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About tom48160

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    3rd Year Coach, 2nd grade ballers

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    Milan, MI
  1. Hang in there, Slick. Here's my $0.02: Watch the other games in your league to see what works for other teams. Don't be above stealing a few plays or techniques for your squad. The younger your league, the more likely it is to be a run-heavy league. If your league runs a lot, you might not get much mileage out of your weak side WR. Consider running some plays in a two-back offense to give you a lead blocker on running plays. If your opponents play zone, a two-back offense lets you overload one side of the zone, giving you as many blockers as defenders, with your RB running free (in theory, anyway. The blocks still have to be solid and on time to spring your runner.) Speaking of blocking, my league is similar in that we can only set basketball-type picks. I call our blocking "setting a rock", like our player is this big boulder we gonna set in the defender's way, blocking their path and their vision. Us grown-ups know what setting a pick is, but I've had to find this other way to really explain and sell the concept to my young players. Once you run a reverse with green handing off to blue, come back later with a fake reverse where green puts the ball into blue's belly but pulls it back and keeps it! As long as I don't overuse it, I've have a lot of success with this play--even with my slower runners! This can be a killer play, especially against younger defenders who will wind up literally running away from your ball carrier. Practice your handoffs and fake handoffs early and often throughout your season. For those who need to fake getting the handoff, encourage them to be great actors! Heap the praise on your "fakers" if they get their flags pulled instead! Good luck!
  2. I like the outlet pass a lot, myself, especially if the D is rushing their best athletes. Speaking of the blue outlet, we face 3-2 zones almost exclusively with most coaches sending 1 or 2 on the rush each time. From time to time, I like to bust a type of bubble screen out a trips right formation if they stay in the zone (which most will, as the end around is used a lot by all the teams). If they send the right-side rusher (or both--it doesn't matter), then you have a 3-on-1 on the edge. If your QB has enough poise to hang onto the ball under the rush until the last second, long enough for your C to join your wall, you could actually build a 4-on-one or 4-on-two matchup. When the safeties do not rush, they usually bust hard toward the trips...the boys love being tricky when we can, and twice we've tried a pump-fake statue of liberty type of handoff to the C with laughable results so far. Perhaps, someday we'll do that one right...
  3. Echoing what John and Orange just said, if we have to go unbalanced, I always try to scrimmage with a full 5 person offense. I'm always hammering the players and parents that every player has an important role in our success, and it's just weird to try to run certain plays without a WR occupying a safety or the C not making a lead or backside block. If I can, I recruit a brother or a dad to step in. I've even been able to convince a few big sisters to join in from time to time. Both turned out to be *very* motivated to play defense against their little brothers...go figure. In a way, it's even better if the green recruits don't know your plays or even your defensive points of emphasis. It gives your O a great chance to succeed as long as they execute properly.
  4. That's complete crap. I coach a team that's 4-1-1 this year, but my team last year only won 2 games total. In both years, I've encouraged my players and their parents to not put as much stock into winning and losing. A team can play their absolute best and still lose, while a team not playing particularly well can still beat another team that not as talented or executing even worse. I want my teams to play hard and play smart from the very first play to the very last. Players will seldom remember their past teams' records--even during successful seasons--but will more often recall certain memories of successful moments or fun times with teammates instead. If I have a team that is losing by three touchdowns toward the end of a game but are able to complete a long pass or rip off a long run, guess what the team is talking about after the game ends? When a ref mails it in like they did in the example above, it denies the offensive team of an opportunity for a great memory or a building block for next week or next season. That kind of laziness by an offiical burns me up. It discounts the time and effort that both teams are putting into their game, it falls short of teaching the game to be played correctly (something I believe officials play a vital role in doing), and it shows a lack of pride in their own job. As much as I feel officials help mold players to play the game better, I believe coaches can help mold officials--particularly young ones. Despite the fact that I get rankled from time to time and feel compelled to make a passionate case to them to defend my players and my understanding of league rules, more often than not the exchanges are level headed and very amicable. Coaches teach their players to play until the whistle or until the end of the game. It's a good lesson for the officials as well. Hopefully that can get corrected in the case of your league, George.
