One Year Anniversary and What I’m Thankful For

I know it’s completely unoriginal to do this sort of thing, but no one ever accused me of being creative.

I wrote my first post on this blog a year ago, about the Raiders-Cowboys Thanksgiving game, nothing special or remarkable about it, I just wanted to have a place to share my thoughts on football in general. Since then this thing has grown into a place that I’m proud of, and even though I’m still figuring this thing out as I go along, I wanted to thank each and every one of you who’ve made this thing what it is, because without readers, I’d be sitting here writing to myself. Thanks again and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families.

Now, I don’t do this sort of thing often on the blog, but I’m gonna do some bragging on the teams that I’ve worked with the past few years.

(Also, before I get started I want to give a quick shout out and congratulations to John Maurek who runs the HighSpeedSpreadFootball.Blogspot.com site. His Andrean HS team is playing for the State Championship this weekend)

Ben Davis Football

I don’t think anything makes me prouder than to see my alma mater back in the State Championship game here in Indianapolis again. Mike Kirschner, the head coach of Ben Davis, gave me my first opportunity to be a full-fledged assistant coach, and for that, I owe him and the program a great deal. As a result, it’s extremely gratifying to have watched the run this team has made this season, especially with the exciting way they’ve done it, coming back from 10 and 17 points down in the second half the last two games to win in the final two minutes both times.

Here is the highlight video from the dramatic comeback over Center Grove to send Ben Davis to the State Championship for the first time in 12 years.

The first play alone is worth watching.

This game is a rematch of a game that Ben Davis lost 37-14 October 3rd of this season at Carmel, where BD made a lot of mistakes, and Carmel took advantage of them. Ben Davis and Carmel are the two largest schools in Indiana, and both have 7 state championships each.

Watching the community come together behind this team has been something special, and no matter what happens on Friday, this is an experience that no one surrounding the program, fans, students, coaches, or players, will ever forget.

I want to share one final video before moving on. This is a piece of Coach Kirschner’s speech to the school on Wednesday at a pep rally for the football team before the school shut down for Thanksgiving break. To me, this is what coaching and high school sports are all about:

BD Coach Mike Kirschner and Carmel Coach Kevin Wright are two of the top coaches in the state, and this will be a much tighter game than the last time in my opinion. Carmel will come to play, as will Ben Davis, and I think you know whose side I’ll be on!

Indiana State Football

Finally I want to give a shout out to the Indiana State Sycamores, the team I spent three seasons with, for getting to the FCS playoffs for the first time in 30 years. I know how hard these kids, especially the senior class, has worked to get the program to respectability, and given the injury-plagued 1-11 season they went through last year, this year’s 7-5 record is amazing.

You may remember the incredible trick play on the kickoff return that Indiana State pulled off earlier this season against Missouri State that set up the winning field goal. The play made it on the Sports Center Top Ten that night.

Head Coach Mike Sanford and the rest of the staff has done a great job at ISU, and they will play at Eastern Kentucky in the first round of the playoffs this Saturday at 1:00. Good luck to the Sycamores!

Three Cheap and Easy Fundraising Ideas for your Program

Like it or not, money is one of the most important parts of a football program. Without enough money to pay for equipment, a school cannot field a team, and many students may be unable to play. As school budgets become tighter and tighter, and many athletic departments continue to go with pay-for-play models, coaches are always looking for new and creative ways to bring in more money to the program.

That’s why I wanted to share a few things that I believe can work for you. If you’re already doing one or more of these, then you’re way ahead of the game. I hope you’re able to get at least one idea out of this, even if it’s something that’s not mentioned in this post. Learn more after the jump. Continue reading

Examining the Mississippi State Run Game

Much has been made of the similarities between the offense Dan Mullen ran at Florida and the one he uses now, and there are a lot of them. The wide-open, spread running attack that won Tim Tebow a Heisman Trophy in Gainesville has paid huge dividends in Starkville, even before this historic season. If Dak Prescott can keep winning, there’s a good chance he’ll be the next Dan Mullen pupil to be accepting that historic trophy in New York.

Then again the Heisman ceremony is still a long way off, and so is any talk of a playoff appearance, especially if you ask Dan Mullen.

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To the outside observer, though, the Bulldogs appear to be playing with house money. In a season where no one predicted they’d be anything other than a footnote in what was already considered to be the toughest division in college football, they’ve beaten three-straight top ten teams, and made it to the top of the polls faster than anyone in history.

Continue reading

Vince Lombardi Breaks Down His Offense: Part 1

To this day, Vince Lombardi personifies winning. The principles of toughness, perseverance, and leadership he laid down so many years ago are still taught by coaches everywhere. However, with so much of the Lombardi mythology based on intangibles, it’s often forgotten that he was an excellent strategist as well.

His offense, especially the Packer Sweep, like everything else was an extension of who he was. A simple offense that was repped over and over again in practice everyday allowed the players to have a huge amount of confidence in the coach and the plan each week. Having a reduced number of plays meant that they could be practiced and ran successfully against a larger number of defensive looks.

Vince-Lombardi

Contrary to popular belief, Lombardi did not simply run the Packer Sweep left and right no matter what the defense did. He had a system, simple but effective, with answers to whatever the defense could throw at him. Of course, the offense was built around the famed Lombardi sweep, but each additional play acted as a constraint to keep the defense honest.

