Hurry-Up Defense

I think I heard the on the radio the other morning, that in the College Football Playoff Semifinal game between Oregon and Florida State, the high-speed offense of Oregon averaged around 11 seconds between plays when the game was still competitive. That’s fast. The sports radio talk show hosts then reported when the Ducks built a big lead and went into a slow-down, time-killing mode, they averaged about 20 seconds between plays. That’s faster than most team’s normal speed!

This high-speed mode killed Florida State. They couldn’t keep up with the speed of the game. The Seminole defense looked confused, tired, and made one mistake after another. That is what these uber-speed offenses attempt to do in this age of modern defensive football predicated on match-ups and substitution packages. The high-speed offense does not allow the defense to adjust; it finds a weakness in a certain defense, either schematic or personnel, it pushes the limits.

I had a conversation with one of my coaching offensive mastermind friends, Coach Larry Wallace, about the offensive performance of Oregon. Both of us were impressed with the speed at which the Ducks ran their offense. Being a defensive minded, former football coach, I was intrigued about how a defense can counteract the up-tempo offense.

Me: “It has me thinking about how to develop a hurry-up defense that is proactive instead of reactive.”

Coach Wallace: “Yeah, good luck.”

Me: “Amen, brother!”

Seriously, is there a solid defensive scheme you can think of to consistently shift the power to dictate the game from the hurry-up offense back to where it belongs–in the hands of the defense? If you have any ideas, please share.

I think the key is to play an aggressive, ball-attack defense through a fairly set package of personnel, not one which relies on massive substitutions. We would need to develop athletes physically to play at this speed (See how Oregon approaches this in my Bullets Over Bowling Balls post from 2012.). A very important point to consider with any scheme in any sport is this—one cannot expect to play the game at a certain speed if they do not train and practice to play the game at that certain speed.

Following in the footsteps of Coach Paul Lane, I would first attempt to dictate the flow of the game from the defensive end. The defensive scheme would involve multiple fronts and alignments with a minimal of responsibilities for each position. Basically, each player would have one job on a run play and one job on a pass play, and that job would be the same no matter what the defensive alignment, or front, looked like. I would try to punch the offense in the mouth by hitting harder, hitting more often, and wearing them down one man at a time all game. Every man wins their job on every play.

The spread and speed offenses usually have a run/pass option depending on the number defenders in the box. It’s a numbers game. If they read they have more blockers than defensive linemen and linebackers in the box, they can call a run play. If defense has a numbers advantage in the box, the pass play is chosen. A good defensive scheme could align in such a way to force the offense into one option or the other. The defenders would need to understand this concept to allow for the advantage of what plays to expect.

Oregon Duck Zone Read

Pressure the offense, particularly the QB, from multiple angles and with the goal of corralling the offense into a small space. Face it, if you’ve watch much hurry-up offense, they are designed to get athletes in space and into one-on-one match-ups they think they can win. I think I would try to minimize this offensive advantage by forcing them to beat me by doing things outside their comfort zone.

For secondary coverage schemes, I would develop physical man coverage techniques first and foremost in all our training with these athletes. In game planning, use man coverage schemes and match-up zone schemes as a general rule. The important thing is to realize how an offense with attack each coverage scheme and convey these tendencies to your secondary personnel.

One of the great enjoyments of the game of football is this mental and strategic side of the game. Even though I don’t actively coach football any more, I still love to think about the game. When I watch a game on television or in person, I am constantly watching for blocking schemes, formation tendencies, blitz packages, etc. Watching the Oregon Ducks this past week triggered the defensive coach in me to figure out how I’d develop a hurry-up defense to try and stop this potent offense.

If you have any ideas, feel free to comment below.  There are definitely more than one way to skin a cat. I am pretty sure there will be a Part 2 to this Hurry-Up Defense post, maybe even a :Part 3, 4, or 5.

The “What if we tried this?” is one of my favorite parts of coaching and training athletes.

And in my humble opinion, that is the fun of football!

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,800 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A 2014 Happy Holidays to You

I am a festive kind of a guy. A real holiday spirit.

