Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Three T's (Updated)

This is an update of a post I wrote last year. I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a couple of important points that can help you win more football games. I hope this small piece will be of value to you regardless of what scheme you run. Regardless of which system you decide fits your players, your success will be determined by a few important factors. 

When I was a defensive coordinator, I installed our defense as more than a system. It was an attitude. Defense is about pursuit and passion. We installed our defensive attitude with a very specific process. I like to break things down into their simplest forms. Our defensive attitude revolves around getting the ball back as quickly as possible. There are three ways we can get the ball back: 


1. We can force our opponent to punt 
2. We can get a turnover or a turnover on downs
3. We can give up a score. 
Ultimately, the 3 T's will determine which way we get the ball back.

What are the 3 T's? The three T's are quite simply: Technique, Tackling, and Takeaways. Technique involves two things for our players. First, they must know how to line up right, and they have to be able to get into a comfortable balanced stance. When we say line up right, they must line up in the appropriate place based on the call. Second, they have to be able to control and dominate their gap responsibility, or their pass zone. If we can get our guys to line up right, we can be successful on defense. One misalignment, however, can be disastrous  To make sure we line up right we keep things simple. We have simple alignment rules for our guys.

There are only five things an offense can do to each side of your defense. They can give you a nub, a single, twins, trips, or quads. We have very simple alignment rules for our second and third level players to ensure we are always lined up right. From there, we use our individual and group periods to develop our ability to control our gap responsibility in the run game, and our pass rush or coverage responsibility in the pass game. We teach our players what to do, how to do it, and why they need to do it the way we teach them. We never wanted our guys to have to guess where to line up. If they had to guess, things were too complicated. We wanted things simple enough that guys could line up quickly against modern spread offenses. 

The second T we emphasize is tackling. We have got to be able to tackle well on defense. Tackling is about more than how to contact a runner. It is about angles and leverage. If your defensive players understand angles and leverage, you will improve your tackling immensely. Every day we work on our pursuit angles. We cover every possible angle that we may face. We work the A gap run, the B gap run, the off-tackle run, and the sweep. We also work our draw and screen angles. We teach our players four concepts that will give us great angles to make efficient tackles. I never understood why people only do a sweep pursuit. Shouldn't we work our pursuit angles versus inside and outside runs? Our players and coaches bought into this philosophy and it helped us to take great angles of pursuit. We taught our pursuit as a progression.

First is our force concept. We have a player assigned to be the force player on every single play. We teach our force player that his landmark is the outside jersey number of the ball carrier. By attacking the outside jersey number of the ball carrier, our force player "forces" the ball carrier back into our players in pursuit. We tell our force player to take on the ball carrier as close to the line of scrimmage as possible. While we don't want to miss a tackle, our force player is coached to always take an angle where if he misses the tackle, he misses to his help. Our force player is typically going to be an invert/outside backer in our sky or cover 3 look, or a corner in Cloud or Cover 2.

The second concept of pursuit is our attack concept. Our attack players are going to be our defensive end and playside inside backer. They are aiming for the inside jersey number of the ball carrier. We want them to stay square as they approach the ball carrier. They work a slight inside out angle while pursuing the ball carrier. If the ball carrier is inside of them on an A or B gap run, they will work to the middle of the ball carrier's chest. Attack players always spill traps and counters.

The third concept of pursuit is called collapse. Our collapse players are typically our Mike backer and our defensive tackle or tackles, depending on our front. They are aiming one yard inside the ball carrier. They are responsible for the immediate cutback of the football. If they get a downhill run, they attack the middle of the man. They are spill players on trap plays.

The fourth concept of pursuit is chase/contain. Our chase contain players are typically our backside defensive end and backside linebacker. They play counter/reverse/boot on flow away. One important concept is that our backside players must not run upfield. They need to squeeze space making sure not to get leveraged by the boot. When flow goes away they must get their eyes down the heel line and make sure nothing is coming back to them. Once they are sure nothing is coming back, they take the best angle to the football. 