The exact details of the sweep play are not as important as the reasoning that went into designing the offense, as well as the straightforward way the responsibilities are explained. Most of the defenses these plays are drawn up against are out of date, but what we’re seeing is a great example of the chess game in its infancy. Lombardi is playing the role of the technician with a small number of tools to fix a small number of problems, as well as anticipating a few more. The process is what’s important, not the result.

In Part 1 of this 2-part article on the Classic Packer offense, we’ll get into the x’s and o’s of the famous Lombardi Sweep, complete with diagrams from the actual Lombardi Playbook and video of the coach himself explaining the responsibilities.* Continue reading

Peyton Manning on Preparation and Playing QB

In an interview conducted before the season started, but just posted on Thursday, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had a great conversation with future Hall-of-Famer and pizza baron Peyton Manning. 

The interview goes all over the map, including Manning’s take on the new laws out in Colorado that have directly affected pizza sales in the state (Hint: He’s doing very well).

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Of course, my favorite part was reading what he had to say about playing the position that’s made him a very wealthy man. Manning was asked what advice he would give to rookie QB’s just starting in the league, and he had a great answer: Continue reading

Ten Ideas For Putting Together Your Opening Script

Bill Walsh was a famous proponent of planning as much of the game as possible in the office during the week in order to reduce the number of decisions and potential headaches come game day. This post is full of ideas that I took from other coaches, including Walsh himself. A couple of the points I talk about here were inspired by things I read in clinic notes from the innovator during the 1980’s. You can read those here. 1)I highly recommend checking out WestCoastOffense.com. When I was first starting out in football, I was able to learn all the verbiage of the offense and understand the coaches mic’d up on the sidelines when they were talking to their players, and it was all thanks to resources on that site.

1. Vary your formations. Changing up your formations may not seem like a new idea (mostly because it’s not), but it’s even more important to do so early on in the game.

This is especially useful if you run a different offense than the rest of your conference, or conversely, if the film you watched features a defense playing against an offense that bears no resemblance to yours. If you’re a spread team, you probably won’t get too much out of film that has the opponent defense facing off against a Wing-T.

Don’t just think about the formations themselves, but also where you’re lining up your passing and running strength. If you’re facing a defense that likes to set their extra adjuster to the field, make them adjust right away. Continue reading

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I highly recommend checking out WestCoastOffense.com. When I was first starting out in football, I was able to learn all the verbiage of the offense and understand the coaches mic’d up on the sidelines when they were talking to their players, and it was all thanks to resources on that site.

Chad Morris and the Clemson Screen Game

NOTE: This is a slightly modified version of a blog post that appeared on All22Video.com. Even though the site is no longer functioning I thought it would be good to preserve the information from that site.

Chad Morris has made quite a name for himself of late, especially during the last few seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Clemson Tiger football team.

Morris is a longtime Malzahn disciple, having learned the style of offense when both were still high school head coaches, and he credits Malzahn for saving his job when Morris was on the hot seat.

Read on to learn more about what makes the Clemson screen game tick… Continue reading

Now on FishDuck.com: O’Bannon Decision is the Beginning of the End for the NCAA

My latest post for FishDuck.com is up, and you can read it here.

In this one, I dive into some of the legalities surrounding the NCAA’s case, and why Mark Emmert and co. have already lost the foothold in the battle over the term “student-athlete.”

Once the issue of money turns into an issue of wages, then the public (and, more importantly, the court system) will begin to see athletes not as students playing an extra-curricular activity in which the schools themselves have no responsibility, but as employees who are generating revenue for said schools, and who can draw workers’ compensation in case of injuries incurred while playing sports.”

One commenter below the story raised a legitimate fear, that by paying athletes the cost of attendance will rise because schools will be in a bidding war for the top players in the country. However, the O’Bannon decision suggested that a cap on compensation would be possible, and probably the most practical. It’s hard to imagine the leaders of the five power conferences putting a model in place that forces everyone to outspend one another.

The power conferences could seek some form of anti-trust exemption that has worked so well in other sports, thus allowing a form of salary cap, whether it would be a max per player or per school. It just doesn’t make sense that the schools would agree to bid against each other all day long. Nobody wants college football to follow Major League Baseball’s example, with a luxury tax instead of a true salary cap.

CLICK HERE to read the whole thing.

 

Gregg Popovich’s great advice to young Coaches

As you’ve probably heard by now, the San Antonio Spurs made history yesterday when Head Coach Gregg Popovich hired Becky Hammon to be the first full-time women’s coach in NBA history.

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I have no idea how well this sort of thing is going to work out, though it’s hard to see Popovich hiring anyone if he didn’t feel they were qualified. The point of bringing up the USA Today article which covered the hiring wasn’t about making history, it was about something else in the article, a quote from a year ago when Hammon had been working with the Spurs after Popovich discovered that she wanted to coach after leaving the WNBA. Continue reading

Chip Kelly Podcast Highlights

Chip Kelly recently made an appearance on Ross Tucker’s podcast and talked about the kinds of things the Eagles are trying to accomplish this year, along with discussions about what worked well and what they need to improve on.

As always, Kelly gives meaningful answers to questions without being long-winded, and his take on something has a tendency to seem like the most obvious thing in the world once he’s done explaining it, to the point where you’re wondering why you never thought of it that way.

1407084771000-USP-NFL-Philadelphia-Eagles-Training-Camp Continue reading