Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Reflections on the Bowl Games

Posted by admin January - 2 - 2018 - Tuesday

I confess it: I am a COLLEGE football junkie!!! and… when bowl season hits, you can usually find me in my recliner in front of the tv watching (even) Podunk U. vs. Left Out State in the “You Couldn’t Find My Location” Bowl!!! I get to see teams with reasonably good seasons take on another team that they would never play during the regular season. It’s just plain fun!

Admittedly, I do watch most of them from the “eyes of a Coach.” I study alignments; watch for trick plays and just want to see how a run-only team, like Army, matches up against a fast-paced bunch like San Diego State was. One thing I found: those high-powered spread pass attacks didn’t fare as well against opponents who 1) ran the ball and controlled the clock and 2) had 2-3 weeks to prepare for them and 3) had just as many good athletes on defense as the Spread Guys had on offense!

Two teams in particular stood out to me and I want to share some bits of wisdom to coaches out there— things that might help shape (or RE-shape) your philosophy about your team as you prepare for 2018. Those 2 teams are: the aforementioned Army team and… U. of Georgia.

Army: I am proud to say that one of Army’s starting LB’s is one of my former players! #54 did a heck of a job for them all season. However, they had NO answer for that great RB from SDSU! Welllllllllllll…. their defense had no answer; but, Coach Monkin and his staff DID have an answer: keep him and SDSU’s offense on the sideline!!! Army’s offense (to borrow an old B-ball term) “took the air out of the ball.” Actually, what they did was play “Keep Away!” Their players are disciplined… mentally and physically. In a game like the bowl the other night, their mental discipline carried the day. What do I mean? A gain of 2-3 yards is a win!!! 4-6 yards is a bonus!!! They were determined to just grind it out; keep the ball and finish drives. THAT takes a lot of discipline! But… it worked! You should think about that if you are looking at your team for next year and saying to yourself, “We’re going to be the underdogs in 8-9 of our games!” Maybe developing a strong ground game where you can control the clock for big chunks of time is what you need to be looking at!!!

U. of Georgia: Things weren’t looking too good in the first half— particularly on defense! Mayfield was lighting it up! Everything you drool over with the Spread Air Raid offense was on display. Georgia’s run game was working but they just weren’t “keeping up” with OK’s high octane offense! Until……….. just before the half. OK made their first of TWO horrendous Special Teams errors. That poorly executed squib kick allowed UGa to get a field goal just before half. It had to have breathed a little life into the Bulldogs.

The 2nd half was a huge turn around. UGa’s ground game kept pounding the OK defense for big chunks, but UGa’s defense, all of a sudden, was starting to make plays. Mayfield got sacked a couple of times. Give credit to the guys up front for getting to the QB but… why didn’t he catch, set and fire (on time) like he’d been doing in the first half??? Cuz UGa’s secondary was getting much better coverage! Why? Cuz they started playing zone!

There were so many KEY plays but, in my mind, the ONE that lost it for OK was the (partially) blocked FG! Did you study it? I saw it… did YOU??!!! It got blocked because the right end for OK stepped OUTSIDE to block his gap instead of stepping down— right where #7 slipped through to get a hand up!!! Who in the world teaches their PAT/FG team to do anything but: “Block your INSIDE gap… and don’t allow any penetration!!!” What a horrible mistake! It cost OK a shot at the national championship!

Moral of the story: Work on the LITTLE things! One guy not doing his job on a specialty team can cost you everything!!!

Alabama or Georgia? It should be interesting! However… I’m looking forward even more to JMU and ND St. U on Saturday!!! It will be just as much fun as watching the Dawgs and the Tide!!!

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