One of the oldest discussions in football is physicality. It has been criticized recently, adjusted, and being sought out by many coaches this off season. So you are coming off a year where you could not win the tough yards. It just
seems your team does not have the mind set to grind it out, and you are frustrated. You feel as if you left a key element out of the game. You are embarrassed at the fact, and your audience will not let you forget it. A “soft” football team is very recognizable, but before you line your team up and do full speed 40 yard open field tackling drills take a moment to reflect. What do you do inside of practice that teaches mental and physical toughness? Especially in drills that directly relate to the game. Toughness is an attitude of execution. Executing the plan no matter how ideal the circumstances are. Toughness is found in repetition of execution.
So how do you get to be more physical. Well on offense, I believe it is found in the mind, and not in a formation, or style of offense. I have seen may “power” formation offenses who struggled in this category, and I have seen many spread teams do the same. Also I have seen the complete opposite from both formations. A mind set is something that you are trained to do, it is something that is drilled into your team. It in a sense is essentially an attitude. I remember when I first started installing the Air Raid offense over a decade ago, the growing trend is that this was a soft offense. This often becomes a stumbling block for many coaches, you have to be in these formations in order to be tough. Just as there is a difference in styles in the sport of boxing, the same truths are apparent for football. You can be just as tough circling a ring being a counter puncher, as you are someone who stands and takes as many punches as you throw. A perfectly placed punch in boxing is the same toughness, as standing and taking 3 to land 1.
If we are mentioning toughness in regards to football, it usually is rooted in the run game. Where those big hogs up front get to root out their opponent, and a big barreling back rumbles, bumbles and stumbles their way through three yards and a cloud of dust. As an Air Raid Team at North Surry, one thing we do is take pride in toughness, and we do this by setting a tone for our offense. It comes from our staffs approach, and our drills. One key drill that we do twice a week is inside run drill. Our Head Coach Danny Lyons, and Running Backs Coach Robbie Spurlin, take the offensive line and backfield down to the end zone. For 15 mins, they go through our inside runs, every day vs. a 7 or 8 man box (while me and the QB coach, work on routes on air, tags, etc). Our players are getting numerous reps at what we plan to execute as an offense. Without this drill I am not sure that we would have been as successful in our offensive running game. We do not have a run that attacks “D” gap, so we have to be comfortable and efficient inside the tackles. We also do this drill for the defense during their inside run period as a scout team offense.
On the flip side our front 7/8 are getting inside work on defense. This allows our defensive coaches to get the drill their inside run fits early in summer practice, as well as defensive fundamentals running a weekly scout defense. Is this just a senseless drill to just get guys making piles and being “tough?” Absolutely not. It is a coached, and highly technical drill, that allows our players to get comfortable executing our plays in tough circumstances. It becomes a drill of pride for the players, and fine teaching for the coaches. Our offensive line coach can get very detailed with footwork, double teams, hand placement, and pulling. The running backs get the same attention from footwork, hand offs, aiming points, cuts and many more. It is also a game like ball security circuit. It is the reason we have ran for at least 2,000 yards for 3 straight years primarily in a one back set. I also believe that it is the reason our defense has been so stout for the past seasons also. It is repetitions of blocking, tackling, and game like situations for the backfield. It is not a dangerous or senseless drill, like so many of us endured 20-30 years ago. It is a purposeful drill that directly translates to the game on Friday nights.
The key to success in any offense is having an attitude of execution no matter what how your opponent is trying to defend you. We are comfortable being unbalanced. What I mean is if you take away our pass, we are very comfortable, being tough and running down hill. If you stack the box, well we do not mind to cross the middle of the field and catch the ball. It is a mind set that we create inside our practices each day for the entire team, and one we take pride in.
Offensive Coordinator / Air Raid Offense
North Surry High School Toast, NC