Crash Course

Bowl Week. It brings a smile to virtually every football fan’s face.  Four, or more, games a day. Teams and bowl games one has rarely heard of before. A football dream (at least to me).

But Bowl Week is more than just non-stop, sports television excitement. It is a chance for a coach to get a crash course in football. During the course of 10-14 days, a coach can watch and study virtually every offensive scheme out there pitted against virtually every defensive scheme in play.

Bowl Week is an excellent opportunity to expand the knowledge base. I don’t quite invest the time, or experience the temporary thumb paralysis from rewinding and rewinding the video with the remote control, as I used to when I was actively coaching, but I still love to watch these college football matchups in order to learn more about the game.

Most of us have heard the old adage, “If you aren’t getting better, you’re falling behind.”. A big chunk of that getting better occurs in the offseason—even for the coach. The players get better by training, by playing other sports, and working toward being better each and every day. Coaches need to do get better in the offseason also. No, take that back. Coaches don’t need to get better in the offseason, coaches must get better in the offseason. After taking a few weeks off at the end of their team’s season, a coach needs to start the process of self-improvement. Bowl Week gives us that opportunity.

I can watch the fast-break, spread offenses, flexbone veer offenses, two-back sets, one-back sets, empty sets and full-house sets all run in unique ways. I can learn how teams use motion to give the QB a coverage read. I can study what these QBs are reading and learn to recognize calls and route combinations. A good defensive coach learns to watch offenses, identify what they are doing and why, and then incorporate that knowledge into your own defensive scheme.

One of my favorite things is to study blocking schemes of all the offensive philosophies and schemes. Two of our most successful specialized blocking schemes were the reverse blocking and the screen blocking. Both came directly from watching college bowl games. The reverse blocking scheme was taken from Glen Mason’s Minnesota Golden Gophers team in the 2003 Sun Bowl and the screen blocking, if I remember right, was from a mid-2000’s Jim Tressel Ohio State bowl game.

Bowl Week. Watch your favorite teams play as a fan, but watch as many of the other games with the eye of a coach.

Always get better.

Your players need it.

Your players deserve it.

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