Tempo, Balance, Number of Plays, and any other aspect we spend too much time talking about
Search the internet and social media and you will see any subject that peeks your interest. I have to say I have taken quite a break from trolling social media this off season. While I think that social media is a great tool and has propelled coaching further than anything in the past 10 years, I do believe it takes as much time away from it to process what you have taken from it. How much film have you watched this off season, of last season.
I have spent several hours looking at the analytics of the college national championship game. How the game was executed, and how it was won. I know the media made a big deal about Clemson running so many plays, and how it wore down the Alabama defense. Which is true, but do we miss the point of how they go there? A few years ago it was about Oregon and Baylor’s break neck pace, and how they forced defenses to play in a midst of confusion. This whole paragraph is made up of things that the media uses to peak interest, it is not the basis of winning a football game.
I would ask every coach to post their philosophy somewhere. When I started this blog, I made a philosophy tab. It states what I believe are essential to winning football games outside of blocking and tackling. I do not get into run/ pass or formations, I tried to get down to logistics.
I really found my answer concerning the National Championship Game after reading an earlier spring interview with Coach Nick Saban. He answered all of the questions of how and why?
“There was nothing … we didn’t block them, we didn’t execute very well. We didn’t throw the ball accurately when we had open people and a couple of times we dropped it,” Saban said. “I think it was more a lack of execution than something schematically that we were doing as coaches. That’s not to blame anybody but us for not having players more well-prepared. The defense also needs to get themselves off the field on third down so that they don’t have to play as many plays, so it’s a combination of things.
I do think that we could have executed a lot better and I think that most players would probably tell you that on both sides of the ball, not to take anything away from Clemson but it is what it is. As we always do, we’re going to self-assess what we did through quality control — what we did well, what we need to try to improve on, visit people to try to get better at the things we need to do better.”
“Philosophically, I don’t know where you came up with where we need to go to ball control. That’s not what we do. I mean, the New England Patriots threw the ball over 60 percent of the time, which is more than we threw it. So where does that assumption come from?
The question spawned from a reporter asking about Alabama “new ball control offense.” Well Coach Saban simply gave the facts about being asked if they were going to a more “ball control” offense because of the National Championship game. The game came down to execution on both sides. What happened did not change his philosophy one bit. He explains not getting 3rd down stops, dropped passes, etc. Both of these stats, lead to more or less plays for a team, which in turn leads to time of possession skewing either way, and towards what this reporter was referring to as “ball control.” Outside of the last 4 minutes in a game, there is not a team in this sport who is not trying to create either more points, possessions, plays, no matter what scheme or tempo you may employ. Because all of these create opportunity, and that leads to success. It all led back to a lack of execution, and so few articles posted on social media address this point. This 3 minute rant has very strong meaning for any coach in football. One know your philosophy, and do not let anyone, thought, or idea distort the results of the outcome.
Tempo: The biggest topic in football
I do not like to huddle for a lot of reasons. One being time, and it is a total waste of movement. I want to use tempo ( and I use that term loosely), because I want my quarterback and skill players to have time to see what they are against. We are given a time clock, and I want to maximize it to the players advantage, not communicating a play and clapping and running to the ball. It has nothing to do with getting to a set number of plays. Or snapping the ball within 5 seconds of the ball being set. I want to force the defenses hand, and make it easier for younger skill guys to be successful. It also scientifically keeps the heart rate up for the opposing team, and can be one of the biggest advantages for the 4th quarter fatigue.
Physicality and Relentlessness:
As a former defensive coach, I am still old school when it comes to football being physical. I believe a team can be as physical in a spread as the single wing. Physical football is not found in a formation or style, it is found in the individual approach of each player. A receiver on a perimeter screen block can be just as physical as a down block by a tackle.
Make a defense defend the entire field. This is probably my biggest point inside the game of X’s and O’s The field is huge, and space/distance = time. So i want to set up the idea of you must defend the field horizontally and vertically.
This is the key to everything mentioned in football. The team that executes always wins. Always. Execution leads to points, yards, time of possession, plays, tempo, first downs, conversion percentage, completions, rushing yards, QBR etc. How can we invite execution? Simplicity. Simplicity leads to execution. It also creates confidence. Simplicity is defined different for each team, but I believe you have to have a few core plays that you are great at in order to be simple and simplistic. I think you have to also find ways to get the defense into the default look you want in order to find this simplicity. The formations are the complexity, the plays are the simplicity.
I have never passed the ball more that I have ran it for a yearly total. Some may say then I am not true Air Raid, because of this fact. That has never bothered me, because I have peace in balance. The balance I am talking about it not run/pass, but in taking what is given. The new cool word is “gift.” From an engineering background, I have a strong disdain for “putting a square peg into a round hole,” so to speak. I do not keep a tally sheet for run/pass during a game. I do not go into a game with a game plan to do either more than the other. I look for the balance in what I can take from the defense based on match up or formation. This is balance.
I also look to see how I can get more people the ball. I have a strong belief in this because any team will scheme to take ways your best players. Keeping them honest is the most important advantage you an be great at executing. Getting it to your best player can be easy if you make them honest.
Excel at Things that Take No Talent:
Win first down.
“Bang it for 2, Bust it for 12,” is a quote I heard Alex Gibbs say from a tape teaching the stretch play. I still use it today. Basically because it made me understand an important philosophy concerning 1st down. Difference of 2nd and 12 and 2nd and 8 = 4 yards, but those 4 yards are more like 30 in play calling. I had to stress the point of at least making it to 2nd and 8 no matter what. We must have 2 yards on first down. It keeps you on the plus side of play calling. It gives the offense a distinct advantage, and it keeps you on path. Teams that win first down always win football games.
Turnovers are a death sentence. It is essentially a missed opportunity. Its like running out of gas, losing your keys or wallet, at the most in opportune times. It is a stat that leads to losses, and they seem to always come in multiples. The basis behind this thought, is no offense can do anything without the ball.
Red Zone Scores should happen 90% of the time. This off season, I learned from an opposing coach how he broke down defenses, in order to get an advantage for the opponent. He actually shared with me the hudl columns he invented and used. I spent some time with last years game film, and was amazed how it opened my eyes, it was a real time saver, and I implemented it completely.
Oh they caught us. I listed that we need to limit them to 1 every 30 plays. These can kill big plays, how many touchdowns on TV have you seen wiped off the board because of something behind the play. Not only the points, but what about the spent energy and the missed opportunity. A penalty is as costly as a turnover at times. I think on film we have to find the basis of the penalty, whether it is lack of effort, bad positioning, bad call, or any other reason for the infraction.
Win the 4th Quarter
Out Score, Out Gain, Win time of possession. This is where situational football comes into play. How many timeouts do they have? Personnel, play calling, down and distance, winning first down, all if this is the ingredients to achieving these 3 goals I listed above. I believe this area has to be treated completely different than any other inside your game plan.
If you want tempo, don’t huddle. If you want more plays get more first downs, or have a defense like the 1985 bears. If you want formations see what makes it simply complex for the opponents, not for you. But never put a number on the ideas that have nothing to do with winning or losing. Always start with a philosophy that has a foundation in execution.
Offensive Coordinator North Surry High School Toast, NC
Air Raid Offense