Coach Every Detail and Every Situation

I have always had the philosophy that I can’t expect a player to do something on the field if I have never worked it in practice.  I learned this the hard way a long time ago as a 7th grade quarterback. My coaches wanted me to run the clock out at the end of the game.  In the time between plays they were screaming instructions, and I misunderstood because we never did what they were describing, so on fourth down, I did what I thought they wanted and took a knee.  What they wanted was for me to drop back and run around and then take a knee.  We had never practiced that, so I didn’t understand.  We turned the ball over with a few seconds left for the other team to run a play.  Fortunately, they didn’t score, but I learned a valuable lesson about coaching that day:

Don’t expect something to happen on the field if it has ever been done in practice.

Here is a situation that points to the fault of miscommunication or lack of practicing this situation, rather than error by the player.

In this video, the quarterback, also a basketball player, runs around until the clock hits zero.  Not realizing he had to get down to end the play, he relaxes, the other team takes the ball, and they end up winning and advancing to the play-offs.

One of the coaches shouldered the blame for him on Facebook:

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Think about the situations that may come up, and be sure you have a plan for them.  Expecting to put it something new at half-time or a time-out may not result in exactly what you want.

A Bag of Tricks

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This is the last of a series of ideas to help your offense in-season. We’ve reached the point of the season where it’s “win or go home.” The teams that you face now are usually of equal or greater caliber. Solid offensive performances are still built around the core of what you do that has got you to this point. However, being able to strategically add an explosive play through the use of some kind of deceptive or trick can provide the spark plug you need to overcome your opponent.

When to Use a Trick

There are several philosophies on using trick plays. Some coaches like to use them early when players are keyed up and likely to react aggressively. If you are playing a team that comes out with a lot of aggression and emotion, then early in the game might be the time to use a trick play.
Other teams come out and play smart and are cool, calm and collected. Usually, these teams are trick plays aware and doing something early while they are physically and mentally fresh may not be the right time. Swinging for the fence early against these types of teams can backfire. Tricks against these teams need to be off a common look you are using in the game. You are looking to condition the defense into reacting to something you’ve done over and over, or using an alignment or situational tendency to create the opportunity you need….read more

Trick or treat: Tips and ideas for using a double pass

More titles being added to this library soon:

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We are reaching the point in the season when many teams are in a “win or pack up the equipment” situation. Finding a play that serves as a spark plug can prove valuable in beating a rival or moving forward in the playoffs. The double pass concept is a great play to get the defense out of position and hit a wide open receiver for a big gain or score. There are some considerations that must go into creating this play. The first thing to consider is the throwing hand of the second passer. In general, it is best to have the second passer receive the first pass on the opposite side of his throwing hand. For example, if the second passer is right handed, he should catch the ball on the left side. This allows him to catch the ball, set his feet and throw. If the passer is placed on the same side as his throwing hand, he will have to flip his hips to set his feet and throw. This is a negative for two reasons. First, the added time may allow for defenders to close the distance on the passer and either tackle him before the throw or distract him enough to cause an errant pass. Second, the added time to get the ball off can allow secondary defenders to recover and get to the receiver. The double pass concept can be utilized in a number of different ways. The strategy comes in how it is created with the formation and action to get receivers wide open. Here are some ideas. 

QB accounts for 580 yards of offense in one game-find out how

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Here’s a website you need to check out and a coach you need to follow.  Check out his iBook here. Follow Coach Gonzalez on twitter: @Dan_Gonzalez16

On Dan Gonzalez Football:

QB accounts for 580 yards of offense in one game-find out how

That’s not a typo – he threw for 400 and 5 TDs, and ran for another 180 (1 rushing TD) – all using concepts in this system!  This same player passed for right at 1000 yards all of last season. A.C.T.S.  has truly given definition to the offense, and allowed the coaching staff to be completely accountable to the player (instead of the player only being accountable to the coach)…read more

Win a free smartphone virtual reality simulator to train your QB:

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Here’s how to teach Notre Dame’s pick play without being penalized

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On USA Football:

It’s crunch time in the season right now, and executing a critical play may be the difference between continuing the season or packing up the gear until next year. A season-shaping situation is exactly what happened this past Saturday. With the game on the line on fourth down an only seconds on the clock, Notre Dame scored what appeared to be the winning touchdown against Florida State, but a penalty flag negated the score, and Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season. The ACC’s coordinator of football officials explained the rule and pointed out that offensive players are restricted from blocking downfield on a pass unless the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage. At 2:35 of the video below, the play is shown, and clearly the Notre Dame receiver is blocking downfield. This made the play illegal, and while it may be a controversial call, it is the correct call…read more

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Win a free football smartphone simulator… via @eonsportsvr

Romo and McClain argue about who is “Mike.” – Identifying and Declaring the Mike Linebacker

This happened in the Cowboys game versus the Giants.  Romo stepped to the line to identify the Mike Linebacker.

Romo: “53 is the Mike!”
McClain: “No, I’m not the Mike! I’m not the Mike!”

Not all teams use this system.  It’s something that I did not start using until I coached at the college level, but it is a simple tool to help the offensive line block different fronts on both run plays and pass plays.