Here is my holiday decorating dream plan.

Tree Trimming 2014

Seriously, I am festive.

I put up a string or two of bright lights on the porch, even when it’s witch-ass cold outside.

Two Christmas trees. Yes, two. (The Mrs. Hays would like to have more, but I’d agree only if we can arrange them around the house in a natural, forest configuration. That didn’t fly.)

My favorite Christmas TV special is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus’s account of the true meaning of Christmas is perhaps one of the best things ever presented on the small screen.

My favorite Christmas music is A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

My favorite song from that soundtrack? Linus and Lucy. This song is such an awesome song. For years, I kindly suggested to  Mrs. B that our high school marching band play a rousing rendition of Linus and Lucy before home football games. Alas, it never happened. Apparently high school band directors don’t take music request from assistant football coaches. (Yes, kids. That is the kind of world we live in…)

Here is my Christmas 2014 gift to you, the dedicated reader of The Coach Hays blog. A totally kick-ass version of Linus and Lucy performed by the supremely talented indie rock band, Built to Spill. THIS is the version of the song that is meant to be played before taking the field. Feel free to do your favorite Snoopy-inspired holiday dance.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for reading and supporting the stupidity of The Coach Hays blog for yet another year.

Live long and prosper!

Keep striving to attain your goals and dreams. Don’t give up without a fight.

Hard Work is the Magic.

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Purpose

“The problem with plans created by committees is that they are built on vague. That’s because vague is safe, and no one ever got in trouble for failing to meet a vague plan. But vague is singularly unhelpful when it’s time to make a hard decision.”     -Seth Godin

When you make a plan, have a purpose. Formulate a specific goal in mind, a purpose worth striving for, and set out a plan to obtain it. Avoid a general and vague goal by being laser-focused. Whether it’s writing, athletics, academics, careers, community projects, gardening…whatever, put your dreams into a solid, tangible goal.

Set the plan and do the work.

The sky is the limit.

Take the risk. Failure is possible (probable), but keep trying.

Sounds simple, huh?

Hard work is the magic.

CC@Abilene2009

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This Is Our House

“This is our house.”
You hear this quite often in sports.
Home field.
The home field advantage.

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At the western gateway of Clay Center we have our sports houses.
We have Unruh Stadium for football.
We have Kelly Campbell Field for baseball.
Our home fields. Our houses.

Campbell Shack Unruh Scoreboard 2

But our sports houses have not been taken care of very well.
Sports fields need maintenance. Almost daily maintenance.
Our fields and stadiums have not been maintained well.
They need some care.
They need us, the community.

Unruh Stands South

Campbell 1B Dugout

There’s been a lot of finger pointing about these problems.
Lots of blame, lots of ideas, very little action.
It reminded me of a phrase Coach Dail Smith would tell our football kids.
“When you point the finger of blame, remember three of your own fingers are pointing straight back to you.”

It was time to become part of the solution.

In late 2013, Rex Carlson, Larry Wallace, Jr. and I took on a project to renovate Campbell Field.
The mayor gave us the fancy title of the ad hoc Committee for Campbell Field Renovation.
Why in the world would we take on such a daunting task?

First, there was the eye test.
Things had fallen apart.
The playing surface was a mess.
Dugouts, mounds, bullpens, fence…all a mess.
Lack of daily maintenance, lack of water, and lots of Kansas wind did major damage.

Second, there was the ear test.
People were saying a lot of bad things about our baseball field. Many of these people were the same people who failed to raise a finger to help, who failed to hold up their promises and turned away from their commitments.
Their words stung. Their words lit a fire.
Their words fueled a change.

Third, we opened our own eyes and saw the work being done for area youth baseball. We saw kids enjoying the game of baseball all around us. We saw teams practicing and working to get better. We saw youngsters smiling and playing the game.

We knew these kids deserved a decent place to play the game.

We also knew the most important thing to accomplish was a renovation plan that could be maintained within the limited budget and resources of the city and the city recreation department. The plan needed to be smart, it need to be maintainable and it needed to maximize every dollar graciously donated by people and businesses of our community toward the project.