  5. Another week is in the books. We played the weaker of the two other teams in our league. Since we only have three teams total, one team needs to play a doubleheader each week. This week our opponent had the doubleheader, with our team playing in their second game of the day. This is a great advantage, since not only do we get to see some of their offense, but their team should be more tired as well. After our game last week, we added a new package to our playbook based on a spread formation. Our WR would split out to the right about 5-7 feet further than normal, our RB2 would split out the same distance to the left, and our RB1 would split out about 8 feet to the right (for our Spread Right formation. for Spread Left, the RB1 would line up on the left side of the QB), and lined up even with the QB (not the C), so this is kind of a slot receiver look. We saw last week how an opposing defense could adjust to our game plan: The three defenders to the right would key on the inside runs (Handoff 1/Handoff 2) while the two defenders to the left would key on the end around. Our adjustment to this at the time was to run outside to the right, run a fake endaround with a rollout to the right, and to run a reverse off of the sweep right look. Because we have emphasized all players practicing handoffs, we're pretty good at it and are pretty consistent despite playing a lot of different players at QB. I felt we could run a number of misdirection run plays out of the spread look. The first play we added in practice was a reverse. The QB would take the snap and turn their back to the defense to hand the ball off, like an end around. The RB1 would take the handoff and continue to the left. The RB2, split to the left, would backpedal three steps, turn and sprint to the right, taking the handoff from the RB1. The RB2 would sweep around the right end with the C and WR putting blocks on defenders. When I introduce a running play, I also like to introduce a counter off of that play. So the next play we practiced was a fake reverse, set up the same way except the RB1 would fake the handoff to the RB2, keep the ball and continue around left end. OK, so back to this week's game. We were playing without my defensive assistant, who was out of town for the weekend, so I handed over the reigns to my youth assistant. He's 14 with his little brother on the team. I've had him help out on both sides of the ball, but to be honest, I've probably underutilized him. So I pledged to hand him the defense without my meddling. We won the toss and chose to start on defense. We've been able to start on defense in 3 out of 4 games this season, and I like doing that because it gives us a chance to grab early momentum. The defense gave up a first down but held strong after that. We took over on offense, and had modest gains (5-10 yards) on 1st and second down with inside runs. We notched a first down with an end around, then were stuffed on 1st down. This team, too, was very prepared for our inside runs and our blockers were a step slow, continuing the trend from last week. A fake inside handoff/end around got us in the end zone for the early lead. We focused on defense this week, with particular attention to stopping the outside run. Our defensive ends were worked extensively to recognize potential sweeps and other outside runs, string out the play by beating the runner to the edge, then forcing the runner back inside where the rest of the team could help pull the flag. While we didn't do this every time during the game, we did it often enough to limit the opposition's offensive attack. The D held even more firm in their second appearance, forcing a 4 and out. After a short gain on 1st down, I decided to try some plays from our spread. On 2nd down, we ran spread right reverse for a huge gain past midfield, then ran the fake reverse for about a 30 yard touchdown. The fake was carried out so well that two defenders in position for the flag pull bit so hard on the reverse action that they literally ran away from the ball carrier. You know when a fake or misdirection is well done when you hear the "Ooooh"s from the fans on both sides. After another strong stop by the D, we only had time for one last play before halftime. I decided to get overly cute and called for a double reverse (QB to RB1 to RB2 to WR running around left end with RB1 as lead blocker). The handoff from the QB to the RB1 wasn't fumbled, but it wasn't clean and the play got blown up. No harm done, and we went to the half with a 2-0 (touchdown) lead. In the second half, we went back to our 2 back formation and started from the spread. On first down, we ran a reverse all the way for a touchdown. Our 2nd half QB took the snap, handed off to RB1 and then took off around right end serving as lead blocker for the RB2 on his way to the end zone. On plays that take longer to develop, I would like to give the QB an assignment