Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Archive for October, 2018

Respect or Like?

Posted by admin October - 18 - 2018 - Thursday ADD COMMENTS

I got into a discussion with another coach the other day. We were talking about how a coach motivates his players. My point was that it’s not a short-term thing. That, for instance, a pregame pep talk is not what I would call motivation cuz the effects are short-lived. Motivation is, I believe, creating a mind-set in one’s players’ minds where there is a long-term effect on their behavior. This is only accomplished when the HC creates a culture that focuses on discipline, accountability and respect.

Discipline: just another term for self control; i.e., the ability to regulate one’s own emotions, thoughts and behavior. This self control must be instilled by others; it doesn’t come naturally. A coach has to demand discipline from his players and coaches. And, he must demand it on a consistent basis. You set standards and then you have to uphold them. When I coached, we had a firm and fast rule that there would be no cursing on the part of coaches and/or players. If a player was overheard using a cuss word, a coach would tell him to “drop and give me 15.” 15 push ups for an Unsportsmanlike penalty. I’ve seen other coaches attempt to instill the same requirement on their team. However, if its ignored and no punishment (control over the bad behavior) is consistently handed out, the cursing continues!

Accountability: This is a “cousin” to discipline. Its relationship is exemplified in my No Cussing example above. Players (and coaches) have to be held accountable for their actions. Where it becomes really effective is when the players “buy in” and they too are now holding their teammates accountable. I heard of a local player who transferred to a different school this past summer. The reason he left the school (a successful program, by the way) was because this player refused to work hard in the off season weight program. The veterans wouldn’t stand for it and gave him a hard time about his laziness. This is accountability.

Respect: The discussion that I led off this post with morphed into HOW does a coach “change the culture.” My main point was that players must respect the coach and the coach must respect his players. And… there is a HUGE difference between respecting and liking!!! An insecure coach is going to try to win over his players by getting them to like him. It probably means that there’s little discipline and accountability in that program. What a coach needs to strive for is respect. That is attained by being trustworthy. What the coach says, he does. You can care about your players (and you should); but caring also entails holding players to a high standard — on and off the field!

I had a group of players approach me during a break between practices one year. I could tell that they had something on their minds and were a bit reluctant to say what they wanted to say. I smiled to get them to relax and jokingly said, “hummmmmm… I can tell by the looks on your faces that this must be serious!” That broke the tension. One of the veterans then said, “Coach J, the guys and I were talking and we have a question for you.” “OK,” I replied, “Fire away.” The player said, “We’re just wondering how you’re able to be so tough on us and be so focused during practice but when we’re off the field, you’re happy and joke around with us.” I was flattered. I knew right then that I was being transparent. Our players saw me for who I am. When it’s time to work, I’m all business. When work time is over, I enjoy relaxing and having fun.” I think that this is the attitude you need to present to kids.

We are role models as coaches. We’re going to have an impact on our players whether we want to or not. It should be a positive impact!

“I’ve Drunk the Koolaid!!!”

Posted by admin October - 10 - 2018 - Wednesday ADD COMMENTS

The more college football games that I watch, the more I see the influence that Gus Malzahn and his Delaware Wing T roots have on Offensive Coordinators. I watched my Hokies of Virginia Tech get their “backs broken” by Notre Dame the other night when ND broke a 97 yard run vs. the vaunted Bud Foster defense. Guess what the play was? Buck Sweep left!!! The TB took the ball, started left… stuck his foot in the ground and made that 90 degree cut behind the back-side pulling Guard and went 97 yards UN-touched! It was classic Malzahn “Spread Shotgun Wing T!”

Our offense was always built around a powerful running game. I learned this from my former HC, Lou Holtz. You can throw it around all you want but… when it comes to crunch time, you better have an effective ground game or your chances of winning decrease significantly! We also ran most of our Wing T offense out of the base under-center Delaware formations (100/900 and Red/Blue.) It was effective for us because we mixed in some of the Spread Shotgun Wing T. What I’m realizing is that: even in the 3 years since I retired from coaching, the game (even on the high school level) has evolved. All you see anymore is “spread” offenses. I was opposed to this until I visited practice at my local high school where I used to coach.

They’ve been struggling. The HC is a Double Wing/Wing T guy from way back. The offense was just not clicking. Two weeks ago, he turned over the reigns to one of his assistants and the guy installed the “Spread.” Watching practice yesterday, I saw an energy that was missing a month ago. The kids were running around and everyone was having fun playing up-tempo. Four and 5 wide-outs with motion and shifts. I said to myself, “THIS is what kids like to play these days.” It’s what they see on tv; it’s what they play on their football video games.

My title this week is indicative of the feeling I left the practice field with yesterday: “It’s time to convert! It’s time that I start promoting the Spread version of the Wing T.”

When you can still run multiple formations with lots of shifting and motion, you’re utilizing the principles of Delaware Wing T football. When you can still run buck sweep; trap and waggle/bootleg, you’re utilizing Wing T base plays. One of the beauties of Malzahn’s concepts is having both zone/reach blocking and power/down blocking as integral parts of his run game. Defensive linemen today are so well-coached in “beating the zone/reach” block that when O linemen block down, it looks like the D lineman needs to move with him. That plays right into the down blocking scheme!

Then you add play action passes and a “bombs away” attitude with your drop back game (4 verticals), you have an offense that creates all kinds of problems for DC’s!

I’ve been won over! Yes, I have drunk the koolaid. I’m still a Wing T guy but, I’m sold on the effectiveness of the Spread concepts!

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