With the blessing and support of the city, we are working toward making Campbell Field a safe, playable, rural Kansas 4A high school baseball field. This is our goal. Our goal is not to build a professional or collegiate field. Our system could never maintain such a dream field.

Campbell Infield

In all honesty, facilities aren’t not the best of investments. The more resources you spend on them, the more resources it takes to maintain them. Our philosophy is to take care of what we have so our community can spend the bulk of their  limited resources on programs, not facilities.

We are getting closer to our goal and have set up a fund for donations through the Clay Center Community Improvement Foundation to help the common sense renovations of Campbell Field, Schaulis Field, and Montel Field. If you are interested in helping the cause through  a greatly appreciated donation or an in-kind donation, please contact Rex, Larry, me, or the CC Community Improvement Foundation for information.

I hope a similar, common sense financial approach will be taken with Unruh Stadium renovation.

Unruh from scoreboard

A plan to fix the structural problems and maintain the facility for the long-term. A plan to address the ADA compliant issues with perhaps ramp/viewing areas (30-40 feet across) at the ends of the stands following the basic design Oakley, Kansas used on their WPA-era stadium renovation a few years back.

 

Oakley Stadium1

 

Maybe even redesign the player and fan space in the stadium by turning the current home locker room, men’s restroom, storage room,and referee room at the south end into a new men’s and women’s restrooms/concession area in that space. At the north end of the stadium, expand the visitor’s locker room into current women’s restroom and add additional showers in that space. A new metal building could be constructed for the home locker room/referee room/storage room in the grass area south of the stadium where the team bus currently parks. The fencing behind the stadium needs a face-lift anyway and could be moved to accommodate this structure.  If funds are available or raised, a limestone arched entryway/ticket booth addition would look great attached to the north and south end of the stadium.

image

I thoroughly appreciate my years enjoying this view while coaching football.

It was a blast to have coached football and baseball in Clay Center.

It was an honor to be a part of something so special.

We do have something special in Clay Center. Believe me, coming from a 6A city school, what we have in Clay Center, with our fields, our fans, and our kids are all very, very special.

I think it’s time to go to work. It’s time to keep our special things special.

Purpose. Pride. Passion.

The Clay Center Way.

 

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Perception is Reality

This is my 300th post on The Coach Hays blog. Who knew I could throw this many rants?

To celebrate, I am going to re-post an old piece taken from one of the best sports instructional resources around, Baseball Excellence (baseball-excellence.com).  They send this great piece at least once a year in their weekly FREE email newsletter. Always timely, always important, always sage advice no matter who your are or what you do.

Enjoy and…PAY ATTENTION!

Perception is Reality (A Tip for players)

The way you act is how others perceive you.

The way you conduct yourself on a baseball field in practice and games goes a long way as coaches determine how you will benefit the team.

Your talent level “is what it is.”

You can improve your skill level and you can have a positive approach.

“It takes no talent to hustle.”

Respect the game.

Play with class.

Take Pride in the way you play the game.

Show an aptitude to learn. (Be Coach-able)

Understand that failure is a part of baseball and learn to react in a mature fashion.

Always try to contribute something positive to the team (no matter how small)

Remember, you never know who is watching.

Tigers @ Royal Valley 2008

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Be “Less”

We are always asking and/or being asked to give more. Work harder, work more, work faster.

That’s okay, though. Keep it up and keep those “more” things going strong.

But, I am going to ask you for “less”.

Yeah, you read that right. LESS.

Be ageless, think young and perform young.

Be responsible for yourself, do your job and be blameless.

Boundless. Never quit striving to be better.

Leave opponents, fans, and teammates breathless with your effort.

Perform with reckless abandon.

Be dauntless.

Appear effortless in your execution using technical expertise.

Endless in your energy, enthusiasm, and desire.

Do your job and go on…Be a faceless and nameless force to reckon with.

Be fearless. Identify what you want and go get it.

Be merciless in a contest from the first bell to the final bell. (Then be nice again.)

As you can see, sometimes more is not better.

Sometimes “less” is more.

LessSmall

 

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