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Strong Football by Coach CP

Strong Football by Coach CP: November 2011

This page has moved to a new address.

Strong Football by Coach CP

Strong Football by Coach CP: November 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

3 Key Aspects in Self-Scouting

A lot of football coaches like to analyze data, identify trends, and research their opponent statistically. In my opinion though, the most important football analysis you should do is on yourself! So here are 3 key aspects to self scouting that can really help your players and your play calls excel on the football field.

1 — Your Football Players or Personnel

How you use your football players within your scheme is probably the most dreaded self-scout aspect, but the most important. The most important factor about winning football games is the Jimmie's and Joe's, not coaching the X's and O's. It sucks because you move kids around and you always want to highlight your best athletes.
You need to ask yourself, do you run behind your best offensive linemen? Do you blitz your best pass rushers? Break it down. You need to be careful doing this, especially if someone has changed positions mid year. If your scouting software can't handle a new field, you may have to do this in Excel (it's not that hard!). If my best offensive linemen is my left tackle and I know I'm running the ball to the right, I've got a problem. Either I need to move the player, or I need to adjust my play calling. Personally, I believe I would need to change my play calling style and hold myself accountable. If moving my linemen to the other side puts him in a better spot to be successful and help the team, then that is a legitimate move.

On defense, personnel tendencies are VERY important. A lot of coaches don't self-scout on defense because their results are dependent on what they are trying to do to stop the opponent and the down and distance. That combination and that level of analysis is deep, especially at the high school level, and some would feel it is too excessive. However, understanding what schemes you run with your players is very important. For example, that stunt that you keep running with your worst defensive linemen is a bad tendency. Run it with your best player! Let that defensive linemen get the one on one matchup, especially if he's getting double teammed all day.

Self scouting doesn't have to be hard with personnel. Sometimes, you know your best player gets the ball 80% of the time, and you know the defense knows that too. In the video below, the Bears special teams obviously realized this. They combined the scout of the opponent (they knew the Packers would be completely focused on Devin Hester) with a very easy self-scout (aka Devin Hester returns the vast majority of punts). The Bears ran a terrific "trick" play where Devin Hester went to field a punt, and the defensive sprinted to his location, ignoring the ball (I mean, who wants to watch the ball when Devin Hester may return it, even if your the punting team!). Two players, Johnny Knox and a blocker, peeled back and actually fielded the punt on the other side of the field. They returned it for a touchdown. It got called back due to a bogus holding call. See the video below.

Okay, I'll be honest, I've just wanted to sneak that play in for a long time because the Bears got screwed out of the best play call of the year.

2 — Scouting Down and Distance

On defense, one of two philosophies exist on 3rd and long. Sit back and make the tackle infront of the first down marker or rush the passer and force him to check down to a short route. Ask yourself what coverage you play when do do this. If you do a zone blitz on 3rd and long, maybe they're hitting you with 4 verticals a lot. An obvious answer would be either to sit back, or if you really wanted to bring pressure, play cover 1 or 0. That way, you maintain your philosophy, but slightly adjust your play call. Because you knew your tendency and your opponents tendency to beat your tendency, you'll have the advantage.
Down and distance gives away a lot about your play calling or your team's strengths. If you feel this tendency is beginning to hurt you, you could call complimentary plays. Maybe you throw the bubble screen instead on first down when you would typically run. The bubble screen is essentially an outside hand off, and will force the linebackers to play honest (and not in the box versus a slot look) on first down. It's simple, safe adjustments like this that can make a big difference in your bread and butter's play efficiency on certain down and distances, and offer you a big play when you run it!

3 — Formations

Formations, I believe, give away the most about a team. I promise you, if we're in a 4 wide receiver shotgun spread set, we're looking to pass. If we're in a heavy formation, don't expect a 5 step drop. However, we could make these formations a lot more efficient for us if we made some minor adjustments. Maybe we run draw out of 4 receiver sets. Then, we can easily use the draw action and throw as well.
Defenses tend to have a lot of formation tendencies too... whether it's their front seven look or if it's based on the offenses look. So many teams, especially at non-varsity levels, only have 1 or 2 coverages or fronts when an offense comes out in trips. Maybe instead of always rotating to cover 3, you play man and blitz. I know a few years ago, when I self scouted our defense, whenever we walked our Sam linebacker up in 9 technique (to give the offense an under look), we blitzed in some way.

A lot of coaches respond to things like this and say, "Well, the purpose of X formation is to run the ball (or blitz on defense), so why wouldn't we do that?". Doing the unexpected usually weilds unexpected results, big plays, which forces your opponenets to play honest when they scout you, and awards your team the benefits when you do it.


A lot of coaches look at analysis and self-scouting and says it's too much, not worth while, ect... That is a lot of crap. Even some basic analysis can tell you a whole lot. This level of analysis can help you 1) put your kids in a position to be successful 2) make your bread and butter plays more efficient 3) catch the opponent off guard!. You don't need to find the coefficient or anything like that to do it. It comes from organizing the information and analyzing it.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

10 Questions Football Coaches Should Ask At The End Of the Season

After the season is over and before your off-season really kicks off, each football coach needs to reflect on what happened last year, and what he would like to have happen next year. This isn't just a list for head coaches, a lot of assistant coaches at different levels of football could ask some of the questions themselves.

