Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Have A System

Posted by admin February - 16 - 2016 - Tuesday

My staff and I often knew on Sunday evening if the team we were about to play on Friday had much of a chance of beating us… just by watching a few game videos. The teams that ran 3 different offenses in the 3 game videos we watched were, we felt, doomed to mediocrity. How can you install a new offense in 3-4 days and be ready to execute well enough to win on Friday? It’s almost impossible.

I know that frustration leads to emotional decisions but… be careful about trying to change too much in one week. You think you’re frustrated now??!!! Wait until game time when your kids are floundering and your offense or defense is getting whipped. THAT’S a frustrating time.

You need to explore and set upon a “system” right now in the off-season… when you have time to study and learn it. I think you need to have a “system.” The talking heads on sports programs tend to belittle the idea of having a “system.” That somehow that limits you in what you can accomplish. Welllllllllllll… Oregon has a system. Alabama has a system. Ohio State has a system. They all seem to do pretty well even though they operate in a “system!!!” You need something you can “hang your hat on.” You need something that you are “known for” in your conference or division. What we all need is an identity.

I sat in on an interview with the AD at my former school yesterday. He was nice enough to ask me to help in the interview process for my replacement. I asked the young coach who we were meeting with, “What kind of offense will you run if you are selected as the new HC?” His answer kinda disturbed me. Putting it succinctly, he was all over the place. He’d do this and he’d do that! If he had a passing QB, he’d install the spread. If he had… and on and on. I started thinking: It’s nice to be flexible but… you run the risk of simply trying to install too much. Too many blocking rules; too many plays; too many changes and the result is going to be a lot of frustrated players.

When I settled on the Delaware Wing T offense as our “system” in 1989, I did two things. 1) I took our staff and spent a weekend at the U. of Delaware soaking up as much knowledge from Tubby Raymond’s staff as we could. We continued to visit UD and other Wing T coaches every year. 2) We repainted our helmets to look like the U of Del. “winged helmets!” Most people thought we were copying the U. of Michigan helmet! Not so! We wanted to look like the Blue Hens. The players loved it and thus our “Identity” as that Wing T Team was born. When we played teams, they KNEW that they better stop 121/929 (buck sweep to the TE/Wing flank) or they were going to get it crammed down their throats! As Knute Rockne used to say: “Make your opponent fear you… and respect you.” We certainly earned a healthy dose of both!

Have a system! and perfect it!! I still think that Vince Lombardi had it right: “Do a FEW things and… do them VERY well!” The guy with the thickest playbook is not necessarily the winner on Friday night!

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