Those four concepts of pursuit helped our leverage and angles, which greatly improved our tackling. When we installed this pursuit concept, we found ourselves much more successful on first and second down, which helped us greatly on 3rd down. Below is an illustration of our pursuit concepts in action.

Force Illustrated


One very important coaching point is to Stay square. We need to keep our hips and shoulders as parallel to the LOS as possible. By staying parallel we are able to increase the surface area we have to contact the ball carrier. We are also able to explode our hips into the tackle, allowing us to drive the ball carrier back. When our shoulders are turned, we give the offense yards after contact. This is not good for the defense. As you can see in the picture above, our collapse and chase players are not doing a great job of keeping their shoulders square. This creates space for the ball carrier to cut back and makes us less effective. However, our Force and Attack players are doing a great job of keeping their shoulders square. 

This brings us to our third T, Takeaways. Takeaways are vital to our success. Any time we can get a takeaway  we are changing momentum. Takeaways also change field position. Forcing a team to punt is great, but often the punt results in a 40 yard change of field position. When we get a takeaway  we are saving ourselves big chunks of yards. Every ten yards we gain on defense is one less first down our offense must gain to score. 

How do you increase your takeaways? We do a takeaway circuit each day. We spend 5 minutes working strip drills, tip drills, and interception drills. We then emphasize taking the football away in all of our indy, group, and team periods. We want to have a ball in every single drill. In our inside run, skelly, and team periods, we are trying to take the football away from our offense. Here is the kicker. The offense also gets better with ball security. I am a firm believer that you get what you emphasize. If you coach your team to get takeaways, and you expect to get takeaways  and you get them to expect to get takeaways, you will get takeaways. You get what you emphasize and we emphasized takeaways in every aspect of practice. We first secure the tackle, then we strip the ball. 

Our attitude on defense is that every play is an opportunity to score. We are allowed to score on defense. We are allowed to rip the football out from the ball carriers hands. We are allowed to intercept a football in the air. Turnovers don't just happen. We drill our players to know turnovers are created. We must purposefully work to create takeaways on defense.  We drill our linebackers on flying to the football when it is in the air. We had a situation a few years back where our Mike LB intercepted a ball thrown thirty yards downfield on a deflection. He got the interception because he was hustling to where the ball was being thrown. He could have done what many players do. He could have watched the ball and then half ran to where the ball was being thrown. He understood our attitude and has bought in. We teach our guys to read the Axis. The axis is the QB's hips and shoulders. His hips give you direction, his shoulders give you trajectory. Our LB read the axis and he accelerated with everything he had and he got within four yards of the receiver when the QB pulled the pin. The ball was tipped in the air, and our guy made the pick on the run. You can't expect takeaways to magically happen. You have got to drill your players and emphasize takeaways with every drill you do.

The three T's, technique, tackling, and takeaways, are the three key points we emphasize with our defense. They make up our defensive attitude. We are going to line up right, play hard and fast and relentless. We are going to have great technique to control the gap or zone we are responsible for. We are going to pursue the football with great leverage and consistently make tackles. We are going to do everything in our power to take the football away from our opponent. 

If we can line up right and play with great technique, tackle well consistently, and win the takeaway battle, we are going to give ourselves a chance to win every single football game.

Another key was our preparation. We were very detailed in our approach to preparation. We scripted everything. We worked well as a staff to prepare for each opponent. Our players were confident because they knew what are opponents were going to do before they did it. A lot of coaches ask me how we were so well prepared. I put together a Game and Practice Planning Resource Packet for defensive coordinators. It has 12 documents that will help you prepare each week. These are editable documents that can be customized to your program. They are available for under $15! You can click here to order them and download them today!  Click Here: Defensive Game and Practice Planning  If you use the code STATE2016 you can save 20%!


The newest Odd Stack Video I have is out with Coaches Choice in conjunction with Nike. 
Basic Concepts of the 30 Stack Defense

In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's on the offensive side of the ball. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Power, The Most Versatile Concept in Football!

