151. I thought I would give my A, B, C, X and Y (backs and ends) one pass play each to remember. 

Only if they can catch. Otherwise, forget any idea of trying to keep everybody happy. Bear in mind that I am talking about throwing the ball when you are a run-oriented team. When yours is a run-oriented offense, a pass play to a kid who might catch the ball can be disastrous. In my opinion it is a waste of an entire team's effort and time trying to design a pass play for a position, rather than for a player. You have to be cold-hearted. This is not "share the wealth" or spread the ball around. I don't believe in throwing to any player unless he is very, very dependable - meaning I trust him to catch everything thrown to him, every time. The reality is that you might find that of all those kids - A, B, C, X and Y - only one of them fits that

description. Design your pass plays for him.

152. Coach Wyatt, What's the difference between a "bootleg" and a "waggle?"

"Bootleg" is a generic term for a play in which the QB fakes the handoff of a running play that seems to be going in one direction, then sneaks away (like a bootlegger) in the other direction to run or pass. A bootleg play can be run from a variety of sets, faking any number of different running plays.

A "waggle" is a specific bootleg play. It is a term originally given, so far as I know, by Dave Nelson, inventor of the Delaware Wing-T, to a bootleg that results after faking a Delaware staple - the buck sweep.

In our terminology, it would be either 29 brown/38 black or 49 brown/58 black, depending on what you wanted your fullback to do.

153. Hi coach, I like to get your opinion if I could. In youth ball a lot of teams use the 5-3 defense with a nose guard and two other down linemen over the offensive team's tackles. They play their two defensive ends outside the tight ends to box all outside runs and the three linebackers play directly behind the three down linemen. I want to run a g/o sweep with the 2 guards, fullback and quarterback leading. My playside tackle will block and seal the down linemen, my te will get the linebacker and my c-back will get the boxing end. What do you think? Thanks

Coach- It makes no sense to run a play into an opponent's strength.

A sweep is a play that is either there or it's not. People can line up to take it from you.

In this case, that is what they're doing. They are not giving you the sweep, and you indicate from what you tell me that you know that.

That information ought to be enough to tell you where you should be running, and it's not outside. A boxing end is a one-trick pony. In containing the sweep, he invites you to run off-tackle.(See below for just one way to deal with him.)

154. Given the choice, would you prefer to first install the 29/38 G-O Reach or would you prefer the "Jet" sweep (Lazer 29/Rocket 38 Reach)?

The g-o reach (29 and 38) is my sweep of preference. That is why I include it as part of the base package that I talk about, and spend little or no time on the rocket/lazer.

The rocket/lazer ("Jet") sweep is an introduction to a whole new series, with all the extra demands on practice time that that entails. Either that, or you just spring it on people from time to time as a novelty. But if you intend to run it as a base sweep, you will need to be able to run other plays from it. Otherwise, if all you do is sweep, that motion is a dead giveaway, and opponents can easily gear up to stop the sweep anytime they see rocket or lazer motion.

I especially like the fact that the g-o reach sweep is a no-motion, snap-it-right-away play, which takes a lot away from defenses.

For some reason, 29 has been better for us than 38. Maybe it's because I have had better runners at "C" back; maybe it's because defenses are better on our right.

But I have a suspicion that probably because we run the wedge so much at 2, and because we normally wedge without motion, 29 serves us as something of a wedge counter.

Nothing wrong with the Rocket/Lazer ("Jet") sweep. Lots of people run it successfully. But you can only run so much. I had to choose, and I chose the g-o reach sweep.

155. I am applying to schools for head coaching positions again. I have created a very nice Power Point presentation that I would use if I got into an interview. However, I have thought that due to my youth etc., it might help to send the presentation on a disk with easy instructions along with my resume and letters of recommendation. I figure it might help catch me up a bit with some of the more experienced guys. Nonetheless, when I sent it to the last school I interviewed at the AD said he liked it but not to bring it to the interview (I think I emailed you about that situation before). The next school I sent it to the AD said he never received it (maybe he accidentally threw it out, but Im suspicious). I know another job is opening up soon (a real long shot for me, but I figure what the heck). Im wondering if I should send the presentation or not. I mean without it Im just a resume with less experience than most head coaching candidates. However, on the other hand when I have sent it -- the news has been discouraging. Just looking for your opinion.

I think there is such a thing as overpowering people with technology.