after the initial handoff, but thought that might be too much for most of our players. If our QB can't handle the snap or try to hand the ball off on the wrong side or put the ball into the runner's shoulder, any play we run falls apart--so I've tried to keep the QBs emphasis on snap and handoff. Seeing a player take the initiaitive to figure out what they could do above and beyond to spring our runner was a really cool moment to see. Sure, the runner will get credit from most parents and players, but coaches and those who know the game a little better could see who deserved credit on that long run. To put a cherry on top, the QB and RB2 are cousins and very close to each other, so to see the RB streaking down the right sideline with his cousin, the QB, riding shotgun with him on his left hip was a really cool sight. Thoughout the season, I look for those moments that I hope will end up making good memories for the players, and that moment certainly qualifies. Our defense was shakier in the 2nd half, giving up some large chunks of yardage after we failed to bottle up runners attacking the outside edges. We had even given up a long touchdown run but a flag guarding penalty nullified the play and kept them off the board. In fact, we might have been in a real dogfight if not for a number of ill-times flag guarding penalties called against our opponent in the 2nd half. We've taught our players to use their legs to get away from defenders, not their hands. We teach hard cuts and spin moves as ways to avoid defenders, and while players don't trust the spin move yet, some do a great job of cutting and running to daylight. The nullification of their long run took the wind out of the sails of our opponents, and the D was able to stop them the rest of the game, thanks to timely pressure dialed up by our youth assistant coach. Our final score on offense came on a drive where we ran an inside run for about 10 yards followed by a fake reverse for a touchdown out of the spread. The final time we got the ball, the D started running what could only be described as a 1-4 defense. We ran a center sneak out of the spread for about 10 yards (a play we used for the first time in a game despite us practicing it quite a bit with our centers). We then tried a crazy play where we went trips right, had the middle trip (our WR) come on an end around, and he was supposed to toss back to the QB who would run behind the other two trips and the Center coming together to form a wall or wedge. Because the D was still in their 1-4, no player was covered. Instead of the WR turning and tossing a 5 yard flip to the QB with a convoy in front of him, his eyes got wide seeing all his teammates with no defender nearby that he let a pass fly toward the Center (who had joined the wall and was looking for the QB to get the ball). The ball went incomplete, but I can't complain. Our passing game has been so weak relatively speaking that I think our player was trying to make a big play happen. No issues with that, but I'd like us making a modest pass play then thinking bigger. We'll keep working on our passing game. Our guys can't even play catch from 5-10 yards away yet. I'll keep you updated. So, we won 4-0 in an overall a solid performance. Particularly strong were our outside run defense and the execution of our new spread run plays. Our youth assistant did a great job and should be very proud. Doubleheader next week. Good luck to us all!
  6. Thanks! A big advantage we've had over other teams is our snaps and handoffs. We have yet to fumble a snap and we just fumbled our first handoff in our first game, despite having many different centers and ball carriers along with having four different QBs thus far. We would have played more players as QB, but many kids see QB as a non-glory ultra-demanding position. We'll see if that belief holds up... I like the idea of introducing a new play in our first practice of the week. It should give a bit of a spark to Tuesdays. I had introduced a couple of new packages last week: a scissors series of plays that we call X-Handoffs, with RB1 (our fullback) always crossing in front of the RB2 X-Handoff 1 gives the ball to the RB1 X-Handoff 2 fakes it to RB1 and gives the ball to RB2 Fake to both RBs, then either 1) give it to the WR on an end-around, or 2) keep it for a bootleg center drag [*]a similar set of plays that we call V-Handoffs, where both RBs huddle tight with the QB at the same time, the QB hands one of them the ball (or keeps it for an end around or bootleg), then the RBs angle off staying on their own sides of the QB instead of crossing paths behind the QB like the X-Handoffs. For next week, I'd like to add a couple of different reverses to counter how defenses are adjusting to our offense, but I'll save that for my Game 3 recap that I'll post later... Thanks to all that have bothered to read and comment in this thread! Good luck, everyone!