Procedurally, we had both the center and the quarterback identify the Mike linebacker.  The center would not say anything unless he disagreed, at which point we instructed the quarterback to use the center’s call.  The helped some of our younger quarterbacks.  We moved to the quarterback using this system because it allowed him the flexibility to marry protection with his hot routes which became important at times.

In the run game identifying the Mike allows the line to determine their assignments, especially when determining who is being combo blocked or double teamed, and which linebacker that double team is working to.  Here is a slide from our playbook in which we are running a two back power concept.  In this play, our rule is to declare the #2 second level defender as the Mike. The rule is that the combo on the 3 technique is working toward the linebacker past the Mike to the backside.  The Fullback will kick out #1 and the pulling guard will be pulling for the Mike.  Note that the defender the offense identifies as the Mike may not be the true Mike in the defense’s scheme, though they will typically not try to argue with the quarterback as McClain did with Romo.

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In the passing game, we used a man side and a slide or zone side.  This was called by giving an Roger (right) or Louie (left) call and identifying the Mike linebacker as being in the slide side sort.

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Last season, my 10 year old son asked me, “Why does the quarterback say ’52 is the Mike’.”  I explained and taught him, and then pulled up some plays on Hudl and had him declare the Mike.  He picked it up pretty quickly, so I know this is a concept that can be used at the high school level.  More than anything, this keeps the quarterback and the offensive line on the same page and helps give any play success because every defender is accounted for.

Coach Bill Mounty shared this information on designating the Mike. It lays out the procedure.




Learn more about Identifying the Mike in the videos below:

For protection in the West Coast Offense
Brian Billick with Mike Solari explaining Identifying the Front by Identifying the Mike
Brian Billick with Chris Foerster on how the Redskins identify the ‘Mike.’

Putting Together and Practicing a Game Plan


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The season has reached the point where you’ve been able to see plenty of film on opponents and you know what they will do against certain formations and in certain situations. Of course, the opponent knows the same things about you.

With rivalry games ahead or playoffs starting, now is a time to get the most out of your offense by planning and making decisions that allow you to stay one step ahead of the opponent.

We have used a simple process for making decisions early in the week that allow us to get the practice repetitions that will ensure the proper execution on game day. Even though you may have run an expansive offense over the course of the season as you have found variations and tags to attack certain opponents, thinking you have that wide menu of plays can lead to confusion for both the play caller and the players. The fact is that there are only a limited amount of practice repetitions available, and you will only call about 60 plays in the game.

We have been able to force discipline on our process by limiting ourselves through a limited amount of plays that will appear on our call sheet on game day. We do this with what we call our ‘game plan board.’

The game plan board gives us a set number of plays which we can carry and feel confident in practicing over the course of the week. We are a concept based teaching team. This means we teach all of the concepts and formations in camp in August, and in the course of the season, our players will learn how to apply the concepts to different formations, personnel groups, and situational offense. During the season, we have two full padded practices and one practice in helmet and shoulder pads that puts the focus on timing rather than contact…read more

Game Planning Resources Page

Increase effort and execution with tangible practice standards

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On USA Football:

At this time of the season, many teams fight two battles: the battle of routine and the battle of fatigue. For the first team offense, routine is the enemy. Finding ways to keep the first team focused is essential. For the scout team, it is the battle of fatigue. Those players are to the point where they may be looking ahead to next season because they are tired of playing scout team or maybe they are just worn down and the reward of getting on the field under the lights isn’t immediate to them. Both battles must be fought in order to get the best performance out of your team. Setting up some tangible practice standards can help win both battles as it gives focus to everyone on the team. The measurables emphasize both effort and execution and work to overcome a lackluster performance out of the scout team. As long as you can get the proper alignment and assignment that is drawn on the scout card, then your players can understand the schemes and concepts that they are executing regardless of the performance of the scout team players…read more

#1 in Total Offense with 557.8 ypg, 348.8 rush ypg, 51.3ppg

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Ferris State is on fire.  They are 6-0 with the #1 offense in Division II.  They are averaging 557.8 yards per game with 348.8 yards per game on the ground.

The base play in the offense is the inside veer.  Coach Zeitman shares the details of running this play for every position as well as adjustments to run it against any front in his interactive book The Show Gun Offense:  Inside Veer.  

The Show Gun Offense:  Midline will be released soon.

Vince Lombardi on Leadership

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Thanks to Coach Bill Mountjoy for passing this along…


“. . . Leaders are made, they are not born; and they are made just like anything else has been made in this country – by hard effort. And that’s the price we all have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.

“. . . And despite of what we say about being born equal, none of us really are born equal, but rather unequal. And yet the talented are no more responsible for their birthright than the underprivileged. And the measure of each should be what each does in a specific situation.

” . . . It is becoming increasingly difficult to be tolerant of a society who has sympathy only for the misfits, only for the maladjusted, only for the criminal, only for the loser. Have sympathy for them, help them, but I think it is also time for all of us to stand up for and to cheer for the doer, the achiever, one who recognizes a problem and does something about it, one who looks at something extra to do for his country, the winner, the leader!”