An awful lot of people are put off by dazzling Power Point presentations, which, frankly, really don't tell them what they want to know about a guy - how is he with kids and parents, how is his temperament, etc.

And if they don't know you first-hand, then they need to hear it from someone who does.

To be blunt, the phone call from the person who knows you - especially if they know him and respect him - is still the key.

I think there is another issue here, too, and that is the often-overblown idea of "fairness."

It is very possible that that is why that AD told you not to bother bringing it to the interview - it might seem as if you had an unfair advantage in the interviewing.

Stick with the meat and potatoes.

156. I coach Pop Warner Jr. Midgets (age 12-13). Popular defenses are the 6-4-1 with down linemen head up on my guards and tackles. The defensive ends line up on the outside shoulder of the TE's. My interpretation of the Playbook rules is the following:

B - back kicks out on DE; TE reads up and blocks the defensive Right Inside Linebacker; C-Back reads up and blocks the Left Inside Linebacker; Backside G and T pull and lead up through hole and wall off to the inside.

(1) But haven't those LB's already been blocked ?

(2) Who blocks the Outside LB?

Please offer any suggestions and corrections when the defensive end is a "9" Technique and there is an outside LB when running 88's and 99's.

Actually, TE's "Read Up" assignment will almost certainly result in a double-team with his tackle; C-Back does not "Read up" - in all likelihood, he comes over the top of the DE, and walls off the Inside LBer.

Your pulling backside linemen are able to pick up any leakage on the playside, as well as walling off any pursuit coming from the backside - linebacker, lineman, defensive back.

In my terminology, that "outside linebacker" you refer to (the circled "B" in the diagram below) is really a rolled-up corner, which makes him the responsibility of your QB - if you run Super Power.

If you do not run super power, but instead run plain power, that outside linebacker or corner, whatever we call him, is unaccounted for. That is why I counsel people to run super power. Do not shy away from it because you are trying to spare your QB. He won't get hurt. It is not that tough a block, and he will often arrive there just in time to make a big difference in the play.

And by the way... it sure wouldn't take a whole lot to throw a RED-RED or BLUE-BLUE to your playside wingback against a secondary like that.


157. Coach, I know that with counters etc you don't fake so much as you hide the ball and have the QB turn his back to the line of scrimmage. Do you do the same on 38 GO reach (with the B back) and on the 38 GO keep left, or do you have the QB fake (and if so is it a hand fake or a ball fake)?

Also - I know that you use both handoff techniques (palms up pinkies in and arm over arm -- depending on the play), which do you use on the sweep, is it palms up?

I am totally into concealing the ball, and not letting the defense know where it is until/unless it is absolutely necessary.

I am opposed to handoffs in which the QB holds the ball out for the runner to take - and everybody to see.

With the exception of 6-G pass, I never want the QB to let the ball leave his groin until he makes the handoff, by "injecting" or "inserting" the ball, with one hand, into the runner's pocket..

Any "faking" is accomplished by the runner and the QB rubbing close to each other, with the QB hiding the ball and the running back giving a "swim" as if to form the pocket and a "rocking of the cradle" as if he has the ball.

If you are using cheesy "ball fakes," you are not fooling the smart defenders - and maybe not the dumb ones, either. You are not only telling the world where the football is, but you are also certain to have some fumbles as a result.

Second question - With the shallow motion we run now, the only time I advocate a scoop handoff is on the first stage of the criss-cross counter.

158. Coach, I am going to be coaching the offensive line this year. I expect to have good athletes (10-11), who on other teams would probably be running the ball and some have carried the ball in the past. Our head coach really wants to emphasize the importance of the O line and I was wondering if you can recommend any sort of recognition/award program targeted at the linemen to give them the recognition they deserve. Too often all of the attention and recognition goes to those carrying or passing the ball. Fact is, it's tougher to open that hole than run through it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Coach- I don't know that any recognition is needed.

I zealously avoid anything of that sort because I believe it leads to jealousy and resentment, and to putting individual or group goals ahead of team goals. Needless to say, no individual on any team I've ever coached got an award for scoring a touchdown or catching a pass.

The real value of football is the satisfaction of knowing that you got the job done together. Getting that across to them is the real challenge.

That having been said, your backs need this lesson more than your linemen, so a coach does need to constantly drill into his backs' minds the fact that without blocking they are nothing. This is not the job of the line coach, however - it is the job of the head coach and whoever coaches the backs. They simply must teach the backs to respect the job that the linemen have to do.

