I’m going to go on a tangent that is only loosely related to defensive football. And its basically this: How great is high school football? After working in the college ranks for the last few months, I have to say that both sides have their advantages from a coaching standpoint. But in terms of atmosphere, I don’t think you can touch a Friday night in the Fall.Iowa is already into the first round of the State Playoffs this week. Since part of my job is recruiting, I’ve been to a high school football game whenever possible (only missing 2 weeks that we were on the road overnight). I’ve seen about 10 different schools, with all of their unique traditions and quirks, and talked to who knows how many different kids that just love to play football. And its just exciting, every aspect of it.I’ve seen two high school teams that played their home games in a dome (the UNI-Dome). At another school, the fans don’t sit in the stands – even on the road, they stand around the fence. Well, the true fans anyway. I’ve seen cheerleaders doing 50+ push-ups when their team was really rolling… and couple of powerhouses where the cheerleaders got smart, and decided jumping jacks would be satisfactory. One night, I watched a team do wind sprints on the field after a 42-0 win. I assume that serves a legitimate purpose, not punishment. Last night, the “We’ve got spirit!” chant started bursting from the visiting stands to the home side, and back again. Who knew that was even still in existence?In every little town, there are different traditions with the clothing too. In one town, all of the players from the past were wearing their jerseys to the game. Some of them didn’t fit the way they used to, but it was neat to see. At a few schools, you could find your recruit’s girlfriend because she had his alternate (home or away) jersey on. But of course, this is Iowa, so by October you see a lot of heavy coats. And no one seems to mind the cold and the wind. [Read more...]
Well, last week I went to my first 8-man football game. Two little schools in Iowa, playing on an 80-yard field. And while there were 6 guys missing from the field, there wasn’t a shortage of talent – hence my recruiting trip to that game. There were, and always are, some good ribs about 8-man football (we have a staff member who played it in high school too!), I was just fascinated by it.
It really is still football. There were I-Formations (no TE or Receivers), and they were running the Power. Then there’d be Spread formations and the ball was flying all over. [Read more...]
It’s time to secure the win. Not much time left, you know the offense will be throwing – and throwing deep. Keep them in bounds, keep them out of the end zone… all you’ve got to do to win the game. We would love it if the entire game was this easy, but for some reason with only a minute left that task becomes so much harder!If you are a Quarters defense, this is an easy situation. You zone up the deep 1/4′s of the field, and drop those guys off DEEP! The throw will be so long sometimes that even your back safety can get over on a throw toward the corner of the end zone. Your only issue now, is the personnel you want to use and the way you handle the underneath stuff.
Even though I like the 4-3 Defense, we would skip right past the Nickel package (4-2-5) and go straight to Dime in this situation, assuming there are 6 Defensive Backs available. That may be an issue for many teams – are there really 6 DBs on your squad that you want to put on the field right now? Personnel can be an issue here if you aren’t blessed with depth. If you are a 2-platoon squad, though, you can probably find an athlete on the Offensive side of the ball that will help you save a game.The key is to let nothing behind those 4 deep guys. We’ve gotten into a situation where they must score. The field position, QB ability, and time remaining will help determine how deep they need to be before the snap. For the underneath guys, the two safeties should be looking to get a shot on someone – slow them down a little to give the Defensive Line a chance to get to the QB. After that, they need to defend sidelines. Get more width than usual. A pass in the middle of the field is a victory for your guys if the opponent is running low on timeouts. But it only takes 3 or 4 seconds to hit a pass down the sideline for 10 yards and a first down. [Read more...]