  7. Two practices in, one more to go tomorrow before game day on Sunday. Not a good week thus far... I structure my practices in season roughly like this: Tuesdays--Fundamentals, Core Plays, and Addressing Weaknesses from last Sunday's game Thursdays--Walk Through new plays, bolster weaker skills (like throwing/receiving for us), and run a few plays against a half-speed or undermanned defense Saturdays--A lot of scrimmaging offense vs. defense. Mixing up established plays and new plays. Get game ready. On Tuesday, two players came up to me at different times and asked why we were practicing. Uh oh. Talked to the team, asked them if our opponent was going to give up or practice hard and get better. Admittedly a baited question, but they answered "practice hard and get better". I explained that we also want to get better so we stay better than the other teams. I went back to another of my old school mantras: Every practice you either get better or get worse. The choice is up to us. Last night, there was an open house at the school and we ran practice with a smaller roster. I thought this would be great for those in attendance, because it would give us some one-on-one and small group opportunities that we don't normally have. The bad news is that those in attendance were pretty distracted all practice. We were introducing plays that we'll have to re-introduce on Saturday. Us coaches will talk about which plays are game ready and which might need another week of work. The highlight of last night's practice was discussing with the players how I come up with play ideas and then diagramming it out on my whiteboard. Everybody wanted to draw up their own plays, which is really cool. One player came up with a Statue of Liberty-type of play, while another drew up a running play with two fakes before the handoff. We then discussed why each play might work and why each might not work. I think it was possibly very beneficial to the players' long term enjoyment of the game. In the here and now, though, we might have to go into Sunday with largely our same core plays. That said, as long as we execute, I say we'll still do OK, but I'm really smelling a letdown on Sunday. Coaches' paranoia, perhaps... We'll see how Saturday's morning practice goes. Maybe it's just our weekday evening practices where our focus isn't great...Good luck, everyone!
  8. Good job with that. Among my biggest differences in my team last year and my team this year is on the C-QB snap exchange. A lot of kids, whether they are playing C or QB want to have their eyes on their hands and watch the exchange. I can't recommend enough teaching both to have their eyes forward and using their necks, heads, and eyes to scan the defense in front of them--especially if pressure can come from more than one player/direction. The snap needs to be made on time (on the correct snap count) fast and hard. It can't be a gentle giving of the ball from one player's fingertips to another's. The center has to fire the ball into the QB's open hands (insides of wrists together, throwing hand on top of off-hand, fingers extended and out of the way of the ball). I tell the players I like hearing the "pop" on the snap. The quicker and cleaner the snap is made, the quicker your offense can attach the defense, particularly on our running plays. We establish our running plays early, successful or not, and then run play action off of them. Last year, when I was coaching 5 and 6 year olds, a slow snap killed the play--especially our end arounds. The blitzers would pull the QB's flag before the eventual WR could get the ball. This year, with a good snap, we can get our RBs running downhill past the defensive line before the D knows what hit them. If your pressure always comes up the middle, get the ball out of the line of fire any way you can. Get your QB sprinting down the line immediately or get a RB to take a handoff (or a pitch if they are talented enough to pull it off) and get the ball away from the middle. From there you can have the RB turn upfield, hand the ball off to a WR on a reverse, or throw the ball to a receiver. You may have answered this already, but can your QB take off and run once a blitzer crosses the line of scrimmage? We have a plan where we call "Fire" once a blitzer crosses the line and it's an audible for the QB to take off. Also, we have been working on different snap counts since the beginning of the season. Instead of Color-Number-Hike or some variation, we use good ol' Ready-Set-Go because even the most inexperienced player understands what ready-set-go means. In some of our drills, we go on "Go" and on others we go on "Set". We're about a month in, and we still get some of our players forgetting the count and just going on Go. That said, I recall during my days playing football in Middle and High School a lot of guys much older than my current players had a ton of trouble with snap counts. Two games in, we have yet to go on "Set" in a game, but that tactic is ready to use in case we encounter a team that pressures very effectively. Hope this helps...Good luck!