To reinforce this... When running plays in practice, I like to run into the end zone, from out at the 20- or 25- or 30-yard line or so, and I always make a big deal of telling our backs that I expect them to cross the goal line on every play - at a sprint.

First of all, why wouldn't you? Why would you teach your backs to pull up? When and where is that done in a football game?

The point is not to practice stopping yourself. The point is to practice scoring touchdowns.

Bur second, and just as important, scoring is the very least that a running back can do in return for all the work the linemen are doing for him - that is his way of paying them back.

And, of course, I will never allow any dancing or "celebrating of me" after making a play of any sort, including touchdowns. I consider that to be a very selfish act that disrespects the work of everybody else - especially the linemen.

159. A fellow coach told me the focus of the DWing was the fullback. Of course I argued, because the first play I want to establish is the Super Power. I expect and demand that I get 4 yards per attempt. I assumed that when I purchased the tapes 3 years ago, the most important play, or the play that helped you develop this Offensive Arsenal was the Super Power. Having an effective B-Back only enchances the offense.

That is I figured you started your tapes giving the ball to the A-Back. He is supposed to be your best running back. Did I miss the boat - should your best RB be your fullback which seems to be the popular belief.

Coach- It depends totally on your talent, and on what the defenses choose to give you.

In my last five years of coaching HS ball - since I came out with the video - the most productive running backs in terms of yardage have been (in order):

1996- QB, B-Back, A-Back, C-Back (my QB was by far my best football player)

1997- B-Back, A-Back, C-Back

1998- B-Back, A-Back, C-Back

1999- C-Back, A-Back, B-Back

2001- (Rich Central, Illinois, where I helped out) C-Back, A-Back, B-Back

At no time has there ever been a conscious effort to "feature" one particular back, or "establish" one back ahead of the others. We are not running the I formation, where everybody knows who is going to carry. That is one of the real beauties of this offense. Anybody who bases his defense on the fact that we are going to force the ball to one man or another is nuts, because our strategy is based on taking what the defense gives us. If they set up to stop one particular back, someone else is going to have a big night.

From game to game, different players will get more carries than others, depending on the opponent's defensive strategy more than anything. (Selfish parents don't always understand that concept. It sometimes helps to explain it carefully in advance.) Over an entire season, though, I have found that the positions have been remarkably close in number of carries. In many cases, any disparity in yardage is accounted for because given roughly the same number of carries, the most talented runner will get the most yardage.

In 1999 and 2001, the B-Backs were good, but the A and C backs were very good, and with roughly the same number of carries, they got more yardage. (For example, in 1999, my B-Back had 139 carries in 9 games, and gained 753 yards. Not bad - 5.4 yards per carry. But my C-Back - with exactly the same number of carries - gained 1094 yards, or 7.9 yards per carry.)

In 1996-7-8, years in which the B-Back gained so much yardage, it was the same B-Back all three years. I moved him from tight end when I took the job because he was 6-5, 245, he was pretty athletic (he played on the basketball team) and he could block. I really had no idea how well he was going to be able to run, but he turned out to be pretty good. I did NOT, however, make any conscious effort to put my "best runner" at fullback. The fact of the matter is, he was a very good Double-Wing fullback, but he wouldn't have been a very good wingback. The positions have different requirements.

It is a four-back offense. You will notice that in 1996, the leading rusher was the QB. He was by far the best football player on the team.

It is NOT a "fullback-based offense." I wasn't aware that that is the "popular belief," but it just goes to show how much people still have to learn about our offense.  

160. Coach Wyatt. I have a GREAT problem... I have 9 quality kids that can all play the front line very well.... the problem is, which 5 do I start with so as to deliver that biggest punch right out of the gate.... my feeling is to put the biggest yet slowest kid at the center position and put the 2 fastest and still strongest 2 at the left side for our for our power pulling G and T's.... that leaves the slower but still strong 2 kids to play on the right... is there a formula that can be used to rate the 9 guys that I have? thanks

Coach- Of course you are free to do as you wish, because I can't coach your team, but since you asked...

Do not make yourself one-handed or one-sided. Make yourself good at both guards. The tackles aren't nearly as important as the guards.

Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that you need to put the bigger kids at tackle rather than at guard. I don't know where that one got its start, but regardless of size, put your best linemen at the guards.

