Q: What are the best drills for wide receiver acceleration?
A: It is hard to build acceleration in the season — it’s more of an off season project. But, if you’re talking about hesitation on routes or stuff like that, then reps are your answer. For example, if your receivers are hesitant on speed outs and they are chopping their feet a lot at the cut, then you just need to properly teach it and then rep it. It’s that simple.
Now, in the off season, your guys need to run track and they need to be in the weight room.
I’ve also only heard good things about the Feed the Cats program.
I’ve heard it focuses on all the skills that relate to football. It’s not the old line up and run 40 yards all day.
Q: My O-line averages 175 pounds. Would you just gap – down – backer on counter versus play side combo?
A: Yes because when you do that you’ve still got 400 pounds moving someone.
And it’s the same for inside zone. Just cover those defensive linemen up and move them.
What we’ve done is just tell the offensive linemen to block five guys and then we’ll let the quarterback read the sixth.
When you combo, you’ve got to emphasize getting to that backside linebacker, especially on counter. Once again, you’ve just got to rep that over and over again if you want it to happen in a game.
But hey, if you’ve got a bunch of scrawny kids, you might just be in for a bunch of long nights. Sometimes as coaches we have to admit that. You did your best, your players did their best, but the other team was just better.
Q: What is the best way to bring the funk as an odd front team with 4i’s?
A: The defensive coach in me — I got my start as a linebacker and a linebacker’s coach — loves the 3-3 stack and 4i’s. I have no idea why more coaches do not run this scheme.
When teams line up like this and bring 6 and then play man coverage on everyone else, you know the whole offense is panicking.
I swear to everything I hold holy that if you do this as a defensive coordinator that if you do this once every couple plays, then the offensive coordinator and the quarterback are going to freak out.
The number one question that I get is what to do against man coverage.
What that means is that not many people on the offensive side of the ball have a good answer because the reality is that most offensive coaches aren’t teaching their players how to read blitzes or teaching their wide receivers how to defeat press coverage.
They don’t teach different releases, or use motions.
So, if you bring double A gap blitzes and press the receivers, the quarterback is probably going to panic and just throw it up to their number one receiver.
Then it’s just your job to find the number one receiver and just blanket him.
If you do this, you’re going to force turnovers and incompletions all night long.
And if you don’t like man coverage, then you can still bring double A gap pressure and then drop everyone in Cover 3.
You don’t have to come up with NFL blitzes to really rattle high school offenses.
It’s easy to watch all the great schemes happening on Saturday and Sunday and say “Hey, I think we can run that!”
The reality is you aren’t in those rooms and you don’t know anything about what they’re doing. You don’t know the if-then structure, how to teach it, or how to drill it.
Just double A gap blitz and weak havoc.
Q: What is the best way to keep your players motivated after starting with a losing record?
A: If you are losing over and over again, it is really tough to keep your guys excited out there.
What you must do is build good relationships with your players. If you’re the type of coach that starts to yell at the kids and try to toughen them up when you’re 0-4, then it’s not going to go well.
Some of my best moments were when we were struggling. Sure, losing is bad, but when the players like being around each other and they have a good relationship with their coaches, then it’s easier to keep them excited to play.
You’ve also got to spice it up a little.
You can’t just say “We’re horrible at tackling so let’s do 8,000 rounds of Oklahoma Drills to toughen our players up!”
Don’t use that old school, Bear Bryant — yes, I’m criticizing him; if he was coaching now, he would’ve been run out of town — mentality to fix your problems.
Have some fun and remember that it’s just a game where you’re taking a football and crossing a line.
This adversity is also a great teaching moment.
You can actually tell what type of person you are when you face adversity.
Do you fold?
Do you cry?
Do you quit?
You get more life lessons from struggle than you do if things are on the good side.
And that’s what you have to do: you have to build those relationships.
And now, the players might complain a lot.
But they’re still there. They’re still a part of the team. They still want to be with you. They still want to be around you. They like what you’re building. It may not be giving them wins yet. But what that does, if no one leaves and you’re losing and you’re getting skunked, that means you have something there.
It really does. Everybody wants to be a part of the winners. But if you a bunch of teams that are, and I’m using losers loosely, but if you have a team that’s full of losing and no one leaves, you got a good thing.
You’re building the foundation.
And once you get over that hump, things are going to be rolling.
People are going to be coming out. They want to be a part of this.
So it’s really the coaches that have to be motivated, not the kids.
Coaches, we kind of get down in the dumps and we get a little pissy and a little moody. And then we try to take that out on the kids.
At the end of the day, it’s a game. The kids feel safe with you, and they want to be with you. So appreciate that. Let them know that you appreciate them sticking with you.
And that good things are right around the corner.
You also have to look at your situation.
Why are you losing?
Is it close games, or maybe you called the wrong play? Maybe that’s something and you need to self reflect there.
Is it close games, and maybe your kids are confused and they do the wrong thing? Well, self reflect and say, do I have too much stuff in? Or is it on the flip side? You’re getting blown out because those guys are actually better than you. They have a better weight room. They have a better work ethic in the off season, things like that.
And you can use that as, “hey guys, we really didn’t work that hard in the weight room. There are guys taking corners and cutting corners and everything like that, that team across the way, they didn’t. They were in there day in and day out, lifting weights, getting better, doing what they’re supposed to do.”
There’s always a lesson in losing. You just have to find it. You have to self reflect, internalize it and then share it with the kids.
Q: Any resource on teaching quarterbacks to throw further and more accurately?
A: R4 and Darin Slack.
I’m just a linebacker so I go to books to help me out. Check out Darin Slack’s Cracking the Quarterback Code.
Q: What drills do you use to work receivers catching the ball? Any tools or drills you use?
A: I am a big fan of Settle Up and Noose and Pat ‘n Go.
But the reality is that you need to work on what you do in games.
If you’re not a big passing team, then don’t spend as much time working on this. If you do pass a lot, then you need to spend a lot of time working on all this.
Because when you’re in high school football, you’ve really only got two hours to do what you need to do.
So, use the 80/20 rule and figure out what you need to work on.
And to be honest, there are no magic drills that are going to help you out.
I’ve said it before, but it’s really just all about reps.
What is the magical number of reps?
I think John Jenkins said, when he was at Houston, every wide receiver had to catch anywhere between 50 to 100 balls a day.
And if they didn’t, they were catching them after practice, before practice.
Are you going to go to that extreme? Because that’s all the way on one side of the extreme.
How are you going to be?
You get better at catching the more reps you get. It’s not a magical drill.
But if you’re looking for a drill, settle up and noose, pat and go, routes on air. I love routes on air because it actually goes through the progressions with your quarterback. Everybody’s getting a ball and they learn quickly.
And that’s a wrap on the Q & A. So, I hope you got some value from that and you are able to continue to Master the Spread, Score Points, and Have Fun!