  9. OK, one last story from the games before I move on to Week 2 of our season: I have two main assistants. My defensive assistant is the father of a player getting his feet wet in coaching. He ought to have his own team next season, and I believe he will. My other assistant is my son's best friend and an older brother of a player on the team. The player in question is might be the most timid player on the team. He's in the younger group of players on our roster, on the small side, and not quick by any stretch. He's practiced at every position, and does a very good job of snapping the ball, however our story takes place when he's in the game at RB1. Again, this is kind of a fullback position where they are often the lead blocker. A good block by the RB1 can often spring a play in our offense for a touchdown. When they are asked to run the ball, it's on a quick hitter going straight ahead, very similar to how they are asked to shoot out to block a safety. So after a successful running of Handoff 2 and WR End Around, I call for Handoff 1--a handoff to my assistant's little brother. My assistant is on the field with me helping to position players before joining me 10 yards behind the players to watch the play unfold. The play worked beautifully: clean snap, clean handoff to our RB1 who's now chugging ahead. The D started out in a 3-2 zone with one safety blitzing right by the ball carrier and the other successfully blocked by our WR. The RB1 shoots by the defensive line before they can react--a key for our offense--and running free with no one in front of him. I hear some murmuring and look to my right to see my assistant, the running back's 14 year old brother, saying over and over "I can't believe it...I can't believe it." In an afternoon full of highlights, this was probably the singular moment I'll take out of that Sunday. I still smile thinking about it now, and all the work we do it well worth it for moments just like that.
  10. OK, so now let's talk gridiron action! In our first game, we started off by winning the toss and choosing to defend. I wanted to see what the opposition had in store for us. As predicted, they ran an outside run. Their flavor of outside run was a handoff where the running back initially forward like a dive play, took the ball from the QB and then immediately bounced the run outside. Against a team that immediately crashes to the middle, this might be effective. However, our D was fairly disciplined and maintained their 3-2 zone. The ends strung the play to the outside as practices and forced the runner to cut back into the teeth of our defense. One time, their running back slipped through a missed pull by our DE but the safety was able to pull their flag after about a 10 yard gain. That ended up being the big gainer as our D held them to 4-and-out. Taking over on offense at our 5 (which teams do on each new posession unless their D intercepts the ball. then the O takes over at the end of the interception return), we wanted to establish our two inside running plays. We started off with our Handoff 2 play (like an off tackle run), followed up by our Handoff 1 (like a fullback dive quick hitter). We wound up just short of the midfield no-run zone on 3rd down. While we didn't have to pass, I wanted to try a pass play to get the defense thinking about something new. If given the chance again, I should have run the ball, but I wanted to show the defense a lot of different things in our first posession to make them thinking. We switched to our trips right formation and tried to run a WR screen. I wanted the RBs to set up a wall in formation and then our WR would take a step backwards and then turn toward the QB to catch the ball. The blockers, joined by our C would each take a defender in the area freeing up the ball carrier. The WR then would ideally use the blocks in front of him and find a seam to run through. Here's what happened instead... Our RB1 saw a football sailing toward his head, turned and caught the ball. If thrown the ball 10 times from that distance, this player might catch one of them...but he caught this one. Now unexpectedly with the ball, he panicked a bit and held the ball behind him like an End Around handoff. The WR, being remarkably aware of the situation, grabbed the ball behind the RB1 and ran against the grain past the C and QB to the other side of the field, turning the corner and taking it the distance for a touchdown. Still behind the line of scrimmage, the handoff was ruled legal and the touchdown counted. The D shut 'em down again and we took over on offense. Again, we got nice chunks of yardage with Handoff 2 and Handoff 1. We had come close to breaking the Handoff 2 play by getting our RB2 past the defensive line and then bouncing the run outside around the safety. With the D looking for a run up the middle, we went with a Fake Handoff 1 End Around, which our WR took the distance. He was literally running past defenders running after