The point of this offense is to be balanced. That forces defenses to be balanced. If you put your best pullers on one side, how will you be able to run both ways effectively? If you can't run both ways, you will only be able to run a power to one side and you won't be able to run a counter back to the other side.

As for the rating system... NO. There is no formula for rating players that is worth anything.

The ones you hear about are copouts, designed to cover scouts' rear ends when they recommend guys who turn out not to be able to play. The pros get hung up trying to quantify the things that make one athlete better than another and they are wrong all the time. Using their dumbass formulas, they spend high draft choices on guys who measure well but can't play, and they miss guys who measure poorly but can play.

They made better decisions back in the days when they would ask a scout who knew his talent, "Can this guy play?"

Do not make the mistake of using any other criterion than: "does he get the job done?"

161. We run a power I and have had some success running a quick pitch to the tailback to the power back side, with a conditional pull by the playside guard. I would like to establish a traditional handoff sweep to the power back that goes to the opposite side, since a lot of teams tend to shift to our power back side. Would you consider it a viable option to run 38 G-O Reach out of the Power I?

Yes, you can run 29 G-O reach to the backside. But in my experience the best play to the backside using the power back is 47-C (In our terminology, Tight RAM 47-C). Make the handoff outside. It is necessary for the C back (the power back) to take a counter step to his right before going.


162. Coach we are starting our second year in the DW offense and we are very pleased with the results. My question is that when you run 88/99 super power you are running at the 8 or 9 man and that tells them to down block. We see a lot of even front defenses that cover the guards, in either a inside or outside shade and their is a C-gap threat, whether an outside shade of the tackle or inside shade of the end. But here is my confusion - the 9 tech plays outside leverage, so is the wingback supposed to block down on this or is this the B back's kickout responsibility?

Coach- In accordance with our system of calls at the corner, if the man is head-up on the TE (Diagram A) , we double with the TE and wingback ; otherwise they do not double - if the man is in a "7" (B) the TE blocks down and the wingtback comes over top for the first LBer inside (same as he does on our 6-G); if the man is in a "9" (C) the TE blocks gap-read up and the wingback comes over the top and they leave the "9" for the fullback to kick out.

The main thing we don't want is for our wingback (little running back) to have to block a DE (big defensive stud) by himself.

163. Against a split look do the playside guard and tackle combo their way to the playside or backside LB. I am the offensive coordinator at ----- -------. Head coach's third season, the rest of the staff's 1st or 2nd and we got the school to the playoffs for the 1st time since 1984!

(The "split" look is a variation of the 4-4 in which the defensive tackles - some people refer to them as guards, so don't let that confuse you - are moved from their "2" techniques - head-up on the offensive guards - out to "3" techniques - on the guards' outside shoulders.)

On the playside of powers and counters, we may double-team combo on that "3" tech (SHOWN AT LEFT). If they can get enough of a push, they can make it very difficult for the LBer to scrape outside

or - we may have the G-T fold on the "3" and the playside backer (SHOWN AT RIGHT).

NOTE: The center must NOT go aggressively for the backside "3". We are more worried about the backside LBer scraping. He must snap and brace himself and make the LBer or backside T run through him. (The backside TE may be able to shoeshine the backside "3").

For sure, though, without a man on the nose, I think a "3" technique is trappable. If we see a split look, we are immediately thinking "trap," because frequently, a tackle in a "3" technique will not be able to keep our playside guard from releasing onto their backside backer. Any time an even front lets our playside guard get onto the 4-3 Mike or 4-4 backside backer, they are going to have trouble stopping the trap.

164. It has been a lot of fun teaching your system to these youth football players(10-12). We are doing pretty well with the system, the kids are picking up the basics of the offense quite well. They know the blocking schemes well, but our only problem is that on the super power our pulling tackle is beating our pulling guard around to wall off. Is this a big problem or should we replace that guard with a faster lineman?

If your guard is that slow, you need another guard. In this offense, the guard position is much more important than tackle. You can't afford to have guards who are slower than tackles.

Incidentally... don't go by size in determining position. A lot of coaches think that guards are supposed to be short and tackles tall.

Go by athletic ability. Your guards should be your most athletic linemen. If they are bigger than your tackles, so be it.

165. Our backside tackle isn't very good. Can we run Super Power, but pull the playside guard instead?

Yes, you can, but it is unsound. The problem with pulling both guards on Super Power is that you will be vulnerable to blitzing. You haven't accounted for everybody on the defensive front, and you will create gaps for people to penetrate.