Perhaps the most versatile play in football is the power play. With one blocking scheme the offense can give the defense a multitude of different looks.

I have two main goals on offense. First, I want to find the leverage point. We define the leverage point as the area we have an advantage on the defense. Second, I want to put as many defenders in conflict as possible. Rather than running a concept from one formation and giving the defense the same look, I want to give them the same concept from several different formations with multiple backfield actions. This is why I like the "power" play so much.

The first way I install the power is as the traditional downhill power play. Our frontside is going to block gap away. The center is going to block back, the backside guard is going to pull through the first window, and the backside tackle is going to dig out the backside B gap to hinge. The offensive line is leaving the frontside End Man on the Line (EMOL) unblocked.

To account for the EMOL, we have multiple variations of the power. First, we can use a player in the backfield to kick him out. Second, we can use the H back to kick him out. Third, we can use a backside player to kick him out. Fourth, we can kick him with the pulling guard and let the back lead up through the first window. And finally, we can read the end man on the line.

Here is an example of the traditional 2 back power play from the pistol.


Defensive ends and outside linebackers tend to be the best players on the defense. Because of this, we want to be able to put them in conflict to slow them down. If they know that when they get a down block they will get a kickout block, the will be able to anticipate the kickout and box or spill the player based on the defensive call. However, if the defender doesn't know who is kicking him, or if he is being read, or if he is going to be cracked, he is going to hesitate. It is through this hesitation that we gain a tremendous advantage.

Another variation of the 2 back power is the using an H back to kick out the end man on the line. The H can be a frontside or a backside player. In the example below, the H back is aligned to the backside of the play. If the defense were to set their front away from the H, the offense could bring the play back to the side the H is aligned.

Another variation is the have the QB open away from the play and mesh with the back. This forces the defense to hesitate slightly as they don't know if the point of attack is to the mesh side, or away from the mesh side. 


Because we want to keep the EMOL guessing, we can exchange the assignments of the pulling guard and the kickout player. This is a great variation from two and three back sets. In the three back look, the frontside back will block the primary force player. The backside guard will pull and kick out the end man on the line, while the backside back will lead through the window. The quarterback can open to the play, or away from the play.

Another variation of this concept is to combine the veer and the power. This is a great frontside read concept from the 3 back pistol. Instead of blocking the EMOL, the QB will read him. The EMOL is used to squeezing the down block and finding the kick out player. In this read concept, the EMOL is not going to get blocked. This forces him to have to decide whether to play the dive back, or the quarterback. If the EMOL plays the dive, the QB will pull the ball and get replace the EMOL. If the EMOL slow plays or comes upfield, the QB will give the ball. 

If the backside B gap defender is giving the offense a problem, they can make a GUS call, which means guard stay. Because the backside back can replace the puller, the backside guard can now protect the backside B gap. This allows the center and frontside guard to combo the nose. 


This barely scratches the surface of the new innovations of the traditional power concept. The power has been a successful concept for many years, and with new variations, it has grown to be one of the most versatile offensive concepts being run. 

For these and many, many more concepts of the power and power read, check out my DVD on the power and power read from Coaches Choice. It will give you dozens of ways to put the defense in conflict while getting your best athletes the football in open space! The DVD covers multiple ways to run the power and power read from the pistol and gun! I take you through the mechanics and schematics of of the frontside and backside power read from three backs empty! This DVD will help you score more points!


In January of 2016 I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here:

I also have two books on the pistol offense, 101 Pistol Option Plays, and 101 Pistol Run Plays!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

5 Keys To Achieving Your Goals

Every single one of us has something we want to accomplish. For most athletes and coaches, we have big dreams we would like to achieve. For example, the majority of us want to win a state championship. At the college level our goal might be to go to a bowl game, or to win a BCS game. Many athletes have a goal to earn a scholarship to a BCS school. Coaches may have a goal to be a head coach. The question now becomes, how do we make our goals become a reality?