our fullback. Any time we run a fake and that "faker" gets their flag pulled by the D, that's like a badge of honor for us. To me, that is awesome. The rest of the day followed in much the same way. In both games combined, we were scored on twice (once per opponent) and were stopped once on offense just shy of the end zone when we couldn't connect on a pass play in the no-run zone. The end around was lethal all day, and we started to break some touchdowns off of Handoff 2 when some of our RB2s slipped through or around the safety that was stopping us earlier. Handoff 1 was getting huge chunks when our RB1s were listening to the snap count and were ready to fire out. Even at worst, we were getting 4-5 yards on it when the safeties would corral them. The key to our downhill running game (handoff 1, handoff 2) is to get through the front line before they can react. If we get a block on the safety to that side, look out. Even when we don't get the block, our RBs can put a move on them once in a while or bounce it outside since there's much more room between the safety and the sideline than there is from the defensive end and the sideline. Some other highlights: I like building counters and variations into our core plays so we can thrown another wrinkle at the D. The End Around worked great, especially once we established our inside running game. I then added a fake End Around, where both RBs would fire out to block the safeties, the WR would come across like an end around, the QB would put the ball in their belly and pull it back to their own belly. The WR would carry out the fake bent over a bit with two hands across their bellies where the ball would normally be. The QB would then sprint over to the side of the field where the WR had started (right side, for us) and look for the Center Drag. We called this play up twice and both times our QB and C were the only ones on that side of the field. On the first attempt, our C had drifted out too deep and our QB couldn't connect with him. On the second try, the C ran a better route but I think our QB panicked and she threw a bad pass even though they were about 3 feet apart at the time. She had time to set her feet and throw but she threw on the run and led the C too far. It was one of those moments where the receiver was too open, I guess. But I couldn't be upset at all. This was a play we hadn't practiced at all and executed 90% of it flawlessly, since we were using parts of other plays that we ran well up to that point. Even the other coaches were laughing about the play, saying that they lost sight of the ball, too. The QB and WR did a great job of creating all that space. Even our misfortune ended up good for us, though. Despite us not being able to cash in on that play, calling it opened the end around and handoff 1/2 plays all the more, since we really had the defense flat-footed. Oh, and I have to mention one pass we were able to complete in the first game. We were in the no-run zone near midfield on 4th down. Our QB was doing great managing our run game but she didn't throw it too well to that point. When planning for the season, I knew that in situations where we need to pass but had a QB struggling to pass, we could work in a HB pass play. I just didn't think I'd call it in the first game. So, I call a huddle and ask "OK, who's really good at catching the ball?" A few kids raised their hand and I picked one to play WR. Then I ask "OK, who can throw the ball really far?" Again a few kids raise their hands, and I picked one to play RB2. Neither exactly fair nor scientific, but hey, we were winging it at the time. The C and RB1 would fire out and block safeties, the WR would run out about 8 steps and turn around and wait for the ball, the RB2 would come across behind the QB and take the handoff like an end around, run toward the sideline past the DE, set his feet, and chuck the ball down the field. A real backyard play, but it worked! The defense bit like we were running another run play, leaving the WR behind the safeties. After the games ended, all the players were happy and still buzzing. The league doesn't keep official scores and urges coaches to lessen the emphasis on winning and losing. At the younger levels like this, I'm more than OK with this, as the players will hear about winning and losing from their tackle coaches soon enough. In the full team huddle at the end of our second game, I asked the players how they felt we played, if we played hard, and if we had fun. If we could answer those three points positively, then we probably had a pretty good day. After dismissing the players to snacks and clean up duties, many parents made an effort to come to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the game and how well they thought we coaches did. This was nice to see, as this included a number of parents, grandparents, and other family members who I had yet either to meet altogether or talk very much with up to that point.
  11. I try to keep the pep talks short because my guys tune out quickly. One mantra I repeat quite a bit, though, is "Play Hard, Have Fun". It's one of several of our go-to sayings when we put hands in the middle. We need everyone on the field engaged and into the game to succeed. Playing hard also gives players their best chance to succeed. I even tell them that I know we won't be perfect, but I'd rather see them make a mistake going all out then make a mistake going at half speed. Again, not that this pumps anyone up necessarily, but I also lean on this, "You Gotta Crawl Before You Can Walk, Walk Before You Can Run, and Run Before You Can Fly"
  12. Prior to our first game on Sunday, we had a standard coaches meeting with the refs at midfield. The refs wanted to suggest several rules clarifications minutes before the start of our game--usually something that I don't like at all, since I develop an offense and overall team philosophies based on the letter of the law. After all, practicing to what the rules are and not what you think you remember the rules to be or what you'd prefer the rules to be is the responsible approach for your players. Our rules are based largely on the NFL Flag rulebook, for those who are familiar with that. Here are the suggested changes and my take on their impact (Spoiler Alert! All coaches agreed to implement each of these suggestions immediately): Teams would get 4 plays (instead of 3) to get to midfield and once past midfield get 4 more plays (instead of 3) to score a touchdown. Impact on my team: I like to run more of a ball control offense than my opponents. I like running up the gut to loosen up the outside, along with sprinkling in misdirection runs and short passes. It would sometimes be a tough sell to my team that a 5 yard run up the gut on first down was a good thing despite having to cover 20 more yards in 2 more downs. Having another down to play with on each side of the field lessens the dependence on the big plays and allows teams to run a varied offense to keep the defense off-balance. In the no-run zones, passes need to be completed past the line of scrimmage. Impact: I was kinda bummed about this, because we had worked on a trips right WR screen and a swing pass to a RB in the flat out of our base split back formation. We can still run these elsewhere on the field, just not in the no-run zone. Our passing game is a work in progress, and I figured other teams would be in a similar situation. Overall, the impact probably makes things equally tough on all teams in our division. I can find players who can throw--it's getting players who can catch that we're struggling with. Working on catching with the hands and using soft hands on the catch. Work in progress. While fumbles recovered by the defense cannot be returned, intercepted passes can. Impact: Fumbles cannot be advances for safety issues and whether you coach younger or older players, only bad things can happen to unpadded players in scrums on the ground. However, interceptions tend to be cleaner changes of posession and an interception return is a very exciting play that rewards an aggressive aware defense. While I am risking my share of pick sixes, I like extending that opportunity to all defenders. My next post will have game highlights, I promise!
  13. Early in our first game, I thought that things might turn disasterous. One of our younger players has had some emotional outbursts in practice and at times has had trouble understanding the concept of team. On offense, we go with 2 running backs (split backfield) and a WR to go along with our C and QB. We have plays to get the ball to each position and we get players time at each of the positions in practice. In games, we keep the same QB for a half and go with another QB in the second half, but that's for the overall consistency of the offense. With so many other moving parts, keeping the QB position stable helps keep the offense going. We've held offensive walk-throughs in practice and scrimmaged against live defenses. In each instance we demonstrate our willingness to rotate positions and get everyone touches. It's our philosophy. I *want* opponents to key on our halfback or key on the WR end around. When we can get the defense leaning the wrong way or get caught flat footed trying to read the play and find the ball, that's good news for our offense. Anyway, back to our temperamental young player. I'll call him Charlie. Charlie's practiced at each position, even QB. He's carried out fakes from his fullback position and blocked when we've called plays for other ball carriers. We go into the huddle for our first play on offense in our first game. I assign positions for that drive, then call and diagram our first play: Handoff 2. This is a handoff to our HB with a FB leading the way. Charlie is at FB and has the key block to the play. He's run this play in practice before, but today he's speaking out because he's not getting the ball. Charlie starts whining as other players come out of the huddle, then decides he wants to play center instead. He squats on the ball and is whining louder. I call a timeout and try to talk to Charlie about playing his position and taking turns. He's not having it and I call another time out. At that point, I'm pretty steamed and I sub him out with another player. I *really* hate pulling a kid, but I needed to get things going. To me, subbing him out bought me some time to talk with him on the sideline after the drive and get him back on board. No one is greater than the team, and I needed to make sure Charlie's issues didn't ruin the chances for his teammates to play the game the way we've practiced. At the end of the drive, Charlie's mom pulled me aside and said that they were taking him home. She sounded apologetic and mentioned to me that Charlie is autistic. I replied that I guessed that he has his good days and bad days and she agreed with that. Before she left (Charlie and his dad were already gone from the fields), I wanted to make sure she knew that I wasn't mad and that I encouraged him to come to practice on Tuesday. She agreed and left, while I had to refocus my attention back on the game. We'll see how things go at tonight's practice. If Charlie and his family are at practice early, which they often are, I can make sure we're on the same page. Even with the knowledge that Charlie is autistic, I don't want to treat him differently than the other players. We're into our fourth week now, and Charlie's done enough positive things with the team where I want to see him get his time on the field. At the same time, like all players he needs to earn the trust of his teammates. I'll keep reporting on the ongoing Chronicles of Charlie... Good luck to us all!
  14. Well, we had a pretty successful Week 1, but I can't even get to game highlights without mentioning our roster situation. Before our games, we had team pictures. While we are waiting in line for team pictures, handing out our uniform t-shirts, a couple of my players' parents mention that we have a new player. I thought they were kidding and said so. A kid was running around with some of my players, and I thought he was a relative or friend who came to watch our games. Wrong. Kid's mom said that he was a new player and that the league admin referred her to me. This puts us up to 13 players. Fortunately, we had an extra uniform that fit the kid, even though he ended up having the same number as another player. I apologized to the players mom, explained my concern about every player's playing time to her (with more than 10 players, most players will play less than half the game and no player will play more than half the game), and mentioned that I would petition the league again to split my team into two squads both coached by me and my defensive assistant who would practice together but play games seperately. I spoke to the head coach of one of our opponents and an assistant coach from the other opponent (3 total teams in our division), and while they seemed sympathetic to my situation (neither of their teams have more than 10 players) they may only be sympathetic to a point, for a few reasons: despite the "burden" of having 13 players, my team went 2-0 on Sunday in convincing fashion. Coaches and the league admin may be reluctant to take action that may seem to give my teams a further competitive advantage, and... On our current schedule, one of the three teams in our division plays the other two teams each Sunday. My team played a doubleheader last Sunday to kick off the season. Having a fourth team in our division eliminates the need for any team to play a doubleheader going forward. However, as a result the other teams lose 2 games from their schedule to accommodate the 4th team. It could be argued that the game experience their players stand to lose is greater than the playing time my 13 gain by splitting into 2 teams. Again, this is why I have offered to take on more players--to make sure that the additional playing time we create with a 4th team is divided evenly among all teams in our division. That said, I'm hoping that others truly see my point of view and recognize that my efforts are all about getting every player more game time. It's not about making our practices easier--we're already practicing with 13 as it is. While it would be great to get more one on one time with each player, I think if we keep our practices organized and perhaps recruit another parent or two to jump in and help, we can make things work just fine.
  15. We started out with an 8 player roster. One player brought their cousin, and we also added a friend's kid to bring our number up to 10. Perfect, right? The league then added 2 more players to my roster. Who knows, maybe the league thought I could handle it. No question this makes substitution patterns tougher to make. I talked about this in my season thread, so I'll copy in what I wrote there:
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