What was the play we practiced the most but used the least in games?

Perhaps one of the most important questions any coach should ask. Time is our number one resource in coaching. Whether that is the time remaining in a game or in a practice, you need to figure out if you use plays as much as you practice them. For instance, if you spend the most time going over cover 4 (run fits, coverage, ect...), but only run it 20% of the time in the game, is it really worth all that time? If you run cover 4 60% of the time, you should spend 60% of your time covering the techniques and skills necessary to make it successful.

What was the most taxing practice item and was it worth all the trouble?

This is related to the question above, but it doesn't have to be a play. For instance, do you add the bubble option to your zone read? How much prepartion does it take from week to week to get all the reads, technique, timing, and spacing down? Is it worth all this time, even if you use it a lot? Could you instead just make it a pre-snap read or a "check with the sideline" call and save the time needed to read it on the fly or the technique to throw it after the the pull? Should you get rid of it all together and run something else or becoming more efficient at just the zone read aspect and the blocking out of the slot?

What junior can play on the other side of the ball next year?

Do you guys split your guys up by offense and defense? We had a guy who was a guard and fullback his whole career switch to linebacker this year and become an immediate stud. He was too small to play guard but wasn't a natural in the backfield. However, because he was familiar with line play and physical enough, he was a solid linebacker. Some may say that he's at a disadvantage, but you'd be surprised at how much is carried over from even a linemen to a skill position.

Where were the team chemistry issues and how/who should we address them so they don't happen again?

Sometimes you need to look yourself in the mirror and realized you or staff member may have caused a problem. Does your offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator make it too competitive in one on ones? Maybe you need to have a conversation with an unsatisfied player or parent, as much as you don't want to.

Based on your current schemes, what type of playmaker is the least utilized and how can we make them more efficient?


Do you run a base 50 front with a 0 technique nose tackle who get's constantly dumps double teams? Maybe you under utilize some fantastic athletes at the fullback position which you barely run b/c you are predominantly in spread sets? Can you get away with putting a lesser athlete in these positions and get almost the same effectiveness with proper coaching? I hate looking back and realizing I could have put a kid in a better position to be successful AND make the team successful with a few personnel adjustments.

What was our top 3 tendencies we did nothing about all year... and do we HAVE to address them?

We run the football 90% of the time on first down. We feel we don't run it enough on first down. But, we do this b/c we want yards to make it a second down and medium, b/c that is when our offense is the most lethal. Most teams load up the box but we still get 3-4 yards. Yes, we could throw play-action, which we do the other 10% of the time, but I'd rather scare teams on second down. At other times, we are making mistakes. Are we following the fullback too much when we're in 22 personnel? Can we address this by running split flow action plays (trap, inside zone, ect...)?

What coach developed his players the best and grew the most?

Who is your rising star on the coaching staff? If you're an assistant football coach, what is that person doing that you could be doing? A lot of young coaches spend too much time on the X's and O's. They should be spending the time developing the techniques of their players. Growing could also mean they are volunteering for more responsibility.

What are 3 elements we (or I) want to learn and who can we learn it from or how can we learn it?

Do you run a 4-3 cover 4? However, you want to learn Cover 2 read (a close variant)? No 4-3 teams run it near by? Live near TCU (okay, a lot of drill downs here, sorry!)? Contact TCU's coaches or their secretary to see if you can talk with them. Even though they run a different defense, the drills and the coverage should carry over. It's just like a clinic. Just because you go to a clinic doesn't mean you should buy into every word the speaker says. Don't change the way you drive block because some NFL guru says to do it one way. Maybe take some drills or a bit of technique from them, but take their best information and apply it to what YOU already know.

What tools and equipment can we use to improve our fundamentals and/or our scouting?

We're getting Hudl next year. I'm pumped. Why? I can do my work from HOME. Not only that, but we can share the workload more easily. The QB coach can break down last nights film while I breakdown the upcoming opponent. At the same time, our runningbacks coach can breakdown another game. This is an efficient tool. What about equipment? Can we get a 2-man sled that runningbacks, receivers, and linemen can use efficiently rather than a 7 man that no tailback can use well?

What 3 in-school kids can I recruit to play football next year?

Is there a shot putter who should be a tackle? Why didn't he play? Can you address his fears (or maybe his parent's fears?)? It's okay to recruit, as long as it is in your own building. Make sure you do your background research first. Maybe the kid plays basketball and you have a basketball coach on your staff who the kid doesn't care for, so obviously don't send him dispite the sport connection. You may intimidate the kid. Maybe instead you should get someone who doesn't coach football (but obviously likes it) to do some of the research for you in exchange for a cup of coffee or a beer.

Overall, I hope these tips help you reflect on this past season and make progress towards next year. I tried to make them applicable for all levels. Obviously, if your an assistant or a youth coach, some will be harder. But you can make some adjustments (if your a youth coach, go to other youth sport games to find "recruits").

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