Let me explain, using a 4-4 defense to illustrate:

The basic problem is how to handle the man who lines up over playside guard. On 38 g-o reach, we can reach that man with our center, but that's because the B-Back is hitting at "3" and is able to fill, and take care of the man over the pulling backside guard. But on Super Power, your B-Back has other things to do and is not available to fill, so reaching that guy with the center is out, because if you tried it, you would get killed by the man over the pulling backside guard, or by the linebacker stacked behind him. Or both. (DIAGRAM A)

That leaves blocking down on him with the playside tackle. You may get away with this, but you will create a gap in the line at the place the tackle vacated, leaving you vulnerable to a scrape by the playside (or maybe even backside) linebacker. (DIAGRAM B)

Your TE can't block down, because if people play the defense right, there will be a man in a "7" technique (on his inside shoulder) whom he has to block.

Another problem which you are already aware of is that you either have to slow down the fullback or else he and the playside guard will arrive at the same place at the same time (which is one reason we have to slow the fullback down some when we run 6-G). There is always the possibility that if you have them both kicking out, one of them will be wasted. And if you expect the playside guard to turn up inside the fullback's kick out and wall off, you've got yourself another technique to have to teach to your guards.

If the tackle is really that bad, my suggestion is to block it as usual and pull only the backside guard ("Super-O"). It will work fine.

166. Hello coach, This is my first year using the DW for 11/12 yr olds. I have a question. In the last 2 scrimmages we have faced teams who cover the TE with DE and an OLB (on the out side shoulder of DE) 3yds back and a CB uptight on the los. I think it's called a 4-4 outside. Maybe I'm teaching it wrong, but we are have problems running the Super Power against it. As soon as the toss is made the DE, CB and OLB drive thru our outside shoulders and pinch the run. I guess the question is, is the Super Power suitable against this defense? Or am I teaching it wrong? Feels like I'm beating my head against a wall here. However, after getting stuffed several times, play action off Super Power is wide open, we've scored total 4 touchdowns off of it the last 2 scrimmages. We've really only used Play Action pass 5 times.

Not that you can't run Super Power, but... it is simply that when people are shooting machine guns at you, you can either continue to charge into the machine gun fire or find another way to fight.

This is NOT a one-play offense, although they seem to be defending it as if it were. They are doing whatever it takes to try to take your best play from you, figuring that you don't have anything else. You can't stand by helpless and allow the defense to stack up to stop one play. They are doing some unsound things, as you have already figured out.

They are giving you the pass, as you've said. So keep passing.

You can probably sweep on a team that pinches like that. Those pinching DE/OLC/CB guys are vulnerable to reach blocks.

Not only that, but they have six men from the nose of the TE on out. Assuming a free safety as well, that means they have only four men left to cover the area from tackle to tackle. That's why most sound 4-4's will put the DE in a "7" technique (on the inside shoulder of the TE).

You have a 5-4 advantage inside your tackles. In addition to sweeps and play action, you should be running inside - wedge, 4 or 5 base lead, trap (at 2/3, 4/5) and 6-G or 7-G. You will kill that defense. Or force them out of it.

167. We run the Wedge, and I'd like to think it is a huge part of our offense. But this year we not only can't seem to get a yard, but we often lose yardage. I've worked and worked and repped it over and over again, but can't seem to get the "push" off the line that we had in games 1 and 2. I believe it's just laziness...lack of effort.... Is there anything I can do to get that back that you can suggest??? I've tried everything, but nothing seems to work with this group of kids in regards to "getting our wedge back."

I think that if the wedge is not successful the very first place you need to look is at the center. It doesn't matter what else you have up front - if the center is lazy or doesn't like contact or doesn't take pride in his role in the wedge (or a combination of the three), you will not have much of a wedge. Watch him closely. I am going to bet that rather than firing out, he snaps the ball and braces himself to prepare to take a hit from a defender, which means that the defense has taken the initiative away from you. They are now wedging you.

168. Our B -Back was flagged on Saturday for blocking the DE below the waist on an 88 Super Power. Our head coach argued that since the B back is up so tight and is in the Free Blocking Zone, then he was within his rights. The referee obviously disagreed. In defense of the ref, my understanding is that in high school rules, only linemen initially lined up in the Free Blocking Zone may block below the waist, and then only in the Free Blocking Zone, and then only until the ball leaves the FBZ. For example, on an 88 Super Power out of the stack I, the FBZ disintegrates the moment that the ball crosses the offensive side of the FBZ, as it would soon after the pitch. If you are already engaged below the waist, that is OK. but any blocking initiated after that must begin above the waist. Even if the DE entered the FBZ during his initial charge, a back cannot block him below the waist. I don't have a rule book handy. What say you?  

The referee is correct.

Rule 2, section 17, article 2 - Blocking below the waist is permitted in the free-blocking when the following conditions are met: (a) all players involved in blocking are on the line of scrimmage and in the zone at the snap (b) the contact is in the zone

I'd say the ref is owed an apology. The B-back, not the official, is wrong. Fortunately, that same rule also protects our B-Back from a defender who would go low on him.

(It is not, by the way, wise to teach a player to "block" that way, even when it is legal (as with a trapping guard, for example). It is wrong, wrong, wrong. The point of our blocking is to move defenders, not pile them up. You can't move defenders if you don't move your feet. When you throw low, your feet stop, and the best you get is a pile up. The worst you get is a defender who reaches - or leaps - over you and destroys the play.)

After reading your latest coaching tip (regarding the B-back's chop block), I wanted to add another reason why it would be inappropriate.In order for the B-back to execute that type of block, he would likely have to drop his head, thereby putting himself in a dangerous position which could lead to either a head or neck injury. Greg Koenig, Las Animas, Colorado

169. We are expecting to see a DE in a "9" technique. Would "Uptight" help??? And if so what changes with uptight (any blocking rules, plays you can't run from it etc.)

Not that a "9" Technique - an end lined up on the outside shoulder of your TE or maybe even in the gap between him and the wingback - is a particular problem. That's the man your fullback kicks out on the power, that's the man who gets kicked out on a "G" play, that's the man who not only has to contain the QB on a bootleg but also squeeze the counter. And keep from being reached. He's got a lot on his plate.

Sometimes people will line that DE up in a "9" and pinch him off the tail of your TE. Apart from the fact that the pinching end can't defend himself against a down block by the wingback or a reach block by the TE, "Uptight" is another way of dealing with him.

When we call "uptight," the back who is not going in motion steps up onto the line of scrimmage, next to the tight end, on "GO!" (DIAGRAM A, below)

(I have been asked this question often enough that I am sure someone will be wondering - yes, it's okay to have more than seven men on the line. What you can't do is have fewer than seven on the line - a rule dating back to the nasty old days of the "guards back" play, when they'd pre-form a wedge in the backfield and get a flying start. Oh - and since this is a shift, every man on the time must be set for at least one full second following the shift of the wingback before either snapping the ball or sending a man in motion- a rule dating back to Rockne's shift, when his entire backfield would shift from T-formation to Box Right or Box Left, and the ball would be snapped at the precise moment everyone's feet hit the ground.)

With uptight, there are very few things that you can't do. One is to send out the playside TE on a pass play (he's covered by the wingback, so he is no longer the end man on the line of scrimmage.) That's not necessarily a problem.

You can't lead the wingback through on lead plays.

You can still run the wingback on counters. (Tackle trap is out of the question, but otherwise, see for yourself.)

The wingback's assignments don't change in any way from when he is lined up normally.

If you step him onto the line and the DE remains in a 9 (B) , you can now double that DE, because the TE and WB will hit him simultaneously and drive him straight back; you can run G-O Reach, reaching the DE with the TE and releasing the wingback to get the corner or wall off the LBer.

If the DE moves outside (C), your TE and wingback can release inside him and you have created quite a bubble, for power, super power or 6-G. If you wish to run G-O Reach, the wingback would reach the DE, while the TE would either fire out on a LBer or pull around the wingback for the next man outside.  

170. We are playing our league's undefeated team this Saturday. By watching their game tape we know that we have to put points on the board because of their high power offense, and their defense is quick and they fly to the ball - they have at least 8 kids on every tackle. We have been thinking that we have to hold on to the ball while keeping their offense off the field, plus put points on the board ourselves. What kind of wrinkles do you suggest against a team that is bigger and probably faster than your team? Any help would be really appreciated.

Honestly, I don't know anything about the ability of your kids, or that of your opponents.

I'm not trying to cop out, because I have a million ideas, but my experience has been that the last thing you want to do when you're playing a big game is to give your kids the idea that what got them there just isn't good enough now - that something you can put in in one week is better than what you've been working on all season

I have made that mistake on numerous occasions, and it has rarely helped. Often, it has led to big problems and a lot of self-second-guessing..

Work hard on polishing what you do, and on convincing your kids that if they don't beat themselves, and if they can force the other guys to make the mistakes, they've got a good chance of winning. Confidence is very important when you're playing a team that is supposed to be better than you. It is very important that you let yoour kids know - in both word and deed - that you have confidence in them. That is the only way they will have confidence in themselves.

I have learned from sad experience that in cases like this it's usually better to stay basic and work hard at the basics. You may not win, but you will be better off than if you'd tried to put in any "wrinkles."

171. We follow the philosophy of limiting our base plays to about 8 running and 3 or 4 passing using multiple formations to keep the defense off balance. When calling plays using  multiple formation possibilities would you recommend mixing up formations within a play series or sticking with a formation through a series of plays and then changing formations for the next series?

I usually think of changing formations as part of the game plan, in terms of exploiting a weakness in the defense, or trying to sneak something past them (such as going "Over Tight" or "Under Tight"), or taking advantage of a strength (splitting out a receiver they just can't cover who can catch anything thrown near him), or covering up a weakness (such as having only one true wingback, and running from "Tight Stack") on our part.

Sometimes you do it to screw up defensive reads, or to see what kind of adjustments the defense makes.

And sometimes, to be honest, I have done it just to shake things up, when the offense seems to be stuck.

The main thing, though, is I don't advocate doing it willy-nilly, running a grab-bag of different plays and different formations, because then you lose the major benefit of standardization - being able to find out fairly quickly what's going wrong. The automobile companies know that this is a major key to quality control - the more you standardize things, the easier it is to spot the anomaly - the thing that stands out because it's just not right.

I think it's a good idea to have one, two or at most three different formations (other than "tight") ready each week, (counting "over tight" and "under tight" as one formation). Introduce an new and different one every week, as a surprise. (And discard one from last week, to avoid overload.)

And always impress on kids that they're not really having to learn anything new. Otherwise, you might encounter unnecessary brain-lock.

172. I was kicking around some ideas with a couple of the coaches on staff. Do you by chance have an audible system that you use? My guys will be 11 years old, and I think it is time to let them check some plays off. My major question to you, is how do you teach your QB to recognize when to check a play off? This past season, I would have the players come to the sideline and tell me that certain plays would not work and they would suggest an O-Call, or no motion. So I thought if they're smart enough to recognize when we need to make an adjustment that they could begin to utilize an audible system.

Yes, I have a system, but it is very simple and I have used it maybe twice in ten years.

I'll be as diplomatic as I can be, but...

I think anybody who thinks about letting an 11-year-old do that sort of thinking either has Ara Parseghian's (or Eddie Robinson's) grandson playing for him at QB - plus ten other geniuses - or he is certifiable. The point is to eliminate mistakes, not to create more opportunities to make mistakes.

The problem is that it isn't just the QB - it's those 10 other kids. They have all they can do to remember the play called in the huddle, and what they do on that play - plus the snap count - and their brains need time to work all that out, and now the bright little QB, who sees something he thinks will (or won't) work is going to change all that - and give them about three seconds to process it all. If they can do that, maybe they should all start making plans for early admission to MIT.

Unless your team is really, really smart and disciplined, changing the play is like giving your kids a different snap count. Have you ever seen what happens when you call time out and tell your kids that this time, instead of going on "one", you're going to go on "two" to try to get somebody to jump? Somebody usually does. Unfortunately, though, half the time it's one of your own kids.

I used "live colors" and "live numbers" and such when I passed the ball, but after starting to run the Delaware Wing-T, I heard more than one Delaware coach say that with their blocking rules, which will block anything, they always figured their chances were better going with the play they called in the huddle than changing to something at the line, with all the risks involved.

The most I would ever teach a team of little kids would be to "Flip" the play called in the huddle from right to left - from 88 to 99, for example - or to give the players two plays in the huddle and say "check with me," meaning, "I'll tell you which of the two when we get to the line." A typical call might be "88 or 6-G - Check with me." At least that way they are prepared: they go to the line knowing (1) that you are going to give the play to them at the line, and (2) it's going to be one of two plays, either 88 or 6-G.

Of course, if you do that, you might think you need a "dummy" system to keep defenses from figuring out what you're doing, but remember - you're playing against 11-year-olds on defense, too.

The best thing I ever heard about automatics came from Pepper Rodgers, successful college coach at Kansas, UCLA and Georgia Tech. He told a clinic that when he was in high school, he was a quarterback, and his coach gave him one automatic, a pass to a teammate named Cecil if it looked like he could get open. Rodgers would say, "BLUE! (guess that was the live color) EVERYBODY STAY IN AND BLOCK 'CEPT CECIL!"

In short, I think your biggest problem is not what you see or your QB sees - it's what you can convey to the rest of the kids.  

173. Do you prefer your wingbacks to be in a 3-point or 2-point stance, and what advantages do you see each in those stances?

Some coaches prefer a 3-point stance, because they tell me they think it hides them and adds deception to the offense. Others have their wingbacks in a squat, without putting a hand down. It's just me, but I prefer my men to be up in 2-point stances, angled in at 45 degrees.

Here are my reasons:

(1) I think it gives our man a better chance to see the defense, especially when he has to block a linebacker

(2) I think when a man gets in a 3-point stance, there is a greater possibility that he will drop his head and look at the ground and lose his concentration

(3) I think it is easier for a man to release into a pass pattern from a 2-point stance.

(4) Habit - I have done it this way since 1982 - from the time I ran run and shoot, and then the Delaware Wing-T (Delaware's wingbacks are up, too)

I think there is a lot of room for individual difference here.

Incidentally, I have spent a fair amount of time recently looking at squaring up their shoulders, as I did when I ran run & shoot and Delaware.

174. Last year, during our no pads week, I timed the kids in the 30 yd dash.  I took the 10 fastest kids and had them work as offensive backs.  I used my intuition to keep some and eliminate others.

I am moving up in weight class next year and this poses an interesting situation.  I find my feelings being biased toward the younger kids that I coached last year.  I need to make sure that my feelings don't get in the way.

Do you have a system of tryouts that makes sure that you have gotten the most from the kids while not taking up too much practice time?  Just a reminder, these are 9 & 10 yr old kids. Thanks in advance.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy bias here. If two players seem relatively equal physically, the one who has already proven himself to you has earned a certain edge. It is why many successful pro coaches go out of their way to acquire players they have coached before, players they know they can work with and count on. (George Allen was famous for this. Bill Parcells is, too. Watch him now that he's back in the game.)

As for tryouts, I think that at your kids' age you are wise to go for quickness, agility and overall coordination. Without pushing a tape on you, if you have "Practice Without Pads," you could take certain of the drills shown in it and observe the kids as they perform them.

Excuse the shameless huckstering, but there really are a lot of useful drills in there.

Placing players properly is extremely important, much more than a lot of coaches realize. It is important to the team, of course, but it is also important to a player that he be put in a position where he has the best chance of being successful.

You are never going to be 100 per cent correct on this, and especially with younger kids, you may find yourself making changes as you go. But at the very beginning, I think I would put great emphasis on talent evaluation - on observing quickness, agility and coordination - so as not to waste valuable teaching time before you've got kids settled in their positions.

175. (a) Hi coach, I was curious on which counter play was your favorite and or your most successful over the years..

My favorite is Tight Rip Lead criss-cross 47-c (and 56-C) On the other hand, one of my most successful coaching friends hasn't run the criss-cross in two years. He runs only 47-C and 56-C

(b) Would you choose which counter play to run based on the tendencies of your opponent or on your personnel?

It is rare that I would design or install a play for one particular opponent, since I can't see practicing a play this week that won't be just as useful to us next week and the week after that as well. So my decision would be based totally on my personnel and what we run best. As in the example above, my friend has so much team speed that he just doesn't feel it's productive to have to spend the time necessary to slow his kids down to run the criss-cross properly. He gets excellent results running 47-C and 56-C exclusively.

(c) I coach 9-10 year-olds and I really like the 47c, 56c, 38go, 29go, and 49/58c. Now the question is which of these to commit to and how many does a youth coach really need. By the way I forgot to mention my favorite, criss cross 47/56c.

At that age, start with 47-c. Maybe 56-C, too. When they get very good at it - but only then - tell them that there is a really tricky way to run it, and ask if they want to see it. When they say "yes" (they will, because kids at any age love tricking opponents), show them criss-cross. Promise the kids that if they ever get to the point where they can run it consistently well in practice, you'll let them run it in the game. (You are basically providing them with the incentive to run it well in practice.)



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