, 2011

Developing a Quarterback with Jim Harbaugh

Talking ball with Harbaugh as he shares his secrets to creating a better passer...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Football’s Illusions

We want diversity, but we don't want it to be an argument. But that's what diversity is.
Sometimes the arguments are creative. When you start a dialectic between people who are different, it benefits... I believe in arguing.
I'm often accused of being opinionated and argumentative, I plead guilty to that, but I've never had anything not end up better because people in the same room were arguing back.
-David Simon

This post is an attempt to articulate a deeper response to understanding today’s game of professional football and the culture that surrounds it. Please understand that there are various nuances to consider and this is not intended to be the cynical fire-starting rant that it may appear to be at first glance.

Hemlock and I are presenting our views on this subject for posterity and reflection on the impact of mass media in shaping the game of football in the current age. In a recent discussion at Coach, the issue of NFL scheme variety was presented. Is there really a difference between one team from another, when they all essentially are running the same thing? And if they are the same, why are we being constantly told about / sold on the facets that are unique to such-and-such scheme?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sean Payton: Quarterbacking

Here is a decent resource for getting a young quarterback grounded in some solid fundamentals on throwing mechanics (circa 1992).  Now, granted there are a few things in the video that don’t lead to efficiency, but, hey…..this was over 20 years ago.  You’ll see a young assistant coach named Sean Payton running quarterback footwork and throwing drills.

If you want a great indoctrination of flawless throwing, you’d better invest in Darin Slack C4 and R4 materials.
Darin Slack Quarterback Training

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ROD DOBBS: Teaching & Installing Zone Runs

Right behind the Alex Gibbs staff clinic with the UF staff, this has got to be one of the most comprehensive instructions on zone running.  Rod Dobbs, a Gibbs disciple, who is now coaching at Chaparral High School in Denver, CO, clinics a high school staff while he was running the offense for Northern Colorado.  Dobbs goes over the entire scheme, technique, and how to make it work during a season in this 6 hour presentation.
This off-season, why not establish some relationships with other coaches and invite them in to get your staff on the same page for next year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

NC: Rematch Bama vs LSU


Well, its set.....the SEC rematch between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama.  While it may not be technically "fair" from an LSU perspective to have to face off against a team it already defeated on the road in regular season, I feel from a football perspective, these truly are the two best teams in the country.  

As a fan of matchups, I really didn't want to see LSU play Oklahoma State (though it would be entertaining), as I don't feel the Cowboys really had enough dimension to take on this LSU team.  We've included a concise recap of the first meeting this season below (more analysis likely to come).  For what its worth, it should be noted that the majority of LSU's starters (with the exception of QB & 2 LBs) are all underclassmen, so barring a lot of early declarations for the NFL draft, you have a team poised for a run in 2012, too.  Alabama, too, starts a good majority of underclassmen (meaning, this is really about recruiting supremacy more than schemes and strategy).

Poetically enough (for this blog), TCU squares off against Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl, in what should be an exciting matchup.  On a personal note, I'll likely be treated to the surprise switch of teams for the Jewella Slumdog, otherwise known as the Independence Bowl, featuring Mizzou and John Shoop's North Carolina Tarheels.

food for thought (and possibly more later)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


A couple of weeks back, just before the holiday, I was in Washington DC for another profoundly boring, tedious, and ultimately, pretentious academic conference. After giving my talk and fielding an hour or so of numbing questions I went to the hotel lounge to unwind with the help of my two best friends, Mr. Jameson and Mr. Glenfiddich. I was lucky that night because I managed to grab the TV before the fireplace and monopolize it – a good move indeed because the boors who eventually descended like locusts would undoubtedly not have wanted to watch something as stimulating as the game between Iowa State and Oklahoma State that fine evening. Now, no doubt because of the good company of my two aforementioned friends, I was just a bit distracted and unable to fully digest and appreciate what was unfolding in Ames that night, but I knew I had found something quite appealing to my oh so prosaic senses, especially when the Cyclones had the ball.

I got back the next day to Madison in time to watch another interesting match – that between Baylor and Oklahoma. And this is when, with the help this time of two other friends, Earl and Lady Grey, along with a healthy dose of lemon combined with a quick shot Ms. Brandy (muddled, of course), it all started to dawn on me, almost like the initial testament Joseph Smith experienced somewhere in New York state. It all began when one of the prophets, Matt Millen, declared in no uncertain terms that if Baylor wanted to be successful against OU that they needed to move RGIII around so as to change his launch points and prevent the Sooner D from teeing off on him. For a moment, I agreed with the prophet and considered myself, with bit of self-loathing, fortunate to be in a position to take in his divinatory powers. But then something happened: the game continued, Baylor continued, by and large, to keep RGIII in the same place, and eventually the Bears won.

That night I went back and watched the ISU-OSU tilt again and noticed the same thing; hardly any pocket movement. This jogged my memory a bit and sent me back to my Arizona State cutups, which brought my attention to something I had completely taken for granted at some level or another: none of these teams protect their QBs by changing their QBs’ launch points. Does that mean that they do not move the pocket? Of course not. Only that when they do so it’s primarily to isolate a single receiver on an easy throw, usually in a short yardage situation; in other words, when they move the QB it is not because they necessarily believe that it will help them protect him more effectively.

For anybody well-versed in the fundamentals of protection, this all seems counter-intuitive, right? I mean, after all, a stationary QB is a sitting duck just waiting to get blown apart by a defense that simply needs to stay in its lanes in order to bring their pressure home? How then do these teams do such a great job of protecting their QBs, especially when they are most of the time releasing not three, but four and five guys and are thus never protecting with any more than six people? If we pause to think about it for a second or two, the answer becomes self evident: all these teams secure their QBs by ensuring that the A and B gaps are always solid and by protecting their edges by way of their KEY screen games that come off of their inside zone schemes. Since Baylor, OSU, ISU, and ASU aggressively use their KEY games they are able to displace rushers and thus widen the edge thus increasing the distance a potential rusher must cover in order to get home. But this is only applicable if the defense continues to roll the dice, as it were, because the KEY game itself forces a defense to consider the potential costs and benefits of bringing such pressure.

This is yet another example of concision. By formulating and integrating packages so that they protect one another, not just the QB as a physical being, but concepts in and of themselves, they are able to reduce the number of things they need to carry in any given game. For all these teams, the KEY game along with whatever versions of ROSE and LINDA they run work to protect not only their respective 2 and 3 man SNAG games, but also their Shallow and Drive packages as well.

In a perverse sense then, protection is as much about the periphery as it is the center.