1. Write Down Your Goals-- The first key is to identify our goals and dreams and write them down. Take out a sheet of paper, draw a line through the middle, and write goals on one side, and dreams on the other. Make a list... Remember, no small dreams are allowed.

"Setting Goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible" -- Tony Robbins

2. Have a Plan-- Once you write down your goals, you have to formulate a plan to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to play division one football, write down what the criteria for being a D-1 football player. Write down the average height and weight of guys that play your position. Write down the 40 time coaches are looking for, and the pro agility time.

As you do this, analyze where you are currently. Once you know where you want to go, and you know where you are starting, you can make a plan to get there. You can't control your height, but you can control your work ethic. You can't control what you squat right now, but you control how hard you work to improve your squat. You can't control your genetics, but you can control what you do with what God gave you.

This is where most athletes fall short. They have something they want to do, but they never write it down. There is something powerful with putting your goal on paper. It makes it tangible. It makes it real. The same goes for coaches. If you want to be a head coach, write it down. If you want to be a coordinator, put it on paper. Maybe your goal is to be a high school position coach. Great, put it on paper.

Here is an example of what a high school athlete might write down for their goals:
Without writing these goals down, the athlete has no end point. By writing down your goals, you have taken the first step to make them become a reality. 
This athlete has identified where they stand right now, compared to where they need to get to achieve their goal. This is a partial list, but it should give you an illustration to what it takes to making a goal become a reality. From here, the athlete makes a list of things they have to do to make their goal a reality. 

Most people will not take these simple steps. This would take 10 to 15 minutes, but very few people will ever take these steps. 

3. Work Through Pain-- For most people, a goal sounds good. They like the sound of the goal, but they don't like the work that goes with it. 

"You are either going to have the pain of sacrifice, or the pain of regret, 
but either way you are going to have pain."

Whether you are a coach, player, principal, or stockbroker, you will increase your chances of success by writing a plan on paper on how you will reach your goal. As a coach, what is your ultimate goal? Have you written it down? Do you have a plan to get there? What is your contingency plan?

My next question is, what are you willing to do to make your goals become a reality? This is what I call the goal graveyard. This is the area most goals die. Why? because most people aren't willing to do what it truly takes to accomplish a goal. Most people aren't willing to sacrifice short-term happiness to achieve long-term success. You have to know what it is that you are willing to do. How hard are you willing to work? How much are you willing to sacrifice? 

"Your Actions Must Match Your Goals"

When you are on your 5th set on parallel squat, and you are dead tired and think you have nothing left in the tank, what are you willing to do? Do you quit, or do you finish? Do you take the easy way out, or do you work through the pain? 

"If you aren't willing to work through the pain, then your goal isn't very important to you." 

4. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People-- There is a saying, "if you hang with a dog, you will get fleas." Your character is going to be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around. If you want to be successful, find others who want to be successful and spend time with them. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and ask them to be a mentor for you. If you want to be a millionaire, are you going to hang around with people who are broke? Probably not. To make your goal a reality you have got to find people who are going the direction you want to go. 

If you are getting poor grades, who are you hanging around? I imagine you are spending the majority of your time with people who do not do very well in school. Too often I see young people who hang around with people who do not share the same goals. If you want to go to college, don't spend your time around people who are failing their classes. Think about it. Humans are very adaptable. We conform to our environment. Who are you choosing to hang around? 

5. Choose to Take Action-- You see, everything comes down to the power of choice. Only you can choose how hard you will work. Only you can choose what you are willing to sacrifice. Only you can choose to take action. Only you can get a sheet of paper and take the time to write down your goals. You will either do it or you won't... there is no in between.

Shameless Plug!
A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1078061959. The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips on multiple RPO Concepts. It will give you a simple process for implementing them into your offense.
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here: http://www.amazon.com/Installing-Explosive-Concepts-Into-Offense-ebook/dp/B01B12YSCG/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1075902270.


Order the Amazon Kindle version here: